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D. Riley "David Stephen Riley" (Poole, Dorset, UK)
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Martha Argerich & Friends - Rachmaninov
Martha Argerich & Friends - Rachmaninov
Price: £11.20

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rachmaninov, played by a world class artist, 26 Dec. 2014
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Martha Argerich and friends have made available outstanding performances of some of Rachmaninov's most brillient compositions. The first suite for two pianos opus 5, is rarely performed and yet it is so enjoyable and so beautifully played. An absolute must-have CD if like me you like Rachmaninov performed by one of the worlds greatest pianists.


Talbot: The Winter's Tale [Blu-ray] [2015]
Talbot: The Winter's Tale [Blu-ray] [2015]
Dvd ~ Talbot
Price: £24.49

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Winters Tale - the ballet of the century!, 26 Dec. 2014
Having been fortunate to see the live broadcast from Covent Garden in the cinemas in April followed by the recording on BBC 4 on Christmas Day, I have no hesitation in saying I believe this to be the finest ballet production I have seen in my lifetime. Every aspect is simply outstanding - choreography, music, the absolute finest principal dancers from Royal Ballet, scenery which is breathtaking, and the sheer vitality from every artist throughout the performance. The Winters Tale ticks every box and richly deserves every possible accolade. Whatever the depth of your love of ballet you will be bowled over and for me it redefines what ballet, whether classical or contemporary, is all about.
Every artist from Royal Ballet is to be congratulated for raising the level of ballet to new heights but a special thank you to the choreographer, Christopher Wheeldon, and the composer, Joby Talbot, for creating a work of sheer genius. If this were a movie and if it could be submitted for an oscar it would just simply sweep the board.
I don't know when Covent Garden will next perform the ballet in their repertoire but in the meanwhile we have a DVD or Blu Ray recording which is second to none. Giving the production just 5 stars is less than generous - it deserves a rating far above what is possible.


Far From The Madding Crowd [DVD]
Far From The Madding Crowd [DVD]
Dvd ~ Paloma Baeza
Price: £3.66

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A film that takes you breath away!, 8 Dec. 2013
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I have put much effort into getting a recording of the original film version of Far from the Madding Crowd having long held the belief that the 1967 John Schlesinger production with the stellar cast of Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Terence Stamp and Peter Finch could never be equalled. Thanks to a US import I tracked down (whatever you do don't do as I originally did get the Studio Canal issue - total waste of time!) I have a copy which captures fully the magic of this never to be forgotten production.
However I was intrigued to discover that there was a rival version originally produced for ITV around 1997 selling on the Amazon website for the extremely modest price of £4.46. So more out of curiosity than expectation I ordered it. Never having heard of I'm afraid any of the actors my expectations were low - so much in fact that when the DVD arrived I put it on my shelves without giving it a second glance. It was two months before I ventured to give it a try - WOW!!
The whole production is spellbinding, glorious beyond belief, and recreates superbly the much loved Hardy characters in a way I could never imagine.There is nothing here that is anything but total perfection and, for me, transcends the 1967 film interpretation in a way I never thought possible.
For a start this interpretation, directed by Nicholas Renton and produced by Hilary Bevan Jones, is a good hour longer - almost four hours but not a minute too long - to great advantage. It gives the film to explore in greater detail the detailed character of the principal performers. Paloma Baeza creates a Bathsheba who is totally credible; here is a complex character whose actions can now be more fully understood, a performance which in one moment makes us smile, but in the next brings tears to our eyes. This young and beautiful actor isn't playing a role - she has got right to the core of the enigmatic Bathsheba - and in spite of other captivating performances from her fellow actors, you cannot take your eyes off her. Far from.. is a bit like peeling an onion - as one layer is taken away, there is another layer beneath, and beneath that, yet another.
Her co actors, Gabriel Oak- her rock - is played by Nathaniel Parker and perfectly compliments Paloma with his ability to never overact and ability to play second fiddle to the proud and independent Bathsheba. Nigel Terry and Jonathan Firth are not only the equal of the Schlessinger production but in my view are even finer. Whilst the music may not be quite the standard of Richard Rodney Bennet's it is certainly far and away above your average movie standard. The 1967 version was largely shot on location in Dorset not far from where I live and it fully captured the glorious and ever changing mood of this region. It wasn't clear to me where this later film was shot but it is fully in harmony with Hardy's vision and the locations chosen for the farms and surroundings are totally as authentic and just as believable as they were in the film 20 years earlier.
So, having cherished the Christie/Bates film for most of my life, having now seen the ITV production, I have a new production to get to know in greater detail which will last me the rest of my life. A huge thank you to all those who were involved in the film's production - all who played a part in its making have created a masterpiece which for me can never be surpassed! If anyone is undecided whether or not to purchase this version don't waver - I would buy this performance even if it cost me ten or twenty times the price. Believe me, you will not be disappointed and for less than a fiver it will be one of the best buys you will ever make!
David Riley, Poole, Dorset


Downton Abbey - Series 4 [Blu-ray]
Downton Abbey - Series 4 [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Maggie Smith
Price: £11.60

58 of 69 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pricing structure for series 4 - blu-ray, 3 Dec. 2013
I was just about to place my order for the latest series series 4 of Downton Abbey until I realised that the cost of £34.99 was only a penny less than the complete series 1-4 plus the two Christmas editions. As the complete set is around 30 hours compared with 8 hours for series 4, this makes no economic sense. Plus the fact that the blu-ray discs for the previous series are only about a third what Amazon are currently attempting to charge, I cannot help but feel that we are being taken for a bit of a ride bearing in mind the close proximity of Christmas.
I have cancelled my order until the price drops to a more realistic level and Amazon apologises for attempting to rip off the public.
David Riley, Poole
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2014 6:14 PM GMT


Sense and Sensibility (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [1995]
Sense and Sensibility (Blu-ray + UV Copy) [1995]
Dvd ~ Emma Thompson
Price: £6.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old favourite brought back as a Blu Ray version, 8 Nov. 2013
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One of the very best bonnet films ever made, this Jane Austin story is brought lovingly to life with a unique abd highly talented all-star cast. Emma Thompson input is without equal, Kate Winslet in one of her most engaging roles as a passionate headstrong teenager, Alan Rickman, Greg Wise and Hugh Grant give equally enjoyable supporting performances. Directed by Ang Lee the production is without fault and is for me and many others the definitive version never to be equalled.
David Riley, Poole, Dorset


The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004]
The Merchant of Venice [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Al Pacino
Offered by MusicnMedia
Price: £4.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare brought to life!, 8 Nov. 2013
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For those like me who prefer their Shakespeare to have a bit more impact than a National Theatre production can offer then this is for you. Very visual and full of atmosphere filmed on location in Italy it's a delightful film which is totally gripping from start to finish and just demonstrates to the full what a magnificent cast has been assembled. Apart from the breathtaking performaces from Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons - just so good together as Shylock and the merchant, Lynn Collins performance as Portia is so beautifully created in every facet. Heartiest congratulations to all concerned - you have brought Shakespeare to life so briliantly well.
David Riley, Poole, Dorset


Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps, The Firebird - Stravinksy and the Ballet Russes 100th Anniversary Collectors' Edition (Mariinsky Orchestra and Ballet / Valery Gergiev) DVD BOOK [2013]
Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps, The Firebird - Stravinksy and the Ballet Russes 100th Anniversary Collectors' Edition (Mariinsky Orchestra and Ballet / Valery Gergiev) DVD BOOK [2013]
Dvd ~ Stravinsky
Price: £27.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A last, a version to die for!, 8 Nov. 2013
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I have several versions of both The Rite and Firebird on DVD and without exception none has not lived up to my hopes - the version in my imagination has always been better! But for the first time along comes a production which ticks all the boxes and more. This new release is nothing short of magnificent- very Russian with authentic costume, choreography and dancing of the highest order, all superbly recorded and two of the greatest ballets ever conceived on the same DVD. No matter how long you wait it gets no better than this - believe me! Rush out and get your copy, this production deserves all the accolades and it certainly gets all my votes!
David Rilet, Poole, Dorset


Far From The Madding Crowd [DVD] [1967]
Far From The Madding Crowd [DVD] [1967]
Dvd ~ Julie Christie

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Watch out - it's not what you think!, 8 Nov. 2013
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This is the third time I have been caught out in what should be a very simple task - to have a reasonable copy of the great film Far from the Madding Crowd. Studio Canal should be congratulated on its success in wrapping up an appalling DVD in various disguises and foisting on unsuspecting buyers so watch out!
Studio Canal uses several different covers but the contents are always the same - a muddy picture with mono poor sound, reminisent of an indifferent VHS print from the early 1980's. For those of us who remember the magnificent original in the cinema this Studio canal version is as far as you can get from what you should be getting for your money.
I bought my copies through Amazon.UK who to be fair gave me a refund and suggested an altenative supplier - unfortunately this company also supplied the identical product albeit with a totally different cover.
Four attempts down the line I have now reordered the DVD direct from an American supplier which supplies an NTSC version so I am a little more hopeful it will be what I want.
Read carefully the comments made by others on the Amazon website who bought the PAL version and be warned - they have got it absolutely right! I strongly believe that the Studio Canal version should be withdrawn immediately or Amazon refuse to place it on their website - it is so very bad and destroys what should be a magnificent production of one of the finest films ever made not to mention some glorious music by one of our finest British composers, Richard Rodney Bennett.
David Riley, Poole, Dorset
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 9, 2013 10:29 AM GMT


Solatino
Solatino
Price: £11.07

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pianist to die for!, 17 April 2012
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This review is from: Solatino (Audio CD)
This little known young Argentinian lady - at least in my experience - came to my attention from first seeing her on the Sky Arts 2 channel which was a performance of a live concert from Germany. Apart from being a tremendously talented concert pianist, she takes the music a step further. It may sound a little mawkish but she invited the members of the audience to suggest a melody, anything from the classical repertoire. After a moments thought, Gabriela starts an extended set of variations incorporating the theme which emerges throughout the performance in various guises. She is able to play for 5 or 10 minutes totally from her imagination and is completely captivating throughout.
She is a captivating personality, completely engaging the audience with her chatting in between pieces and making her quite special.The CD, Solatino, one of a number available at a very modest price from Amazon, is one of her most recent recordings and offers 25 items, many based on Argentinian dance rhythms. Ginestera is also represented in his 4 part sonata which is a challenge even for world class pianists which Gabriella certainly is. Incidentally she is highly regarded by such luminaries as Martha Argerich who certainly doesn't praise artists without very good reason.
If you love music for the piano played well and with imagination and a certain degree of South American fire and passion, this is definitely for you. Solatino is just one of several CD's currently available and I can't recommend them highly enough. I don't know if she ever tours the UK but, if so, do whatever you can to see her - you won't regret it!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 6, 2014 9:57 AM GMT


Heaven Tree Trilogy Omnibu: "Heaven Tree", "Green Branch", "Scarlet Seed"
Heaven Tree Trilogy Omnibu: "Heaven Tree", "Green Branch", "Scarlet Seed"
by Edith Pargeter
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not one to miss!, 17 April 2012
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This is a novel - or rather three - which I have loved for more years than I care to remember, at least 50! A fascinating tale of life in the volatile Welsh borders in the thirteenth century written by Edith Pargeter. She is perhaps better known by her nom de plume, Edith Peters who is the author of Chronicles of Brother Cadfael which was serialised on the BBC 1 some years ago. It's a stunning gripping book which, once picked up, you are reluctant to put down and is almost 1000 pages from cover to cover. i can truly say it is one of the most enjoyable historical novels I have ever read and provides a fascinating glimpse of humanity representing all walks of life. You can read it over and over without ever tiring of it for a moment.It is also so exquisitely written by a real craftsman right from the opening paragraph, every word is carefully chosen that it's almost like reading poetry.
The book is sadly long out of print - the omnibus I found was published in 1994 but it is well worth the search on the internet. But take care, there are used book stores especially in the States where Edith Pargeter is very popular, selling copies at anything up to $150 for one in good condition. Mine came from a book store in Brighton, almost in mint condition, at the princely sum of £10. Good hunting!


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