Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Shop now Shop now Shop now
Profile for J. S. Bower > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by J. S. Bower
Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,404
Helpful Votes: 922

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
J. S. Bower "Jon Bower" (England)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-12
pixel
Lowepro Santiago 20 Pouch for Camera - Black
Lowepro Santiago 20 Pouch for Camera - Black
Price: £9.47

45 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A word of caution, 27 Aug. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a perfectly fine little semi-hard camera pouch. However, I should like to caution against its use with the stunning Sony RX100. Unlike some other reviewers, I did not find it a perfect fit for this marvel. On the contrary, I found it rather too tight a fit, in particular in respect of the pressure it exerts on the lens assembly, when this is recessed. I'd simply rather not do this, and therefore ended up returning this product and exchanging for something slightly larger. For Canon S95s, 100s and the like, it's fine, but the RX100 is crucially a tad larger, and this makes all the difference!
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 3, 2013 3:43 PM BST


Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.4
Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.4
Price: £76.24

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still the gold standard interpretation, despite everything, 21 Aug. 2012
Hmmm.. . I get what the first reviewer is saying, but I have to disagree in some aspects. This is THE classic reading of Tchaik 4, to be sure, although I can also recommend Mravinsky's electrifying live recording with the Leningrad PO - coupled with an equally startling Schubert Unfinished - on a normally (ie sanely) priced Praga SACD.

But the sound on this studio recording, frankly, sucks - early DG ham-fisted multi-miking at its worst. I have the original vinyls, plus DG's botched and awful CDs. I also bought - and then then promptly sold - Esoteric's somewhat incompetent recent SACD transfer*

Although the original sonics on the mastertapes of these symphonies are decidedly poor, it appears that any misguided attempt to 'correct' or 'improve' this only succeeds in making things worse.

Now we come to this straight-to DSD-transfer to SACD by Berliner Studios. Frankly, this is the best effort at remastering these historic recordings that I have heard, with more air and noticeably more natural instrumental timbres. But the ghastly balance, blatant compression and overload distortion at points is till there, of course. How could it not be?

So, how much are you prepared to pay to get this classic performance, in flawed sound, sounding at its very best? That is for you to decide.

All in all, I would get the Mravinsky's live recording of the 4th on Praga. Did I mention? It's a quarter the price.

Note: 1) This is probably the best recording and reading from the series of the Tchaikovsky 4th, 5th and 6th symphonies he recorded in Wembley Town Hall in 1960. No 6 is also a great reading, but the sound is a tad poorer than this 4th. And, regretfully, the 5th should be avoided at all costs - the reading is the most problematical of the three, and the sound is by far the worst of the series, with anything above mf distorted to hell and back...

2) All recordings auditioned on high-end SACD and equipment. The previous reviewer's comment that this does not sound comfortably better than RBCD is just plain wrong in my opinion, I'm afraid. It really does sound better than the CD - as always. And, no, I don't drive a Rolls Royce.

* to PCM, with all sorts of analogue-domain mischief; rather like the equally disappointing sounding EMI transfers to SACD. When will they learn?
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2013 3:36 PM BST


Lux Feminae
Lux Feminae
Price: £15.64

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Figuerras in her divine prime., 19 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Lux Feminae (Audio CD)
Alia Vox has seemingly perfected the art of minimalist recording in stone-faced church or historic venues. Although this is not one of their most recent releases, the results (SACD stereo layer auditioned here) are wonderfully transparent, natural and vibrant-sounding, with stunning stage depth and ambience.

Before her sad death late last year, Montserrat Figuerras's divine voice was clearly in decline; this was particularly apparent, regretfully in the recent `Mare Nostrum' set. But here, several years earlier, she is in her prime, gracing this vocal set with her beautifully fluid and expressive voice.

She sings a variety of songs, lullabies and chants based on various aspects of the feminine archetype - mother, lover, virgin and seer. This may sound a tad politically correct in these cynical times, but the results are sincere, expressive and gripping throughout.

Voice and content are perfectly matched here. Strongly recommended.


El Cant de la Sibilla
El Cant de la Sibilla
Price: £12.38

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous music-making, controversial content, 19 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: El Cant de la Sibilla (Audio CD)
Alia Vox appear to have perfected the art of minimalist recording in stone-faced church or historic venues. Although this is not one of their most recent releases, the results (SACD stereo layer) are wonderfully transparent, natural and vibrant-sounding, with stunning stage depth and ambience.

As always, Savall and his choral and instrumental forces make unforced, idiomatic music, with the divine Montserrat Figuerras - here in her prime - gracing the performances with her beautifully fluid and expressive voice.

The Sibyline chants from medieval Spain, themed around the apocalyptic end of days - make a strong impact on many levels. The repetitive Mallorca chant, in particular, is hypnotic in its musical and expressive impact; in fact, it sounds eerily reminiscent of Aavo Part's 'holy minimalism', albeit 600 years early!

From a modern, secular, post-enlightenment perspective, we can see the religious texts as basically obnoxious, irrational and utterly incomprehensible. The xenophobic, anti-semitic, god- and hell-fearing medieval European mind of the 1400s is indeed a strange place to explore.

But that does not in any way detract from the sonic and musical merits of this stimulating and thought-provoking SACD.


Black Faux Suede Cushion - Large 65cm x 65cm. COMPLETE WITH VALESOFT® FIBRE FILLED INNER
Black Faux Suede Cushion - Large 65cm x 65cm. COMPLETE WITH VALESOFT® FIBRE FILLED INNER
Offered by Pet n Home
Price: £19.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice cushion, 19 Jan. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Suitable for either your canine or human companions, this fairly-priced product looks good, feels good and also provides nice firm, support.

It also matches our decor quite nicely...


Various Bach/Busoni.Ravel and Rachmaninov
Various Bach/Busoni.Ravel and Rachmaninov
Price: £14.27

5.0 out of 5 stars A fine 2oth Century piano recital, 10 Nov. 2011
This is a thoroughly enjoyable disc of 20th Century piano masterpieces, expertly played and beautifully recorded.

Following on from Freddy Kempf's earlier- and highly praised - recital disc (Mussourgsky Pictures et al), he now gives us the Rachmaninov Corelli Variations, a pyrotechnic Busoni transcription of the sublime Bach Chaconne (from the violin partita no 2), the Ravel Valses nobles et Sentimentales and - finally - three fiery fragments from Stravinsky's Petrushka.

You can reliably expect technical excellence here, and Kempf delivers in spades; bulldozing extreme technical difficulties aside, he carries off these pieces with great aplomb and virtuosity; but there is also much sensitive music-making and subtlety in evidence.

BIS has given us very fine piano sound - not too distant, but not in your lap, either. It is also beautifully focussed, transparent and offers a huge dynamic range. In fact, it is tempting to up the volume and rattle the walls- always a good sign! (auditioned on stereo SACD layer).

So, if the repertoire appeals, you can't really go wrong here.


Ivan the Terrible (Hybr) (Omr)
Ivan the Terrible (Hybr) (Omr)
Offered by FastMedia "Ships From USA"
Price: £44.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Great recording and thrilling music-making, 9 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Like its companion recording (Alexander Nevsky) this is an awe-inspiring recording and fabulous music making. Hyperbolic? I would give it six stars if I could.

Seriously, I could rave on about its analog-era timbral accuracy, tonal neutrality, air, staging, dynamic range and dimensionality (yes, I'm afraid I really could). But, ultimately what matters is that this is an incredibly realistic recording of huge orchestral and choral forces playing in a real acoustic. And you don't run across one of those every day!

The Nickrenz/Aubort recordings of the 70s represent a late flowering of the art of analog recording. And this is truly one of their best, transferred seamlessly to SACD.

The young Slatkin and his St Louis Orchestra surpass themselves. As a lover of the great Eisenstein film, the whole experience just takes you back to the great evocative scenes of the dark Ivan by the window whilst his troops stream past, the storming of Kazan and so on.

This is one of the few Mobile Fidelity recuts still available at non-obscene prices, so you know what you have to do. Run, do NOT walk to your nearest PC and order it at once.

You won't be sorry.


Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky cantata, Lieutenant Kije suite
Prokofiev: Alexander Nevsky cantata, Lieutenant Kije suite
Price: £35.76

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous music-making and recording, 9 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Like its companion recording (Ivan the Terrible) this is an awe-inspiring recording and fabulous music making. Hyperbolic? I would give it six stars if I could.

Seriously, I could rave on about its analogue-era timbral accuracy, tonal neutrality, air, staging, dynamic range and dimensionality (yes, I'm afraid I really could). But, ultimately what matters is that this is an incredibly realistic recording of huge orchestral and choral forces playing in a real acoustic. And you don't run across one of those every day!

In my humble opinion, some of the Nickrenz/Aubort recordings of this era represent a late summit in analog-era recording technology. And this is one of the best, transferred beautifully to SACD.

The young Slatkin and his St Louis Orchestra surpass themselves. As a lover of the great Eisenstein film, the whole experience just takes you back to the great evocative scenes of the the battle on the ice, the faceless Teutonic Knights and so on.

The Leitenant Kije is also magnificent, although it has one flaw - I really do prefer it all-orchstral, without the bass soloist.

This is one of the few Mobile Fidelity recuts still available at non-obscene prices, so you know what you have to do. Run, do NOT walk to your nearest PC and order it at once.

You won't be sorry.


El Nuevo Mundo: Folias Criollas [La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Hespèrion XXI, Tembembe Ensamble Continuo / Jordi Savall]
El Nuevo Mundo: Folias Criollas [La Capella Reial de Catalunya, Hespèrion XXI, Tembembe Ensamble Continuo / Jordi Savall]
Price: £15.25

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Joyous songs and music of the New World., 5 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Yet another exceptional release in the ongoing series of musical and historical voyages of discovery by Savall and his trusty bands. But you knew that already. Didn't you?

If you love Savall's journeys through space and time, then my review won't matter one whit. But there are a number of reasons why I'm bothering. It's because:

1) It may be seen as an antidote or sequel to the sad, sad Columbus 2-disc set I auditioned and reviewed recently.
3) Even by the exalted sonic standards reached by the most recent Alia Vox recordings, this is something special.

The previous Columbus set was shot through by lament for `Lost Paradises', reflecting the tragedies of 1492: the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, forced Moorish conversion, the start of cultural genocide in South and Central America - all in the twin pursuit of gold and fundamentalist Christianity.

Well, this disc shows what happened next, and the result is musically surprising. The Native, Creole and Mestizo cultures recognised, assimilated and transformed the music of their conquerors. And the result is joyous- a series of instrumental and vocal pieces centred - of course- around the themes of love, death and religion. And it is easy to demonstrate the influence of Negro slave, native South American and even Spanish sub-cultures in the resulting melange.

And then we come to the sound. Alia Vox seems to have been able to produce a series of consistently exalted recordings. They tick all the standard audiophile boxes, of course: soundstage and dimensionality- check; reproduction of space and air, tonal and timbral accuracy, transparency to back stage. And so on. Boring.

But the bottom line is that this recording, despite having been compiled in as number of sessions through 2009/10 and a range of church/stone acoustic venues, is exceptionally truthful and natural. Basically, it sounds an awful lot like the real thing- an eclectic host of musicians and vocalist making music, and clearly having some fun at the same time.

I would give it six stars if I could. This rating is for the SACD layers, of course: I dread to think what 16-bit/44.1 KHz RBCD would do to this.

That's all you need to know.


Paraísos Perdidos - Christophorus Columbus
Paraísos Perdidos - Christophorus Columbus
Price: £27.21

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thrilling voyage of musical and historical discovery., 2 Nov. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is another in the extended series of fascinating musico-historical voyages of exploration and discovery by Jordi Savall, together with his trusty Hesperion XXI and Capella Reial de Catalunya bands. As always, it is immaculately researched, performed and recorded, and makes a profound impact on many levels.

This double album, accompanied by a sumptuous multi-lingual book, centres on Christopher Columbus, and the crucial year of 1492. Perhaps unexpectedly, it is shot through with a sense of loss and melancholy. 1492 was not just the year when Columbus `sailed the ocean blue', of course; it also marks the conquest of Granada and the forced expulsion of the Jews of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. Some years later, this was followed by the violent conversion of the Moors in the kingdoms of Castille.

Let us not forget, moreover, that this year marked the start of a brutal process of exploitation, subjugation and extermination of the native cultures of South and Central America. These events echo throughout the music, and also give the set its core theme and subtitle- `Lost Paradises'.

So, in addition to much Moorish and Sephardic music, we also hear the music of the conquering kingdoms of medieval Spain and hints of the cultures of `the New World'. There is even some Sybiline Graeco-Roman chant prophesying the discovery of a new land beyond Ultima Thule. Eclectic and fascinating.

Particularly heart-wrenching are the Arabo-Andalusian and Sephardic/Jewish songs of lament, sung both immaculately and sensuously by Montserrat Figueras. The emotional impact of these songs is further reinforced by the transparent and natural sound quality achieved throughout. Although it may sound a touch hackneyed, one actually feels she is in the room with you.

This is state-of-the art-sound (auditioned on stereo SACD layer).

So, if you have enjoyed other recordings in this series, or have any interest in expanding your musical horizons, I can wholeheartedly commend this set to you.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-12