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J. Hutchings "jjhutchings" (Framlingham, UK)
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Glorious
Glorious
Price: £12.94

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 28 May 2012
This review is from: Glorious (Audio CD)
"Glorious" sums it up - another great album of varied classics made accessible for all in this fine release from Decca. Laura Wright sings with a warmth and ease that is at home in Elgar, through to White Cliffs, where she clearly enjoys the change of style. Her voice floats on high notes without ever being insubstantial. She is supported by the typically excellent Cirty of Prague Phil, and the accompanying choir are equally skilled. An excellent production!


Symphony No. 5: Study score
Symphony No. 5: Study score
by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Edition: Sheet music
Price: £11.52

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New score of an important work., 13 Oct. 2010
I purchased this volume as I am am teaching the AQA GCE A2 Music course, which allows a choice between Mahler 4 and Vaughan Williams 5 (no contest). After buying the full score, OUP released this smaller study score at an affordable price for students.

First, it is beautifully presented in a laminated hard-wearing cover. Secondly, the publication is given lots of space - none of that usual OUP crowding (although one could argue that there is sometimes too much space). Michael Kennedy's preface is useful, but it is the textual history by Peter Horton (editor) that lifts this from being just a string of notes to a fascinating document. Bar numbers and conductor figures are given throughout. The paper is of good quality, and the notation legible: my only worry is that the timpani part is given so much space around it, which could have been given to slightly larger notation or more space for the strings. A great purchase.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 14, 2012 8:39 PM GMT


The Duchess of Malfi [DVD] [2010] [All Regions] [NTSC]
The Duchess of Malfi [DVD] [2010] [All Regions] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Elizabeth Freestone

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellently produced, 15 July 2010
To come across a production of Duchess of Malfi is fortunate; to find one on DVD, recorded from a live performance, and of such quality, is an opportunity not to be missed. Duchess is a favourite of mine, and I was sorry to miss the Greenwich Theatre production earlier this year; the staging, criticised as 'dull' in the press, serves as an eminent platform for a superb delivery of Webster's text. The DVD production itself is expertly shot with good sound production, as one should expect.

As for the service of packaging, posting etc, the product was with me within 24 hours, expertly wrapped.


Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary
Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary
by Miri Rubin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.39

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent resource, 5 April 2010
Goodness. What a book. Filled almost to bursting with facts, references and comparisons, this is perhaps one of the ultimate reference books for those with an interest in she who we call the Virgin Mary.

The book is sensibly laid out (chronological), and starts with the gospels (notably the Protogospel of St James) and the main text finishes around 1660; a finishing chapter titled "After Mary: a conclusion" deals with the modern reception of Mary.

One irritation is that facts are mentioned almost fleetingly and yet so often, that one spends half one's time in the (excellent) bibliography, and then searching images and references online. This is a book that is crying out for an exhibition, with images and literature references on display.

That said, those references which Rubin cleverly chooses to expand further (notably examples of hymns/devotional texts) offer a glimpse into the clearly enormous wealth of material available to those who wish for more; perhaps a anthology of Marian texts could be next.


Mapp and Lucia (Penguin Modern Classics)
Mapp and Lucia (Penguin Modern Classics)
by Edward Frederick Benson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable, but buyers beware..., 31 July 2009
The great point regarding Mapp & Lucia is that they are thoroughly likeable, although not entirely so: the reader is treated to two characters who are not vying for your attention or aiming to please you. Instead, we are presented primarily with two wonderful characters, whose daily plots do entice the reader to want to turn the page ahead quicker to find out the result, often with a silent gasp of "oh no, but that means...". Thoroughly recommended to lovers of Mitford, and too some extent, Waugh - as in those who enjoy the first half of Vile Bodies etc.

A word of warning, though. Mapp and Lucia is the fourth of six stories by Benson. Purchasers are advised to go for the two other volumes from Penguin: Lucia Rising and Lucia Victrix. This present volume forms part of the Penguin Modern Classics series, which sets this book on its own: whilst Benson's writing means that you don't necessarily need to read the previous three, I was rather cross to find that there were three preceding books, to which there are no reference in this edition.


Requiem (Vocal Score)
Requiem (Vocal Score)
by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.75

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Arguably the best edition available, 16 July 2009
This review is from: Requiem (Vocal Score) (Paperback)
There are many arguments as to how one should perform Mozart's incomplete Requiem. The original manuscript, available in a facsimile from Bärenreiter, is surprisingly bare. Richard Maunder, a veritable scholar, has completed the work, including a [then] recently discovered extra fragment of an 'Amen' to complete the Sequence.

There is little in terms of the musical material presented in the vocal score to distinguish this volume from Novello or other editions available, save the shortening of the Lacrimosa and inserting of the fugal Amen. It is in the full edition where the trombones and other areas of orchestration are more typically dealt with

In terms of the notational presentation, I've said before that I've long been suspicious of the OUP, given their fondness for cramming as much music on a page as possible. This is a clearly presented score, with all the correct music in all the right places. The inclusion of Maunder's brief introduction, merely a snippet of his excellent book "Mozart's Requiem: On preparing a new edition" of 1988, is fantastic.

The volume also includes Süssmayer's Sanctus & Benedictus. One feels sorry for Süssmayer - forever targeted as the pupil who had to finish his master's work, rather than establishing a name for himself. Indeed, the name he made in undertaking the project has lead, perhaps unfairly, to strong castigation from some. Taken on their own as Süssmayer's own compositions, the Sanctus and, particularly, the Benedictus form two compositions one could argue his master may have been pleased with the result.

This is a much more pleasing score to handle and read than other editions available, I believe, by Novello, Bärenreiter et al.


More Divine Than Human - Music from the Eton Choirbook
More Divine Than Human - Music from the Eton Choirbook
Price: £6.39

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative singing, 16 July 2009
I have just finished listening to this recording, and am completely astounded. The singing is first class, and anyone with an interest in this genre should purchase it instantly; anyone with a love of choral music and/or the Renaissance/Tudor era should also consider giving it a go.

The overall sound is well recorded without being too close to hear breathing, or so far away as to be 'ethereal'. Merton College Chapel has proved a great venue for other choirs, and is clearly working for Christ Church. The choral sound is gutsy without being overbearing. The tutti sound is very impressive - Darlington clearly has chosen some extremely capable gentlemen. This is clearly displayed not only in the rock solid foundation on which the trebles build, but also in the verse/soli sections, where the individual qualities of each voice are demonstrated without being over-powering.

The trebles blend well with the altos, at some points (such as the opening of the exquisite Salve Regina by William Cornysh) blending so well as to be indistinct. The treble sound is well focused without being too perfect, and one is constantly reminded of the great effort, focus and determination required by these trebles (already much younger than the trebles for whom the music was originally composed) to sustain musical interest and ability throughout these magnificent yet enormous pieces. The solo trebles are perfectly chosen, well caught by the recording equipment, and display an exceptional vocal talent and brightness without the sound ever being too harsh on the ears.

A first class recording - a considerable achievement, and recommended without hesitation, especially when (currently), it is cheaper through Amazon.co.uk than iTunes.


More Divine Than Human - Music from The Eton Choirbook
More Divine Than Human - Music from The Eton Choirbook
Price: £15.95

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superlative singing, 16 July 2009
I have just finished listening to this recording, and am completely astounded. The singing is first class, and anyone with an interest in this genre should purchase it instantly; anyone with a love of choral music and/or the Renaissance/Tudor era should also consider giving it a go.

The overall sound is well recorded without being too close to hear breathing, or so far away as to be 'ethereal'. Merton College Chapel has proved a great venue for other choirs, and is clearly working for Christ Church. The choral sound is gutsy without being overbearing. The tutti sound is very impressive - Darlington clearly has chosen some extremely capable gentlemen. This is clearly displayed not only in the rock solid foundation on which the trebles build, but also in the verse/soli sections, where the individual qualities of each voice are demonstrated without being over-powering.

The trebles blend well with the altos, at some points (such as the opening of the exquisite Salve Regina by William Cornysh) blending so well as to be indistinct. The treble sound is well focused without being too perfect, and one is constantly reminded of the great effort, focus and determination required by these trebles (already much younger than the trebles for whom the music was originally composed) to sustain musical interest and ability throughout these magnificent yet enormous pieces. The solo trebles are perfectly chosen, well caught by the recording equipment, and display an exceptional vocal talent and brightness without the sound ever being too harsh on the ears.

A first class recording - a considerable achievement, and recommended without hesitation.


Messiah: Vocal score (Classic Choral Works)
Messiah: Vocal score (Classic Choral Works)
by George Frideric Handel
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.79

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hurrah - finally - a truly decent score!, 12 July 2009
"Who has Prout? Who has Watkins Shaw? What do you mean, you're the only one with Bärenreiter? There's always one..."

The choice of scores when performing Messiah are mind-boggling, and a nightmare for any conductor or choir librarian. I have long been a fan of my updated Novello - with the music finally re-typeset from its early 20th Century calligraphy. However, not all the different versions are included, and some parts of it are difficult in terms of page turns etc.

What a joy it is to see Clifford Bartlett come up with this magnificent creation. I've long been suspicious of the OUP, given their fondness for cramming as much music on a page as possible. This is a clearly presented score, with all the correct music in all the right places. The notes are fantastic, and the alternative editions for arias etc are usefully placed, easy to read and beautifully presented.

Bravo, Mr Bartlett. I'm putting the Novello back on the shelf...


Byrd: Early Latin Church Music; Propers for Lady Mass in Advent
Byrd: Early Latin Church Music; Propers for Lady Mass in Advent
Price: £11.13

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond compare, 12 July 2009
I have long been a fan of the Cardinall's Musick and their singing of Renaissance music. Their Byrd series, first started on ASV's Gaudeamus and now on Hyperion, represents a wonderful attempt to record Byrd's complete sacred music, and it is being beautifully done.

There are many volumes to choose from, notably the three masses - a deservedly award winning recording, but this is my favourite. Among the items are Rorate caeli, Lamentations, Christe, qui lux es, the magnificent nine-part Domine quis habitabit, and the Audivi vocem de caelo.

However, the stand out for me is the Peccavi super numerum a 5, the last track on the disc. The blend of singers throughout the series is superb, representing a more heartfelt, gutsy, perhaps truly consort style that is possible with the highest calibre of professional singers: in this motet they draw back and focus their voices superbly, with the opening semitone rise and fall given not much flow and ebb, or indeed dramatic dynamic shading, but as the motet builds, such is the combined beauty of dynamic, tempi, diction and timbre of voice that one can't helped but be moved by this motet, which in translation reads as "My sins number more than the grains of sand in the sea".

Any CD from this series is worth the money, this one particularly.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 26, 2009 6:55 AM GMT


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