Profile for Serghiou Const > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Serghiou Const
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,613
Helpful Votes: 1067

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Serghiou Const (Nicosia, Cyprus)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-12
pixel
Art as Therapy
Art as Therapy
by Alain De Botton
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars An original and insightful book elegantly written, 19 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Art as Therapy (Hardcover)
The book is intelligently and elegantly written and provides original insights on the functions of Art. A beautiful feature of the book is the excellent photographs which illustrate magnificently the points raised in the text. Its central thesis is that the main beneficiary of Art should be the beholder that is the individual experiencing the specific work of Art as opposed to prevailing ideas which relate to the motives and aims of the artist in the process of its creation or the context and era during which a work of Art was created.

The book is organized in five broad groups namely Methodology, Love, Nature, Money, and Politics while each group is divided in sections and subsections.

Already in Methodology we are intimated with the seven functions of Art which can impact on the individual and improve his human condition comprising remembering,hope, sorrow, re balancing, self-understanding, growth, and appreciation.

The authors further argue that Art is not confined on its benefits on the individual but more broadly on society and through collective action to potentially enhancing the quality of civic life.

The enduring feeling while reading the book was that elegant thought, elegant argument, and elegant philosophical disposition were employed in arguing the case of Art in improving the human condition.


Tchaikovsky: The Symphonies (DG Collectors Edition)
Tchaikovsky: The Symphonies (DG Collectors Edition)
Price: 26.52

5.0 out of 5 stars The rendition is an exercise in elegance and restrained beauty, 11 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The Tchaikovsky symphony cycle comprise a 7-CD compilation which includes the 'Manfred' symphony and a selection of his symphonic poems.

The rendition is an exercise in elegance and restrained beauty; additionally 'there is a choir-like blend and evenness of tone from the top to the bottom of the orchestra' (Gramophone).

The beauty of the symphonies is unparalleled with key attributes the fascinating orchestral variations and a seemingly endless succession of melodies.

The composer was tormented by his homosexuality which finds its expression in his late symphonies and many of his tone poems.

Among his shorter works, the fantasy overture Romeo and Juliet is a veritable masterpiece.


Mozart: Piano Concerto No.25 In C Major K.503;  Piano Concerto No.20 In D Minor K.466
Mozart: Piano Concerto No.25 In C Major K.503; Piano Concerto No.20 In D Minor K.466
Price: 13.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When works of genius are performed by a pianist of genius, 8 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It is true that not much can be added to what already has been said about the rendition of these two Mozart piano concertos which truly set standards of excellence.

I shall consequently confine the argument to two elements namely Martha Argerich's divine rendition and the quality of the sound which is truly amazing.

I was always an Argerich enthusiast but in the past certain people could still detect flaws. As an example I can cite her Rachmaninoff 3 with Ricardo Chailly conducting in which the reservation was that she imposed her personality on the character of the music. Though even in retrospect I do not agree , still in retrospect I can see their point.

But I challenge anybody to detect even a suspicion of flaw in her rendition of these drastically different in character piano concertos. In this regard the liner note reads 'with its majestic radiant, chordal opening, the C major Piano Concerto K 503 of December 1786 introduces us to a world of expression that could hardly be more different from that of the deadly rebellious D minor Concerto K 466 of February 1785.' Her rendition though retaining her vitality and acuity, and impressive flow still fully respects the thematic and chromatic variations of the two concertos.

The phenomenal pianist, Martha Argerich in her full maturity attains consummation.


The Parthenon Enigma: A Journey Into Legend
The Parthenon Enigma: A Journey Into Legend
by Joan Breton Connelly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel interpretation of the Parthenon frieze: An exploration of the magic of the classical Athenian world, 7 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The book is an expansive treatment of a novel interpretation of the Parthenon frieze along with a magnificent pilgrimage into the magic world of classical Athens and Athenians and the two are intimately and inextricably interwoven.

The author convincingly articulates in her book that the key to understanding the frieze is the understanding of the classical Athenian mind, its religiosity, the bond among Athenians emanating and forged by the cult of common ancestry elevated to divinity. We have to appreciate in this regard that king Erechtheus is in effect the son of Athena and Hephaestos while his wife, queen Praxithea, the daughter of river Kephisos; the commitment of the individual to the common good to the point of sacrificing himself/herself to the city, the politeia. It is in this context that we can appreciate the evolution to the Kleisthenic democracy and then to its apogee, the Periklean democracy. And then to the privilege, exclusivity and honor to be an Athenian citizen with the law of 451/450 B.C which mandated that both father have to be of Athenian parents. And this elevated even more the status of Athenian women.

And, of course, we have to appreciate that the miracle of the Periklean era which included not only democracy but also the miracle of the Parthenon was the result of a unique confluence of events: the Persian defeat, the Delian League with its riches and their transfer to Athens. This permitted to a singular charismatic leader, Perikles, the erection of Parthenon.

The interpretation of the central panel of the East frieze makes eminent sense. We have here not historic Panathenaia but mythic Panathenaia. We have here king Erechtheus and his young daughter - and the author has the supporting evidence of the fragment of Euripides's Erechtheus tragedy - holding the peplos which is in fact her funeral shroud. Because the oracle mandated that in the continuing struggle which was initiated by Poseidon and Athena for being patron of the city and now continued between Erechtheus and Poseidon's son Eumolpos, for Athens to be victorious, the young daughter of Erechtheus had to be sacrificed. And Praxithea who is also present in the panel along with the two older daughters, eagerly accepted the sacrifice. While the older daughters vowed to die if the younger daughter died, both holding funeral shrouds on stools.

But the above are merely the specifics but beyond them is the unique beauty of the author's stoy telling and weaving seamlessly the argument into a convincing and compelling narrative.

After reading the book, I acquired a holistic and convincing picture of classical Athens and Athenians in all their nobility, in their willingness to die for the common good but also enjoying the privileges and rights of that unique democratic politeia.

But a final word might be appropriate for the meticulous care and love that went into the publication of the book. And I do not speak only of the eighty pages of notes which relate to scholarship. But also to the glorious drawings of Manolis Korres and photographs of Socratis Mavrommatis, the typeface, the quality of the paper with the light yellow hue, and the magnificent cover with a golden Parthenon, beautiful dark blue color, and the white color of marble.


Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony
Tchaikovsky: Manfred Symphony
Price: 6.00

5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of dark beauty masterly rendered, 15 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought the disc on the strength of Vasily Petrenko and the excellent rendition under his direction of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra of the Shostakovich Symphony Cycle.

But I had not the faintest idea that I would encounter a Symphony of such awe inspiring beauty. The rendition under the direction of brilliant Vasily Petrenko of an impeccable Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra is exemplary while the sound under the supposedly humble Naxos label, exceptional.

Tchaikovsky drew inspiration for the Manfred Symphony by Byron's dramatic poem of the same name. For Tchaikovsky, as for Byron, Manfred represented the figure of the outsider, an outcast from society, a role in which the composer, haunted by his own homosexuality, saw himself.

The symphony contains some of the composer's most inspiring orchestrated music and beautiful melodies. I listened to the symphony truly spellbound. The magic with this symphony is that the beauty of orchestral variation and the beauty of melodies follow in an unending succession. No part of the symphony impacts on you a lesser spell than any other part. The experience was for me a rarity as it was fulfilling and gratifying, a magic spell.

The Voyevoda also a dark piece of music is beautiful on its own merit. The composer drew inspiration for this symphonic ballad from Pushkin who in turn was inspired by the Polish poet Mickiewitcz.

Before writing the review I listened to the symphony three times, a rarity for me.

The disc comprises a very rare gem in my disc collection and I intuit that I shall be drawn to it often.


Martha Argerich & Friends Live At The Lugano Festival 2013
Martha Argerich & Friends Live At The Lugano Festival 2013
Price: 10.72

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Argerich and a constellation of musicians live from Lugano 2013, 13 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The three-disc, three hour duration, compilation comprise highlights from the twelfth 'Progetto' (music festival) Martha Argerich. The specific Progetto took place during June and early July 2013 in Lugano and included a total of sixteen concerts. The aims of the Progetto since 2004 remain the same: to invite the most promising young musicians to take part in recitals, chamber and orchestral concerts and masterclasses with their older peers, under the aegis, involvement, and participation of Martha Argerich.

The totality of the nine works present in the compilation by great or distinguished composers namely Beethoven, Ravel, Debussy, Shostakovich, Liszt, Offenbach, Camille Saint-Saens, and Ottorino Respighi are exercises in excellence in music quality and rendition while they impact on you a feeling of invigorating beauty.

Martha Argerich participates in four works:

We listen to her in a truly stellar rendition in Beethoven's First Piano Concerto; a magnificent performance of Beethoven's second cello sonata along with her long-standing artistic partner, cellist Mischa Maisky; an inspiring performance in Debussy's Petite Suite for four-hands with Romanian pianist Cristina Marton; and finally in a constellation of ten artists in Camille Saint-Saens highly entertaining and varied, Carnival of the Animals.

Two violin sonatas grace the compilation; one each by Ravel and Respighi. The Ravel is performed by the impressively talented Andrey Baranov (winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition in 2012) who delivers a compelling rendition ably accompanied by the pianist Jura Margulis. The Respighi which possesses a fecundity of melody and a seriousness of intent is beautifully performed by violinist Renaud Capucon and the Swiss-Italian pianist Francesco Piemontesi.

I shall conclude the review with Carlo Maria Griguoli's exuberant three-piano arrangement of Offenbach's Gaite parisienne performed with supreme verve by Griguoli joined by Giorgia Tomassi and Allessandro Stella.

A three-disc compilation to grace your collection.


The Age Of Capital: 1848-1875
The Age Of Capital: 1848-1875
by E. J. Hobsbawm
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.49

5.0 out of 5 stars The capital comes of age (1848-1875): an exercise in brilliance, power of synthesis, and erudition, 11 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My judgment on the merit of the book and author is presented with clarity in the subject heading.

The book is the second in a tetralogy covering the period 1789-1991. It follows the Age of Revolution (1789-1848) and precedes the Age of Empire (1875-1914).

I find it appropriate to say a few words on the periods which preceded and followed the period covered in the book in order to place the book in a better context.

The Age of Revolution (1789-1848) deals with the twin revolutions, the French of 1789 which was essentially political and the British industrial revolution which slightly preceded it. The focus of the book is on those two countries and to a certain extent on Europe but not in the remaining world for it had no relevance on it.

The Age of Empire (1875-1914) is an era of new sources of power (electricity and oil, turbines and the internal combustion engine) of new science-based industries, such as the expanding chemical industry.

The era of liberal triumph had been that of a de facto British industrial monopoly internationally.

The post-liberal era was one of international competition between rival national industrial economies - the British, the German, the North American. The world entered the period of Imperialism. An era which marked a new integration of the 'underdeveloped' countries as dependencies, into a world economy dominated by the 'developed' countries.

The Age of Capital (1848-1875) is the era of liberal triumph. Following the defeat of the pan-European revolution of 1848 there ensued an extraordinary and unprecedented economic transformation and expansion in the years between 1848 and the early 1870s with key elements industrialization, capitalism, and international trade and investment. During this period we witness urbanization, increase in world population, mass emigration with the bourgeoisie becoming the dominant class and the creation of the proletariat.

The creation of a single expanded world rendered possible by the evolution of mass communication and transportation was probably the most significant development of this period. The most remote parts of the world were now beginning to be linked together by means of communication which had no precedent for regularity, for the capacity to transport vast quantities of goods and numbers of people and above all, for speed: the railway, the steamship, the telegraph.

Modern technology put any government which did not possess it at the mercy of any government which did.

For half a century after the defeat of Napoleon I there had been only one power which was essentially industrial and capitalist and only one which had a genuinely global policy, i.e. a global navy: Britain.

But between 1848 and 1871, or more precisely during the 1860s, three things happened. First, the expansion of industrialization produced other industrial- capitalist powers besides Britain: the United States, Prussia (Germany) and, to a much greater extent than before, France, later to be joined by Japan. Second, the progress of industrialization increasingly made wealth and industrial capacity the decisive factor in international power; hence devaluing the relative standing of Russia and France, and greatly increasing that of Prussia (Germany). Third, the emergence as independent powers of two extra-European States, the United States (United under the North in the Civil War) and Japan (systematically embarking on modernization with the Meiji Revolution of 1868), created for the first time the possibility of global power conflict.

The capitalist powers at this stage were not particularly interested in occupying and administering countries such as China and Egypt, so long as their citizens were given total freedom to do what they wanted, including extra-territorial privileges.

Science was progressing rapidly and was justifiably confident while Art took the place of traditional religion among the educated and emancipated. This was most evident among German-speaking people, who had come to regard culture as their special monopoly in the days when British had cornered economic, the French political success. Here operas and theaters became temples and cathedrals in which men and women worshiped.

I shall conclude the review with a passage adapted from the book which encapsulates the spirit of the era and the attitude of its dominant peoples and countries: In the Darwinian 'struggle for existence', social and biological thought of the bourgeois world, only the 'fittest' would survive, their fitness certified not only by their survival but by their domination. The greater part of the world's population therefore became the victims of those whose superiority, economic, technological and therefore military, was unquestioned and seemed unchangeable: the economics of north-western and central-Europe and the countries settled by its emigrants abroad, notably the United States.

Book and author had a major impact on me, I intuit that they would have a similar impact on the prospective reader.


Capital in the Twenty-First Century
Capital in the Twenty-First Century
by Thomas Piketty
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 25.39

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The book is a paragon of excellence and a monumental work of scholarship, 9 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The basic premise of the book is that there is presently and there was in the past but also anticipated in the future an enormous wealth inequality and a tendency for wealth to accumulate even more acutely to the already very rich; the documentation in the book is impeccable.

The remedy suggested by the author - and readily acknowledged by him in the book as extremely difficult in an era of globalization - is redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation of the very rich.

A distillate of what I judge is the essence of the book follows:

Presently - and not only presently - there is a staggering and increasing wealth inequality in the developed world while the incomes of the large majority have stagnated.

The reason is that capital - and the wealth it generates - tends to accumulate faster than the rate of economic growth in capitalist societies. Additionally wealth not only tends to accumulate, but to become more and more concentrated at the top. To obtain an idea of the dizzying concentration of wealth at the top suffice it to cite that the capital ownership in USA presently for the top 10% stands at 70% while at the top 1% at nearly 35% while in Britain and France the corresponding figures are not substantially different.

The natural tendency of capital to accumulate and to become ever more concentrated largely explains the high degree of inequality that was witnessed in the developed world in the early part of the twentieth century. This inequality was largely reduced in the interwar years. The reason for this is that the major events of the first half of the twentieth century - the two world wars and the Great Depression - reduced capital's natural tendency to accumulate, and also destroyed large stocks of wealth. The end result was that by the time World War II was over, inequality in the developed world had reached an all-time low.

After the second world war, various political and economic measures - progressive taxation, rent control, increasing minimum wages, and expanded welfare programs - worked to redistribute this growing capital, thus preventing inequality from growing as quickly as it would become otherwise.

In the 1980s, though, the developed countries eliminated many of the measures that prevented inequality from rising according to its natural tendency. The consequence was that inequality reasserted itself in a major way, such that is nearly as extreme to-day as it was on the run up to the Great Depression. The historical evidence indicates that capital will likely continue to accumulate and become ever more concentrated, such that we will witness an even greater inequality in the future.

The author believes that the best and fairest solution to these problems would be progressive taxation applied to the wealthiest individuals. The author recognizes that in a world of financial globalization - where there is a high degree of competition for capital - it is extremely difficult to apply the appropriate tax scheme without the cooperation and coordinated effort of the international community - and this is hard to achieve.

The alternative is less savoring that is reverting to protectionism and nationalism and possibly social explosion.


Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 8
Offered by Naxos Direct UK
Price: 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An epic masterpiece imbued with sorrow, 5 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Another magnificent recording with Vasily Petrenko conducting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in the Shostatkovich Symphony cycle which is destined to become memorable.

The Eighth is a great tragic statement about suffering ringing as the voice of an individual sensibility speaking for the millions whose lives have been shattered by militarism, totalitarianism and cruelty. It is a powerful work built on striking contrasts between music which is at times unremittingly bleak and at others brutally intense.

The symphony's opening - dotted-note gestures in the strings leading to a sparse, bleak theme in the violins - immediately creates a sense of vast musical space within which the tension gradually mounts, the tempo increases, the themes become brutalized and the music eventually erupts into the first of the symphony's three great climaxes, drums roll crescendos punctuating massive cries from the full orchestra. The long cor anglais threnody that follows is characteristic of much of the symphony's quiet music: a sense of numb shock after the experience of horror.

The two following movements, both short and fast, take up and intensify ideas from the first movement. The second, beginning as a grimly mechanized march, contains woodwind solos in Shostakovich's most sardonic vein. The third is a grim moto perpetuo interspersed with vivid shrieks and howls, and hurtles towards the second big climax. After this the symphony's opening dotted rhythm is given out by the bass and strings, then sinks into the bass, where it is repeated eleven times, underpinning the most introverted music in the symphony, quiet throughout, with a sense of repression, exhaustion, even suffocation. There is a vast sense of relief as the music at last slides into a warm C major and a solo bassoon begins the finale.

With the recent release of the fourteenth, I look forward to the release of the thirteenth to complete the cycle in my disc collection.


An Executive Summary of Thomas Piketty's 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century'
An Executive Summary of Thomas Piketty's 'Capital in the Twenty-First Century'
by A. D. Thibeault
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Structured and meticulous, 31 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Presently - and not only presently - there is a staggering and increasing wealth inequality in the developed world while the incomes of the large majority have stagnated.

The reason is that capital - and the wealth it generates - tends to accumulate faster than the rate of economic growth in capitalist societies. Additionally wealth not only tends to accumulate, but to become more and more concentrated at the top. To obtain an idea of the dizzying concentration of wealth at the top suffice it to cite that the capital ownership in USA presently of the top 10% stands at 70% while at the top 1% at nearly 35% while in Britain and France the corresponding figures are not substantially different.

The natural tendency of capital to accumulate and to become ever more concentrated largely explains the high degree of inequality that was witnessed in the developed world in the early part of the twentieth century. This inequality was largely reduced in the interwar years. The reason for this is that the major events of the first half of the twentieth century - the two world wars and the Great Depression - reduced capital's natural tendency to accumulate, and also destroyed large stocks of wealth. The end result was that by the time World War II was over, inequality in the developed world had reached an all-time low.

After the second world war, various political and economic measures - progressive taxation, rent control, increasing minimum wages, and expanded welfare programs - worked to redistribute this growing capital, thus preventing inequality from growing as quickly as it would become otherwise.

In the 1980s, though, the developed countries eliminated many of the measures that prevented inequality from rising according to its natural tendency. The consequence was that inequality reasserted itself in a major way, such that is nearly as extreme to-day as it was on the run up to the Great Depression. The historical evidence indicates that capital will likely continue to accumulate and become ever more concentrated, such that we will witness an even greater level of inequality in the future.

The author (Thomas Piketty) believes that the best and fairest solution to these problems would be progressive taxation applied to the wealthiest individuals.The author recognizes that in a world of financial globalization - where there is a high degree of competition for capital - it is extremely difficult to apply the appropriate tax scheme without the cooperation and coordinated effort of the international community - and this is hard to achieve.

The alternative is less savoring that is reverting to protectionism and nationalism and possibly social explosion.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-12