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David Mac

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Rautavaara: Cantus Arcticus / Piano Concerto 1 / Symphony 3
Rautavaara: Cantus Arcticus / Piano Concerto 1 / Symphony 3
Price: £6.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff, 6 Feb 2012
I came across this disc by accident having previously not heard much (if any) of Rautavaara's music, and am very impressed by it. The use of bird calls in Cantus Arcticus is not a gimmick - they are properly integrated into the concerto as the soloist - think of it as a clarinet concerto with the clarinet replaced by birds and you won't be far wrong. The result is a piece that stands on its own merits as a concerto, but also conveys the light and space of northern wilderness. The piano concerto #1 is also a powerful piece - although formally atonal, it is very lyrical and engaging. I am now a fan of Rautavaara and want to hear more, and can easily recommend this disc as a starting point. No complaints about the performance of orchestra or soloists & the recording quality is fine.


Tippett - A Child of Our Time
Tippett - A Child of Our Time
Price: £5.41

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Profound, 5 Feb 2012
This has to be one of the most significant choral works of the 20th Century. Tippett wrote this oratorio on the eve of the second world war, dramatising the events leading up to and around Kristallnacht, and asking of all of us a great question: "where does our moral responsibility lie towards our fellow man, what is it to be human". This is neither didactic nor polemical, but is one of the most deeply moving pieces of choral repertoire. Tippett himself conducts on this recording, and this alone makes it worth consideration - performance of chorus and soloists seal the deal.


Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Original Piano Version & Orchestral Version
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition, Original Piano Version & Orchestral Version
Offered by KAOZI168-CLASSICAL---*SHIPPED IN TIME *
Price: £25.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, 5 Feb 2012
This is Ashkenazy's own orchestration of Mussorgsky in which he has gone back to the original piano scores while also keeping the famous orchestration by Ravel firmly in focus. Conductor and orchestra are on top form and the result is astonishingly vigorous, fresh, lively, and full of colour. Recording quality is absolutely impeccable. Impossible to over-recommend this.


Stravinsky: Petrouchka, The Rite Of Spring, Fireworks
Stravinsky: Petrouchka, The Rite Of Spring, Fireworks
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £7.67

1.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, 5 Feb 2012
I first heard the Rite of Spring over 25 years ago and bought this recording in 2009 on the strength of some of the other reviews - what a disappointment. Either the remastering has been really badly hashed or it was recorded at too high a level on the original master tapes - either way, the brass seems badly distorted and the whole effect is so grating that I find it impossible to listen to the whole thing. Almost any other recording would be preferable. Ozawa and the Chicago Symphony are great names - this recording is just not up to scratch. Avoid.


Güher and Süher Pekinel - Encores for Two Pianos
Güher and Süher Pekinel - Encores for Two Pianos
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £27.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and Fun, 8 Feb 2011
There is an interesting mix of material on this disc, with some unusual juxtapositions (Rachmaninov followed by J.C. Bach?, Brahms followed by Gershwin?), but the whole thing works surprisingly well - just when you want a change of pace or style here it comes. It is not "great" or "grand" music, but the Pekinel sisters make the whole thing fun - especially the Lutoslawski variations.


Crystal Tears - John Dowland and his contemporaries (Andreas Scholl/Concerto di Viole)
Crystal Tears - John Dowland and his contemporaries (Andreas Scholl/Concerto di Viole)
Price: £13.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Marmite, 8 Feb 2011
Scholl's voice is pure Marmite - many clearly like it, other's not, and I place myself firmly with the latter. I have also listened to him sing other material and it always sounds to me devoid of any real feeling or emotion. Too much goes into the production of the sound leaving nothing for the listener to engage with. I don't think I ever got more than half-way through this disc. Avoid - unless you are fan.


Bartok: Bluebeard's Castle
Bartok: Bluebeard's Castle
Price: £9.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile, 5 Feb 2011
Ah the old dilemma - is it ok to listen to opera in translation, or can it only be experienced properly in the original language?

In this case, I have no hesitation in recommending the former - Bluebeard is a conversation and the words are all-important. So, if like me, you don't speak Hungarian, don't wrestle with your conscience but try this. Here, the libretto has been very well adapted by Lloyd Davies, is not at all clunky, and allows both singers to express their emotions.

Musically, there is plenty to recommend - fans of Bartok who don't know this piece will find much that is familiar, and Tomlinson and the orchestra are on great form. My one reservation with this recording is that Burgess sounds slightly strained in some passages and I can't decide whether this is meant to convey Judith's mounting sense of fear, or a genuine difficulty. Hence only four stars.

In spite of that, this sinister tale is passionately told and I always want to listen again.


Songs of the Auvergne
Songs of the Auvergne
Price: £10.48

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thing of beauty, 5 Feb 2011
This review is from: Songs of the Auvergne (Audio CD)
I bought this having heard the first two or three tracks played on BBC Radio 3 one morning and been absolutely spell-bound by Davrath's rendition of Bailero, and was not disappointed. I have heard one or two others, but this remains my favourite - there is singing here that is heartbreakingly beautiful and often brings a tear to my eye (a joyful one). The orchestra is not named, but no matter, they carry it off very well and provide the perfect setting for Davrath's voice. If you are looking for a recording of these settings by Canteloube, I recomend this one.


Debussy: Sonata for Flute, Viola & Harp / Franck: Sonata for Violin & Piano / Ravel: Introduction & Allegro
Debussy: Sonata for Flute, Viola & Harp / Franck: Sonata for Violin & Piano / Ravel: Introduction & Allegro
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £7.78

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real gem., 5 Feb 2011
These are truly great recordings of some very fine pieces - don't be put off by the elderly date as Decca clearly made a fine job of the original recording and the remastering is faultless. It well deserves its Penguin Rosette and I would recommend it to anyone keen on Franck, Debussy or Ravel. The whole experience is of a very fine and intimate recital. Buy this and treasure it.


On Wenlock Edge - Songs by Vaughan Williams, Warlock, Bliss & Gurney
On Wenlock Edge - Songs by Vaughan Williams, Warlock, Bliss & Gurney
Price: £15.19

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection, 5 Feb 2011
Gichrist is on top form, but hats off also to the other musicians on this recording - listen to Tilbrook's playing on Bredon Hill, or the the wind effects wrought by the Fitzwilliam players in Wenlock Edge. These are just examples - the whole ensemble works perfectly to evoke the mood of each piece - dynamics and phrasing faultless throughout. This is a great selection of English early 20th C song that I would recommend to anyone with any interest in the genre - the lyricism of the Bliss contrasting the stark edginess of The Curlew, as well as the better-known pieces by Vaughan Williams and Gurney.


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