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Graham (Fife, Scotland)

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Elle Pearl Cotton Anklets - 4.5 - 6 Ladies - Blues
Elle Pearl Cotton Anklets - 4.5 - 6 Ladies - Blues
Offered by SockShop
Price: £6.00

2.0 out of 5 stars Re Too small, 28 Sep 2014
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the heels come under the foot and are too uncomfortable to wear.I am a size 5 so they should have fitted well seeing that they were for size 4.5 to 6.


Vaughan Williams: Piano Quintet [London Soloists Ensemble] [Naxos: 8.573191]
Vaughan Williams: Piano Quintet [London Soloists Ensemble] [Naxos: 8.573191]
Offered by Naxos Direct UK
Price: £5.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Early Vaughan Williams Beautifully Played and Recorded, 21 Jun 2014
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Naxos are to be congratulated for bringing us beautifully played performances of these early, and probably to most people, unknown works by Vaughan Williams in recorded sound which is of the highest quality. The members of the London Soloists Ensemble, plus two other players, are all musicians of the front rank and their playing in these works is captivating, to say the least.

In the two quintets Vaughan Williams shows the unmistakable influence of Brahms including, in the work for violin, cello, clarinet, horn and piano, a clear, and probably conscious, reference to the slow movement of that composer's fourth symphony. Vaughan Williams was not, of course, alone in being influenced by the great German master. His teachers Parry and Stanford most certainly were, to say nothing of lesser men such as Somervell and Dyson, to name only two. These, perhaps, were never able to shake off that influence and that of other composers, but Vaughan Williams most certainly did and went on to develop his own highly individual style and musical language, becoming eventually one of the greatest composers of the twentieth century. In the Piano Quintet one feels that individuality is beginning to emerge when in the second movement the main theme bears a striking resemblance to his lovely song Silent Noon, which was composed in the same year.

There is more of the mature Vaughan Williams in the Six Studies in English Folk Song, which were composed much later than the two quintets. These are not simply arrangements, but are subtle elaborations on each of the songs. They are most beautifully played here by Anthony Pike and John Lenehan.

This is a disc of beautiful and largely undemanding music, which will give much pleasure, as well as revealing the early development of this great composer.


Piano Concerto in E Flat
Piano Concerto in E Flat
Price: £7.03

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pioneering Moeran and Ireland, 28 Feb 2014
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This was the first recording of Moeran's marvellous symphony, made in Manchester's Houldsworth Hall towards the end of 1942 under the auspices of the British Council.

It was perhaps appropriate that the Halle Orchestra should record the work, their one time conductor, and the work's dedicatee, Sir Hamilton Harty having suggested to Moeran as early as 1926 that he should write a symphony. The conductor chosen for the recording was not, however, Harty, who was by this time ill with cancer. That honour fell to Leslie Heward, who had in fact given the first performance of the symphony in January 1938 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Heward was himself very ill by 1942 and, as related by Lyndon Jenkins in his excellent booklet notes, members of the orchestra wondered if he would manage to endure the extensive rehearsals and the actual recorded performance. Jenkins further relates that Walter Legge recalled that Heward was "tired, limping and in pain", and that Moeran, who was present throughout the sessions, wrote that, "he was in a precarious state of health, and I was terrified that he would not be well enough to take on the job". Illness and incapacity were overcome, however, and Moeran wrote, "The symphony has had such a performance as it never had before".

One might venture to assert that the symphony has not had such a performance since. Every subsequent recording (Neville Dilkes, Sir Adrian Boult, Vernon Handley and David Lloyd Jones) has been highly successful, but this one is perhaps in a league of its own. Heward makes every detail in the score count and holds the whole thing together in a masterly fashion. I think that Heward even surpasses his mentor Boult in the energy and drive that he brings to the first movement and in the intensity of the slow movement. I would even say that no one quite matches Heward in this movement. One can see why Boult had such a high regard for his pupil; "There was no one to touch him, in my opinion; he'd have gone a long way, if he had lived". Sadly, this great promise was never to be realised for Heward died in May 1943.

Michael Dutton, as one would expect, has produced a superb mastering of the recording and the sound is very acceptable indeed. It is interesting to also have on this excellent disc Eileen Joyce's pioneering recording with Leslie Heward and the Halle of the Piano Concerto by Moeran's teacher John Ireland. A fine performance and again sound that is more than acceptable.


Complete Symphonies Box Set (Sakari, Iceland So)
Complete Symphonies Box Set (Sakari, Iceland So)
Price: £19.61

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sleeper, 25 Jan 2014
This, in my view, is one of the great recorded cycles of the Sibelius symphonies. Although the conductor being Finnish does not automatically guarantee superlative performances, anymore than, for instance, a conductor being English guarantees definitive recordings of Elgar or Vaughan Williams, the fact is that Petri Sakari delivers magnificent performances of these great works; he quite simply does not put a foot wrong. Everything sounds just right, and one is left feeling at the end of each symphony that it could not be done any other way, always the mark of a great performance. Sakari has obviously thought long and hard about each symphony, in its detail and its overall logic and structure, and the end result is extremely convincing and satisfying.

Some have criticised the recorded sound, but I can only reiterate what others have said: these discs need to be played at a higher level than is perhaps normal. When they are, and if played through good equipment, they sound quite magnificent.

In auction terms then, truly a sleeper, which is of considerable value artistically and sonically.


Moeran: In the Mountain Country [JoAnn Falletta, Benjamin Frith, Ulster Orchestra] [Naxos: 8573106]
Moeran: In the Mountain Country [JoAnn Falletta, Benjamin Frith, Ulster Orchestra] [Naxos: 8573106]
Price: £6.00

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Truly Great Composer, 9 Jan 2014
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JoAnn Falletta has said that since becoming conductor of the Ulster Orchestra one of her most extraordinary discoveries has been the music of E J Moeran, whom she declares to be "without question one the greatest English composers of the twentieth century". Long standing Moeran enthusiasts such as myself have always thought that of course!

Falletta has already given us much acclaimed recordings of Moeran works, including his wonderful Cello Concerto. Now she has turned her attention to the three Rhapsodies, the Overture for a Masque and, what is believed to be Moeran's earliest orchestral work, In the Mountain Country. In this second disc she has, I feel, exceeded her achievement on that first CD, excellent though that was. The present programme opens with the sparkling and exhuberant overture. This is certainly not the most profound work that Moeran wrote; it was not intended to be, written, as it was, to be performed at concerts for troops during the second world war. As Paul Conway writes in his excellent booklet notes, Moeran's intention in this piece was to primarily entertain, and this he most certainly achieved. The composer himself said that he had made it "snappy and exciting" for his intended audience, and in this performance it is most certainly all of that. It also contains a quiet and reflective folk-like passage of great beauty typical of its composer.

Folk-sounding themes are much to the fore in the second work on this disc, In the Mountain Country, but as so often in Moeran's music these are entirely original. Vaughan Williams took it as a great compliment when his song Linden Lea was thought to be a folk song arrangement. The same compliment can be extended to Moeran many times over, so completely did he absorb the idiom and influence of folk tunes which, along with Vaughan Williams, Holst and others, he collected and wrote down with great dedication and enthusiasm. It is difficult to imagine this work being given a better performance than it receives on this disc.

The First Rhapsody was dedicated to Moeran's teacher John Ireland and in it Moeran most certainly built on the experience gained in writing In the Mountain Country, creating a work on a much larger scale and for a larger orchestra. Again JoAnn Falletta's performance cannot be faulted. The Second Rhapsody is brimming over with good and memorable tunes and is wonderfully orchestrated. Again an excellent performance. The Third Rhapsody is almost a small piano concerto, again full of good tunes, but as in all Moeran's music, there is also great beauty and profound feeling. Naxos stalwart Benjamin Frith is the excellent soloist.

The recorded sound is the work of Tim Handley and Phil Rowlands and, as always, they produce excellent results, taking full advantage of the splendid acoustics of Belfast's Ulster Hall. If you are unfamiliar with Moeran's wonderful music then give yourself a treat and buy this superb disc. You will probably end up sharing JoAnn Falletta's enthusiasm for this truly great composer.


Bach, J.S.: Christmas Oratorio
Bach, J.S.: Christmas Oratorio
Price: £26.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Bach from Munchinger, 26 Dec 2013
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Karl Munchinger and his Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra had a long association with the music of J.S. Bach and recorded nearly all of his orchestral works for Decca, some of them more than once. He also recorded The Art of Fugue and all the major choral works: Passions, Mass in B minor, Magnificat, Easter Oratorio and the wonderful Christmas Oratorio, as well as some of the cantatas. Here the Christmas Oratorio receives a quite wonderful performance, full of vigour, vitality and, at the same time, quiet reflection. For those who do not want, or are allergic to, so-called authentic or historically informed performances, often, as in John Eliot Gardiner's recording, taken at break-neck speed, Munchinger's performance, alongside Eugen Jochum's superb recording, will prove to very satisfying indeed.

There is a superb team of soloists: Elly Ameling (also on Jochum's recording), Helen Watts, Sir Peter Pears and Tom Krause, all of them seasoned Bach performers. The Lubecker Kantorei sing with great precision and feeling and Munchinger's orchestra give of their very considerable best for their renowned conductor. If you do not yet possess a recording of this magnificent oratorio (really six cantatas, meant to be performed on different days throughout the Christmas season) then this one will give enormous pleasure - at any time of the year!


Glazunov: Complete Symphonies
Glazunov: Complete Symphonies
Price: £11.89

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Excellent Bargain from Brilliant Classics, 7 Nov 2013
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In more than fifty years of record collecting I have never taken much notice of the music of Alexander Glazunov, knowing only the violin concerto and his ballet The Seasons. His eight symphonies were, until now, unknown territory. Now that has changed and I have discovered works that I feel I should have explored years ago. They are very attractive and well constructed, full of good tunes and very well orchestrated. It might be said that they are all from the same mould, for there is a consistency of character and substance from the first, composed when he was still in his teens, to the eighth, written about twenty years later. As you progress through them there are few surprises but most certainly a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction, such is the quality of Glazunov's writing. It is also easy to find fault with one or two of his finales, where he seems to take a long time to get to the point, as it were. But Glazunov was not alone in that, and there were greater composers who struggled with their finales without always finding an ideal solution.

These performances by Vladimir Fedoseyev and the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra were recorded between 1974 and 1982 and, to my ears at least, it is difficult to imagine anyone doing better in these works, but then I have not heard any of the other sets that are available; perhaps someone who has will write a comparative review. It seems to me that Fedoseyev and his orchestra bring out the best in these symphonies. The playing is quite superb and in many places thrilling and captivating by turn. The sound of these recordings is very good: a warm, vibrant and open acoustic which allows the detail in Glazunov's orchestration to shine through. All in all another excellent bargain from Brilliant Classics.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 11, 2014 7:12 PM BST


Sibelius: Complete Symphonic Poems
Sibelius: Complete Symphonic Poems
Price: £11.75

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Hits than Misses, 18 Sep 2013
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This modestly priced three-disc set from Brilliant Classics (it can be had for around five pounds) has not received much attention, but Vassily Sinaisky and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra (recorded in 1991) tackle these often difficult and elusive works with considerable commitment and not a little understanding. If you are looking for consistent polish and refinement in both playing and recording, not to mention subtlety, then perhaps you should look elsewhere, but there is certainly plenty of spirit and enthusiasm in Sinaisky's performances, not to mention a degree of Slavic passion.

If I may begin with the negative in this review, Lounnotar is not successful. The soloist Maria Jogeva has a big voice, which in certain operatic roles would be very impressive, but here it dominates rather than being integrated with the orchestra. I feel also that Sinaisky's tempo is a shade too fast, and the opening needs to be quieter as if the music is emerging out of the mist. This is not in the same league as Sir Alexander Gibson's wonderful recording, with the superb Phyllis Bryn Julson, on Chandos.

I feel that Sinaisky also misses the mark in Spring Song, the lightest of these tone poems. He adopts a rather broad tempo and is perhaps trying to give the piece more weight than it actually has, relating it to the tone poems rather than to Sibelius's lighter works, of which there are many. Again compare Gibson, who, it seems to me, is much more song-like without diminishing the work in any way.

En Saga goes well with plenty of atmosphere and with orchestral detail coming through. The quiet gong strokes at the beginning, which sometimes go unheard, give the feeling of an icy chill. Sinaisky keeps things moving and varies the pace nicely. There is real excitement towards the end, with a well managed descent to the quiet of the work's beginning.

Pohjola's Daughter begins with a fine cello solo. The woodwind, as in all these performances, are to the fore, yet well balanced. The brass interjections are well managed and exciting, without swamping everything else, as they do in Barbirolli's recording.

The Bard, a most difficult and elusive work, receives a fine performance. The important harp part is very well played (a shame that the sound of the pedals can be heard), but is not too prominent and nicely balanced with the rest of the orchestra. The performance of The Dryad is perhaps less successful. In my view Sinaisky underlines the contrasts in this strange work and makes it sound rather more fragmentary than it actually is.

I always feel that Finlandia benefits from some restraint in performance, and Sinaisky's is certainly not tasteless nor over the top. Sadly the recording suffers here from one or two miscalculated balances, marring what is really a good performance.

Tapiola, Sibelius's last important work, and one of his greatest, is given here, in my view, a rather slow and meandering performance. I was not sure that Sinaisky knew where he was going! Sir Alexander Gibson, in his superb performance, is three minutes faster and the work is held together from start to finish in a way that it is not here.

The Oceanides, Sibelius's depiction of the sea, goes well under Sinaisky; plenty of light and shade, capturing the various moods of the sea. In Night Ride and Sunrise, the Sunrise is worth waiting for, but it does seem a long time before it comes!

I won't go into detail on each of the Lemminkainen Legends, except to say that they receive a very satisfying performance. The Swan, that miracle of sound with the strings in the final pages divided into no fewer than fourteen parts, is very well done with an excellent cor anglais solo well integrated into the overall picture.

To sum up, this set has far more hits than misses, and at its modest price is well worth having in a collection to sit alongside others.


Bax/ Bridge: Piano Quintets
Bax/ Bridge: Piano Quintets
Price: £6.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Superb Bax Disc from Naxos, 2 Aug 2013
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The piano quintet is a form which seems to nearly always bring out the best in composers who write one; think of Schumann, Brahms, Dvorak (2), Elgar and Shostakovich. Bax's quintet was one of the first works of his maturity and was composed in 1914/15, about the same time as one of his finest tone poems, The Garden of Fand, which was quickly followed by November Woods and Tintagel. The quintet anticipates the expansive scale of the later symphonies with its cyclic use of material and even an epilogue to end with, something that became such a feature in some of the symphonies.

It is a fine work with a passionate and tempestuous opening movement followed by a slow movement which opens with what Andrew Burn in his excellent booklet notes calls "a cool and clear song without words of lyrical melancholic beauty", entirely typical of Bax. In the finale Bax uses themes from the first movement, but in an entirely different way and to create a very different mood.

Ashley Wass and the Tippett Quartet give what seems to me to be an ideal performance, as they do of the quintet of Frank Bridge, which may not make quite the impression that Bax's does but is certainly well worth hearing.
All in all another superb Bax disc from Naxos with the Bridge work as a very considerable bonus.


Ireland: My Song Love Unknown (Lincoln Cathedral Choir/ Aric Prentice/ Charles Harrison) (Naxos: 8573014)
Ireland: My Song Love Unknown (Lincoln Cathedral Choir/ Aric Prentice/ Charles Harrison) (Naxos: 8573014)
Price: £6.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Disc, 14 Dec 2012
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I agree with everything that Edj has written This is a truly delightful disc; beautifully sung and very well recorded. I have always loved the music of John Ireland. The piano music is superb and I would say that he is probably the finest English composer for the instrument.Then there are his songs, which are worthy of comparison with those of Vaughan Williams and Finzi in the treasure house of English song. On this disc we see his great gifts as a choral composer. Some of the earlier pieces reveal the influence of Stanford and are none the worse for that. There are one or two pieces which are well known: My song is love unknown and The Holy Boy (originally a piano piece and also arranged for string quartet), but most of the other works will be unfamiliar to most people. Don't let this put you off. There is delight after delight on this superb disc. Yet another winner from Naxos.


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