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Mr. A. R. Boyes "Alan Boyes" (Newcastle, England)
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Mahler, G.: Symphony No. 7
Mahler, G.: Symphony No. 7
Price: 7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars It Gets My Vote, 26 Dec 2013
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Mahler listeners are truly spoiled by the quality of reviews on Amazon. this recording is a case in point with excellent arguments for and against this particular recording. I feel that all I can do is simply say whether I like it or not. The answer is yes, very much even though I can see some of the points made against it make sense to me; in particular, the sound is excellent for the most part, if a little dry. The guitar, mandolin and cowbells ring out but the brass are flattened a bit by the acoustic and details are lost.

That said; I loved this. there is plenty of drama but Jansons seems to take the cue for this piece being centred around son - the clue's in the work's title. The is plenty of dance too in all the movements with the Ivesian collage in the finale making perfect sense and really feeling like a celebration covered from all angles. As for the argument about Kubelik's recordings of the Seventh; yes I like them though, sound wise, they're starting to show their age a bit.

There are shadows in this symphony but Mahler was more of a classicist than he is sometimes given credit for and he'll have realised that an hour and a quarter needed some shadows to make the joy more real. I would not claim this is th ebest recording available but I've thoroughly enjoyed it and can recommend wholeheartedly.


Mahler: Symphony No. 1
Mahler: Symphony No. 1
Price: 3.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Playing But it Doesn't Quite Add Up., 23 Dec 2013
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I've always enjoyed Ivan Fischer's thoughtful approach to Mahler, aided as ever by excellent sound and fine playing but this version of the First sounds a little too mannered for me with the symphonic line being lost, particularly in the first movement. In fairness, the First isn't the most well balanced of the set with the rousing finale at odds with the more modest dimensions of the previous movements. Even so, as interpretations go this is well behind the leaders, my favourite being Kubelik on Audite. Don't get me wrong, this still sounds wonderful but there's better to be had.


Britten: War Requiem
Britten: War Requiem
Price: 11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars An Iconic Recording, 23 Dec 2013
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There is plenty for others to add in new recordings but the original is priceless. The addition of the recording of the rehearsals is quite revealing too: interesting to hear Britten's unqualified enthusiasm for Vishnevskaya's voice and his dry sense of humour. So much has been said about this recording that there's nothing for me to add. No serious collection should be without it.


Britten: Simple Symphony / Temporal Variations / Suite On English Folk Tunes
Britten: Simple Symphony / Temporal Variations / Suite On English Folk Tunes
Price: 7.49

5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Review, 23 Dec 2013
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What a fine programme of works this is, covering Britten's entire career. Perhaps the Simple Symphony is quite well known but the rest include some very fine music indeed. Colin Matthews orchestration / arrangement of the Charm of Lullabies is masterly and adds to the original. The performances are all outstandingly good and well recorded. The other reviews describe these works very well so I won't repeat that but as a review of Britten's career this is a real triumph and illustrates his greatest with even his most little known works. Highlights for me are the weighty rendition of the Simple Symphony, the gorgeous Charm of Lullabies, a powerful Lachrymae and an earthy Suite on English Folk Tunes.

Steuart Bedford's career is closely tied to Britten's work but it isn't always the last word. this recording is pretty well unbeatable and an unqualified joy from start to finish.


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars No Complaints, 19 Dec 2013
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You cna never be sure whether printer cartidges will turn out to be compatible despite the advert. Well i can confirm that I have had no problems with these HP cartridges, which worked perfectly from the start. The quality is first class.


Britten: Peter Grimes
Britten: Peter Grimes
Price: 7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What I Grew Up With, 18 Dec 2013
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Take my opinion with a pinch of salt because this was the first version I really got to know and Jon Vickers has always seemed such a completely plausible Grimes with his strength, anger, desperation, isolation and paranoia - he sounds like he could kill with a single inadvertent strike. The story goes, of course, that Britten hated it, preferring Peter Pears' version. There's so much I admire about Pear's' roles for Britten but it's Vickers for me here.

Elsewhere Heather Harper is a wonderfully warm Ellen Orford and is supported by an excellent ensemble. Colin Davis can be expansive at times but the fire and rage of Act One leaves me breathless. No matter how many versions I hear I always come back to this one. After over thirty years it istill sounds thrilling.


Britten / Veale: Violin Concertos
Britten / Veale: Violin Concertos
Price: 7.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite A Revelation, 18 Dec 2013
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John Veale will be a new name to many. His music all but disappeared for a couple of decades when tonal romantic music was all but ignored in Britain. His violin concerto emerged after his exile from music in later life and sounds sure to earn many admirers but there is a catch. Why couple the concerto with Britten's own wonderful concerto? Is it of a similar style? Not really; it is an expansive, large scale concerto at least for the orchestra though the soloist's part is more modest. This may reflect Lydia Mordkovich's unfamiliarity with the piece because she digs in and makes a big, romantic interpretation of Britten's work.

For a true reference point it might have made more sense to pair Veale's concerto with Walton's, but therein lies the work's problem: put the two together and it would sound like the same concerto played twice. Veale took much help and advice from Walton and was a pupil, for a time, of Roy Harris in America but this work has Walton's fingerprints all over it. If you'd never heard Walton you'd take to this work immediately but the references to Walton's earlier concerto are rather off putting.

The Britten concerto is one of the great violin concertos of the twentieth century but doesn't get the attention that it deserves because it dares to end quietly. Sat in the comfort of your home, without a big audience to show off to this comes across as a profound and superbly crafted work by a ridiculously young composer. Mordkovich tries to draw the maximum expression out of it though this labours a times in the scherzo and the finale coda. It still sounds like a masterpiece though I'd have preferred a lighter touch. Reservations aside, you'll want to get to know Veale's sadly neglected work and you'll get a still very well recorded and performed Britten so don't hesitate.


Julian Anderson: Fantasias, The Crazed Moon & The Discovery of Heaven
Julian Anderson: Fantasias, The Crazed Moon & The Discovery of Heaven
Price: 7.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music Well Worth Getting to Know, 11 Dec 2013
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You know that you have arrived as a composer when one of your works receives a second recording: "The Crazed Moon" receives another fine performance following its appearance on his debut, award winning; "Alhambra Fantasy" album. It is quite a dark and atmospheric piece, in part a memorial to a musical colleague.

The other two works presented receive their premiere recordings and continue to show the same orchestral virtuosity, colour, rhythmic vitality, clarity and harmonic richness. "Fantasias" is effectively a five movement concerto for orchestra and is possibly the most approachable of all the three works here. "The Discovery of Heaven" is the most recent work of the three displaying the same qualities. It seems to move from an ethereal, heavenly plane, in the first movement to become increasingly earthbound and urban over the following two. It's the richest and most substantial of the three works.

If you're new to his music then useful points of reference are early Stravinsky, spectral harmonies, Lutoslawski and even a touch of later Britten in his harmonies. It is contemporary music that is instantly approachable without ever pandering to commercial fashion. These live performances by the LPO are well recorded with little background noise and perhaps the bass instruments sound a little thin on this recording - but that's a very minor quibble. There are three albums, as I write, now dedicated to Anderson's music and I recommend all wholeheartedly. This latest is a very welcome addition.


Bantock: Hebridean Symphony / Old English Suite
Bantock: Hebridean Symphony / Old English Suite
Price: 7.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Missed Opportunity, 10 Dec 2013
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Granville Bantock’s music quickly slipped into obscurity after his death but has achieved a somewhat modest recorded revival in recent times. Any new recording is, therefore to be welcomed. Unfortunately there are good reasons why this one comes with some reservations. The Czech / Slovak Orchestra hardly sound world class but the recorded sound is very dull and unflattering to them: I’m sure they’re a better orchestra than they sound here. Secondly; the English Suite and Russian Scenes, whilst quite lengthy are not very memorable. The Hebridean Symphony is the main item but this has received a far better recording with Handley on Chandos. The Handley includes a group of more convincing works including the extraordinarily scored Celtic Symphony that includes six harps, who only play together for one flourish in the finale, and a huge string orchestra. For obvious financial reasons, that doesn’t get played often so you’d be well advised to check that Handley recording out.

Granville Bantock was no neglected master but he was a brilliant orchestrator and even much admired by Sibelius, who was literally the Chairman of his Appreciation Society. That might take some believing but Bantock was a great champion of Sibelius’ work. If the thematic material isn’t top class and the symphonic argument somewhat rambling the “Hebridean” still showcases his orchestral brilliance and it is even a one movement symphony, albeit one that could easily be seen as having four clear sections that are here itemised by Naxos. Had he lived later he could, doubtless have made a mint writing Hollywood scores. At this price the disc is worth having for the Hebridean Symphony alone despite the dead sound recording and a superior alternative elsewhere.


Sibelius, J.: Symphony No. 3 / Hindemith, P.: The 4 Temperaments
Sibelius, J.: Symphony No. 3 / Hindemith, P.: The 4 Temperaments
Price: 7.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Sibelius Lite, 10 Dec 2013
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Let me say first that the playing in both works here is top class and the Ondine sound engineers have done them proud. I do have two issues though: firstly; though these are two substantial works you get little over fifty minutes of music so there was room for more. Secondly; though the playing in the Sibelius is superb this is a small orchestra and sounds that way.

I was unfamiliar with the Hindemith but it comes across as a fine piece – in a set of variations - in his mature style. Though it’s a work for piano and strings the piano is more of a lead singer rather than a combative concerto style soloist


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