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R. Kenchington (Stamford, United Kingdom)

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The Stone Tape  [1972] [DVD]
The Stone Tape [1972] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Bryant
Price: £13.40

3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A big let down, 23 May 2014
This review is from: The Stone Tape [1972] [DVD] (DVD)
A massive disappointment. Between the muddled script and the constant shouting of Michael Bryant, there wasn't much left to enjoy in this hopelessly dated and heavily pretentious affair.
There were far too many characters, all talking across each other at top volume and the so-called climax took far too long to emerge - by which time I was past caring. Even Jane Asher looked visibly fed-up with it all by the time it was over. Only Ian Cuthbertson managed to bring any kind of genuine characterization to the story, the rest - especially Bryant - were hopelessly OTT. I bought this on the strength of positive reviews on Amazon and elsewhere and the fact that I normally enjoy BBC drama productions from the 1970s but this, I'm afraid, was a dismal exception. On the few occasions I buy a flop, I normally keep it until a charity bag comes round but this was so bad I put it in the bin. Avoid.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 13, 2014 1:21 PM BST

Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures
Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures
Price: £15.97

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Klemperer gives it to you straight, 20 Jun 2013
This highly competitive budget box set is an excellent introduction to newcomers to Beethoven's orchestral music. It's also good to bring all the purely symphonic music together without the concertos.

Klemperer to my mind always played Beethoven 'straight': his basic insistence in rehearsal was for clearly articulated phrasing, a wide dynamic range and above all clarity of texture. With regard to tempi, Klemperer's are for the most part perfectly easy to live with because of their consistency and firm inner pulse. These performances may not have the rich palette of colour you'll find with Karajan, Kleiber or Jochum but they are for the most part very well played and preserved in remarkably clear and well-balanced sound. Certainly a lot easier to listen to than many digitally recorded cycles in my experience.

Seasoned collectors will of course have their favourites and I am not suggesting that Klemperer was 'the last word' in Beethoven but as mentioned, this highly affordable and neatly presented set is the perfect tool for students or casual listeners coming to this remarkable music for the first time. Recommended!

Sir Adrian Boult - Elgar: The Complete EMI Recordings
Sir Adrian Boult - Elgar: The Complete EMI Recordings
Price: £34.63

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sir Adrian's long-awaited Elgar box!, 18 Jun 2013
At last! After nearly 10 years of campaigning, all of Sir Adrian Boult's EMI recordings of Elgar are finally brought together in one competitively priced box set.

And what a magnificent set it is too! Two versions apiece of the two symphonies, two 'In the South' overtures, two 'Falstaff's, two violin concertos and no less than four versions of the 'Enigma' Variations. In essence, these recordings offer a complete survey of Sir Adrian as the Elgar interpreter par excellence, beginning in 1920 and finishing in 1978 - practically the whole of his conducting career.

It's all here: overtures, marches, preludes, choral music and even a fascinating talk from Sir Adrian himself about 'The Apostles' and 'The Kingdom'.

It's fascinating to hear how Boult's performances developed over this period, from the no-nonsense urgency of the famous 1944 second symphony, to the glowing expanse of those classic 1960s and '70s recordings of 'The Dream of Gerontius' and smaller, more incidental treasures like 'Dream Children', 'The Wand of Youth' and 'The Sanguine Fan'.

Indeed, Boult's approach to Elgar's music ripened over the years - markedly so following the death of Barbirolli. After Sir John's passing, Sir Adrian felt he could introduce a more affectionate quality to his own performances - a quality you can hear in those lovingly conducted late versions of the symphonies, 'Cockaigne' and 'In the South'.

But whether it's tautly-conceived early recordings or 'Indian Summer' remakes, Boult's Elgar remained consistent in its approach to long-term structural control, clear orchestral balance and a painstaking fidelity to both the letter and the spirit of the score. Nearly 40 years after Sir Adrian made the last of these recordings, their natural authority and expressive power remains undimmed - at least for this listener.

Whether you're a seasoned Elgarian or a newcomer to this wonderful music, this handsomely presented 19CD set is an essential addition to any classical collection.

From Bach to Wagner
From Bach to Wagner
Price: £16.12

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Boult collection!, 7 Nov 2012
This review is from: From Bach to Wagner (Audio CD)
This 11CD compilation is a valuable addition to the Boult discography and is one of several superb box sets released by EMI this year which brings together an artist's recorded legacy in themed collections (witness the recent Jochum 'Icon' set and the new and ongoing Klemperer Legacy).

The theme of this collection covers Boult's EMI recordings of Austro-German repertoire and makes a welcome appearance especially as many of these performances were deleted on LP for years and were only sporadically distributed on CD. Of course the Brahms recordings are essentials for any collection but how many people have heard Sir Adrian's surprisingly lively Bach Brandenburgs or powerful Wagner overtures and preludes? It's good also to see Boult's wonderful late recording of Beethoven's 'Pastoral' back on EMI along with the Schubert 'Great C Major' which again has been in and out of the catalogue in various transfers.

The biggest surprise though is Boult's masterful interpretations of the Mozart 'Haffner' and 'Jupiter' Symphonies. I'm sure so many people who associate Boult with Elgar, Holst, Vaughan Williams etc.will be amazed not only that he conducted Mozart so well, but that he actually conducted it at all! As with the other works in this set, Boult presents these classical symphonies quite simply and with great authority, without ever getting in the way of the music itself.

As with Klemperer recordings, Boult's performances benefit from outstanding sound quality, not least because of the antiphonal balance he achieved on the orchestra (first and second violins either side of the stereo spectrum, double woodwind and carefully deployed brass)combined with a wide but natural dynamic range.

I grew up with these recordings on fondly remembered LPs but, like other listeners on Amazon, the seductive sounds of Karajan led to me to unjustly put these Boult discs aside when Deutsche Grammophon ones became more affordable. Now, it's like being reunited with long-lost friends again and this time this Boult collection will hold a permanent and much-loved place in my collection.

ICON Eugen Jochum
ICON Eugen Jochum
Price: £29.36

35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Majestic tribute to a great conductor!, 5 Sep 2012
This review is from: ICON Eugen Jochum (Audio CD)
This 20CD set brings Eugen Jochum's various EMI recordings together in one collection for the first time. This includes the 'lost' Beethoven cycle with the LSO, majestic Brahms with the London Philharmonic and his outstanding Dresden Staatskapelle set of the Bruckner Symphonies. These recordings all date from the late 1970s and mark what was to be this great conductor's own 'Indian Summer' in the recording studio (contemporary with another great EMI maestro, Sir Adrian Boult).

Jochum was among several German conductors (including Kempe and Sawallisch) whom EMI engaged to fill the void left by Klemperer: a high priest of the central symphonic repertoire to rival Karajan on DG. Many of these Jochum recordings were critically acclaimed on initial LP release but for some reason did not enjoy the circulation they deserved. Indeed, the Beethoven cycle has been missing for years, turning up briefly about 10 years ago complete on CD on a small budget label. The Brahms has fared better, despite a clumsy coupling across two 'double forte' sets with Tennstedt's controversial 'Deutsches Requiem'. However, the Bruckner has remained a firm, bestselling favorite here on Amazon and elsewhere in a competitively priced budget set.

Now, ALL of these powerful and highly individual interpretations recorded in rich, full-bodied late analogue, make for a wonderful compendium for both this conductor's many admirers and as a great introduction to these cornerstones of orchestral literature. With Jochum's spiritually charged Munich recordings of the Bach B Minor Mass and Mozart's Coronation Mass as hefty bonus items, this set merits the highest recommendation.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 23, 2014 4:38 AM BST

Bruckner: Symphonies (DG Collectors Edition)
Bruckner: Symphonies (DG Collectors Edition)
Price: £33.55

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bruckner The Chicago Way!, 25 Sep 2011
I received this set the other day and was blown away by both the quality of performance and recording. I somehow thought these Barenboim performances might be a bit on the 'worthy' side and was genuinely surprised at the mystery, majesty and sheer brilliance of both the conducting and playing on offer here.
Unfairly trumped by competing cycles from Karajan and Jochum in the early 1980s, and later by Barenboim's own Berlin remakes for Warner Classics, its good to have this long-lost DG set back in circulation.
I agree with the previous review, the brass is everything in Bruckner. The majestic fanfares, the lofty chorale themes, the apocalypic climaxes that are the bedrock of Bruckner's musical language cry out for a brass section which has the kind of flexibility and durability the uniquely talented players of the Chicago Symphony provides. And yet Barenboim's judicious balancing of the orchestra and the recording engineers' careful mixing ensures the power of the part-writing never overlaps into the kind of coarseness that marrs so much of Solti's set recorded with the same ensemble a few years later.
As for Barenboim's interpretations I find much to admire. He finds humour and excitement in the first two symphonies and warmth and flexibility in the third and fourth. He also finds mystery, just listen to the second movement of the 'Romantic' or the noble string themes of the fifth and seventh symphonies. And the sixth, so often the joker of the Bruckner pack, has never sounded more confident and songful.
Barenboim's tempi are elastic, yet organic - avoiding the excitable 'push me, pull you' approach of Jochum while avoiding the sometimes tiring 'one tempo fits everything' approach of Karajan at his most overweening. The Eighth is a good example and so too is the ninth symphony, which under Barenboim, acquires just the right blend of fiery drama and spiritual gravitas.
As mentioned, the quality of the playing is a revelation and with the intriguing Symphony No.0, the magnificent Psalm 150 and Te Deum as makeweights (not to mention Helgoland) this beautifully presented 10CD set is a must-have for any Brucknerian.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2011 1:39 PM GMT

Worst Nightmares
Worst Nightmares
by Shane Briant
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.09

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning debut from Shane Briant, 1 May 2009
This review is from: Worst Nightmares (Hardcover)
A new era in horror fiction begins with 'Worst Nightmares', the electrifying debut novel from Shane Briant.

With its combination of powerful new ideas, cracking pace and vivid descriptions, this highly original, cleverly plotted and genuinely disturbing story takes the horror genre into a completely new direction.

The actual premise is fascinating in itself: a best-selling author, suffering from writer's block, receives an unsolicited diary - a different kind of diary - which introduces The Dream Healer; a sadistic killer who lures his victims to a variety of terrible deaths via his website. By methods inventive and alarming The Dream Healer seduces his victims into revealing their innermost fears and then manifests those same nightmares upon them.

Realising the diary's huge commercial potential, the author, Dermot, begins a dark quest to research the individual stories only to discover that both the killings and the killer are only too real. Disregarding this grim reality the desperate author reworks the murders into a best-selling book, with devastating results.

This thrilling debut novel does exactly what it says on the cover. It's a real edge-of-the-seat experience containing some of the most powerful prose since the age of Edgar Allen Poe and H.G.Wells. More readable than Stephen King, more suspenseful than James Herbert and more frightening than anything from the pen of Denis Wheatley, Shane Briant's 'Worst Nightmares' is the most important horror story of the 21st century.

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