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Rob Davies

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Steinway Legends - Piano Edition (10 2-CD Sets)
Steinway Legends - Piano Edition (10 2-CD Sets)
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, 28 July 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Very odd indeed - at £8 this is staggeringly good value. The 10 individual "2 CD" sets in this series are sold at £8 or £11 each, yet the asking price for this compilation of all 10 sets (+ some bonus tracks) is £8. Buy it before someone spots the mistake!

This compilation contains most of the great pianists of the second half of the 20th century in mostly excellent recordings from the vast back-catalogues of DG, Philips and Decca. Most of the pianist big names you might expect are here, except for Richter. The range of music includes the obvious composers, so there is lots of Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, Schubert, Liszt, Chopin, etc. Some key pieces are included in more than one version - three pianists tackle the Liszt Sonata in B minor. A few tougher 20th century pieces are included - Pollini includes Webern's Variations, for example - but the repertoire is mostly late 18th and 19th century music. A few of these recordings I already had on earlier CD issues but these MP3 versions sound absolutely fine. The identification of the tracks when downloaded is clear, though the original recording dates are missing.

Surely this set must be the best survey of recorded piano music available, and the price is very, very low at present.


The Collected Works of Bernard Shaw: The Complete Works PergamonMedia
The Collected Works of Bernard Shaw: The Complete Works PergamonMedia
Price: £0.49

3.0 out of 5 stars OK for the time being, 27 July 2015
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This is a collection of Shaw texts which are currently out of (US) copyright and have been published by Project Gutenberg and others, so it misses the later works which are still in copyright. There is one huge table of contents at the front, including all the detail of sub-headings, which is a very clumsy way of organising a large collection of texts like this. It would be much better to have a summary Contents at the front, then have more detailed subsidiary tables of contents before each individual work. In some of the plays the formatting of indent margins is poor - some text spills off the page on my Kindle.

This is OK as a stop-gap, but before long all Shaw's works will be out of copyright, and I'm sure Delphi Classics will then produce a really good Collected Works.


TV Go Home
TV Go Home
by Charlie Brooker
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

1.0 out of 5 stars Go away!, 27 July 2015
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This review is from: TV Go Home (Paperback)
I really like Brooker's later collections of splenetic TV reviews and his satirical TV programmes but this is an early effort and if simply dreadful. It's like a bunch of ideas that were rejected for Private Eye. To call it juvenile would be an insult to 12 year olds. Charlie should be buying up all available copies and pulping them so nobody gets to read this dross.


The Tin Drum
The Tin Drum
by Günter Grass
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars So laboured, 2 July 2015
This review is from: The Tin Drum (Paperback)
I expected to enjoy this but was greatly disappointed. It seems very laboured, as if the author was being paid by the word and had decided to extend the book's length as much as he could. Don't be worried if you drift off and miss one of the author's images at its first appearance - the image will always come round again at least three or four times, to make sure you get the point, so you can catch it later in the book. There are many passages that are presumably intended to be blackly humorous but it is really hard to be sure, the style is so heavy-handed. I eventually figured out that Oskar's maddening drumming is actually a metaphor for a novelist who goes on at great length, annoying everyone within range. You do get some glimpses of life in pre-war Danzig - not-quite Germany, not-quite Poland - that almost make reading the book worthwhile.

Perhaps the best thing about reading this is that you realise how succinctly written are some other books - "Tristam Shandy" is a concise masterpiece in comparison with this. And a lot funnier.


Masterworks Of The 20th Century
Masterworks Of The 20th Century
Price: £18.07

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strongly recommended for the adventurous, 28 Jun. 2015
This is a fairly arbitrary collection of reissues of RCA & CBS LPs of modern music that have generally escaped reissue on CD until now. I bought it mainly for the sake of replacing a couple of old LPs that I had (Partch, and Ives by Kirkpatrick), but virtually everything else included in the box is also interesting, if sometimes distinctly challenging. There are two especially oddball discs of electronic and choral ("extended voices") music that will take a long while for me to assimilate. Several composers are included who are totally new to me, along with more familiar (even if they are not quite Classic FM territory) 20th C pieces like Le marteau sans maitre and Agon.

The big drawback is the absence of any notes on the composers and music. This absence would not matter with a reissue box compilation of, say, Beethoven, but is a big problem for this kind of music.


A Fair Wack
A Fair Wack
Price: £2.34

3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, 31 May 2015
This review is from: A Fair Wack (Kindle Edition)
Worth reading, but perhaps not in the Raymond Chandler class. I got through the book in a couple of days, so it's clearly very readable.

The dialogue is well-done, though the descriptive prose is less impressive as it runs to a lot of short sentences, rather like some of Angela Carter's writing ('The cat sat on the mat' etc.). I needed help with some of the local slang. Some of the twists in the plot are a bit implausible, e.g. the crucial fact that there are two key characters who look almost exactly alike, but to be fair you get similar unlikely devices in, say, John Buchan. It's said that if in a play you see a gun on the wall in Act 1, you can be sure it will be used as a murder weapon before the end of the play - I thought much the same here when a dodgy toilet cistern is described for no obvious reason.


Leopold Stokowki: The Stereo Collection 1954 - 1975
Leopold Stokowki: The Stereo Collection 1954 - 1975
Price: £16.78

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value, don't hesitate, 26 Jan. 2015
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Ridiculously good value, at around £1 per disc. Stokowski is never less than interesting and often is reallly compelling - this recording of the New World I had never come across before, but is perhaps the best I've ever heard. He is also one of the few conductors to take the marking of the 4th movement of Brahms Symphony #4 ("Allegro energico e passionato") seriously - nearly all modern conductors treat it as "Allegro moderato e pomposo". There are many recordings of standards here but also some more obscure pieces - Khachaturian Symphony #3 and Menotti's Sebastian, for example. Recordings are good ones, mostly from the 1960s and early 70s, including several made in the UK not long before Stokowski died.


Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake
Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake
Price: £3.96

3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but EMI CDs would be better., 26 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this to replace an old LP I had with lots of clicks (the CfP reissue from the early 1970s). This download is a big improvement on that, but it could be better. As the Kurtz recording dates from the late 1950s (and is out of copyright), I think the download is likely to be a transfer from an LP, but surface noise is not obtrusive. On reflection, I would have been better to buy the double EMI CD of Kurtz's recordings of Swan Lake + other Tchaikovsky, obviously using the original EMI master tapes. That, for less than £10 second-hand, would be better value than this recording (only Swan Lake) for £5.


Dame Janet Baker: The Great EMI Recordings
Dame Janet Baker: The Great EMI Recordings
Price: £32.09

5.0 out of 5 stars Great value, great performances., 26 Jan. 2015
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Ridiculously good value. I already had several of the recordings in this box (either as CDs or LPs), but this was still well worth buying. Baker was such a good performer across such a wide range of music: Schubert, French, song, Purcell, Mahler, etc., etc.

My only very minor quibble is the choice of artwork that EMI chose for the sleeves - why have they gone for the Goth look?


EasyAcc UK 40Pin 15V 1.2A AC Adapter ASUS Wall Charger for ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101, Prime TF201, SL101, Pad 300 TF300 TF700T-with EMI CORES
EasyAcc UK 40Pin 15V 1.2A AC Adapter ASUS Wall Charger for ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101, Prime TF201, SL101, Pad 300 TF300 TF700T-with EMI CORES
Offered by Smart Parts UK, Digital Lifestyle Retailer

5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the one originally supplied with the tablet, 26 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The adapter supplied with the EeePad looks like a good idea, as it's very light, but it is unreliable. This is much better.


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