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Stylish Mens 100% Quality Cotton Fedora Hat, Cream, 60cm
Stylish Mens 100% Quality Cotton Fedora Hat, Cream, 60cm
Offered by Dannii Matthews
Price: 13.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Top Hat, 4 Sep 2014
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This really is a very stylish product which looks far more expensive than the purchase price.It fits perfectly,and was sensibly packaged.Highly recommended.

The Face of Glory: Creativity, Consciousness and Civilization: Creativity, Consciousness and Civilisation
The Face of Glory: Creativity, Consciousness and Civilization: Creativity, Consciousness and Civilisation
by William Anderson
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.68

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glory,Glory,Allelujia!, 21 Feb 2014
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This is the final masterpiece of a truly great and profound writer.Author of arguably the most comprehensive introduction to Dante,William Anderson brings to this book all his enormous learning across a bewildering range of subjects to give us what amounts to a series of beautiful and dazzling meditations on the nature of creativity.Written in a style of consummate elegance,this book will deeply enrich the lives of those with ears to hear - in other words,those whose hearing has not been blunted by the reductionism that poses as unassailable truth.

Nostalgia [DVD]
Nostalgia [DVD]
Dvd ~ Oleg Yankovskiy
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: 7.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry on Screen, 1 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Nostalgia [DVD] (DVD)
Slightly veiled autobiographical elements woven into a story about exile and tense spiritual dramas,this astonishing film has all the familiar Tarkovsky touches of genius,including some of the most ravishing images the screen has ever seen.The Russian film director is frankly in a class of his own.

Parade's End [DVD]
Parade's End [DVD]
Dvd ~ Benedict Cumberbatch
Price: 5.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Parade's Flawed Ending, 29 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Parade's End [DVD] (DVD)
Perhaps only Tom Stoppard could turn Ford Madox Ford's flawed masterpiece into a screenplay - well,he almost succeeded.For two thirds or more of this BBC production I was persuaded that my deep scepticism concerning its filmability was completely unfounded: Cumberbatch does a miraculous job of getting inside the skin of the exasperating anti-hero Christopher Tietjens, supported by compelling performances from the two actors playing the women in his life.
But something goes terribly wrong in the run up to the finale;the fourth book of Ford's tetralogy is simply ignored, and we are therefore denied one of the most critical encounters in the entire book - the moment when Tietjens' wife Sylvia enters the sanctuary Tietjens shares with his pregnant mistress, sister-in-law and his dying brother.It would be interesting to know what kind of conversations took place behind the scenes - was Stoppard really responsible for this savage curtailment?This could have been one of the most distinguished adaptations ever commissioned by the BBC:what we have is a tantalising glimpse of what might have been.

Bach: Secular Cantatas
Bach: Secular Cantatas
Offered by GOLDEN DISC
Price: 19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Playful Bach, 30 April 2013
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This review is from: Bach: Secular Cantatas (Audio CD)
This two-CD compilation from an original 1968 Duetsche Harmonia Mundi recording,contains the famous Coffee Cantata which reveals a more playful dimension to Bach's output,and one that has attracted numerous recordings.What makes this account especially attractive - apart from the modest price-tag on Amazon - is the playing of the Collegium Aureum,and the voice of Elly Ameling which,for her admirers at least,would make this self-recommending.Lots to admire here,not the least the informative booklet,and translations.

Bach: Mass in B minor
Bach: Mass in B minor
Price: 9.99

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Choice is Yours, 29 Feb 2012
This review is from: Bach: Mass in B minor (Audio CD)
Ten years separate this 1988 recording of the Bach B Minor Mass for Virgin Veritas from Philippe Herreweghe's later recording with Harmonia Mundi:it makes for an interesting comparison.Amazon reviewers on the other side of the Atlantic clearly love this first version for it's naturalness and purity - and one can understand why.Herreweghe's unique vision of interpreting Bach - a vision which even distinguishes him from other period-instrument performers - was evident in the early days when he was "discovered" by the late Gustav Leonhardt,and has remained virtually unchanged in the intervening years.So,to that extent,if you already have the later version,don't expect any surprises.
However,repeated listening to the two versions does highlight important differences,some of which - the choice of soloists for example - may be largely down to personal taste.Peter Kooy (bass) has been consistently part of Herreweghe's line-up for many years,and his performances can always be expected to produce singing of heart-felt commitment and faultless technique.Kooy in fact appears on both versions,the only difference being that he shares the lower voice honours with Hanno Muller-Brachmann in the later version.No tantalising choices to be made there then.In fact the only soloist from the version under review who would emphatically be my first choice is the principal soprano Barbara Schlick.That is not in any way to question the quality of Johannette Zomer's contribution,but Schlick for me is the unique Bach soprano of our time, and if for no other reason,might persuade others to reach for this version - even if they already possess the later one.For all the technical solidity of Charles Brett (alto),he is simply no match for the incomparable Andreas Scholl whose rendition of the Agnus Dei in the later version is simply sublime,notwithstanding some rather curiously inconsistent Latin pronunciation.As for the tenor part,who would want to choose between Howard Crook and Christoph Pregardien,except that some may find more beauty of tone in the latter's performance.
So,where does that leave us?This first recording of Herreweghe's is certainly full of charm and a kind of innocence, and for those qualities alone is probably worth having.However,by the time Herreweghe's Ghent forces tackled this masterpiece for a second time,one senses that we have a consummation of all that the Belgian master had learned during years of study and practice.One only has to listen to the richness of the instrumental and choral textures to appreciate that not everything is down to superior recording.Perhaps most telling of all,though,is the ethereal qualities which Herreweghe achieves in the choruses - qualities which this mystical masterpiece demands but which are rarely heard.
For Bach/Herreweghe afficionados,then this first version is well worth having - especially at this ridiculously low price - but not in preference to the later one which, for this reviewer at least,is one of the miracles in the history of recorded music.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 30, 2013 9:34 PM BST

Schutz: Musikalische Exequien (La Chapelle Royale/Herreweghe)
Schutz: Musikalische Exequien (La Chapelle Royale/Herreweghe)
Price: 10.36

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancient music for modern ears., 14 Feb 2012
This was the first of what became a three-disc tribute to the "father of German music,"Heinrich Schutz (1585-1672)by Philippe Herreweghe and his family of singers and musicians before he left Harmonia Mundi to found his own record label.The final offering - Schutz's astonishing Opus Ultimum (Schwanengesan)in 2007 - is one of my Desert Island discs.Given that that is a necessarily long,and profound, meditation on Psalm 119,in Schutz's beautifully austere style,readers may be justifiably questioning what it is about this music that can possibly still be of interest to a contemporary audience.In this sumptuously produced 2009 re-issue of the Musikalische Exequien,Herreweghe himself offers us some clues in his typically illuminating liner notes.Schutz - whose career embraced both the Renaissance and the Baroque - composed during a century haunted by the spectre of death."Successive plague epidemics,dysentery,the ravages of a brutal war and clashing ideologies,not to speak of personal tragedies in the form of the death of his wife and other close family members in quick succession,all combined to create an atmosphere of almost Apocalyptic horror.Added to which,Herreweghe reminds us,there were "internal upheavals" created by scientific discoveries potent enough to compound existing insecurities,and pose profound questions about the place of human beings in the Cosmos.If anything,those questionings and insecurities have simply multiplied in the intervening years - and so has the private obsession with death amidst a public taboo.
What then does Schutz bring us in an age of febrile insecurity? Certainly gorgeous music - a mixture of the then new musical style being developed by the likes of Giovanni Gabrieli and Claudio Monteverdi in Italy, where our composer spent two long sabbaticals from court life in his native Saxony,fused with "the very soul of German music," to quote Herreweghe again.But Schutz's real ambition was to communicate religious texts by the intensification of the written word through music.And his principal text was of course the Bible in which,we are told,he was deeply immersed throughout his long life.This disc,framed as it is by "a concert in the form of a funeral mass," and a Motet (SWV 386) - a sublime meditation on Psalm 19 - provides us with examples of the genius of both the composer and the interpreter.Listen,for example,to the Motet (SWV 380) where there is an almost dance-like,joyful play on the German word "alle" in the Johnannine text,"And God so loved the world that he gave his only Son...;"or,again,in (SWV 287),where Herreweghe's exquisite gift for matching timbre of voices with musical intention,finds his sopranos singing with almost choirboy freshness and purity.
For those prepared to submit themselves to Schutz's demanding style,with it's spurning of anything approaching showy virtuosity - preferably as part of an early-morning meditation - delivered by a true master of the genre,there will be no cavilling with the BBC Radio 3 Building a Library recommendation of this account as its first choice.

Valentin Silvestrov - Bagatellen und Serenaden
Valentin Silvestrov - Bagatellen und Serenaden
Price: 15.56

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Music for Body and Soul., 24 Jan 2012
One of the great joys of life is surely to discover a previously unknown composer.I found myself one day listening to some extracts of Silvestrov's music on YouTube, and was immediately smitten:two CDs representing different facets of this singular genius were soon winging their way from Amazon.The one under review contains chamber and piano music, all conceived - with the exception of Der Bote - between 2000 and 2005.I say "conceived" because the fascinating liner notes tell us that the Bagatellen had not,at the time of recording,been committed to paper - only later did Silvestrov begin the process of what he significantly calls the "materialisation of the immaterial."
Deceptive in its apparent simplicity,this is music which richly rewards the committed listener.The overall impression is that the composer regards himself indeed as a messenger - in this case,bringing tidings from a half-forgotten world,but one for which all human beings yearn, consciously or not.In his modesty,which doesn't exclude an ambition to reach out to all,Silvestrov reminds us of Schubert who, in his unique capacity to identify with our flawed humanity,at the same time constantly reminds us of the soul's true home.I would suggest that, without exception,all of these pieces reveal that quality of anamnesis,of awakening recollection,and the results are, for those with ears to hear,frankly mesmerising.The composer himself plays the Bagatellen which, for all their pianissimo,their almost whispering,incantatory effect,manage at the same time to be profoundly visceral - achieved perhaps by the remarkable use of pedals.By accentuating notes in this way,Silvestrov has them coursing through our bodies in a manner reminiscent of the reverberating effect of bells.
The quiet,contemplative mood continues through the chamber works;listen for example to Der Bote where he begins and ends with the sound of wind - "In God I am hushed in deep silence," to quote the Psalmist - framing a melody reminiscent of Mozart and what the liner notes describe as "an artless sonatina in 18th-century style."
Once again,the musical world is hugely indebted to Manfred Eicher and his visionary ECM label for making this sublime music more available to the West.Readers will see for themselves that virtually all Amazon appraisals of other ECM-backed Silvestrov discs carry five-star reviews - as much one suspects for the superb liner notes (and also in this case the evocative black-and-white images of Silvestrov's home city of Kiev) as for the music itself.The significance of those photographs becomes more apparent the more one listens to the music.
Finally,so compulsive are these sounds, the temptation is to rush out and buy everything this musical alchemist has produced,but this would be consumerist greed, totally alien to the spirit in which they are offered.Indeed,one can almost hear the composer himself whispering,"keep listening first,don't move on until you yourself have become the music..."

Living Forms of the Imagination
Living Forms of the Imagination
by Douglas Hedley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 77.94

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Neglected Realm, 23 Jan 2012
Let me say from the outset that to give more than a hint of the riches contained in this magisterial book is beyond the scope of a mere reviewer.What the author - an English academic - is offering here is nothing less than a revivified approach to the transcendent:an intellectually powerful but heart-felt argument for the rehabilitation of the imagination in matters of faith.In doing so, he confronts head-on the onslaught of all that - certainly since the Reformation - which has sought to undermine, and even in some ideologies,actively suppress,those "indirect apprehensions of transcendent reality" which are the special province of the creative intelligence at its most fertile.
This then is a prodigiously ambitious undertaking,requiring the most rigorous inquiry into, and interpretation of, knowledge and insights across a broad spectrum of disciplines - a breathtakingly inclusive journey which takes us from the myths of Plato to the novels of Marcel Proust and Patrick White.It makes for demanding,attentive reading - I should say,'readings,'because this is ultimately not so much a book as an experience,a pilgrimage,a source of profound contemplation.
Pivotal to Douglas Hedley's argument is a reassessment of the Romantic project in which Coleridge takes centre-stage.Why?Because in examining the "Romantic attempt to answer the Enlightenment critique," we confront the paralysing limitations of that critique in its many modern guises.At it's most extreme,the questioning of a place for the creative imagination as a pathway to the Divine after the horrors of various totalitarian regimes.The popularity of the non-fiction of an outstanding Christian apologist like C.S.Lewis;the mythology of J.R.R.Tolkien;and even the continued interest in the novels of that strangely neglected genius Charles Williams - the "master of the Affirmations" - to name but three examples,testifies to the hunger for,and vitality of, images which,to quote Hedley from his final paragraph,"point to an unseen reality as icons of an eternal and immutable world."Images,though,"not as sterile abstractions but as living forms of the imagination which furnish a chariot for the soul to ascend to God."For readers with minds not entirely encrusted by the shallow half-truths of reductive philosophies,this book could be a source of intellectual renewal and spiritual joy.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 26, 2014 8:42 AM BST

The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life
The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life
by Thomas Moore
Edition: Paperback

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradise Regained, 7 Oct 2010
To begin with, a confession:I suspect that the people who might have most to gain from reading this book are the very people who would probably dismiss it as so much hocus-pocus.
Furthermore,Thomas Moore himself would I suspect have sympathy with a mere reviewer attempting to nail down his master themes:we are emphatically here in the realms of an experiential tradition which eludes purely intellectual categorisation or anaylsis.After all,if disenchantment,disillusionment or even plain discontent,are essentially about "loss of soul" - as Moore would contend - it begs the question:what exactly does this author mean by "soul?"
In his massive best-seller,"Care of the Soul,"Moore concedes that it is "impossible to define precisely what the soul is."In distinguishing it from what,say, a Christian might understand by the term,he argues - while insisting on the validity of mainstream religious belief - that the "soul," in his terms, complements transcendent beliefs precisely because it is essentially a way of being which honours the particularities of life, both personal and corporate, in all their concreteness,paradoxes,absurdities and downright perplexities, without denying the imperatives of religion.

Drawing heavily on the neo-Platonic geniuses of the Renaissance - pre-eminently his great mentor Marsilio Ficino - as well myth,mysticism,the arts and psychology,Moore has a graceful way of being able to apply what appear to be impossibly esoteric and ridiculously outmoded ideas to contemporary challenges in whatever sphere of life.This book,first published 14 years ago, and arguably more relevant now than it was then,covers a wide range of subject areas - some of which he has subsequently developed at greater depth in separate books - represents possibly the best introduction to Moore's life's work.At the heart of that work is a passionately held belief that human beings can view themselves and the world around them in a radically different way by the smallest shift in imaginative awareness.If that sounds like hocus-pocus,this reviewer could provide evidence to the contrary.Food for the soul.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 29, 2012 7:53 AM GMT

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