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Astute Listener (Cambridge, Cambs United Kingdom)

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The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby
Dvd
Offered by Lovefilm UK Limited
Price: 0.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter rubbish, farcical, 6 May 2014
This review is from: The Great Gatsby (DVD)
This version is vacuous, relying on exaggerated visual effects. It's all too much- yuk. The characters are overdrawn, the dialogue pushed into the background. Watch the MUCH better version with Robert Redford instead!


Schumann: Violin Sonatas 1-3
Schumann: Violin Sonatas 1-3
Price: 9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 17 Sep 2013
Review excerpt from International Record Review, July 2013:
"... This new reading is exemplary in every way, majestically and decisively rounding off what must now be the recording of choice in these works. Highly recommended." Michael Jameson


Piers Lane Goes To Town [Piers Lane] [Hyperion: CDA67967]
Piers Lane Goes To Town [Piers Lane] [Hyperion: CDA67967]
Price: 13.25

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a disc from a piano poet, 17 Sep 2013
Review on [...] by Colin Anderson, September 2013:
Piers Lane, one of the most versatile pianists around, presents many sides of himself in a selection of pieces that may seem topsy-turvy, incongruous even, but there are some wonderful and brilliant things here to be re-united with or discovered, and each piece is superbly played, with complete identification, and beautifully recorded too - just like a piano should sound, with all of Lane's colours, dynamics and inflections faithfully relayed.
Lane himself writes a generous and informative booklet note, and clearly much thought has gone into the choosing and then the ordering of the nineteen miniatures played; of course one can dip in at one's fancy, or choose a personal order, or simply press "shuffle" and let the CD player do the rest. Listened to the Lane way, we have Billy Mayerl following J. S. Bach, Rachmaninov and Zez Confrey rubbing shoulders while Arthur Benjamin rumbas and Robert Keane tangos ... and the disc would not have been complete without Dudley Moore.
The disc opens in what might be thought over-contemplative mood, the chorale-like piece by Katharine `Kitty' Parker (1886-1971), but it's lovely music, sweet and seductive; 70 minutes later its counterpart will be Percy Grainger's Irish tune from County Derry (aka `Londonderry Air' or `Danny Boy') - both of which Lane presents with the utmost sensitivity. Alan Lane (1932-2002) is the pianist's father; his Toccata bustles with life and incident, and may perhaps suggest the piano music of Manuel de Falla. Even faster, in terms of tempo, is another Toccata, that by Anthony Doheny (born 1938), a capricious caper tailor-made for its dedicatee's dazzling display.
With track four we reach the delights of John Ireland's Ballerina, only recently published, an early version of his Columbine. Lane reveals a delightfully languorous dance, rather French (it could be included in Ravel's Valses nobles et sentimentales), the musical equivalent of a nightcap (a double for me!) after a busy day. What to say about track five is difficult. Words simply aren't enough! Myra Hess's "iconic" transcription of J. S. Bach's `Jesu, joy of man's desiring' is simply sublime, so simple yet so penetrating to one's inner being; I shall not hear this transporting miracle performed more movingly than by Piers Lane; it's altogether special. Indeed, resisting the "repeat" button has proved well-nigh-impossible at times; Bach, Hess and Lane have created a but a few moments yet with a lifetime's guarantee of harmonious escape. And I'm still not doing it justice. However track six is also a gem, Billy Mayerl's signature-piece, Marigold, a light-music classic, played to perfection by Lane with easy-going delight.
After such balm to the ear, then the barnstorming opening to the Naila Waltz hits hard! After too lengthy a preamble the dance-measures themselves offer much old-world pleasure; so too Rachmaninov's transcription of his song `Daisies', in which enigma and melancholy entwine. How very different is Illinois-born Edward Elzear `Zez' Confrey's Dizzy Fingers (1923), a tour de force for the pianist and a winner for the listener. In Barcarolles, Mark Saya (born 1954) owes rather too much to Chopin and Offenbach; it's all rather nice but the familiarity of the originals is distracting. Following which is an ornate arrangement of `A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square', the famous melody left intact for all the many notes added to it. Then further nocturnalism with 90 seconds of Poulenc gently passing the `small hours'.
Bach Goes to Town by blind-from-birth Alec Templeton (1910-63) is a marvellous piece, jazzy Bach if you will, and not short on well-made counterpoint. If not quite emulating Benny Goodman's terrific account (albeit as arranged for his Sextet), Piers Lane also wears a smile as he plays it straight. Arthur Benjamin's Jamaican Rumba shimmers with infectious good-nature for its 56 seconds. I'm all for saving any animal, not least the tiger, and Robert Keane (born 1948) has written a Suite to help such laudable aims along. This Tango is dedicated "to my mate Piers Lane" and the sheet music is downloadable from [...] Good luck to him. Antony Hopkins (born 1921) is perhaps best known for his BBC Radio 4 series, Talking About Music, which was always worth tuning in for. His Variations on a well-known Theme is rather fun, the tune not stated but hinted at. Clue: you may have it sung to you once a year. As for Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933), his Arabesque is a trifling matter but its pirouetting is given magic by Lane's fingers and affection. As for Dudley Moore's extraordinary Beethoven Parody, this has been a mainstay of Piers Lane's encore library for some time; it's good to have a record of it and adds another layer to our awareness of Moore's abilities in a piece both ingenious and hilarious. And, finally, the Grainger...
Although this is a release for all seasons, with something for pianophiles everywhere and for anyone who likes rarities and surprises, with Christmas not far away this CD would also be the perfect stocking filler, numerous tasty morsels for the ears, heart and funny bone.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 28, 2013 11:48 AM BST


Schumann: Romantic Violin Concerto 13 (D Minor/ A Minor/ Phantasie) (Anthony Marwood; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Douglas Boyd) (Hyperion: CDA67847)
Schumann: Romantic Violin Concerto 13 (D Minor/ A Minor/ Phantasie) (Anthony Marwood; BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Douglas Boyd) (Hyperion: CDA67847)
Price: 13.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marwood convincing in late Schumann, 19 Oct 2012
Piers Burton-Page in International Record Review, September 2012

Is the current fashionable idea of `Late Schumann' as a recognizably different and positive entity something of a mirage? That expert violinist Mr Sherlock Holmes, owner of a fine Stradivarius, would not have had too much trouble over identification when confronted with the opening track of this release. There are plenty of fingerprints. A tutti with brassy dotted rhythms and a pulsating quaver accompaniment in the strings start things off. When the soloist enters, we hear characteristic swooping lines mingled with elaborate violinistic figuration. The key, D minor, might be a giveaway too, and the brief glimpse of a yearning second subject.

Hyperion's various Romantic Concerto Series have tended to be given over to rarities, even obscurities, but Volume 13 of the Romantic Violin Concerto sequence is giver over to - Schumann! Fair enough perhaps; for Schumann's D minor Violin Concerto of 1853 (well spotted, Sherlock - but did your favourite violinist Sarasate ever play it? Surely not!) is still not a repertoire work to this day. Yet, to my surprise, I find that there have been at least a dozen other recordings: among them, its earliest LP incantation on Teldec KT11008.1-2, presumably transferred from 78s; that LP is where I first encountered the piece, and it is now on CD. The sleeve note described it as `bearbeitet' - i.e. as much arranged, as edited - but several hands, including those of the violinist himself, Hindemith and Georg Schünemann, but despite one's consequent distrust, the composer was still readily identifiable. Laura Tunbridge's good note with this Hyperion release expands a good deal more on the Concerto's odd history, reminding us inter alia that between them, no less a trio than Brahms, Clara Schumann and Joseph Joachim conspired to suppress it as unworthy.

Were they, perhaps, right? It's a moot point. In their favour is that the finale, in the rhythm of a polonaise, might be called repetitious and eve, if you are feeling unkind, banal, or at any rate not up to Schumann's exalted standard. Booby-trapped, too: taken too slowly, it sounds ponderous; taken to fast, the plentiful figuration descends into a gabble. So the performer walks a tightrope. In favour of exhumation is that we live in different, perhaps less judgemental times, and that we are all completists now: we rightly want the whole Schumann picture. Anthony Marwood, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Douglas Boyd in alert support, makes absolutely the best case for the Schumann Concerto, bringing fire where necessary to the first movement and a nice relaxation to the seraphic slow movement. Marwood has, too, all the requisite poise in the problematic polonaise. Some great names have resuscitated the work on disc: they include Menuhin, Joshua Bell, Christian Tetzlaff and Gidon Kremer, twice, powerful advocates all; yet still the piece seems to resist. Maybe Marwood can tip the balance.

Schumann wrote his Cello Concerto just three years earlier and listening to it alongside the violin work does make one wonder all over again if something deserted him in the interim. The melodic ideas are just much more memorable, the structure seems tighter. Cellists are not well provided with great concertos, and now here is a violinist attempting to appropriate one of them for his own instrument, albeit with composer's apparent blessing: this is Schumann's own version, but seemingly involves little more than upward transposition. I think that, actually, it works uncommonly well, exposing the middle of Schumann's orchestration in ways that the solo cello sometimes masks, so that melodic lines in the accompaniment sometimes stand proud in ways not previously open to them. Of course there are losses too, principally the mellowness of timbre of the solo cello itself Again, Marwood and his colleagues make a real case for this version, and if we weren't snobbish about such things, this arrangement might more easily find a place in the repertoire than Schumann's Violin Concerto proper.

Then there is the final track on the disc. This the C major Phantasie for violin and orchestra, Op. 131, another product (1853 again) of Late Schumann. And this, surely is the real McCoy: it brought to mind such pieces as the magnificent four-horn Konzertstück in its combination of inner strength, free-flowing contrasts and lyric warmth. Schumann at this stage of his sad life was on this evidence by no means a burnt-out case. The posies of the soloist, the responsiveness of the Scottish orchestra and the fine recording make the best possible case for yet another neglected work; as indeed they do for this release as whole.


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