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The JACK Quartet: Xenakis String Quartets Volume 10 [DVD]
The JACK Quartet: Xenakis String Quartets Volume 10 [DVD]
Dvd ~ JACK Quartet
Price: £18.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine video performances of Xenakis' String Quartets, 30 Dec 2010
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This DVD features videos of the recording of all four of Iannis Xenakis' string quartets by the Jack Quartet. This is apparently their debut recording.

The earliest quartet(ST/4...) is from 1962, the rest (Tetras, Tetora and Ergma) are from the 1980s and 1990s.

Previously all but the last quartet were available on a 2 disc set of chamber music by the Arditti Quartet and the last was on a CD by the Mondriaan Quartet, so this disc has the advantage of bringing all the works together in one place.

I can't fault the performances on this disc. The style of the recording doesn't interfere with the appreciation of the music.

The CD booklet is included for the essay, which is useful.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 29, 2012 1:38 PM BST


Painting Today
Painting Today
by Tony Godfrey
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £32.47

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thematic overview of contemporary global painting, 30 Dec 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Painting Today (Hardcover)
This is a large format thematic overview of international painting, mainly from 1989 to 2008ish. There are chapters on 'The Global Scene', 'Western Traditions', 'Neo-expressionism', 'Photographic', 'Pure Abstraction', 'Ambiguous Abstraction', 'The Figure', 'Painting Space', 'Landscape', 'Death and Life', 'History Painting', 'Still Life', 'Installation Painting', 'Dresden and Leipzig', 'Post-feminism' and 'Painting Tomorrow'.

I read it from cover to cover and found Godfrey's back and forth discussion of some of the same artists under different themes useful as an illustration of developments over the period. I am not an art student, so I can't say how useful an art student would find this book, but it is beautifully illustrated (483 plates in colour) and gives space (448 pages) for the art to speak for itself. So you can just skim or flick or browse... Godfrey is refreshingly candid in his views on some celebrated artists but never dismissive, e.g. 'Julian Schnabel's greatest virtue as a painter was, arguably, his willingness to be embarrassing'(p.278). The arguments of the chapters are wider ranging than their titles might suggest- the art market is discussed in the chapter on post-feminism, for example. The chapter on'Death and Life' is not particularly gloomy.

The book ends on a positive note. Godfrey, who has written in the past on Conceptual Art, demonstrates the vitality of the continuing and evolving tradition of painting without getting on his soap box.

Finally, titles of discussed works are in the index, so you don't have to keep trawling backwards and forwards to find things.

Good Stuff!

My only negative thought, it's a fairly sturdy hardback and because of the size and weight not easily portable.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 13, 2014 12:07 AM BST


Stalin's Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky
Stalin's Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky
by Bertrand M. Patenaude
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.00

5.0 out of 5 stars History as Thriller?, 16 Aug 2010
This is a pacy account of a complicated set of events.

It doesn't champion Trotsky or his ideas but it does illustrate the personal cost of the 'Old Man's' rivalry with Stalin, with Trotsky effectively a prisoner for the duration of his Mexican residency, losing much of his family and a number of followers in the process.

Patenaude's book is detailed on what you would have expected to have been the successful attempt on Trotsky's life and this sets up the thriller aspect of the weaving narrative, with a detail of the 1937-40 events leading into some background from, say, 1924. If you can cope with this 'cinematic flashback' aspect you'll get through the book quickly.

It casts light on the friendship and falling out with Rivera, the splits in American Trotskyism and the impact of the war on the intellectual climate. The sense is that Trotsky's ideas about international revolution are to be tested to destruction in the coming war.

Trotsky is portrayed as as much a victim of his own political ineptitude as of Stalin's assassin.

A good read but tragic.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 16, 2012 10:09 PM GMT


The Barton Workshop Plays John Cage [BOX SET]
The Barton Workshop Plays John Cage [BOX SET]
Price: £62.88

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Survey of Cage's Music, 6 Feb 2010
This is a set I dip into every so often. As an introduction to Cage it's wider-ranging than the 25 Year Retrospective Concert25-Year Retrospective Concert which dates from 1958 and the Barton set features some of the late 'number pieces'. You may find Cage's scrupulously anarchic way of going about making sound music a total pain. I find the works, especially when performed live, quite enchanting. Each performance is a bit of a lucky dip, boredom is a possibility but more often than not they are fun. I can't guarantee you'll enjoy these pieces but give them a go.


Xenakis - Mythos Und Technik (Zagrosek, Bavarian Rso) [DVD]
Xenakis - Mythos Und Technik (Zagrosek, Bavarian Rso) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Zagrosek
Price: £14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Xenakis surveyed, 6 Jan 2010
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This is one of a series of collections of short films made for German TV by Peider Defilla. The films are around 15 minutes and contain concert excerpts and interviews with the conductors. The full concert performances of the pieces are also included, along with interviews - sadly in this case not with the composer - and enhanced features. Xenakis's work on the Philips Pavilion is discussed in one interview.

The pieces featured are:

Syrmos (1959) for 18 strings - Ensemble Resonanz cond. Johannes Kalitzke

Synaphai (1969) for piano and orchestra, featuring the amazing Hiroaki Ooi as soloist. Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, cond. Arturo Tamayo

Theraps (1975-6)for solo double bass Frank Reinecke

Nekula (1981) for mixed choir and orchestra Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, cond. Lothar Zagrosek.

Great stuff!
Total time: 131 minutes


Henze - Was Ich Suche, Ist Wohlklang (Ruzicka, Bavarian Rso) [DVD]
Henze - Was Ich Suche, Ist Wohlklang (Ruzicka, Bavarian Rso) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ruzicka
Price: £14.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What I want is harmony., 6 Jan 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This DVD is one of a series of collections of short films by Peider Defilla featuring the work of contemporary European composers.The films were made for German TV and last about 15 minutes and feature excerpts of works and interviews with the conductors. The full concert performance of each work is also available on the disc aand there are enhanced features such as selected parts of the score of the works, biographies and links to online resources.

There are two shortish interviews with Henze from 1988 and 2006.

The pieces featured are:

Antifone for 11 solo strings, winds and percussion (1960)

Nocturnes and Arias for soprano and large orchestra (1957)

the world premiere of the duet (soprano, tenor) from 'King Stag'(1953-6)

Fraternité (1999)- which is going to be performed in January 2010 at the Barbican's Henze weekend - and Appassionatamente (1993/4) for orchestra.

I found it a rewarding survey of a underperformed composer's work.

Total time: 171 minutes


Sea Changes and Coelacanths: a Young Person's Guide to John Fahey
Sea Changes and Coelacanths: a Young Person's Guide to John Fahey
Price: £26.37

4.0 out of 5 stars Good mixer, 29 Nov 2009
I'm not entirely satisfied with the other two reviews of this item, neither of which I feel give you an idea of what the music is like. I saw Fahey in October 1999 in London at the QEH. What struck me then was the meditative quality of the music he was making. I can understand the apparent plan to pair Fahey with Derek Bailey on a concert tour (it didn't actually happen!) because of this shared quality in their music. There is some bluesy, even rocky guitar and some more experimental work using effects. I don't know enough about his earlier work to offer a comparison, but the liner notes suggest that he lost some of his earlier facility. Still a brave and very honest artist, and worthy of more attention. This is a compilation of 3 other TOE albums: Womblife, Hard Time Empty Bottle Blues and Georgia Stomps, Atlanta Struts and Other Contemporary Dance Favourites.


Verdi: DG "La Scala" recordings
Verdi: DG "La Scala" recordings
Price: £35.26

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DG Verdi compilation, 21 July 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I do not pretend to be an expert on this music and bought this set to familiarise myself with it but the reviews of the individual recordings on Amazon tend towards the 4*/5* with the exception of the Requiem which is panned by a reviewer. The set features 8 Verdi operas complete- Rigoletto (Kubelik 1964)Verdi: Rigoletto, Trovatore (Serafin 1962)Verdi: Il Trovatore, Traviata(Votto 1976)Verdi: La Traviata, Un Ballo in Maschera (Gavazzeni 1960), Don Carlo(s) (Santini 1961), Macbeth(Abbado 1976)Verdi: Macbeth, Simon Boccanegra (Abbado 1977)Verdi: Simon Boccanegra, Aida (Abbado 1981)Verdi: Aida (Abbado)- and the Requiem (Abbado 1979)Verdi: Requiem. Singers like Bergonzi,Domingo, Fischer-Dieskau, Freni, Ricciarelli, Scotto and Verrett get mentioned in the blurb. There are no libretti included. This is a 21 disc set and could represent a considerable saving on the individual and mostly well-regarded recordings. What I have heard of the set so far leads me to say that this is a good "way in" to Verdi's operas if you can't pitch a tent at Covent Garden or take yourself to Milan.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 10, 2012 6:19 AM BST


Wired - Works for Harpsichord and Electronics
Wired - Works for Harpsichord and Electronics
Price: £13.34

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re-invention of the harpsichord?, 6 April 2009
This CD of pieces for harpsichord and electronics is an illustration of the various ways a classical instrument can be re-imagined and augmented by new technology. James Dillon's 'birl' is simply a virtuoso solo. The longer pieces use electronics to accompany or alter the sound of the instrument, so that previously impossible harpsichord music can be made, using drones and the internal sounds of the instrument.
The approach each composer has taken to their work is different and some may find the results challenging.


Principal Sound
Principal Sound

4.0 out of 5 stars Late 19th and 20th Century American Organ Music, 6 April 2009
This review is from: Principal Sound (MP3 Download)
I bought this on the strength of hearing a live performance of Morton Feldman's only (as far as I can work out!) organ work, Principal Sound (1980), which is included in the selection of works performed here.It has all of the hallmarks of a Feldman piece; it follows its own logic. I don't think Feldman necessarily means it to be 'angsty'. That's more to do with the tradition of using organ music in creepy horror films.(Think 'Carnival of Souls' and you see what I mean.) A short clip doesn't do justice to its oddness. It seems to be about the sound that an organ makes, hence the deceptively unilluminating title.

Charles Ives' 'Variations on 'America'(In the UK we call this tune 'God Save the King/Queen') is quite radical for 1891.

John Cage's thirty-minute 'Some of the Harmony of Maine'(1978)uses music by eighteenth-century American composer Supply Belcher, which is then arranged using chance operations. It's in a similar style to pieces like 'Apartment House 1776'.

The Copland pieces strike me as being the most conventional works on the disc, but they may be quite radical for Copland.

This is a disc of organ solos, so it may not be to your taste.


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