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Abbicadabri (London United Kingdom)

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Sibelius: Symphonies [John Storgards, BBC Philharmonic] [Chandos: CHAN 10809(3)]
Sibelius: Symphonies [John Storgards, BBC Philharmonic] [Chandos: CHAN 10809(3)]
Price: £22.64

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stoic Storgards, 26 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I really like these performances of the Sibelius Symphonies here and I particularly like the fact that these recordings are relatively free of egotistical intervention and the music seems to flow naturally and the tempi never become plodding or pedestrian. I am particularly fond of the versions of the 3rd and the 6th Symphonies, perhaps two of the most beautiful symphonies, both on the same disc - and Storgards really does them justice.

I hear things in these Chandos recordings that I have never heard on recordings before, like thundering double basses and rich cellos. There are some beautiful wind solos, particularly from the principal oboe. My one minor quibble is the violin sound. When you consider that Sibelius was a violinist, sometimes I feel that the violins don't always have enough fullness or sparkle in the orchestral tuttis like you get with the Berlin Phil or the Ashkenazy Philharmonia recordings, and I think Sibelius would have wanted that. I have often felt this in modern Sibelius recordings about the string sections, so maybe it's more to do with recording techniques (something I know nothing about) than the actual orchestras' string sections.

Because I am so fond of the consistent interpretations, I am awarding this recording five stars for excellent musicianship. Highly recommended

Zero Tolerance for Silence
Zero Tolerance for Silence
Price: £40.23

5.0 out of 5 stars Pat Metheny rocks out, 10 Feb. 2015
I once read that Pat Metheny said of this album it was what he wanted to say at the time.

A musician who has always experimented, from the early days of his ECM output to the incredible “orchestrion” project, and the weird and wonderful guitars and sounds he has invented and created. Of course, when you are a top selling recording artist with a following, you probably feel obliged to produce the kind of music your following might like to hear, or you might be a slave to a record label in order to shift units.

Anyone with creative intelligence would naturally be inclined to push boundaries from time to time. I think that if you can understand why Pat Metheny might make an album like this, then you can appreciate it for what it is.

I detect a strong blues / rock influence in this album. Part I is a relentless sea of electric guitar fuzz. Acoustic guitar comes into play in “Part V”. It does have melody – in “Part II” for example. Part IV is verging on Deep Purple territory. If you want to hear Metheny do ‘Black Knight’ (well, kind of), this is definmitely one to pick up!

Snowflakes And Jazzamatazz - The Christmas Collection
Snowflakes And Jazzamatazz - The Christmas Collection
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christmas Jazzamatazz, 5 Dec. 2014
You don't get much more Christmassy than the highly talented Shakatak - who wouldn't want them for Christmas?

This is a terrific CD. It features tracks from their previously released Christmas albums plus some brand spanking new ones. Even if you have their other Christmas albums, the new tracks are so good that you just have to get this one too. The playing and writing gets better with maturity.

Some of the highlights include the lovely instrumentals `Auld Lang Syne', `Silent Eve' and the partly sung `Christmas Eve' with its Pachelbel Canon style intro. Although to be fair, I like the whole shebang, there's not a bad track here. Plus you get special Christmas greetings from the lovely Jill and Bill.

Don't bore yourself with TV trash on Christmas day, put this CD on, get the mistletoe out and have a snog!

Life Less Ordinary
Life Less Ordinary
Price: £16.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sax Pop and Girly Vocals, 14 Oct. 2014
This review is from: Life Less Ordinary (Audio CD)
A Berklee College of Music Graduate, Mindi Abair has an impressive CV, ranging from work with Duran Duran and The Backstreet Boys to Lee Ritenour and Peter White.

This is a mixed bag album of sax instrumentals, some of which featture Mindi on vocals. She posesses a sweet, little girl lost type voice, more of a pop voice than anything else, some of the trains being wordless vocals with just a few "da da da's". The tracks themselves vary in style from funk, rock and blues to pop.

It's a pleasant enough album, she has a mellow tone and not perhaps quite as saccharine as the likes of smooth jazzers like Kenny G and Dave Koz. For me personally, I personally was hoping for more of a smooth jazz vibe, so it doesn't quite have enough substance to keep me coming back for more.

Complete String Quintets
Complete String Quintets
Price: £17.79

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Mozart String Quintet recordings, 15 July 2014
I have long known these outstanding quintets and the old recordings suffer from problems with balance and sound quality whilst the highly recommended Grumiaux version from the 1970s is perhaps more reliable.

The Sine Nomine Quartet with Raphael Oleg come up trumps here. The recorded sound and balance is good as are the musicianship, the phrasing, small detail such as vibrato style, and choices of tempi. I like violas, as did Mozart, and these recordings bring out the richness of the extra alto voice as opposed to some recordings which can be violin or cello heavy. When you hear these works performed in a concert hall, you realise how much warmth can be lost on recording.

I rate this version very highly. If you are looking for a good modern recording of these works, this is definitely worth investigating.

Beethoven: Septet in E flat/Sextet in E flat
Beethoven: Septet in E flat/Sextet in E flat
Price: £8.91

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven masterclass, 11 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These recordings were made in 1972 and 1968 respectively, in the days before classical music recordings were awash with gloss and sheen.

You won't find a better recording of these early Beethoven works than these by the Berlin Philharmonic Octet. The playing is superb, and the ensemble captures the playful zest of the music perfectly. The balance if the ensemble is spot on.

Listen to the last movement of the Septet Op. 20 and you will hear what I mean.

Clarke: Viola Sonata / Maconchy: Five Sketches for Viola / Shostakovich: Viola Sonata
Clarke: Viola Sonata / Maconchy: Five Sketches for Viola / Shostakovich: Viola Sonata

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to get hold of Maconchy work, 10 Jun. 2014
I first heard this CD when I was learning to play the Elizabeth Maconchy Five Sketches for solo viola so full marks to Gamut Classics for recording it. I was really taken with the work, particularly the 3rd Sketch, a kind of Celtic lullaby. This was the only recording of the work I could find, so it must be overdue for a new one. There are loads of viola soloists around these days, but for some reason, they all seem to record the same old works over and over again like the Schubert Arpeggione Sonata arranged for viola or the Bach Cello Suites arranged for viola, as if there weren't enough of those already.

The Maconchy is performed idiomatically well here, and the tone of the viola is excellent, deep, rich and not too violinistic, although there is the odd wrong note (eg. 1st Sketch, bar 7!) and some intonation here and there in the tricky bits, where a non-performer might not necessarily notice those things. It has been closely recorded and you can hear breathing and the fingers slapping on the fingerboard in places.

The other two works on this disc, the Rebecca Clarke and Shostakovich Sonatas have been performed and recorded plenty of times and these performances are mostly convincing. ln the Shostakovich Scherzo, the player here chickens out and does seperate bows on the notoriously difficult ascending double-stopped semiquaver figure (tut tut), whereas Shostakovich actually wrote a slur over the notes to indicate that he wanted them played in one foul swoop of the bow. Worth checking out anyway!

The Both
The Both
Price: £11.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Catchy songs with guitar fuzz, 23 May 2014
This review is from: The Both (Audio CD)
Great, well crafted songs from Aimee Mann and Ted Leo.

Best songs for me are 'Hummingbird' and 'You Can't Help Me Now' and it's worth buying this for those two tracks alone. The male/female harmonies blend well together.

It drops a star for production. Some of the tracks sound raw, as though they were recorded quickly and the abundance of guitar fuzz gets a bit jarring after a few tracks.

I would like to have heard a more polished, warmer production as the songs are so good. Having said that it is very good and well worth picking up if you like either Ted or Aimee and a catchy tune.

Howard Jones - Dream Into Action (Remastered)
Howard Jones - Dream Into Action (Remastered)
Offered by Howard Jones Music
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great remastering job, 18 Sept. 2013
Amazing album and great remastering job. Right from the off, you can hear the beefed up bass and new clarity in the horn section. The funkier tracks such as `Automaton' and `Specialty' really benefit from the new mixes.

The songs stand the test of time well, a good tune is a good tune. It's so refreshing in pop these days to hear someone that can really play well and put together a few chord suspensions. The lyrics, often harshly scorned by critics back in the 80s, are just as relevant today.

My favourites are `Things Can Only Get Better' and `Why Look for the Key'. There's an added bonus of `Like To Get To Know You Well' and `Bounce Right Back'. If you liked the original as I did, you really should hear this.

Door to Door
Door to Door

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent pop album, 29 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Door to Door (Audio CD)
I always associated The Cars with the song 'Drive' and Live Aid and overpaid pop stars under the influence asking for our effin' money. I never liked 'Drive' because of that.

Years later, I heard 'You Are The Girl' on the radio, not realising it was The Cars, bought the album and liked it a lot. Melodic, feel-good new wave synth/guitar pop never over-produced or overtly commercial - 'Coming Up You' is a gem as is 'Go Away'. There are also some lovely reflective moments such as 'Fine Line' which reminds me of Lloyd Cole, and 'Wound Up On You'. The heavier title track 'Door to Door' is the weakest track and I never play it.

This is one of those albums I never tire of, and you can always introduce it to your mates as they've probably never heard it before.

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