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Black Glove "Symphonic Longfingers" (GB)

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The Egghead Republic
The Egghead Republic
by Arno Schmidt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Eggheads rule ?, 30 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: The Egghead Republic (Paperback)
Arno Schmidt's writing style is strange and creative: poetic prose meets off-the-cuff chatter. First published in 1957, "The Egghead Republic" is a sci-fi fantasy-cum-comedy which takes place in a post-apocalyptic 2008. Basically atom bombs have been dropped in a mad European war and everything (as you might expect) has changed. Mutated half-human species (both beautiful and weird) roam the peculiar wilderness and inhabit the science labs. We follow an American reporter on his investigative journey to a jet-propelled island known as "The International Republic of Artists & Scientists" (IRAS) - viz. The Egghead Republic, where geniuses of all kinds live and work in a protected utopia.

I enjoyed greatly the translation of Schmidt's writing style: the flamboyant constantly meets the down-to-earth; the author's humour and sarcasm comes through in abundance. The overall story is perhaps less strong: this is more a literary report than a story, and occasionally I felt fazed by the author's flippancy and quirky commentary. Also, the weird beginning flattens out somewhat as the protagonist explores the island.
Unusual in both style and content, I'd define The Egghead Republic as a novel for readers who like a challenging and untamed yarn written in an easy-going, if experimental, form.


Avet Terterian: Symphony No. 6
Avet Terterian: Symphony No. 6
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars So real it's fantastical, 13 Jan. 2015
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Visualize the dark robes of a hooded monk - two metres above craggy terrain - gliding through a monochrome landscape - a grey-black lunar-like wilderness - slowly yet surely the shadowy figure progresses towards the silhouette of a mysterious tower on the murky horizon where diffuse colours intermittently flash ...... mesmerizing - epic - minimalistic - monumental - unique - wondrously strange - a unique symphonic voice.

But no matter what uncanny images this one-movement work conjures in the mind's-eye, in the end the music feels inescapably real. To transmit through an orchestra a genuine ambience of truth is an amazing feat - an artistic honesty that gradually becomes haunting.


Kinsella: Symphony No. 5/ 10 [Gábor Takács-Nagy, Gerard O'Connor] [Toccata Classics: TOCC 0242]
Kinsella: Symphony No. 5/ 10 [Gábor Takács-Nagy, Gerard O'Connor] [Toccata Classics: TOCC 0242]
Price: £14.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The 5th and the 10th, 4 Nov. 2014
The 10th symphony is quite serious. I say "quite" serious because at times it feels indecisive, or perhaps lacking a certain vitality. It wants to glow - but something weighs heavy on the heart. The sun tries to come out from behind the clouds but it's too late, it's already going dark. Kinsella's lyricism is here in abundance yet uncanny shadows are somehow hampering the spirit. If you're familiar with JK's 3rd and 4th symphonies then this is like the ghost of those two memorable works. Sometimes aspects of those previous masterworks can be heard slipping in and out. Having said that, the 10th is still an enjoyable tonal painting.

The 5th symphony features some wonderful spoken poetry, which is epic and passionate, yet the tenor voice (any tenor voice in a symphony) I just do not like - always sounds forced to me - so for personal taste reasons the large 5th doesn't appeal, hence the overall 3-star rating. Though speaking objectively I suspect many listeners will think JK's 5th to be one of his best and most distinctive symphonies.


Toshio Hosokawa: Woven Dreams, Blossoming II & Circulating Ocean
Toshio Hosokawa: Woven Dreams, Blossoming II & Circulating Ocean
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Twist blend merge mix churn, 29 Sept. 2014
Three orchestral works by Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa (1955-) that ebb-and-flow with differing degrees of intensity. Impulsive, lush, glistening, wayward, these water-colour-like washes seem to have a life of their own: imagine a small boat at the mercy of the wind and the surging oceanic currents: the unpredictable (and perhaps the unforeseen) is what lies at the heart of this intuitive music. Tinges of menace swell, and below the surface disaster looms. The general spontaneous feel may be viewed by some as haphazard or even aimless, as much of a muchness, although I think listeners with an affinity for abstraction will prefer to define these compositions as naturalistic - from the sparkles on the veneer to the shadows that lurk beneath. Personally I found the three compositions to be evocative if somewhat indistinct.


McTee: Symphony No. 1, Circuits, Einstein's Dream & Double Play
McTee: Symphony No. 1, Circuits, Einstein's Dream & Double Play
Price: £5.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Nimble vivid lickety-split, 9 Sept. 2014
- "Circuits" is a busy locomotion of orchestral sound: think of anything that is hurrying in a slightly madcap way. For some reason it brought to mind Tom chasing Jerry... A bit too giddy for my taste.
- "Symphony No.1" roams with uncertain charisma along all kinds of varicoloured avenues. Subtitled "Ballet for Orchestra" it ain't surprising that the agile motion of the body is conjured in the mind's-eye. Torridity churns only to blur pensively into shadow. From within the dark (slightly dank) hiding-places mischievous notions gradually gain traction. With a sportive whistle a new dance is energized. Spotlights search. The endgame feels jazzy, strutting and fancy-pants impulsive.
- "Einstein's Dream" has a noble edge and a sense of strange destiny. Computer music on CD mixes with string orchestra and percussion creating a curious journey through a labyrinth of abstraction and discovery. The most interesting piece on the disc.
- "Double Play" is a two-part work. Phase 1 (The Unquestioned Answer) wanders romantically/sentimentally/nostalgically in wiggly circles wherein harsh memories seem to flash only to be dampened by a chill breeze. Phase 2 (Time Flies) begins with the clip-clop of horses hooves which signals a jazzier direction: aspiration overtakes indecision and we are rolled back into that paint-splash urgency we encountered in the disc's opening track.


Nordgren: Guitar Concerto, Guitar Quintet & Spellbound Tones
Nordgren: Guitar Concerto, Guitar Quintet & Spellbound Tones
Price: £7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbound tones, 27 July 2014
4 guitar-based works by the late Finnish composer Pehr Henrik Nordgren, all of which are typically mysterious, dark and disquieting. Excellently performed by Petri Kumela with the Lapland Chamber Orchestra, I personally can't help but be beckoned by Nordgren's spellbinding melancholy which is ever tinged with strange visions and fragile sarcasm. Perhaps too odd and dismal for some, here are 4 enigmatic compositions that stimulate in the mind's-eye a subtle and elusive phantasmagoria.


Mob Rules
Mob Rules
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Deep dark epic rock, 21 July 2014
This review is from: Mob Rules (MP3 Download)
MOB RULES was the second Black Sabbath album to feature the late great Ronnie James Dio on vocals. Its production values have a grittier, heavier edge than its magnificent predecessor HEAVEN & HELL. Every track here is solidly great, though for me the stand-out songs are the epic "The Sign Of The Southern Cross", the quirky "Country Girl", the hauntingly brutal "Falling Off The Edge Of The World", the demonic "Voodoo", and the whirlwind "Turn Up The Night". Overall not quite as majestic as Heaven & Hell but still class.


Nordgren, P.H.: Taivaanvalot (The Lights of Heaven)
Nordgren, P.H.: Taivaanvalot (The Lights of Heaven)
Price: £7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Strange delight, 19 Mar. 2014
Pehr Henrik Nordgren's TAIVAANVALOT "The Lights of Heaven" is a mystical and mythical masterwork for soprano, tenor, mixed choir, children's choir, folk instruments and string orchestra. Nordic voices blend with Eastern essences, medieval jugglery, starry-eyed fantasy and folksy pathos, creating an otherworldly vision of mazy infatuation and dreamful adventure. The soprano and tenor are used sparingly, and the children's choir is disquieting in its shouty innocence. All in all a chimerical fairytale in sound: pixilated, celestial, arcane, sylvan, distinct.


Concerto for Clarinet - Symphony No. 1
Concerto for Clarinet - Symphony No. 1
Price: £15.90

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Folktale fire with shadows and visions, 18 Mar. 2014
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Two compelling works by Finnish composer Pehr Henrik Nordgren (1944-2008).

Folk influences abound in the CONCERTO FOR CLARINET, in ways both fanciful and introspective. Each of the five segments has its own air and quality - 1. "Spirits"; 2. "Sermin Maija's Ditty"; 3. "Elegy"; 4. "Anticipation"; 5. "Hiding Dance" - all featuring qualities that are eerie, ethereal, pensive, giddy, poignant, lyrical, madcap and wry. - This is an entrancing hodgepodge, excellently performed.

SYMPHONY No.1 begins with a so-named March, which to my ears sounds somewhat injured; if it is a march then it's a limping march - like the return of bloodied and bandaged shell-shocked soldiers or the onrush of deranged ambition. From this we venture into Caprice where once again Nordgren's love of traditional folk songs somersault in-and-out with eccentric and radical effect. The final movement (Epilogues) trickles and plunges; enigmatic intrigue swirls and curls; all seems to coagulate into a staggering and stupefying embrace. A symphony of mesmerizing disorientation. Experimental, dark, captivating.


Aho: Symphony No. 10 / Syvien Vesien Juhla
Aho: Symphony No. 10 / Syvien Vesien Juhla
Price: £7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Dreams of reality, 11 Mar. 2014
Kalevi Aho's 10th symphony is in many ways comparable to his fantastic 4th symphony - that is, a large-scale, tonal, introspective and adventurous work with a wonderful dream-like quality. Desolation connects with robust realism and the dark sublime to create an almost romantic extravaganza. This symphony (along with all of Aho's symphonies) should appeal to the listener who has a liking for deeply epic orchestral works that embrace both "classical" and "contemporary" elements.


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