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Mr. A. N. Matthews (UK)

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Piano Concertos
Piano Concertos
Price: 21.28

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pianism from a different age, 21 July 2012
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This review is from: Piano Concertos (Audio CD)
There are two Michelangeli live recordings on this disc. The Ravel concerto is not as good as his 1957 recording on EMI with the Philharmonia. The NHK orchestra isn't in their league. Michelangeli and the orchestra simply don't seem to be at one for some of the time particularly in Tempi, as a result I found the whole piece rather unsatisfying. The Liszt is another matter. Michelangeli is absolutely on fire in this performance. Despite the hair raising committment from him everything is under control and played with complete clarity. Nobody can match him in this piece. There is nothing showy or vulgar in the playing, it simply sweeps you along in the grand manner. It is worth buying for this alone. You are taken back to a bygone age of playing that is brought to life on this disc. Given its age and the circumstances of the recording the sound quality is perfectly acceptable.

North and South Complete [DVD] [2010]
North and South Complete [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Patrick Swayze
Price: 13.75

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars North and South, 25 May 2012
I was extremely disappointed with this series.I won't set out the narrative background as that has been done by other reviewers. There were far too many scenes of men drinking large cognacs from huge brandy balloons, couples in passionate clinches with girls having layers of underwear removed against the backdrop of blurred candlelight. I lost count of the number of fistfights where characters got up afterwards unscathed, despite having been beaten to pulp.
The characters were either cardboard villans or perfect gentlemen. I found some factual situations hard to accept. For example,
We were told by the author at the beginning of book three that Akelah Bent had been killed but by some quirk of fate had survived. Well, it's either one or the other (unless you are Jesus Christ or Lazarus). At the end of bk II We saw the small barn he was in containing the statutory 40 barrels of blackmarket gunpowder blown to smithereens in a series of really violent fireball explosions. Strangely while his chest was burnt his face head and hands survived without a mark.
The civil war scenes forgot the fact that cavalry hardly featured in battles but were used for scouting, spying, and foraging. Generals did not go wandering all over the country unescorted, particularly near enemy lines . Almost all the soldiers were portrayed as complete brutes where women were concerned. Is that historically accurate? I doubt it.
Where this series lost out was on attention to detail. It reached a low point in book 3 where we saw an Indian war party attacking a wagon train in a style of scene reminiscent of "Stagecoach".
The only things I can say to recommend the series was the portral of Abe Lincoln, who was an actor who actually looked like him, and the firearms used were convincing. General Grant was competently done. Otherwise forget it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 4, 2012 1:55 PM BST

Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli as I Knew Him (Ars Musica. Interdisziplinare Studien)
Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli as I Knew Him (Ars Musica. Interdisziplinare Studien)
by Lidia Kozubek
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Michelangeli, 18 Oct 2011
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Biographical information on this great figure of 20th century pianists has been scant as it has been florid and speculative, therefore any material from an authoriatitive source is to be welcomed. As a long standing student Lidia Kozubeck is in a position to give us a good first hand account of her relationship with Michelangeli. I have to confess I found this book slightly sycophantic. It did however set out in some detail his teaching techniques and his view of the world.
It is clear that pianists rather than laymen will appreciate this book as some of the explanations about his playing were rather technical. May be that cannot be helped. Having heard him play live many times there is no doubt that he had charisma and an ability to make the piano sound different from his peers. The richness and purity of sound he could create was unique to him, none of the others had it. If you want to hear the best exampleas then his live Greig Concerto published on BBC Legends is a great example as is the Liszt Totentanz on the ABM label from the early 60's. A Testament double album from a Festival Hall recital in 1957 is another astonishing set of performances of Schumann, Chopin and Debussy. The 1957 Rachmaninoff 4 and Ravel concerto recordings on EMI is the other disc to get. Those few will convince you that here was a true individual who could cause notes on a keyboard to transend into something other worldly.
The photographs in the book although plentiful were sadly of very poor quality. The list of sources was detailed and very useful as is the list of recordings. There were some proof reading errors which are of a minor irritation.
What I think this book does achieve is to dispel some of the myths about his personality that have been created by a variety of sources. The picture that is created is that he was completely his own man and devoid of any pretence. Lang Lang please take note.....

The Chateauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book
The Chateauneuf-du-Pape Wine Book
by Harry Karis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 60.00

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Chateauneuf du pape wine book, 6 Jun 2010
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Robert Parker described this book as "one of the most profound wine books" he had ever read. I do not share that illustrious view. Understandably in a specialist book of this type the section on the domaines was by far the largest. The information on the individual domaines is very useful but the narrative is brief and lacks the sort of detail one expects for a book of this length and price. For example the entry on Henri Bonneau is just over half a page. This hardly does justice to one of the great characters of the area who represents the 12th generation of local winemakers. The early sections setting out the history and geology are frankly very badly written.The terms "winemaker" and "winegrower" are used interchangeably. I always thought wine was made rather than grown.

In the early pages we are told twice that "chateauneuf was a very prosperous village with probably a vast vineyard". We are also told that not much is known or written about the German occupation during WWII. Frankly I find that hard to accept. After all there must be quite a few people still living who have first hand memories of those years. Either write a proper history or do not do one at all. What this book needed was an editor's pen wielded decisively. The history section reads like a year 7 text book. I also struggled to come to terms with a wine book over 460 pages long that only spends 4 pages on geology (and those pages are mostly made up of very basic pictures)and then,somewhat illogically, soil is dealt with in a separate chapter. All this may sound nit picking and pedantic to some but if you are publishing a book that purports to be a serious study then getting it right matters.
There were too many glossy pictures and photos ( I lost count of the number of pages taken up with photos of oak barrels and stainless steel tanks; they all looked the same after a while, 1 picture is plenty) seriously written text was severely lacking.Whilst there is a lot of fact and detail in the book it is not well laid out. If you need to find out a particular fact then this book probably has it but to read it for more than 5 minutes is a struggle. Writing well is a rare skill and in my view Mr Karis does not possess it.

Schumann/Debussy:Piano Co
Schumann/Debussy:Piano Co
Price: 15.82

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars histroic recording of Schumann concerto, 17 Nov 2009
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This is about as broad and expansive reading as you will get. What spoilt the performance for me was the rather boomy reverberant acoustic. That having been said this peformance held me spellbound in a way I did not expect.
Michelangeli is one of those pianists whose musical personality is very strong and uncompromising. The comment that is quoted in the leaflet (I have no memory I always start from zero) is very apt here. Having heard his older recordings of this concerto it is as though he has completely rethought the whole piece. The intermezzo is sublime, the finale has real force without being rushed.
The recording is very close which means that you feel that you are in the middle of the orchestra, if you like that then fine, but I don't.
The Debussy is magnificant in detail and colour, it's very fluid and at the same time full blooded playing.

Mozart - Divertimento No 15; Stravinsky - Le Sacre du Printemps
Mozart - Divertimento No 15; Stravinsky - Le Sacre du Printemps
Price: 14.76

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Mozart, 14 Nov 2009
This is worth buying for the Mozart alone. It is an absolutely sublime reading. I do not think I have ever heard such immaculate playing of a work that cruelly exposes any mistakes by the performers. It is all elegance, grace and sophistication. The strings just flow melodically and precisely. The danger is that with playing of this calibre you risk just admiring it rather than listening to be music itself. The recording is excellent.
The Stravinsky provides a savage contrast. A marvelleous disc. Again one must pay tribute to Testament for bringing this concert out of the archives.

Beethoven Symphony No.4 / Strauss  Ein Heldenleben
Beethoven Symphony No.4 / Strauss Ein Heldenleben
Price: 15.61

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Karajan RFH, 14 Nov 2009
I must confess that I did not like the Beethoven and felt the performance was not a patch on his Philharmonia recording. It somehow lacked the mercurial touch that Carlos Kleiber caught so well in his live Orfeo recording.The Heldenleben is a different story. A richly magnificant reading with all the power and grace that this work needs.

A Wine Atlas of the Langhe: The Greatest Barolo and Barbaresco Vineyards
A Wine Atlas of the Langhe: The Greatest Barolo and Barbaresco Vineyards
by Victtorio Mangnelli
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wine Atlas of the Langhe, 13 Jun 2009
This is a beautifully produced book. Full of detail and history of one of the great wine regions of the world. In depth coverage is given to each different commune and the photographs are excellent. Where it falls down is that there are no vintage ratings nor are there any notes to tell you where then photographs are taken. Nor is there an index. All these are minor quibbles.
The interviews with the villagers who lived in the region are wonderful and convey a sense of being wrapped up in tradition and past hardships particularly during the war.
Any lover of Barolo/Barbaresco should not be without this book.

Symphony No. 1/Verklarte Nacht (Von Karajan)
Symphony No. 1/Verklarte Nacht (Von Karajan)
Price: 14.25

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars karajan's final London concert, 8 Nov 2008
A lot has been written in this centenary year about Herbert von Karajan (some of it quite unpleasant) and a considerable number of discs and documentaries have been released. If you buy nothing else get this CD. It is a privilege to be able to hear once again the sublime performances of these two pieces and the BPO giving their all. The recording is quite close but the rich textures of the Schoenberg are quite vividly reproduced.
The Brahms is a huge performance that leaves you overwhelmed at the end. One of karajan's great strengths was that everything within the performance was subservient to the whole. There is a majestic sweep to the interpretation that is tremendously gripping.
The playing is of an intensity that you do not get in studio performances and it may have been because the players probably knew this was his last London concert and therefore gave that bit extra.
This disc is unmissable.

Celibidache: In Rehearsal & Performance [DVD] [2007]
Celibidache: In Rehearsal & Performance [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Stuttgart Radio Sym Orch
Price: 16.72

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars celibidache-the inherent difficulty., 26 Oct 2008
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The inherent problem with all Celibidache recordings is that they contradict his philosophy of music. He did not believe music should be recorded because it de humanised it. He famously said that listening to a record was like going to bed with a photo of Brigitte Bardot.
I was lucky to see him live many times and the essential point is that you need to forget all other performances you have heard of the piece he is conducting. People who complained of his slow tempi missed the point. it's the rhythmic pulse that matters and that cannot be measured in minutes and seconds as some critics seem to think. When you heard him "live" you got sucked into the performance, but to do that you had to forget that his speeds were slower than other conductors. If you did not then you ceased to "listen" but were simply hearing another performance in your mind and sub consciously making a comparison.
To get the best out his performances you had to concerntrate as hard as the performers. That's easier to achieve in the concert hall than it is at home.
The other point is that he could draw extraordinay colour from an orchestra which never comes over on CD or DVD. I remember a "Pictures from an Exhibition" he did with the LSO at the RFH in about 1980 and the entry to the Great gate of Kiev sounded like liquid gold because he "blended" the timpani and brass like no other conductor could ever do. none of the recordings available recreate that sound.
That said it is better to have the EMI and DG recordings plus the DVDs because at least go some way to giving an impression of what he was like, but if you want to "take the plunge" do remember if you listen to a piece you know very well from other recordings just try and put everything you have heard out of your mind and approach the Celibidache recording as if you had never heard the piece before. I know that's a big ask but just let the music wash over you.

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