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Mr. A. N. Matthews (UK)
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Die Walkure
Die Walkure
Price: 31.86

5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation from the early 60's at Covent Garden, 13 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Die Walkure (Audio CD)
I have to confess at the outset that despite having heard Solti live both in the opera house and concert hall I never like his conducting. I found it harsh, driven and lacking in warmth and lyricism.
This set came as a complete revelation. The orchestra plays wonderfully in all departments but the depth of string sound (so often lacking in British orchestras ) shines out magnificently. The ebb and flow of the piece is captured vividly. The playing is committed and transparently glowing. The extreme elements of the score (the blackness of Hunding and tenderness of Sieglinde) are encapsulated in outstanding digitally remastered mono sound.
On paper I expected Hotter to tower over everyone. As well as he sings for me Vickers steals the show. Strong and noble with a great dynamic range.
On a practical note there is no libretto but there is a brief post was history of Covent Garden which is reasonably informative and a few photos.
A great Walkure to have. Don't miss out.


Keeper's Beach
Keeper's Beach
Price: 2.38

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an incisive novel and a great read., 28 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Keeper's Beach (Kindle Edition)
A really enjoyable novel that weaves many themes together intricately and with great finesse. The subject of loss and bereavement is examined within the characters and we see how they deal with them, some stoically, some rationally some pragmatically and some not very well at all. However they all come across as Human. The backdrop of the novel is rural south west England in WW2 and the lives of the farming community. It is told through the eyes of a young German refugee who grows up amongst farming stock. Like the previous reviewer I felt absorbed by the pace of the plot and it became more complex and yet moved quickly and held you spellbound. The writing is finely coloured yet precise and lucid. I thoroughly recommend this novel to all.


Brahms- Complete Symphonies 1,2,3,4, Variations on the Theme by haydn, Hungarian Dances 1,3 & 10 & Beethoven: Overtures Coriolan, Leonore no.2, - 3CD Set
Brahms- Complete Symphonies 1,2,3,4, Variations on the Theme by haydn, Hungarian Dances 1,3 & 10 & Beethoven: Overtures Coriolan, Leonore no.2, - 3CD Set

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique Brahms, 22 Mar 2014
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This box contains not only all the Brahms symphonies conducted by Furtwangler but also the Haydn Variations, 3 Hungarian Dances and Beethoven's Coriolan and Leonore No II overtures.
The Brahms are recorded between 1947 and 54 all with the BPO save for the 1st (VPO). They are all live recordings. As they are all over 50 years old you expect the sound to be rather aged. However the quality of the performances transcend the sound quality. The power of the Fortes comes searing through. I have always had a slight problem with Furtwangler's gear changes which at times can be disconcerting but he gets that something from the orchestra in the way of depth of tone and commitment that you forgive everything. The record catalogue has hundreds of Brahms symphony recordings but my betting is that clean modern studio recordings don't hold a candle to these performances that take you through the rich dark mellow Brahmsian journeys, sometimes frenetic often taught occasionally pulled about but never dull and always gripping.
Furtwangler was unique and didn't always get it right. He did not like the studio so these live concerts show him in his true colours. Magisterial and full of power. You won't be disappointed.


Mozart: Piano Concertos [Sergiu Celibidache, Norbert Buse] [Arthaus: 101673] [DVD] [NTSC] [2013]
Mozart: Piano Concertos [Sergiu Celibidache, Norbert Buse] [Arthaus: 101673] [DVD] [NTSC] [2013]
Dvd ~ Friedrich Gulda
Price: 19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, 16 Feb 2014
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I knew very little about Gulda but these two performances converted me. Beautifully coloured playing and a lovely range of dynamics in both piano and orchestra. Gulda is completely at one with these two works and the interpretations are full of character yet never over fussy. Relaxed and elegant. Very clean and clear sound from the piano. Not too bright or harsh at the top. Perfect tempi for Mozart, not too fast they just seem right. The slow movement of the 537 really sings out.
Very fine orchestral playing from the MPO (as one would expect during the Celibidache era). Like Tripod I am unclear why Celibidache was mentioned on the header. Gulda conducts the orchestra. Camera work not too intrusive.
Highly recommended.


The Clanachan Bereavement
The Clanachan Bereavement
Price: 2.48

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping tale, 25 Dec 2013
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A really great read. A wonderfully crafted novel with descriptive writing that is vivid, powerful, rich and detailed. The characters are finely drawn and thoroughly convincing. There are scenes when the tension is stretched to breaking point in its fearfulness and you are never sure what is quite going to happen.

One of the most enjoyable passages was the lead up to the shoot. A fantastic descriptive few pages of all the locals and the householders getting ready for the outing.

I was particularly taken by the period attention to detail. I read this book in two sittings and cannot wait for a sequel.


Celibidache: Firebrand and Philosopher [Friedrich Gulda [Arthaus: 101661] [DVD] [NTSC] [2013]
Celibidache: Firebrand and Philosopher [Friedrich Gulda [Arthaus: 101661] [DVD] [NTSC] [2013]
Dvd ~ Friedrich Gulda
Price: 15.81

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The eternal mystery, 7 Dec 2013
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Despite the fact that Celibidache died in 1996 material about his life regularly springs up in DVD or CD format. This latest offering consists of a series of interviews with students, family and Barenboim. They all narrate their experiences of him. Some of the material has been seen in previous offerings. The main issue is whether this film offers any new insights into this highly individual and complex man. Generally the answer is "no".
We hear repeated attempts to explain his approach to music and how he defined and explored it. However the consensus is that music cannot really be explained by words and even Celibidache could not unravel its mysteries no matter how often and how hard he tried. He openly admits that in 40 years of teaching he could not succeed in getting any of his students to understand what he was saying.
My conclusion is that you can watch this DVD and enjoy it and find some interesting information about his early life but you won't get to understand what music is all about. If you want to get to know what he achieved just keep listening to the EMI and DG boxed CD sets that were issued some years after his death.


Didier: Dreams and Nightmares
Didier: Dreams and Nightmares
by Lorie Coffey
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Tragic times, 13 Nov 2013
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In the introduction the authors set out the problems they had in writing this book. Despite writing to many family members and colleagues of Pironi to gather information very few replied and some of those who did were less than helpful. So the book starts at a disadvantage. The early years of his career leading up to when he joined Ferrari are fairly briskly covered. Race reports a paragraph long mostly just a quick summary of race times and how the car behaved. When he joins Ferrari the text is more comprehensive and of course the infamous 1982 Imola race gets top billing although in the end we are really none the wiser as to what actually happened and whether an "agreement" was broken or not. The book did remind me vividly of what a difficult season 1982 actually was both politically and in terms of human drama and tragedy. I was at Hockenheim with friends on the morning of the Saturday practice and recall the crash as if it were yesterday even though I only saw it in a misty distance. Only a few cars had gone out and as the book says Pironi was driving very quickly.

What comes across very clearly is that Pironi was highly intelligent, articulate, well educated and very quiet and reserved. All GP drivers are focussed and have to have a ruthless determined streak. Driver "agreements" always seemed to end in disagreements and the Villeneuve/Pironi situation was an prime example (assuming you accept there was one).

I suspect that Villeneuve had possibly quickly come to realise that Pironi was not at Ferrari to play second fiddle, perhaps given the man Villeneuve was he struggled to come to terms with that. Pironi was a very very fine driver. Very fast, analytical, and ambitious. He was also consistent. Much more so than Villeneuve and therefore ultimately over a season of 16 races a more likely potential world champion than Villeneuve. The thesis of the 1982 Ferrari set up according to the book is that as Villeneuve had helped Scheckter win in 1979 this year was "Villeneuve's turn" although they seem to think everyone at the team knew that except someone forgot to tell Pironi.

On balance given the difficulty the writers had in getting material in 2002 the book is well produced. I note that when Keke Rosberg was asked to contribute his response was to send the authors an autographed photo of his own son. I never felt Rosberg was a particularly worthy champion in 1982. Now I rate him even less. Nigel Mansell's response to a request for a contribution was to send the authors a brochure his golf club.

I was shocked at the strength of dislike for Pironi that other participants in the Formula 1 fraternity had.

This book will have good appeal to those interested in the infamous 1982 season and also driver relationships in a team.


Schubert - Piano Sonatas, D575, D625 & D664
Schubert - Piano Sonatas, D575, D625 & D664

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richter at his best- an indescribable recital, 23 Sep 2013
This disc is one of two separate discs that make up a recital of 4 Schubert sonata that Richter gave at the RFH in March 1979. The other sonata is the A Minor D784. Richter hadn't appeared in London for some time. Having been to the RFH hundreds of times this recital sticks in my memory perhaps more than nearly all the others. It is very rare to go a concert when everything grips you from start to finish. I remember all the reviews were ecstatic. I think it was Dominic Gill writing in the FT started the review by saying "This was a great recital". He was right. From the gentle carefree D575 played with such a natural flow that you could be next to a gin clear Hampshire chalkstream on a spring walk, to the dark brooding A minor everything was played with clarity and complete concentration so that every note counted. The cumulative effect of the four works added up to something unforgettable. You cannot begin to analyse his technique of bringing out the natural Schubertian quality that we all know when we hear it but cannot translate it into words. All great pianists have two basic qualities, clarity and an ability to make absolutely every note count to its maximum effect. There are no such things as highly polished play throughs. Richter gets to the essence of these pieces. The final torrent of the last movement of the A minor ends with the certain feeling that despair has hit you right between the eyes. After the heartfelt slow movement the devastation is complete.


Mozart: Symphony No. 41 'Jupiter'/ Bruckner: Symphony No. 7
Mozart: Symphony No. 41 'Jupiter'/ Bruckner: Symphony No. 7
Price: 13.53

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars electric live recording of Mozart 41 and Bruckner 7, 23 May 2013
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These two discs feature a VPO/Karajan concert at the Royal Festival Hall dating from 1962. At that time Karajan was in demand all over europe and Richard Osborne's biography tells us that this concert was part of a "mini" tour of several cities in which he played this programme. The Bruckner is incredibly taut yet at the same time breathes a great rich dense series of climaxes that allow the work to naturally unfold. The tempo is quite quick yet never hurrued or pushed, it is the pulse that underlies the performance that really matters. The sound although it's 50 years old, but yet you get drawn in by the performance. The Mozart has great energy, yet also has elegance and nobility. Karajan when he wanted to could draw wonderful playing but allowed the VPO to play as only they knew how and he never sought to impose the burnished Berlin sound on them. Yes, buy this set but don't listen too regularly. Let it make its impact once every so often. You won't be disappointed.Ignore Neville Cardus' rather sarcastic comment quoted in the sleeve note.


Karajan: The Second Life [DVD] [2013]
Karajan: The Second Life [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ Herbert Von Karajan
Price: 14.64

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a rather one sided view, 5 April 2013
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Karajan has been the subject of at least two earlier film documentaries about his life. This one seemed to be focussed very much on his recording activities. Most of those interviewed in the film had worked with him and therefore had experienced him at first hand. What put me off slightly was the almost uncritical adulation shown by them with only Anne Sophie Mutter introducing a slight caveat, about "things did not always go right" or words to that effect.
As is always the case the interviewees were only allowed one or two sentences before they editor went to the next person or recorded film of a rehearsal or another interview. Hence everything was slightly disjointed.

I attended over 40 karajan performances in the 70's and 80's and memories do fade over a 25 year period. However what I recall vividly was the orchestral committment and as Anne Sophie Mutter said "PLAYERS PLAYING AS THOUGH THEIR LIVES DEPENDED ON IT" (my emphasis). Indeed they did and this produced performances of incredible intensity. I remember a performance of Brahms 2 in Lucerne in about 1985 which typified this approach. You were simply gripped and pulled into the performance. This film brought out that feature of his conducting.

The film also featured the silly nonsense about his fast cars and jet planes. Frankly he worked very hard for his money and he can spend it on what he liked and if he wanted a fast car or a jet plane that is his business.

Did the film produce any new insights into Karajan as a man or conductor? Not really. I had heard it all before. yes of course he was dedicated (and ruthless) yes he helped people and was free with his advice to young conductors and performers to an extent the good old general public were not aware of.

At the end of it all one interviewee in the film said that ultimately music happens in live concerts not records so whatever is said about karajan now is rather beside the point. Whilst I agree with that to an extent, Just go and listen to the Testament recording of his last London concert with the Brahms 1, that's where you hear what he could do even when he was on his last legs.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 5, 2013 2:51 PM BST


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