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Guy reid-brown "GRB" (England)
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Debussy: Prelude A L'Apres-Midi D'Un Faune / La Mer
Debussy: Prelude A L'Apres-Midi D'Un Faune / La Mer
Price: £6.73

5.0 out of 5 stars I've done this so you don't have to, 21 April 2014
Just to confirm the stunned evidence of my senses, I listened to the three versions of 'Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune' I have in my possession back to back - two highly acclaimed heavywights and the budget version.

The heavyweights were Herbert Von Karajan's classic recording with the BPO from the mid sixties with Karlheinz Zoeller and Simon Rattles' 2005 'EMI classic' with the same orchestra.

The Budget version, of course, was the Naxos recording with the not over-famous BRT Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Alexander Rahbari. The flautist isn't even named on the cover - I assume because this delicate, ethereal, sensual sound has been produced by the faun himself. There is no doubt that this is the version to have - shimmering, evanescent orchestral playing, beautifully recorded. All power to Von Karajan and Sir Simon, but please, listener, make this your Spring purchase - close your eyes when you listen to it and you will find that magic garden and the nymphs and the dear faun himself.

Oh, OK, the flautist is Jan Van Reeth, it says it on the back.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 21, 2014 11:18 AM BST


The Communist Manifesto (Penguin Classics)
The Communist Manifesto (Penguin Classics)
by Karl Marx
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.79

8 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unsane Manifesto for the Cognitively Dissonant, 3 July 2012
I read this because years ago a friend told me that I shouldn't condemn Communism unless I had read the Manifesto. Now although this appears entirely illogical to me on the basis that one judges a Cause by its Effects, and the effects in this case could scarcely have been more clearly delineated on a larger scale, I have now done this. I suggest everybody else reads it too. It is baffling that Communists think that somehow one will see the light after reading this, as it is a precise template for the horrors that were to commence in the subsequent century. The tone throughout is nasty, spiteful and vindictive, not simply in condemning that catch-all category known as the Bourgeoisie (anybody who Marx doesn't like, basically, and the pathological aspect manifests in regarding humanity in terms of categories rather than people) but also in the tediously sarcastic attacks on the Wrong Type of Socialists - the ones who have the temerity to be actually looking for a peaceful solution etc.

It is also baffling how people can try and give Communism some leeway with the cliché that Communism is good in theory but doesn't work in practice - the Theory is, in fact, terrible; for example at one point Marx is stating that `the theory of Communism may be summed up in a single sentence: Abolition of Private Property' , yet a few pages later he is listing the second of his Ten Commandments as `A heavy progressive or graduated income tax' - presumably taken from the same bourgeoisie he is intent on eliminating anyway.

Every aspect of this nasty book can be taken apart easily, so I will merely focus on numbers 8 and 9 of Marx's 10 Commandments. By this point, the reader will already have come across Marx's notorious comment about the `idiocy of rural life', which in their characteristically devious way, Communists often pretend is a mistranslation - but this is in the English translation sanctioned by Engels, of course. Commandment 8 states:

`Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture. `

In two short sentences, Marx has prepared the way for the ensuing liquidation of millions of peasant Farmers in the Ukraine and China as the direct result of the Collectivisation policies of the 20th century. I hope he sleeps well, wherever he is.

Commandment 9 calls for

`Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.'

So there is the solace of the Countryside disposed of.

In summary, if Marx really wanted a better future for Humanity, which he didn't, as he plainly despised it, he needed only to have looked at the examples of peaceful and harmonious communities that have sustained through time, such as the Amish and the pre-Whicker Balinese.

That isn't what Marxism is about though - it is exceedingly significant that the single most wealthy and exploitative sector of the population - the International Banking elite that even then was holding entire Nation States in thrall to usury - does not even get a mention. Well, it wouldn't, would it? These are the people who, after all, financed the Revolution when the time came and continued underwriting the disastrous economic failure that ensued in the following years.

The most baffling figure in all this is Engels. He doesn't make sense on any level whatsoever. He MUST have seen through it all. This champagne loving businessman who liked the ladies and rode with the Hunt seemed to delight in seeing to what extremes he could extend his ludicrous duality.

Anyway, that is not why I am reviewing this, as I intended to stop posting reviews on Amazon after the last one for `Sold for a Farthing' by Clare Kipps, because that little book says it all as far as I am concerned, and I do not expect to find a better.

I am posting this up because remarkably, in the enjoyable introductory material by Gareth Stedman Jones, I have indeed found my personal Manifesto precisely where I wasn't looking for it. It is obvious that the 25 lines of poetry cited there do not constitute `the last word on the sources of Marx's Communism' that Stedman -Jones (mischievously, I suspect) claims for them. They are in fact the bucolic converse to the anti-Pastoral Marxian worldview as outlined above. My new Manifesto, then, comprises the 25 lines taken from Ovid's `Metamorphoses' as filtered through the sublime poetic sensibility of John Dryden, that begin `The Golden Age was first; when man yet new, No rule but uncorrupted Reason knew' . . . .
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 18, 2013 1:08 PM BST


Sold for a Farthing
Sold for a Farthing
by Julian Huxley
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sparrows CAN sing, 7 April 2012
This review is from: Sold for a Farthing (Hardcover)
`There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.'

When Shakespeare wrote that line for Hamlet, he could have been specifically writing about the discovery of newly hatched Clarence the Sparrow, 'fallen or thrown from his nest' onto the front doorstep of the level headed and devout Christian widow (and doughty Air Raid Warden) Clare Kipps.

This kind lady being knowledgeable in the rescue of wild birds, Clarence could not have ended up on a more auspicious doorstep, and the game little fellow with the faulty leg and the damaged wing returned the kindness in spades with a lifelong demonstration of unself-pitying courage, affection and his own special way of helping people - for example, Clarence greatly cheered up adults and children alike with his repertoire of tricks during the blitz time.

Providence also ensured that the sparrow's mistress was an ex-professional musician whose piano playing may well have facilitated the first singing sparrow in recent recorded history.

This little book, written in that beautiful clear prose style that used to be so characteristic in this country, is, like the heroic subject himself, as proportionately great in spirit as it is small in dimension.

Like all the best books, it can be applied to the universal as to the particular. The current set up in our civilisation has run its course and we urgently need to retrench and assume responsibility for the welfare of all God's 'wild' creatures (they are only `wild' because of us). The nature of the universe is such that the selfless good we could thus demonstrate to our fellow creatures will redound greatly to our benefit, as we will then learn from them, just as we can all learn from the stoical, ever cheerful and uncomplaining little subject of this book, the best way to conduct our lives into hopeful old age.


Darwin
Darwin
by James F. Moore
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bouquet of wild lilies, 6 April 2012
This review is from: Darwin (Paperback)
`I am a withered leaf for every subject except science' (p.553)

Interesting to have just read 677 pages on a superior yet flawed character whose transition into an `ism' is a Received Wisdom that is not a Received Wisdom at all in this particular personal Universe.

In apparent contrast to just about everybody else who appears to have read this volume, although I appreciate the sheer size and scale of the undertaking, I longed for it to be dryer - the story and characters are fascinating enough in themselves not to need `livening up' - and found the style often subjectively jokey in an annoyingly clichéd sort of way (newspapers disapproved of are `rags', unsympathetic commentators `howl' and `whine' etc). One found oneself constantly attempting to read between and beyond the lines, and with a constant suspicion of material that has been excluded even if one does not know quite what it is.

Simply taking Darwin as a personality, there is no doubt of the greatness and goodness of the Man, and the largeness of spirit that his contemporary disciples are entirely lacking in.

Darwin proved beyond all doubt that he was made of The Right Stuff early on with his extraordinary physical courage and endurance and exhaustive scientific exertion on the seminal `Beagle' voyage, but what is then most telling is the almost permanent yet undiagnosed invalidism that plagued the rest of his life and career. There is no doubt that the symptoms are both as real and as painful as they are psychosomatic. The nearest comparison I could think of oddly enough was the Kenneth Williams of the Diaries ('O, very bold!'), and I believe that what is at root is the same problem - both were deeply spiritual men who suppressed their spirituality instead of embracing it. For Darwin, (not that I'd recommend it for every Occidental, and certainly not that he'd ask) one is dying to counsel expending some of that prodigious power of concentration and intellect on exploring Eastern Religion and Mysticism - Taoism, Buddhism, the I Ching etc - they would have shown that there is not just `Materialism' and `Christianity' to choose from.

One hazards that this might have had the beneficent effect of providing an holistic dimension to the prodigious scientific investigation and that Darwin would not then have been quite so bl---y literal and materialistic. To emphasise the latter, there is the spectacle of a warm, kind and generous family man, philanthropist and all round model citizen who nevertheless slaughters, skins, dissects and otherwise torments both fauna and flora en masse throughout the narrative so that the cumulative effect is of a madman in a charnel house cutting creatures open to see if he can find their souls (eg: from p. 552: `He started cornering commercial breeders, and he soon had them daubing, damaging and docking prize specimens - pigeons were painted, game cocks had their feathers plucked, and he looked for a fancier to buff a bullfinch's rose-pink breast and spy on its sexual prowess. And still he cast around for a wealthy gent, willing to snip the eyes out of a peacock's tail')

It is no surprise that Darwin was heatedly pro-vivisection.

Back to that suspicion of material excluded - some of it can undoubtedly be found (and is significantly ignored in the volume under review even though it derives from Darwin's own journals and is central to his psychological development) in the relevant sections of the slimmer, sager and better-written volume `The Philosophers' Secret Fire' by Patrick Harpur. In fact, I would heartily recommend anyone who reads `Darwin' to subsequently read the Harpur to round out the picture. After all, if one is prepared to wade through 667 pages of the Case for the Defence, it is only reasonable to expect others to assay 336 pages of the Challenge in a spirit of open-minded enquiry and what have you.
Comment Comments (9) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 21, 2013 6:53 PM GMT


Last Year In Marienbad [DVD] [1960]
Last Year In Marienbad [DVD] [1960]
Dvd ~ Delphine Seyrig
Price: £9.44

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old World Class and Elegance, 11 Feb 2012
Not that I suspect that the Left Bank Alan Resnais would care much about that sort of thing, but there you go.

It has taken decades to get around to watching this much discussed classic, but, as one who remains resolutely baffled by any degree of artistic obscurity in any medium (vast swathes of poetry are simply not understood) I had no problem with this one at all.

It helps that for years I have had dreams about repetitive Hotels with endless corridors, and the best way of watching this must be in reverie.

There is , of course, gorgeous black and white photography, exquisite framing, elegant costumes and manners. The Hotel is described in the film as `a place of rest', and one could quite happily spend an all-expenses-paid two week break amongst the gardens and the fountains and the club-like bars and lounges.

It is also fascinating to watch the Cat Man from Dario Argento's `Inferno' here, with his Mephistophelean card tricks. I have not much in the way of interpretation to offer, but could this be the Devil?

Due to a duff rented copy, I missed the last ten minutes, but that is no matter, I would quite happily buy this.

Concerning other reviews here, I would have to say that, not having seen the film before, I could live with the subtitles. As an afterthought, and bearing in mind the dreamlike repetitiveness of the dialogue and narration, I should imagine this could be a very good film to watch for those learning French.


The Mousehole Cat
The Mousehole Cat
Dvd ~ Siān Phillips
Price: £16.33

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Once there lived in the village a cat whose name was Mowzer. . ., 4 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Mousehole Cat (DVD)
After having posted up a review for Cobweb's favourite music (cf: Naxos' Vivaldi Flute Concertos Vol. 2) our other Feline family member, the fine and handsome Juniper (Prince of Cats) wanted his recommendation put up here as well, and I am more than happy to oblige:

Whilst maintaining that the television and Christmas do not belong together (or the television and any other life enhancing activity for that matter) there is always going to be an exception, and this one is it - and it will only take up half an hour of the precious day after the Turkey (or Goose or Beef or Nut Roast or whatever) every December 25th.

Benefiting from being pre-CGI, Nicola Bayley's delightful illustrations are brought richly to life, Sian Phillips does an excellent narration and there is one beautifully understated little scene the night before they set out to sea which, if it doesn't bring a tear to your eye, proves indeed that you have a heart of stone.

There is a rousing rendition of Starry Gazey Pie at the conclusion of the story and a delightful animation-into-real life montage of cats at the end - the real life Mousehole Cat at the finish is a true star!

For cat lovers and families everywhere.


Vivaldi: Flute Concertos, Vol. 2
Vivaldi: Flute Concertos, Vol. 2
Price: £6.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The Goldfinch sings, 4 Feb 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
As refreshing as a cool brook in Spring, this is the first choice if you are looking for an alternative to `The Four Seasons'. It is also undoubtedly Cobweb's (our little black and white farm Cat, with pink nose, pink ears and pink paws) favourite music, and believe me, recommendations don't come any higher than that.


Fortean Times It happened to Me Volume 4
Fortean Times It happened to Me Volume 4
by David Sutton
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Looking forward to the next one, 6 Jan 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Interesting - two reviews so far, one maintaining that this is the best of the series, the other the least.

I'm going for the best, and pretty much agree with everything that the positive reviewer says - the poignant `Fairy Visit' on page 45 is worth the price of admission alone; so many levels there, including a literary one.

The only drawback is that the increasing number of submissions from the `net means that a lot of people sign themselves off with `Anon FTMB' or silly monikers like `blob17 FTMB'. A proper name and a home town really does make the difference, aesthetically but also to authenticate.

It also makes me feel rather guilty that I have not submitted my own particular IHTM anecdotes, eg, the Shop on the Edinburgh Mile that wasn't there and the Hawksmoor Church at Limehouse.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 1, 2014 3:53 PM GMT


The Oxford Book of Christmas Poems
The Oxford Book of Christmas Poems
by Michael Harrison
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Hoping it might be so', 11 Dec 2011
This one has been an Advent staple in the household every year since it was gifted back in 1999. The layout is excellent and the illustrations as produced by a variety of different and very talented artists are superb. The essence is of course the poems, and whilst there are utter delights from such famous names as Rudyard Kipling, John Betjeman, Thomas Hardy, W H Auden (this one really surprised me for whatever reason) and Dylan Thomas, a lot of the most intensely moving pieces are by perhaps more obscure names such as Gwen Dunn (my personal favourite of the anthology) Elizabeth Coatsworth, U. A. Fanthorpe and Raoul Ponchon (as translated by James Kirkup). Conversely, and I appreciate that poetical appreciation can be as subjective as musical, I found some entries by big hitters such as T S Eliot, Robert Graves and especially Ted Hughes to be on the dismal side - it could just be a personal thing, but I cannot think of a Ted Hughes poem on any subject as being anything other than the same poem.

I am still giving this five though, as I am sure others would like the ones that I don't go for personally. Also there is a gem from Robert Finch that shows that even back when this book was first produced in 1983, the dead hand of Cultural Marxism was casting its obnoxious spell on the Festive Season. Keeping the Christmas Traditions going may well be a key to getting through this dark age to the other side - after all, it is all about the Birth, and I have an intuition that Christmas is an essential element in the resurrection of Goodness.


Hely-Hutchinson:  Carol Symphony / Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Christmas Carols / Britten: A Ceremony of Carols
Hely-Hutchinson: Carol Symphony / Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Christmas Carols / Britten: A Ceremony of Carols
Offered by SAS MUSIC & DVDS
Price: £97.18

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Needs to be reissued, 9 Dec 2011
This was the essential CD of British Christmas music, and at a budget price too. Starting off with the magical Carol Symphony of Hely-Hutchinson, unrivalled in both orchestration and execution for summoning the Christmas Spirit, and proceeding via indispensable Vaughan-Williams and Peter Warlock entries, to end of necessity with Britten's Ceremony of Carols, the personal all time festive favourite. David Mellor on Classic FM was of the exact same opinion, I remember, and altogether it is baffling as to why this has been taken out of circulation.

Other CDs have these pieces in various combinations but none have them all. Someone at HMV may want to reconsider for next year.


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