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Michael S. Rohan

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Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten (Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev) [DVD]
Strauss: Die Frau ohne Schatten (Mariinsky Orchestra/Valery Gergiev) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Avgust Amonov [Emperor]
Price: £22.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The finest Frau on DVD, 12 Jun 2014
I both saw this production at the Edinburgh Festival, and reviewed this disc professionally for the BBC. Both times I thought it the best I'd seen. Jonathan Kent's production is clear and imaginative, treating the story as one of human relationships. ambitions and dreams, rather than a murky allegory. I'm no friend of distorted modern production styles, but shifting the human characters from vaguely oriental peasants into modern poverty-row characters brings them and their emotional problems far more alive, especially the Dyer's Wife, normally played as a Germanic harridan but here a believable discontented young wife hungering for a better life. The world of the immortals is very atmospherically handled, and imagery such as the falcon poetically handled.

The entirely Russian cast, contrary to other opinions here, does very well indeed. If they're not quite the equal of the great stars of previous generations, they're still very good, and in many cases younger and fresher, even singing German. They're certainly better than the recent cast at Covent Garden. Olga Savova's superbly sung and acted Nurse would grace any cast, Evgeny Ulanov's sonorous Spirit Messenger is magnificent -- better even than Bryn Terfel on Solti's DVD version -- and Avgust Amonov, though a rather sedate stage figure, sings the Emperor far better than German heroic bellowers. Mlada Khudoley's Empress and Olga Sergeeva's Dyer's Wife strain their youthful voices at times, but live their roles passionately, and Eden Umerov's moments of gruff tone are balanced by some genuinely heart-wrenching singing and credible characterization. The supporting cast is excellent, and the sense of ensemble evident. Gergiev conducts with sweeping emotional force, and the Mariinsky orchestra sounds superb. The recording does it all justice, on BluRay especially. There are some of the usual stage cuts, but they're no great disadvantage.

Solti's Salzburg set, my previous favourite, is undoubtedly very good, even better conducted and with some fine casting, but the somewhat clinical production isn't nearly as involving and there isn't the intensity of acting and ensemble. The most recent competitor, Christof Loy's recording-studio staging, is wholly empty, a clumsy get-out of a difficult piece, and no more than adequate musically. This is the version which comes nearest to making this heavyweight fable a living human opera.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2014 4:52 PM BST

David Attenborough's Natural History Museum Alive 3D (Blu-ray 3D)
David Attenborough's Natural History Museum Alive 3D (Blu-ray 3D)
Dvd ~ Sir David Attenborough
Price: £10.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At midnight in the museum hall..., 27 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?) Ogden Nash wrote for The Carnival of the Animals "all the fossils have a ball!". This is magical, especially in 3D. It embodies al those childhood fantasies about exhibits coming to life -- much more convincingly than "Night at the Museum"!

Sir David's love for his subject is as evident as ever, with an extra delight in the fantasy aspects; he seems to have enjoyed acting to special effects! Even when the information is familiar, this provides brilliant new insights -- an ichthyosaurus versus dolphin race is amazing. Picture and sound are excellent, although Attenborough's voice occasionally dries a little. Strongly recommended.

The Anvil Of Ice: The Winter of the World, Volume 1
The Anvil Of Ice: The Winter of the World, Volume 1
by Michael Scott Rohan
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Well, Amazon asked me to submit a review...., 27 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
...and since I'm the author, what else could I say? But at least I can use the space to thank all the readers worldwide who've bought this book for nearly thirty years.


Mike Scott Rohan

Richard Wagner: The Last of the Titans
Richard Wagner: The Last of the Titans
by Joachim Köhler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £28.68

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kohler's Little Joke, 26 Sep 2013
Several of the other reviews paint a good enough picture of this fairly worthless book, and its companion piece Wagner's Hitler. But those who posted good reviews of either, and seem to have taken Kohler's view of Wagner as true, may be in for a shock.

Admittedly, few if any reputable Wagner historians, except a small coterie of British writers, have ever taken Kohler particularly seriously. Nor, for that matter, have reputable Nazi-era historians such as Michael Burliegh and Sir Ian Kershaw; in general they consider Wagner's influence upon Hitler only to dismiss it. Kohler consistently misquotes, misinterprets and wholly misrepresents Wagner's life and idea, even to the extent of quoting Hitler and attributing it to Wagner.

But if you don't agree, if you cling to Kohler's portrait of Wagner, or any other that corresponds to it, then don't disagree with me -- ask the author. Yes, as of late 2012 Kohler now declares that his view of Wagner was completely mistaken, and in his latest book, Den Lachenden Wagner (The Laughing Wagner) he depicts Wagner as a cheerfully witty, impish character given to good-natured clowning, whose anti-semitism even (he says) wasn't serious, merely a theatrical pose by a man who actually relished the company of Jews as close friends. It's a fascinating about-turn, and the thought that Kohler may have had this Damascene conversion when his previous books were selling more slowly, and he needed a new hook for readers, is probably unworthy. He may or may not be right this time, but believe him on this -- you don't need to read this book.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 24, 2014 2:59 PM BST

Carnacki the Ghost Finder (Annotated, Paranormal Detective)
Carnacki the Ghost Finder (Annotated, Paranormal Detective)
Price: £0.77

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Carnacki the Ghost Finder (Annotated,..., 7 Nov 2011
As delivered contained none of the promised extra material, introductions, filmographies, illustrations etc. Just bare text, fairly crude copy. Apparently a scam.

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