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Glazunov: Complete Symphonies
Glazunov: Complete Symphonies
Price: £10.30

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complete symphonies of a neglected composer., 15 Oct 2014
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Alexander Glazunov is not a composer you are ever likely to hear in British concert halls, only his violin concerto gets rare outings. History is unfair to many composers but who would have thought Massenet's operas would ever be heard in major houses again? perhaps Glazunov may yet see a revival of interest in his works.

This set of his complete symphonies isn't top notch technically and also left me wondering if there might be heights and depths to the works that conductor Fedoseyev doesn't reach. However the one thing Glazunov was good at was writing a tune and his often lush melodies come thick and fast in these symphonies. His first was actually written when he was still a schoolboy and is very much influenced by the Russian national school, it is actually sub titled 'Slavonic' and the Russian folk influence is very marked. The second symphony follows the nationlism of the first and it is in his third where we hear the dreamy romantic melodies that I most associate with this composer.

From the fourth onwards his writing seems more mainstream European but with nods to Tchaikovsky here and there, only his final eighth symphony seems to move beyond Glazunov's world to reflect the tourmoil in Russia at the time it was written, with a degree of drama and angst that has perhaps been largely absent elsewhere. There is one filler on the third disc, the Concert Walz No1 which is desrving of being a filler in the concert hall too.

To sum up although these are only average recordings and interpretations they still make rewarding listening and for those with a love of Russian music the bargain price makes then well worth investing in.


Scene from the Wings
Scene from the Wings
by Valery Panov
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.85

4.0 out of 5 stars Second autobiography of Valery Panov bringing his story up to date, 6 July 2014
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This review is from: Scene from the Wings (Paperback)
Back in the 1970's Valery Panov and his wife Galina were something of a cause celebre. Persecuted in Soviet Russia after their request to emigrate to Israel was refused, the couple benefitted by a campaign led by the western theatre community and were eventually released in 1974 to a flurry of newspaper headlines. Shortly afterwards Valery published his autobiography "To Dance", a book that remains one of the finest dance biographies ever written.

This new book takes up the story pretty much where "To Dance" left off, relating the story of what Valery did next, But whereas the earlier book was co-written with a major author, this one isn't, nor does it seem to have had an editor or even a proof reader. I found events in the book lacked a clear chronology in places and there are gaps as he talks about his career. For me the most interesting parts of the book are his musings on the nature of classical ballet and insights into his teaching methods and the creative processes he employed in his ballets.

The rest of the book is about his personal life where he appears brutally frank about his womanizing, something that must come as a shock to those that believed in the great love story of Valery and Galina sold to us in countless magazine articles at the time of their departure from the USSR, when the truth is that he was a serial adulterer from day one. Galina, his long suffering wife, remained his dancing partner and muse for many years though, but much of the story is taken up with his later love affair with deeply disturbed Ilana, a survivor of horrific childhood sexual abuse.

At times the book makes difficult reading, and whatever you think of the author it is hard not to feel for him in his present predicament - an elderly man with a tiny child he must now bring up alone.

Those that read Panov's earlier book will no doubt want to read this one too, but he tells a darker story this time around,


Delibes: Sylvia [DVD]  [2010] [NTSC]
Delibes: Sylvia [DVD] [2010] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Darcey Bussell
Price: £19.12

4.0 out of 5 stars Revival of a neglected ballet, 18 May 2014
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Ashton's Sylvia has suffered a patchy performing history, so it's great that the ballet is now available on DVD. A shame it couldn't have been filmed in Fonteyn's day, but these modern performers manage reasonably well, though I doubt Ashton would have approved of the high kicks in Sylvia's first solo. Darcy Bussell certainly displays the athleticism of the mythical huntress, but her distorted line in places seemed to suggest that Ashton choreography isn't her forte. As her shepherd lover, Aminta, Roberto Bolle looks handsome but doesn't get a lot of dancing to do. The minor roles however are very well done and the orchestra does justice to Delibe's magnificent score.

I found the overall quality of this DVD less than perfect but for a true ballet lover it is an essential buy as a record of an often neglected work of Britain's greatest choreographer.


Prokofiev - Cinderella [1957] [DVD]
Prokofiev - Cinderella [1957] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Prokofiev
Price: £23.87

3.0 out of 5 stars Poor quality but buy for Fonteyn, 16 Jan 2014
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This is a curious TV production of Frederick Ashton's Cinderella, very much a condensed version and saddled with an annoying voice over together with sponsors' ads. With some re-mastering and cutting of the superfluous commentary, this recording would be much improved.

Performance wise, the glaring differences in technique of today and the past is cruelly exposed; Michael Somes wouldn't make the back row of the corps de ballet today but Fonteyn is magnetic as ever and the speed of her turns puts most modern ballerinas to shame.

Highly condensed, it is not a good record of this ballet, but for those that remember Margot Fonteyn it is an essential buy.


The Garden Of Allah [1936] [DVD]
The Garden Of Allah [1936] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Marlene Dietrich
Price: £3.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric film but poor quality, 26 Sep 2013
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As a fan of Marlene Dietrich I don't know how I could have missed this film in the past. Highly atmospheric and romantic, Dietrich plays a devout young woman devastated by the death of her father who seeks solace in the desert (the Garden of Allah) but meets up with a monk on the run whom she unwisely marries. The monk, Boris, is played by Charles Boyer with all the allure of a maniacal serial killer, whereas Dietrich's other admirer, played by handsome Basil Rathbone is a man content in his own skin. Her choices do seem to me a bit off the wall.

Although no doubt filmed in a Hollywood back lot, the film does evoke North Africa rather well. Quality is so-so with the sound being only just acceptable but I was disappointed to discover that the bonus features that are supposed to come after the film were not accessible on my copy.

Like other reviewers I couldn't believe what I was seeing regarding the masturbating Arab, clearly censorship was far more liberal in 1936.


Adriana Lecouvreur (Rossi, Olivero, Corelli, Simionato)
Adriana Lecouvreur (Rossi, Olivero, Corelli, Simionato)
Price: £43.46

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magda Olivero is a divine Adriana, 14 Feb 2013
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When choosing a recording of an opera I find myself weighing up the merits of historical performances of legendary voices against modern recording techniques and sound quality and in general I steer clear of live performances too. This recording is over 60 years old and it is recorded live and yet I would still recommend opera lovers to buy this.

One of my friends is a fanatical admirer of Franco Corelli, even though he is far too young to have heard him live, and he played this to me while we were on holiday. I instantly fell in love with it and the first thing I did on returning home was to log onto Amazon and order a copy for myself.

This is quite simply a stunning recording and the sound is excellent when considering its age. The live audience is astonishingly well behaved with only a couple of muffled coughs, and though spontaneous applause breaks out throughout the opera I can only say that with voices of such beauty, to not have applauded would have been criminal. Magda Olivero was the composers choice for the title role, indeed he lured her out of retirement shortly before he died to sing Adriana once more and I have never heard the role sung as well; the cry of `bellissimo' from an enraptured fan after her big aria is totally deserved as the emotion behind her singing is exceptional. This rest of the cast is wonderful too and although there are a number of modern recordings of this work, this one for me is supreme.


Colori D'amore
Colori D'amore
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Baroque gems, 15 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Colori D'amore (Audio CD)
I was lured into buying this CD because of the number of premiere recordings on it and it has become one of the most frequently played in my collection. The featured arias are real rarities and the Bononcini 'Ombra mai fu', almost identical to Handel's version written decades later, is a revelation in itself and begs the question was Handel a bit of a plagiarist on the side?

Kermes is blessed with a remarkably coloratura voice that is extremely expressive and the feeling she puts into each work on this CD impresses me greatly. There are now a number of these compilation type recordings of the Baroque era around and although I generally prefer to listen to a full length opera, I doubt if many of them will ever get to be performed, therefore these recordings of the period are close to gold dust in my opinion.


Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro
Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro
Price: £9.88

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bargain Mozart, 8 May 2012
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There are a great many bargains to be had by buying back catalogue recordings but often they involve a compromise on sound quality. This version of Figaro however sounded very good indeed considering its age, but there was a compromise to be made as the recording lacks a libretto and even the synopsis was in my view inadequate, not a problem for me as I know this opera inside out but I wouldn't recommend this CD to any opera novices seduced by the low price.

I was delighted to discover such a good quality recording of Geraint Evans in the title role as he was the first Figaro I saw back in the early 70's and he was considered by most to be the definitive interpreter of the role at that time. This recording was made just a few years later and he still sounds pretty good as does the rest of the cast with a wonderful Cherubino from Teresa Berganza and a very good Countess from Heather Harper, though I thought Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau lacked drama as the Count. Daniel Barenboim conducts and as usual in his opera recordings he springs no unwanted surprises with eccentric tempi.

Frankly I loved this CD with such wonderful voices from the past all on good form, even taking into consideration the lack of libretto and the fact that it is getting on for forty years old it remains a recording to reckon with.


The Most Beautiful Villages of Greece and the Greek Islands
The Most Beautiful Villages of Greece and the Greek Islands
by Hugh Palmer
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous photos, 26 Oct 2011
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Apart from a couple of oversized art books I'm not usually a purchaser of 'coffee table books' but I'm so pleased that I was tempted by this one. Greece is such a beautiful country you could point a camera almost anywhere and come away with a stunning image and the photos in this book are exceptionally good.

The actual title though is a little misleading as a number of pictures are of general landscapes or of architectural details, a less specific title such as 'The Beauty of Greece and her Villages' might have been more accurate, but that is just a small niggle on my part. Not all the islands are covered, though I was pleased that one of my personal favourites lovely but small Nisyros is included and the pictures of two islands I've not been to yet, Symi and Chios, were so alluring that they are now on my wish list of places to visit.

With the nights drawing in and the weather getting colder, this is the perfect book to leaf through and recall those summer holidays: recommended.


Atlantida
Atlantida
Price: £13.37

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Understandably a rarity, 3 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Atlantida (Audio CD)
Some operas are neglected for good reasons and Atlantida is frankly one of them. According to the sleeve notes Falla spent years on this work and it had to be completed by another hand after his death. It was first conceived as an oratorio and in general I would say it still sounds more oratorio than opera.

The synopsis is a muddle of Greek myth, Catalan patriotism, Christian symbolism and real events, with Hercules and Christopher Columbus among the characters. The music itself is mostly undistinguished and there is little of the lush sensuality that Falla brought to his better works. The companion piece is a suite from El Amor Brujo, popular and much recorded but the music quality isn't that great though Teresa Berganza, a personal favourite of mine, sings it well. However the main work, Atlantica, is an operatic curiosity and not much else.


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