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The Delius Collection
The Delius Collection
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value, 10 May 2014
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Conventional wisdom is that you either love Delius's music or hate it. However, my own reaction varies widely - amongst the items included here there are some wonderful large-scale pieces like The Song of the High Hills and Paris. On the other hand, the world-weary texts set in The Songs of Sunset seem to me to have brought out the least attractive side of the composer. And I've tried to get to grips with the Violin Concerto several times over 40 years in various recordings and live, but it still seems to me to meander on and on: with this download I will give the music another chance. Occasionally VW's barbed comment about Delius's music made to Michael Kennedy comes to my mind: "Sounds like the curate improvising, I'm afraid." But he was surely wrong about the best of Delius.

This set is worth the price (£8 - buy the download before someone notices the mistake!!) for Song of the High Hills alone - I paid about £12 for this CD in the mid 80s. If you're a Delius agnostic try this recording and it may convert you to at least a partial believer. This is a classic early digital Unicorn Kanchana recording from 1983. The record producer, Christopher Palmer, did a great job in getting the perspectives and balance right, though this means that the dynamic range is very wide. There is one track for this work (nearly 30 minutes long) but that is a very good idea as it avoids the risk of the blips that sometimes occur when continuous music is broken into several MP3 files.

I can't agree with the reviewer above who said that the recording quality is of historic interest only - just the opposite, most of the recordings are really excellent. More professional reviewers (Gramophone, MusicWeb International) seem to agree with me. Maybe there is a slight edge to the violin tone in the Violin Concerto, but I'm not sure that is due to the recording engineers.

The selection of music is very wide: the set includes some, but not all, of the short popular Delius pieces and some, but not all, of the composer's masterpieces (no Sea Drift, for example). There are some recordings of hard-to-find pieces, several of which Fenby helped to bring into the light of day. The presentation of information in the downloads is a bit clumsy (Did no-one in Heritage with a bit of knowledge check the presentation?), as noted and corrected by the first reviewer above, but that is not a major drawback.

There is a lot of music here and this set is ridiculously good value. If you buy this and you're new to Delius you will have some work to do tracking down texts. The Chandos online site Classical Shop is very helpful for these! (also try the Ezust Lieder site.)


100+ Piano Classical Essentials
100+ Piano Classical Essentials
Price: £4.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great performances but poorly documented, 8 May 2014
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Most of the recordings included here are from the 1950s, and the live recordings in particular need to be listened to with a tolerant ear - on a few tracks you even here occasional pitch wobbles due to defects in the original tapes, I would guess. Others are, I think, DG studio recordings from the late 50s or early 60s - out of copyright, I assume - and these sound a lot better.

Because I already knew some of Richter's recordings of composers such as Schubert, Schumann, Mussorgsky, Rachmaninov, Prokofieve I didn't hesitate to buy. His Liszt and Scriabin are less familar to me. Good to see he also played a relatively neglected Weber sonata.

There is no information beyond the track title to help you. Only by digging around in an online Richter discography have I been able to figure out which orchestra/conductor participate in the concerto recordings and make a guess at when the recordings were made. Even the track listings are not 100% reliable - I think the Prokofiev sonata tracks (7 & 8) have been jumbled up, though this is easy to sort out when you know the correct order! The Franck piece ("Symphonic Poem") included here is unfamiliar to me but is, I think, actually Les Djinns.

Definitely great value for money if you are a fan of Richter. I paid 34/11 nearly 45 years ago for the Rachmaninov 2nd Concerto alone!


Vaughan Williams: Carols, Songs & Hymns
Vaughan Williams: Carols, Songs & Hymns
Price: £14.16

4.0 out of 5 stars Great interest to VW collectors, 8 May 2014
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Surprisingly successful - I say this as someone who has a huge number of recordings of VW's music. Contrary to what some other reviewers have suggested, all these pieces are original VW compositions, even if some of them do sound very like "Traditional".. It's a pity that credit is not given in the note to whomever made the arrangement and made the selections - someone clearly must have had a wide knowledge of VW's music to put this collection together. The Blake Songs, for example, would be well of the radar of anyone who isn't a VW fan. The hymn-tunes and carols included here were written by VW for larger collections (Engish Hymnal, Oxford Book of Carols, Songs of Praise). Many of the other tunes he included in those collections were his arrangements of folk-tunes or traditional sources, but those have not been included on this CD. I prefer to listen to the hymn-tunes sung this way by a clear solo voice than to the way the way they would normally be performed, sung by a congregation lagging a fraction of a beat behind an organist! "At the Name of Jesus", for example, is turned here into a rather jolly march instead of the usual dirge.

Linden Lea is of course a hardy perennial for singers, but it's a pity the text used here was not the Dorset dialect version, which would have fitted better with the "folky" approach of the CD. "Back and Side Go Bare" abstracted from the opera Sir John in Love / In Windsor Forest when sung by the men of the Carnival Band really does sound like a traditional tune, with only some peculiar key shifts giving the clue that it's original VW.

This is the only recording of "The Willow Whistle", as far as I know.


Rimsky-Korsakov: 5 Operas
Rimsky-Korsakov: 5 Operas
Price: £29.86

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value, 8 May 2014
Excellent value an introduction to Rimsky's operas. I was new to these works, so I can't comment on the performances on depth, but they all seem good, and I think the original CD sets when issued by Philips were well received. Good recording quality, no really intrusive stage noises. Sakdo and The Invisible City of Kitezh are outstanding and well worth getting to know - not as heavy as Wagner but musically more interesting than most late 19th century Italian and French operas.

The big drawback is the lack of texts and translations. These works are not popular, so texts are not easy to find, though you can get part way there using the Web. At this low price I don't expect a booklet, but a CD ROM or links to PDFs should have been provided, as the record company already has the texts that were provided with the original issues. If you really must have texts and translations you might be better off hunting down the original CD sets.


Adams: The Dharma At Big Sur / Kraft: Timpani Concerto No.1 / Rosenman: Suite From Rebel Without A Cause [+Digital Booklet]
Adams: The Dharma At Big Sur / Kraft: Timpani Concerto No.1 / Rosenman: Suite From Rebel Without A Cause [+Digital Booklet]
Price: £8.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying for the Adams alone, 14 Mar 2013
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Not all Adams orchestral pieces make a strong impression with me, but The Dharma at Big Sur does, probably because of the unusual scoring and off-beat influences. I actually find it more interesting than his more familiar (conventional) Violin Concerto but that's no doubt my problem, not the composer's.

This is a recording of a live concert by the LAPO but the sound is very good. Full marks to DG for including a digital booklet in the download - very useful or even essential for unfamiliar music such as this.

I rate this 4* rather than 5* only because you acquire the concert, including Kraft and Rosenman, not just Adams. To be fair, this is imaginative programming and the other music is also well worth hearing - last time I remember coming across anything by Kraft was on an LP recording made (LAPO again?) in the early 1970s.

Given the very low price, don't hesitate if you want to hear the Adams piece.


Holst: The Collector's Edition
Holst: The Collector's Edition
Price: £10.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Holst collection - The Planets and well beyond, 8 Feb 2013
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Excellent value - the only snag for me was that I already had several of these recordings on CD, but, even so, at £7 this was well worth buying to get hold of some of Holst's other pieces that have hardly ever been recorded.

These are mostly recordings from the 1960s and 1970s, but EMI's analogue recording quality was of a very high standard. The more familiar pieces (The Planets, The Perfect Fool music) are included in recordings that are as good as any ever made (conducted by Boult and Previn respectively). There are other great Holst pieces included that are just as good as The Planets but which are relatively neglected (Egdon Heath, Hymn of Jesus, Choral Fantasia, etc.). The unaccompanied choral music is done very well by the "Baccholian Singers" (actually a group of top-notch vocal soloists such as Ian Partridge) - this performance of The Homecoming is one of the few pieces I've heard where the singers are successful in adopting more-or-less plausible regional accents. And the two short operas are also well worthwhile.

I think I would have preferred Mehuhin's recordings (with the ECO) of the short suites (Beni Mora, etc.) to the Sargent performances that are included here, but that's a very minor quibble.

Anyone who likes The Planets and wants to hear other music by Holst should buy this - 6/7 hours at this price is great value.


Orff: Die Kluge
Orff: Die Kluge
Price: £0.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic recording, but a bit of a shame about the music, 19 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Orff: Die Kluge (MP3 Download)
Very good value, with amazingly good sound for 1956. The singers/actors are placed well forward, so words are generally audible. The same excellent performance is available from EMI but at a much higher price. Anyone wanting to look for Orff beyond Carmina Burana would find this worthwhile, as it's a piece that's easy to take in even at a first hearing.

The main drawback is the absence of text or translation - especially as, unlike many other opera libretti, the text for 'Die Kluge' does not seem to be available online. This is a problem, unless you are fluent in German (and some dialect), as much of the time the music is so simple and repetitive that you really need the words to give your mind something to focus on!


Classical Essentials
Classical Essentials
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value, fine perfomances, interesting music, 19 Jan 2013
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This is identical with the Icon 11 CD box of recordings by the Melos Ensemble for EMI, but at £7.50 this is substantially cheaper. The range of music is very wide: from Viennese classics through to some British pieces of the 1960s, also including very worthwhile early 20th C music like the Nielsen Wind Quintet and Bliss's Clarinet Quintet. The Melos Ensemble included in its line-up many of the top British wind/string players of the period, so the performances are fine ones.

Composer information was absent when I made the download into iTunes: fortunately a lot of the pieces can be identified readily but some are pretty obscure - the only recording I possess of anything by Skalkottas is included here. Hence this link is useful, as full details are provided:
[...]
My only problem was that I had about half of these recordings in CD format and I had already paid for a download of one of the items (the Gordon Crosse chamber concerto) from the EMI Icon set! - but this set still seemed good value to acquire the rest.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 14, 2013 12:27 AM GMT


You are Not So Smart: Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself
You are Not So Smart: Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself
by David McRaney
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - relates results from psychology experiments to everyday behaviour, 27 Nov 2012
Excellent. I bought this on spec after glancing at it in an airport bookshop and was glad that I took the trouble to read it. It refers to a lot of experiments relating to psychology - much to my surprise I found this subject matter really interesting, even if one or two of the results were already familiar. If you think that psychology in nothing but all that early 20th C Freud-Jung psychotherapy guff, this is a good book to set you straight.

It is very fragmented in its structure, but that does make it easy to dip in to.


Hassan : the story of Hassan of Bagdad, and how he came to make the golden journey to Samarkand : a play in five acts
Hassan : the story of Hassan of Bagdad, and how he came to make the golden journey to Samarkand : a play in five acts
Price: £0.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth investigating, 29 Nov 2011
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The freebie ebooks on Amazon frequently are poorly presented, but this version of the play by Flecker is one of the good ones. The only slight drawback in the formatting is that the tabbing of the character headings is a bit wayward.

I re-read this recently while travelling, the first time for many years. It's a highly romanticised view of the East (Baghdad) written by an English orientalist about 100 years ago - rather like an upmarket version of the Aladdin pantomime that includes a love-story with an uncompromisingly gruesome ending. I guess that it is mainly remembered these days, if at all, for some of the music which Delius wrote for the play, though some of Flecker's evocative phrases make it into dictionaries of quotations ("We are the pilgrims, Master" &c; "Thine impudence, Hassan, is like unto the hind-quarters of an elephant", &c). Considering that it is set in an Islamic culture, there is a lot of emphasis on wine-drinking!


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