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Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg [Blu-ray] [2012]
Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg [Blu-ray] [2012]
Dvd ~ Marco Jentzsch
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £21.60

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tongue tied Walther., 1 Nov. 2013
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Without a moments hesitation, one finds oneself in total agreement with all that has been written by previous reviewers. Why therefore, have I chosen to give this fine performance & interpretation of the Meistersinger von Nurnberg only four stars. It all rests on the unfortunate performance of one Marco Jentzsch, from the very outset of him opening his mouth, I found myself squirming uncomfortably & looking forward to him finishing whatever it was he was trying to sing. Any remotely observant listener would have noted from the outset how totally out of keeping his singing was with everyone else, two aspects of his voice stood out: First his dreadfully laboured sounding vibrato & his repeated inability to hit the specific notes, instead using the aforementioned vibrato to somehow gradually find his way to the correct note. Even if one tries to be a little more accepting & less critical of his particular style of delivery, accepting also the inherent difficulties of performing along side such greats as Finley to mention but one example, I find his whole persona & frankly limited acting & singing abilities detracted greatly from my enjoyment of the piece as a whole. It is worth noting the praise offered regarding specific performances by other reviewers, even more noteworthy is the fact Mr. Jentzsch is not mentioned once, which reminds me of the old German saying "Kein Wort ist auch Ein Wort". Although it may appear otherwise I do not like dwelling on criticism especially where one contributor is concerned, but for the sake of prospective buyers of this opera, it seems only fair they are warned, that amidst such a marvellous production & glowing individual & group performances, its overall effect is without doubt spoiled (putting it politely) by Mr. Jentzsch's contribution.
It is beyond me why he was allowed to play such an important role, what really summed his performance up was the reaction of the audience at the end, those players of lesser roles received far more recognition & applause, quite frankly I'm not certain he wasn't blushing slightly. Doubtless my opinion will be endlessly criticised, & my abilities to recognise such details questioned, however I stand by my assertions. I will watch this Blu-ray again at some point next time however I think the use of occasional fast forward maybe in order.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 7, 2014 4:58 PM GMT

Pergolesi: Septem verba a Christo
Pergolesi: Septem verba a Christo
Price: £10.90

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Triumph in all Regards, 6 Oct. 2013
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After having listened to this piece a coupe of times, I immediately wanted to sit and write a great list of superlatives, at the risk of producing what possibly might have appeared as nothing more than some overly emotional and sentimental pile of dribble I took a step or two back. So, instead I thought it prudent to wait a while and let the passion calm a little. Unfortunately no such diminution has occurred, this is without doubt some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard, when I first heard Berlioz' L'Enfence du Christ, I was enveloped by a similar feeling, with this however the intensity is even greater. This isn't music you put on to cover the silence of being, or as something just playing in the background. Never mind its ecclesiastical associations or its age, this music inspires, is affirmation of how good life can be and the value of aesthetic beauty, a periodic dose of this and anti-depressants need not apply. If I sound as though I'm gushing, well perhaps I am, but not without reason, listen to it and you'll hear for yourself.
Everything about this harmonia mundi issue is excellent, the quality of the recording is outstanding vis. good balance across the soundstage, just enough warmth without being over done, the qualities and contrast between the voices is really outstanding. As for the Akademie fur Alte Musik, under Rene Jakobs, adequate description defies me, of course with the aforementioned sound quality, each and every instrument is crystal clear, again the balance is superb and a soundstage that seems to go on forever.
In addition to all of that is the enclosed booklet, and libretti, in three translations with the original latin. There is also a very informative biography of the singers, plus an introduction to the piece and some discussion its uncertain origins. Not comprehensive by any means, but more than enough to inspire further investigation.
I am not for a moment trying to suggest this is every bodies cup of tea, however what I am suggesting is don't be put off by its somewhat austere, sombre title come subject matter, rest assured there's nothing remotely depressing where the music or its delivery is concerned. This is uplifting, joyous music, full of hope, verging on the inspirational, absolutely gorgeous melodies and horns used as you've truly never heard before, whether Pergolesi wrote it or not, whoever did, wanted his audience to embrace a sense of renewal, the type of renewal that can only come from the supreme sacrifice of ones own life. That's how this reviewer sees it at any rate. If you don't enjoy this, even just a little bit, I'd be checking myself for a pulse.

Pergolesi: Lo frate 'nnamorato [DVD] [1990] [2010]
Pergolesi: Lo frate 'nnamorato [DVD] [1990] [2010]
Dvd ~ Amelia Felle
Price: £9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful Audience, 6 Oct. 2013
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Baroque opera at its best, given the fact of it being a comedy one ought not get caught up in any attempts at overly incisive analysis, as such it has wonderful value for the pure entertainment it provides. Personally I thought the revolving stage was an ingenious device and added considerably to the flow of the piece. An easy opera to watch, agreeing with a previous review, the choice of stage and costume colours seemed just right, in any case the piece speaks for itself no need for overdone colouration. Overall the singing was very good, with character appropriate deliveries, never coming across as strained or overdone. As for the music, personally I'm not a big fan of Ricardo Muti, and am not about to in anyway criticise this offering, quite the contrary. On this occasion all seemed as it should be, overall exceeding my expectations, just because the piece is a comedy doesn't mean it should be handled with any less care, or mindfulness of interpretation and especially in the case of comic opera tempi is of the utmost importance, Maestro Muti in this instance succeeded admirably on all counts. As one might expect from such a relatively old piece, reproduction both sonically and visually did let it down somewhat, to be fair though, it was more than watchable.
Having said all that, and I could spend a good deal more time on positive observations, as there are many, one must come to the negatives. In terms of the piece itself negatives really come down to personal taste and preference, of course its not perfect, but given certain limitations it does a more than adequate job. However, the audience and their constant interruptions of applause, not to mention coughing and throat clearing etc etc. I persevered only because I was so enjoying the opera itself so much. Perhaps I'm just becoming more intolerant as I get older, I really didn't think it necessary for audience applause as frequently as was the case here, as for the coughing. I am a smoker of 30 plus years, I have sat through Wagner's Walkure and not found it necessary to cough, clear my throat or indeed make any other form of offensive unnecessary noises. It was the applause that really annoyed me, ordinarily a good resounding applause can add to the atmosphere projected by a rousing piece, in this case its effect was quite the opposite. A shame really, for me it spoiled what could have been a very enjoyable piece. As some of you may be aware one can acquire this as part of a set of eleven DVD's, however after my experience with this one I don't think I shall be purchasing anymore in this set.
Clearly not everybody is so effected by such distractions, if you are, frankly I would avoid the purchase of this example. Otherwise, I would recommend it without hesitation.

Rameau: Operas (Les Boreades/ Castor et Pollux/ In Convertendo/ Les Indes Gallantes/ Les Paladins/ Zoroastre) [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] [2010]
Rameau: Operas (Les Boreades/ Castor et Pollux/ In Convertendo/ Les Indes Gallantes/ Les Paladins/ Zoroastre) [DVD] [2011] [NTSC] [2010]
Dvd ~ Paul Agnew
Price: £30.73

5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Exquisite Beauty, 6 Oct. 2013
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If you only make one purchase this year, let it be this. Don't be put off by its elderly origins, in so many ways it has more relevance now than when these pieces were actually written. At least today we are not distracted by the trends and huge social changes that took place during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Today we have the privilege to watch and listen without such distractions, in the privacy of one's own home. In addition the technical excellence achieved in the production of these discs, in this reviewers opinion, is outstanding, both sonically and visually.
Even if you've never experienced baroque music listen to this, you most assuredly will not be disappointed. There's no point in trying to convey familiarity by way of comparison, in any case one is presented with such a a variety of experiences, from the tragic drama of Zoroastre, to the comedy of Le Paladins, in between is the most scintillating and beautifully choreographed dance. Thrown in for good measure is an abundance of documentary information on both the music's author and his influences, plus each and every story is clearly explained. I have owned this marvellous set for some weeks now before making any attempt to write a review, still I cannot find fault of any description, it seems the teams of individuals responsible for these productions have left little or nothing to chance.
A couple more points are worth mentioning before I finish, firstly the costume and stage presentations, on offer here is a mixture of both traditional and a more up to date approach, although it must be said I have always preferred traditional costume and stage settings, none of the modernity on offer in some of these operas is so avant-garde as to detract from one's enjoyment of the pieces. Further, as with so many orchestras nowadays mostly original instruments are used, again their use in no way detracts form one's enjoyment of these pieces, in fact I would suggest if anything their inclusion adds to their overall authenticity.
There is so much more one could say about this set, for fear of becoming boring I shan't. Finally though with all else considered, not only is this the a most wonderful set, and takes pride of place in my decidedly large collection, price wise it was an absolute bargain. I genuinely cannot recommend this set too highly, don't miss out on what is a feast of sonic and visual beauty verging on aesthetic perfection.

The Complete Book of Decorative Knots: Lanyard Knots, Button Knots, Globe Knots, Turk's Heads, Mats, Hitching, Chains, Plaits
The Complete Book of Decorative Knots: Lanyard Knots, Button Knots, Globe Knots, Turk's Heads, Mats, Hitching, Chains, Plaits
by Geoffrey Budworth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.52

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent fairly priced publication., 6 Jan. 2012
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My only criticism is it could be so much bigger, the instructions are beautifully illustrated and on the whole very clear, hence four out of five stars. I purchased this book as a companion to The Ashley Book of Knots, as such thus far has served me well. In conclusion I would highly recommend this books to anyone who has even a passing interest in decorative knotting, its money well spent.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 15, 2012 11:45 PM BST

The Ashley Book of Knots
The Ashley Book of Knots
by Clifford W. Ashley
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost the Bible of Knots, 6 Jan. 2012
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This book originally came to my attention as a non-borrowable on site viewing only at my local library. Having had the opportunity to thoroughly review this book when I saw it advertised in hard cover for roughly £30 plus postage naturally I bought it. As usual the speed of dispatch was excellent. As for the book I've given it four out of five only because the instructions on the more complex examples I find to be inadequate. Otherwise this book is almost the Bible of knotts.

No Title Available

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Swedish Bitters, 11 Oct. 2011
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The two bottles of bitters were ordered second class, their transit time was more first class. The bottles themselves were extremely well wrapped, including multiple layers of bubble wrap. I can honestly report there was no single aspect of the transaction found wanting in any way shape or form. I have therefore no hesitation in recommending this company. N.B. The stars should read five I cannot find how one changes their initial selection.

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