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Romantic Organ Music
Romantic Organ Music
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £12.88

5.0 out of 5 stars deeply satisfying, 13 July 2014
This review is from: Romantic Organ Music (Audio CD)
This was the first organ record I bought, I think, on cassette at the time ... hearing it now having chanced upon the CD, I cannot think why I haven't got it back sooner. It really is a fantastic disc, both for its outstanding programme of French and German Romantic repertoire, the modern organ sound which has an amazing clarity yet gives great aural pleasure, and not least for Peter Hurford's brilliant playing. The Widor Toccata is, as the other reviewer says, played at a slower tempo than you sometimes hear, but this is apparently the speed Widor intended it to played at, and in many ways it is better than the faster speed. You get more of a sense of the cumulative power of the figuration, so that every note counts as well as the melodic and harmonic arc. As these pull in different directions, it makes the music more interesting, as if fully revealed. Hurford has the virtue of being able to play bang in time, which I always like; not just in this work, but throughout the recital, his sense of the pulse of the music brings out its true beauty. All the works are marvellous, although I can't help singling out the Franck which seems ineffably wonderful, and dear Vierne, sounding so tender in his Berceuse. The Karg-Elert is irresistible, like the most beautiful hymn tune you ever heard. It is so noble and uplifting, and buoyed up by that same rhythmic poise. The Reger, on the other hand, has a terrific grandeur, as if one were standing before a chasm painted by one of the visionary German painters of the 19th century. It is unbelievable - one of the greatest Decca recordings, surely.


François Couperin: Keyboard Music, Vol. 1
François Couperin: Keyboard Music, Vol. 1
Price: £14.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars full of fantasy, 12 July 2014
Couperin is superbly represented in this first instalment of his keyboard works by Angela Hewitt. She seems to have assimilated his idiom perfectly and her notes show how immersed she is in his world and the various questions of interpretation that arise. To a non-expert listener such as myself the most striking thing is the use of ornamentation, which, as she says, becomes a part of the expressive line in an integral way. There are a lot of ornaments, it is true - more than you find in Bach or Handel, but how beautiful the effect when they are played like this! It is music of wonderful elegance and spirit, by which it gets to something essential. No one could hear the Passacaille from the Huitieme Ordre without being surprised and moved by its daring harmonic progressions, by its sheer passion. The titles are often playful and allusive, even where it is not clear what they allude to in numbers such as Les Baricades Misterieuses. Hewitt opens up the various possibilities, but perhaps the question mark which remains is part of the charm. Certainly the two portraits of Couperin in the booklet suggest a man of humour, like a musical Voltaire, but not so wiry. The sound is fine to my ears, quite bold but not especially resonant, which downplays the more Romantic sound of the modern grand while getting a baroque immediacy. I wish harmonia mundi would release Davitt Moroney's single-disc recording on the harpsichord from the 80s which was so magical, but Hewitt is very much on a par in a more modern guise.


Chop Suey [2008] [2001] [DVD]
Chop Suey [2008] [2001] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Bruce Weber
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £4.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sometimes misses the true flavour, probably, 12 July 2014
Chop Suey is based around a young wrestler called Peter Johnson who Bruce Weber liked to photograph, who he seems to have introduced to Teri Shepherd, who was the partner of the singer Frances Faye. Weber shows a lot of footage of all three, so that it becomes a homage to the singing and personality of Faye, and the beauty of Johnson. He then mixes in thumbnail sketches of many other people he photographed, all with anecdotes and live footage. The roll call includes Diana Vreeland, Robert Mitchum, Henry Miller, the Brat Pack, a champion Brazilian wrestler and his family, the Fletcher family who surf and are presented as "Nixon's neighbours", and a number of other famous photographers: his teacher Tina Modotti, Edouard Boubat, David Bailey etc. Wilfred Thesiger and the disabled man he photographed nude are interesting and surprising.

While it is undeniably beautiful to look at, however, I also found it a bit superficial and above all unquestioning in its attitude to the beautiful and glamorous. It also seems a bit coy about admitting that gay desire is largely what the images are about, except where Weber has met an entertainment legend. He is a bit too starstruck, I think, about some of these people. However Faye is quite something, and a one-off, and Peter combines a super-buff body and sweetness to an unusual degree.


The Grand Organ of Lincoln Cathedral (DVD & CD)
The Grand Organ of Lincoln Cathedral (DVD & CD)
Dvd ~ Colin Walsh - organist
Price: £27.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars organ recital has much appeal, 12 July 2014
Colin Walsh's recital is very engaging and takes in some wonderful French repertoire (Langlais, Vierne, Messiaen, Litaize, plus Guilmant's arrangement of Saint-Saëns The Swan) which would more than justify buying the disc, even if it didn't have some superb Bach, Brahms and Byrd, and other things as well. The visuals are generally very good although I'm not sure whether the fighter planes quite fitted in with so much religious iconography. They seem to jar with the beauty that otherwise characterizes everything, forcing your mind onto painful realities unmediated by art. I enjoyed Walsh's playing very much indeed, and the Litaize Prélude et Danse Fuguée is quite a discovery, as is George J. Bennett's Elegiac Prelude.


The Lady Vanishes [DVD]
The Lady Vanishes [DVD]
Dvd ~ Margaret Lockwood
Price: £5.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a class act, 11 July 2014
This review is from: The Lady Vanishes [DVD] (DVD)
The Lady Vanishes is one of Hitchcock's lightest and most successful capers. It is packed full of incident and strings you along as if the train (on which most of it takes place) were the rope. The tone is easy-going from the off but when the lady does vanish it does become quite intriguing, and a whole bunch of characters have already been sketched and brought to life because of a delayed departure in the Alps. Dame May Whitty excels as the lady of the title, beautifully offset, in primary position, by Michael Redgrave - all charm and energy - and Margaret Lockwood, who is returning to London to marry imminently. So there should be nothing doing there, but the screen chemistry sizzles as they try to solve the disappearance of the fairly elderly Miss Froy. A lot of vintage Hitchcock tropes are here - trains passing with Redgrave caught between the two, birds involved in a scrap, although here it's doves peacefully flapping to stop it rather than the marauders of over twenty years later, and minor actors in character roles, especially two cricket lovers who share a bed, who end up behaving more gallantly than their initial evasive attitudes suggest. There is a lot to enjoy, in fact it is a particularly light and inventive story from quite early in Hitchcock's career.


Yossi [DVD]
Yossi [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ohad Knoller
Offered by fat_buddha
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars flat and undramatic, 10 July 2014
This review is from: Yossi [DVD] (DVD)
Yossi is a bit disappointing, in spite of the genial presence of Ohad Knoller and the appealing faces on the box. It tells the story of a closeted hospital doctor who leaves Tel Aviv spontaneously and goes to a holiday resort where he meets some soldiers, and particularly one with whom he starts a romance. For some reason it fails to come to life, and I kept wondering what it was trying to show. Nothing was interesting enough, and the settings lacked magic. The early part of the film, where he hooks up with a very conceited stranger for sex, and then visits the parents of his lover from Yossi and Jagger for a painful revelation of the truth, gives no pleasure, nor does the section in the hospital at the start. Apparently there was no script, which may account for its sense of randomness. The same feeling dominates in Time Off, a 43-minute short which seems far too long, showing how an amiable army recruit, who may be gay, sees his `superior' having gay sex in a toilet. Nothing is said and most of the film details the unit doing manoeuvres and then stopping off in Tel Aviv, where this incident occurs. Little touches of solidarity between people we hardly have any sense of do not compensate, and don't quite seem real in any case. It's probably for those who loved Yossi and Jagger only, being like a re-run only less interesting.


Salmonberries [DVD] [1991]
Salmonberries [DVD] [1991]
Dvd ~ K.D. Lang
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £6.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a Winterreise for two women, 10 July 2014
This review is from: Salmonberries [DVD] [1991] (DVD)
There are lots of reasons to like this film, first among which, for many people, will be k. d. lang in her only screen role. She has a particular boyish beauty that suits the part very well, which is of a feral youth, a girl who passes herself off for a boy and works in a mine in Alaska. (It is largely shot on location in Alaska, with a section in Berlin.) The fact that her acting is not that good probably adds to it, as she just looks so right, and her awkwardness seems to stem from having spoken so little. She also sings hauntingly on the soundtrack, set against the opening of Beethoven's Spring Sonata. She is paired with a very good actress, Rosel Zech, who had been one of Fassbinder's inspirations and had memorably been Veronika Voss nine years earlier. She is really fantastic also, in a very different way, both in terms of looks and age, and type, and acting ability! But out of this a certain magic is made through Percy Adlon's colourful, eccentric visuals. The story touches on certain tougher political realities than, say, Bagdad Café, and the stark Alaskan setting downplays the cutesy aspect of the earlier films. I always feel a bit ambivalent about this, but others love it, in which case they may like this one less. I also like the ambiguity of its central relationship. Altogether it is a voyage of discovery with many memorable visuals, some intense acting from Zech, and a beautifully wrought ending that comes all too soon. It is a complete one-off and if you like it you'll certainly be very glad it exists!


The Houseboy [DVD] [2007]
The Houseboy [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Nick May
Price: £6.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a strange indie pick-and-mix, 9 July 2014
This review is from: The Houseboy [DVD] [2007] (DVD)
Ricky is a very cute 21-year-old houseboy we first see in bed with two thirty-somethings, and very sexy it is too, even if they are just hugging. However they seem to be planning to ditch him, and then take off for Christmas, leaving him alone. Knowing the lie of the land, he embarks on a series of encounters, often sexual, with various pick-ups, and floats the idea of suicide on Christmas Eve, which meets with various reactions. You don't know what he might do, because the unhappiness of rejected youth is very apparent in him, and his family don't want anything to do with his gayness. He has that slightly blank readiness to do things, then change his mind, floating like a cork. The tone of the film is quite original, using lots of Christmas lights without feeling kitsch in itself, and there are many animals in the flat and outside it, so that as well as the human cast there are cats, rabbits, fish, hamsters etc. Ricky also looks very good in a jockstrap and the filmmaker seems to like framing his derriere, which certainly has charm to spare ... He also meets a delightful black boy called Blake, who has two mums. The thrust of the film is clear, and its tender-heartedness probably reflects firsthand experience of family rejection, even though it is dressed up here in day-glo colours. Its note is not unlike Chuck and Buck, and it deserves to be seen for its affectionate take on lost youth and its insight into the psychology of rejection. Its triumph is to touch on these things so unpredictably and to keep the physical upholstery of Ricky so close you can feel the quality of the stitching on those singlets and underwear, and the sexiness of his generous young physique ...


Nine Dead Gay Guys [2003] [DVD]
Nine Dead Gay Guys [2003] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Glen Mulhern
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £10.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars stuffed full of references to male anatomy, 8 July 2014
Opinions seem to be polarised on Nine Dead Gay Guys. It seems to me it is quite funny in most parts, sometimes hilarious, and very inventive. For stringing out the story from such flimsy beginnings I would give it five stars, and it always sounds intelligent. The plot turns on an Orthodox Jewish gay man hiding a stash of money in his bed, and a series of murders related to it. Among those trying to get their hands on it are the two main characters, two young Irish men living rough in London. Although they are both presented as straight, one gets the other involved in working as a rentboy like himself. They are sexy and sharp, and the secondary roles mostly work well. Of course there is a certain amount of stereotyping but it would be absurd to take offence. I'd remove a star because it does remain within fairly narrow limits and doesn't really have any depth, which is reflected in a lack of visual quality, in fact it looks quite cheaply produced. In terms of characters, the lesbian bar owner and the dwarf struck me as particularly effective, the latter having a role that he would normally be denied in mainstream cinema, whereas here it really engaged with his particular assets (or perhaps ass-ets, given the amount of rear nudity there is of him, but of no one else) without being either patronising or politically correct. This actor, Raymond Griffiths, and Brendan Mackey, were particularly pleasurable to watch, while Steven Berkoff's name rubber-stamps the whole project. You can feel it is a film by straight people even though nearly all the characters are gay, but I did not find it homophobic - anarchic would probably be the closest to it, but really it has a unique, rude tone.


Great Organ Works
Great Organ Works
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £36.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beauty of consolation, 8 July 2014
This review is from: Great Organ Works (Audio CD)
This beautiful, infinitely precious recording of all of Franck's major organ works was made on the Cavaillé-Coll organ at Caen in 1995 (on two CDs), and it surely has to be one of the outstanding sets of these pieces. It combines modern recorded sound by Erato with the scrupulous approach of Marie-Claire Alain, whose dedication comes through as always. She also wrote the very informative notes. She tends to be fairly restrained in registrations and expressive nuances, so that the Romanticism of the works seems slightly contained, but all the more yearning. Highlights include the Fantaisie in A, the Three Chorals written right at the end of his life, and the marvellous Prière, not forgetting the Final with which the programme ends. The organ has a beautiful cushioned sound that is totally seductive on the ear, and the set can be bought with confidence - there can't be many which give more pressing advocacy to Franck and his claim to be deserving of something of the reverence accorded to Bach and Messiaen. He was clearly a man of passion and soulful rapture and the organ works show this perhaps best of all.


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