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David Chaney (newcastle upon tyne uk)
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Lang: Death Speaks [Shara Worden; Bryce Dessner] [Cantaloupe : CA21092]
Lang: Death Speaks [Shara Worden; Bryce Dessner] [Cantaloupe : CA21092]
Price: 9.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply moving, 3 Nov 2013
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I felt unsure about buying this CD but something in what I'd read about it made me to engage with the music. I am now profoundly grateful that I made that decision. The first part consists of some songs based on fragments from Schubert lieder. The songs are haunting and beautiful played and performed with great restraint. The second part of the CD consists of a long choral piece composed for a hospital chapel where the recently bereaved could sit in a contemplative environment. A beautiful idea setting a distinctive challenge to which this music responds with eloquent profundity. Overall a piece of creative work that touches the soul.


The Beautiful Indifference
The Beautiful Indifference
Price: 4.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting advance, 28 July 2012
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As the heading indicates I think this book marks an interesting advance in Sarah Hall's work. Her grounding in rural life in Cumbria is still very apparent but it no longer dominates her work to the same extent and generally her use of language is stronger and more complex. She has always been a very thoughtful writer but now she writes with confidence and maturity and has produced some very fine stories in this collection. For people familiar with her work I recommend this book very strongly and those who who are new to her work will find it easy to engage with these stories - I feel she is becoming a more commanding presence in contemporary literature.


The Valley of Unknowing
The Valley of Unknowing
by Philip Sington
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.46

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Challenging genres, 10 May 2012
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It is difficult to find a title for this review as the book does not fall into a neat genre category. A study of life in East Germany shortly before the regime collapsed it uses a German historical setting (as the author has done in his previous work) to explore the relationship of a writer to public setting in which they are rewarded and feted, the extent to which an author is the 'sole' producer of their work and the meaning of identity in settings where little is to be trusted. And the book is an account of a passionate but unstable relationship between an older man and a younger woman. Describing these themes in this way might suggest that it is a dry or overly intellectual work but that would be misleading as I nearly labelled the book a thriller. One is caught up in the unfolding narrative as you are never quite sure which of the fictions that are in play is going to unravel, one is also seduced by the skillful way in which extensive research is unobtrusively deployed. The book is not a thriller in any conventional sense but it is perhaps better described as an exercise in noir fiction that is enthralling and deeply engaging.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 23, 2013 4:12 PM BST


Silence
Silence
by Jan Costin Wagner
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.20

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enigmatic noir, 26 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Silence (Paperback)
This is a murder mystery focussed on a group of police detectives that fails to conform to most of the conventions of that genre. It is hard to describe the narrative without giving away crucial plot developments so I shall only say that it is largely concerned with the emotional implications of sudden loss mainly through violent action but there are significant themes of other modes of grieving. The author creates a very powerful atmosphere of various types of obsession and of different forms of willed blindness. It somehow seems significant that the action takes place in Finland with Finnish detectives but in fact it could be happening virtually anywhere in Northern Europe, northern because what is not said is at least as important as what is said (and thus the title of course). I felt at the end that I had read an important book not because it is a glimpse into the life world of men who dream of sex with children - this is necessary but hardly developed element - but because it is a reflection on responsibilities in relationships and how we live through others.


Memorial
Memorial
by Alice Oswald
Edition: Hardcover

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars powerfully moving, 13 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Memorial (Hardcover)
I was persuaded to order a copy of this book by a very positive review in a newspaper but was not really sure what I was going to get. In fact it is a stripped down meditation on the Iliad responding to the many many deaths of the also-rans, the largely marginal figures in the story. The accounts of their deaths are brief almost incantatory cries of despair at the futility of war and the hollow-ness of nobility. Cumulatively they become something very powerful that has the immediacy and imaginative force of a great war memorial - one of the most affecting pieces of writing that I have read for a very long time and something to which I am sure I will return many times. I am in awe at what has been accomplished in this work.


Chamber Music
Chamber Music
Price: 5.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars music for meditation, 23 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Chamber Music (MP3 Download)
The combination of instruments and musical traditions works surprisingly well. The two players complement each other beautifully and work harmoniously to create something nourishing and inspiring. By the nature of the instruments involved this is not loud music with strong climaxes but as my heading shows something to inspire contemplation and reflection. Music of a very high order indeed.


Rruga
Rruga
Price: 12.63

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful music, 28 Mar 2011
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This review is from: Rruga (Audio CD)
Another piano trio on ECM that offers introspective, musicianly thoughtful playing rather than surging fireworks or virtuoso displays of technique. At first the initial track struck me as very strong and then I felt the album rather lost its way but subsequent playings have showed that there is more to offer and that the album repays close attention. This is good well-made music by three musicians who clearly listen very closely to each other and work hard together, a fine album by a group that offers considerable promise for the future.


An Artist's Handbook: Materials and Techniques
An Artist's Handbook: Materials and Techniques
by Margaret Manning Krug
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating Guide, 29 Oct 2010
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There are a large number of books aiming to cater for those who would like to develop some skills in pictorial expression but feel daunted by range of materials and techniques available. No book is useless but clearly some are better than most and this is one of the more stimulating books that I have come across. It concentrates on making pictures and begins with a very strong section on drawing as the basis of all pictorial work. This is followed by chapters surveying the conventional media of representation such as watercolours, oil paints and acrylic paints but supplemented with chapters on more unusual resources such as encaustic and egg tempera.
The accounts are clear and very well illustrated with instances drawn from the complete range of art history. Although written by an American it has an easy assurance and sophistication that should appeal to an international readership.
There are helpful exercises for each chapter and clear accounts of the tools and techniques commonly used. This is a book that manages to straddle the sometimes differing interests of beginner and experienced worker.
I found it a joy to read and have no hesitation in recommending it to others.


And If
And If
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 13.41

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 28 Oct 2010
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This review is from: And If (Audio CD)
Beautiful, beautiful, restrained moving music. On first hearing I thought that this is a wonderful piece of work and many subsequent listenings have not changed that response but rather deepened my appreciation.
All three performers work with taste, skill and assured musicality. Haunting, beautiful music.


The Astounding Eyes Of Rita
The Astounding Eyes Of Rita
Price: 11.05

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars consistent pleasure, 14 Jun 2010
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Anahour Brahem has made a number of albums for ECM which have all had good features but inevitably some have appealed to me at least more than others. At first I really loved his oud playing and the musicians he was paired with in the eclectic ECM way but I had begun to feel well I know his work and perhaps I'm a bit jaded with it and for this reason I delayed for some time before buying this album. In the end I did and I am now very glad to have done so as this is the best for some time. It is consistent with his previous work but has all the strongest features and very little of the defects. All the musicians are excellent and work very well together, the material is entrancing so that the album repays hours of listening. It is quietly entrancing with wonderfully evocative soundscapes of langorous evenings and quiet sensuality.


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