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M. Bridle (London, UK)
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Beethoven: Prometheus; Schoenberg: A Survivor from Warsaw; Stravinsky: Firebird Suite No. 2; Mussorgsky: Night on a Bare Mountain
Beethoven: Prometheus; Schoenberg: A Survivor from Warsaw; Stravinsky: Firebird Suite No. 2; Mussorgsky: Night on a Bare Mountain
Price: £11.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Abbado recorded a very fine selection of Prokofiev's Suites with the Berliner Philharmoniker, 25 Oct 2014
Although this disc is short measure (54 minutes, and a fair bit of that is applause) don't let that put you off because the music-making is quite priceless. This is typical Abbado territory - and uncompromising in the Schoenberg - but the playing really is quite exceptional. Abbado recorded a very fine selection of Prokofiev's Suites with the Berliner Philharmoniker, but this live Death of Tybalt is even finer - coruscating, beginning at such a frenetic tempo you wonder just how hair-raising it will become. The music here is a proper duel, and the throbbing timpani and percussion which signals Tybalt's death are agonizing shrieks, as powerful as any on disc. You have to go back to Celibidache and the LSO caught live to hear this music done better.

Both the Schoenberg - a deeply moving performance - and the Stravinsky Firebird are superbly played. Dynamics in the Firebird Suite are very wide indeed - Abbado conjures moments of almost inaudible, breathless calm in the strings but is able too to allow bursts of unrestrained power when needed. As if we needed ample proof of Abbado's Beethoven credentials, the Prometheus has a serenity to it that recalls Mozartean delicacy rather Brahmsian heaviness.

These are live performances, and applause separates tracks. The recorded sound is no more than good, but bearing in mind the sheer quality of the performances on this disc that shouldn't be a primary recommendation in buying this CD.


Poirot Blu-ray Boxset (Murder On The Orient Express / Death On The Nile / Evil Under The Sun)
Poirot Blu-ray Boxset (Murder On The Orient Express / Death On The Nile / Evil Under The Sun)
Dvd ~ Albert Finney
Price: £19.10

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of money, and missed opportunity., 1 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This box set is a waste of money, and if you want the films on Blu-ray you should buy the Italian imports at a similar price which are fully subtitled in various languages, and also contain the Lansbury/Marple film. The lack of extras on these discs is shocking. It's not as if there aren't making-of features for all of these films, though the hour long four-part making-of documentary for Murder on the Orient Express has only ever appeared on the Region 1 DVD. Picture quality for that film in the HD format is frustrating because the opening credits for the film are really very impressive in all their splendid colour - but as soon as the film begins picture quality is little better than DVD. Evil Under the Sun and Death on the Nile do fare better but that is no reason to buy this set given the lamentable treatment Studio Canal have given to this.

A missed opportunity.


Mahler: Symphony No. 9
Mahler: Symphony No. 9
Price: £32.89

5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great Mahler 9s, 18 Mar 2013
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony No. 9 (Audio CD)
There is no doubt in my mind that this is one of the greatest Mahler Nines ever committed to disc. As in many Asahina performances this one displays - but to such devastating effect - his almost unique traits as a conductor. One has to go a long way back to find them else where. The first is his ability to hold the symphonic line - Asahina doesn't fear the trajectory of any of Mahler's complex symphonic structure here and he takes it effortlessly in a singular arc. It's such a linear approach he adopts.... not least in the adagio, which is much as Asahina was able to do in his Ring cycle. He gives this whole movement a single breadth it is awe inspiring. Tempi are perfectly judged. Much slower here than in another recording we have which is almost 7 minutes swifter but which never sounds it.

Second, is Asahina's wonderful ability to get his Osaka orchestra to play from the bottom up. This is such a bass rich orchestra, at times at the expense of the upper strings it has to be said. It is not a wiry sound but there are very few more bass rich Mahler 9s than this one, nor better balanced ones. Brass are superbly controlled, dynamics are superb. The sense of balance is absolute.

Taken as a whole this is almost ideal.


Sergei Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27
Price: £3.96

2.0 out of 5 stars Amazon performance Incomplete. But Kondrashin is electrifying., 13 Dec 2012
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A difficult recording to rate. This Amazon download is incomplete. The Adagio stops at 6'27. There is no indication that the broadcast cuts out here when the rest of the performance is complete, and additionally the bitrate for this movement is substantially lower (130 kbps) than for the other tracks.

It's a pity because Kondrashin performances of Rachmaninov's E minor Symphony are very few - indeed only the 1980 Concertgebouw recording exists, as either part of the 1980-1990 anniversary boxed set of Concertgebouw recordings or on a pirate CD of the much better Proms recording with the same orchestra - where they are in both better form and better recorded. Kondrashin cuts the work in both performances, but Kondrashin is never less than electrifying and he produces excellent results from the Sofia orchestra. They struggle at times, but this is one of those performances that has such drive and power; but it grabs you by the scruff of the neck and makes you forget its limitations. Something all great recordings do. Sonically this is dry as dust, but I've heard worse.


Sergei Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27
Price: £3.96

2.0 out of 5 stars Amazon performance Incomplete. But Kondrashin is electrifying., 13 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A difficult recording to rate. This Amazon download is incomplete. The Adagio stops at 6'27. There is no indication that the broadcast cuts out here when the rest of the performance is complete, and additionally the bitrate for this movement is substantially lower (130 kbps) than for the other tracks. iTunes have a much more expensive alternative available but I haven't tried it.

It's a pity because Kondrashin performances of Rachmaninov's E minor Symphony are very few - indeed only the 1980 Concertgebouw recording exists, as either part of the 1980-1990 anniversary boxed set of Concertgebouw recordings or on a pirate CD of the much better Proms recording with the same orchestra - where they are in both better form and better recorded. Kondrashin cuts the work in both performances, but Kondrashin is never less than electrifying and he produces excellent results from the Sofia orchestra. They struggle at times, but this is one of those performances that has such drive and power; but it grabs you by the scruff of the neck and makes you forget its limitations. Something all great recordings do. Sonically this is dry as dust, but I've heard worse.


The Art of Giuseppe Sinopoli: Orchestral Works
The Art of Giuseppe Sinopoli: Orchestral Works
Price: £33.50

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very fine box set, 29 May 2012
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It's always surprised me that DG have never issued a complete edition of Sinopoli's recordings, or at the very least some boxed set of his work. In the eleven years since he died I've never ceased to enjoy many of his recordings, something clearly not reciprocated by his record company who seem happy to see some of his discs reach very high prices indeed on the secondary market.

This set of sixteen discs, from DG in Italy, offers a very fine overview of his work. The immediate thing one notices is the orchestras he worked with - all first rate, and two of which he was principal conductor. His Dresden years may well have been happier for Sinopoli than his Philharmonia years, but he did achieve remarkable things with both orchestras.

Dresden starts with his Beethoven 9, a composer we have very little of by Sinopoli (a Beethoven Third with the Israel Phil is imminent). It continues with Bruckner 4 and 7. Sinopoli's Bruckner had huge clarity of texture in a composer where muddied textures are often the norm. The playing of the Dresdeners has both weight and dexterity. The Brahms Requiem, with the Czech Philharmonic is an early recording and a very fine one at that.

Sinopoli's Elgar cycle with the Philharmonia was, I think, one of the very best. It shattered the myth that Elgar had to be British in temperament. On disc 6 is a performance of In the South that is so Straussian it blows the socks off all competition. Ironically, I've only heard one conductor do it better - Muti, himself a former conductor of the Philharmonia. The Enigma Variations is very fine too - beautifully balanced in terms of tempi (no Bernstein BBCSO here) and superbly played. The Tchaikovsky 6 perhaps lacks a little in drama, but the performance of Romeo and Juliet doesn't. It has all the drama a Sinopoli performance could induce in an orchestra.

Other Philharmonia recordings on this set comprise Mahler's Fifth, a surprisingly taut performance, though not his best Mahler recording by some margin, and two that I think are simply unmatchable discs. Disc 11 includes La mer, Bolero and Daphnis. The playing of the Philharmonia is astonishing, even then showing itself to have probably the best woodwind section in the world. Sinopoli revels in the beauty of sound he gets from the Philharmonia. He said in an interview that he wanted to try and recapture that great German sound the orchestra had under Karajan and Klemperer; if anything, he does quite the opposite. The performances are so Italianate, so sumptuous, so un-German. Bolero is staggering - superbly played, but absolutely driven. It's one of the fastest on record and exhilarating from first note to last. The other outstanding disc on here is the Schoenberg one with the Philharmonia. Again, the playing is simply glorious, but in a way that makes it differ from, say, Karajan's Berliners in the same work. Sinopoli makes both works sound much closer to Strauss - Karajan tends to desensitize these works a little. Sinopoli recorded both Pelleas and Verklarte Nacht again with his Dresden orchestra. They are not superior recordings to these Philharmonia ones.

I've left the New York Philharmonic until last. Sinopoli conducted them a great deal. He recorded quite a lot with them, mainly virtuoso works which suited the New York sound. That did irritate the Philharmonia, who presumably would have loved to have recorded Respighi's Roman Trilogy with him. Instead, like Mussorgsky's Pictures and Strauss' Also Sprach, also on the discs here, these recordings were done in New York. Listen to them and you can easily hear why: the brass playing is simply knock out. Apart from Svetlanov's live Swedish Radio Respighi Sinopoli's remains my library recommendation. It has everything. Drama, volatility, colour and great playing. The Strauss recording is a bit of a problem. It has had unfavorable reviews alluding to it's lack of drama. Ignore that suggestion - this is as dramatic as they come, and again superbly played. The disc - the last on which this performance appears - has two other Strauss performance. A fiery Don Juan from Dresden and a the Dance of the Seven Veils with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, which I assume comes from his opera recording with the same forces. As Dances go, this is one of the most sheerly erotic on record. Originally the Also Sprach was coupled with Tod und Verklarung. That New York performance was one of the slowest on record and many reviewers didn't really understand what Sinopoli was doing. It should have been included in this boxed set, but if you can find it listen to it. It's monumental but beautiful, overpowering but hugely understated.

Of other recordings, we have the Vienna Philharmonic Schumann 2, regarded in some circles as exceptional, and Sinopoli conducting Maderna (on disc seven). The conductor's own Lou Salome Suite from his opera is included on disc fifteen, and well worth hearing if you don't know it but love Berg and Strauss.

There are plenty of treasures here, of a really great conductor. We need a complete Sinopoli edition. It could simply be one done by orchestras - Philharmonia, Dresden, New York, Others plus operas but either way this conductor needs a complete memorial to his memory.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 20, 2012 9:51 AM BST


Hopi Direct Aromatherapy Hopi Ear Candles with Filters & Protector Discs (6 pairs) 6 Different Aromas - Rose, Rosemary, Lavender, Orange, Peppermint, Tea Tree
Hopi Direct Aromatherapy Hopi Ear Candles with Filters & Protector Discs (6 pairs) 6 Different Aromas - Rose, Rosemary, Lavender, Orange, Peppermint, Tea Tree
Offered by Hopi | Direct
Price: £6.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Ear Candles, 8 Feb 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are excellent quality ear candles, a little narrower and shorter than the North American equivalents I have used but certainly no less effective. The filters are a nice touch and make these particular candles more comfortable to use than most. They are also very reasonably priced. For whatever reason ear candles in the UK can be expensive - if you can find them.


Sony DRX-S70U-R External Slimline DVDRW Retail USB
Sony DRX-S70U-R External Slimline DVDRW Retail USB

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor DVD drive, 22 Nov 2009
Have bought two of these drives in the past year - and both have failed within 2 months of purchase. It's neither very portable nor very reliable. Choose something else.


Wagner: Tristan und Isolde
Wagner: Tristan und Isolde
Price: £32.36

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing Tristan, 27 Aug 2000
It is a pity this is a less than great Tristan. Vickers and Nilsson (the two greatest post-war Wagnerians) sung together very rarely and this recording rather murkily captures them. Horst Stein seems unable to generate that much excitement - and the orchestral playing, perhaps expectedly, is less than first class. An underwhelming Prelude sets the seal on an unexciting Tristan.
To hear Vickers and Nilsson sing this opera together can be a wonderful experience. Hear them instead on a live 1973 performance from the Choregies d'Orange. Karl Bohm's electrifying conducting (similar to his Bayreuth performance) is everything Horst Stein's is not. This is unforgettable Wagner singing and vastly preferable to this new release.


Celibidache Conducts Debussy and Ravel
Celibidache Conducts Debussy and Ravel
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £88.88

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical! Magical!, 18 Mar 2000
Celibidache was often controversial, but on these discs you will hear a master at work. The recordings of these French Impressionist masterpieces suggest an artist painting the score before us, a world away from the often dust- covered canvas presented to us by countless other conductors. You will be lucky to find a La Valse that is as lazy and exciting as this one, or a Daphnis & Chloe Second Suite that is so passionate. On all the discs, speeds are spacious, but in no other performances will you hear the music between the notes so clearly. The textures are always ravishing, the dynamics perfectly judged: the difference between the most subtle pianissimos and most fearsome fortes are astonishly drawn. Woodwind are felicitous, strings are soaked in the mists of impressionism, whether they be Spanish or French. These recordings seduce the ears - and the sound, although stereo, has wonderful presence. This is a case of an orchestra following their conductor's wishes to a man, and the playing is never less than superb. An unforgettable set and an astonsihing achievement unlikely to be equalled. Marc Bridle


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