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Profile for Michael Wadge > Reviews

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Reviews Written by
Michael Wadge (Bristol England)
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The Book Thief
The Book Thief
Price: £5.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A tragic but heart warming story about the Second World War., 24 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: The Book Thief (Kindle Edition)
Initially, I found the writing style somewhat strange, but as soon as I overcame my concerns I became really absorbed by the story of Leisel Meminger and her foster parents. The writer vividly portrayed the sufferings of many people in Germany during the War and especially the terrible plight of the Jewish population under the Nazis. The book provided no happy ending and was thus very harrowing to read in its later stages. However, I certainly strongly recommend it to anyone who does not want to read a sanitised version of the War as experienced by the German population as a whole.


Cantus
Cantus
Price: £14.91

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting versions of well known pieces by Arvo Part and other composers by a virtuoso Japanese Percussionist ., 18 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Cantus (Audio CD)
I find this a difficult CD to review. Kuniko produces some extraordinary sounds on the marimba by multi tracking on Arvo Part's Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, which is one of my favourite Part pieces. As the Times' reviewer described her recording, the music sounds as if he was inside Niagara Falls, tumbling in exquisite slow motion. I cannot think of a more apt description. Although the other Part works are somewhat less dramatically recorded, they are also enjoyable, especially one of his best known pieces, Spiegel im Spiegel, where she uses both her marimba and bells. I also quite enjoyed Steve Reich's New York Counterpoint, which I understand was originally written for multiple clarinets, although it is rather repetitive. However, the remaining work, Pure Ground, by the British composer, Hywel Davies, completely perplexed me. Although the music lasted for over 11 minutes, nothing very much ever seemed to happen, apart from some weird sounds largely emanating from the lower reaches of the modern 5 octave marimba.


Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the men who blew up the British economy
Making It Happen: Fred Goodwin, RBS and the men who blew up the British economy
Price: £6.33

4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read about the RBS financial crisis., 18 Oct. 2013
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I was keen to read this book, not least because my Wife and I have banked with RBS for many years and had thus been very concerned about the future of the bank. Obviously, I was well aware of the banking crisis that occurred in 2008, from which the UK has still not fully recovered. In addition, I found Alistair Darling's excellent book on the crisis most informative.

The writer has clearly researched what caused the particular problems that afflicted RBS very comprehensively and I now have a much better insight into the direction that the board took, which ultimately led to its near collapse. I found the revelations of the insistence of Fred Goodwin, in particular, as CEO to constantly go for growth and the fateful decision to acquire ABN Amro at a time when problems were clearly already occurring in financial markets most illuminating. The other issue constantly mentioned by the writer which had a particular resonance for me was the fact that senior bankers seemed to exist in a form of parallel universe with their eye watering salaries and bonuses and I am far from convinced that the culture in the major banks has changed even in these financially straitened times.


Pickard: Flight of Icarus (The) / The Spindle of Necessity / Channel Firing
Pickard: Flight of Icarus (The) / The Spindle of Necessity / Channel Firing
Price: £15.29

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent modern music stunningly performed and recorded., 11 July 2013
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I first became aware of the music of John Pickard through my membership of the Havergal Brian Society of which he is a committee member. The chairman of the Society, Dr John Grimshaw, with whom I have also had considerable contact over the past two years, has fervently championed his music. I very much enjoyed the later BIS recording of John Pickard's orchestral music, as my previous review indicated. I thus greatly looked forward to listening to this CD. I have in no way been disappointed.

Both the Flight of Icarus and the Spindle of Necessity were inspired by Greek legend. Of the two works, I personally prefer the former, partly because the Spindle of Necessity is, in essence, a trombone concerto, which I have to confess is not one of my favourite instruments. However, there is still much to admire in the work, especially the slow section towards the end, representing the Spindle of Necessity itself. John Pickard bases the harmony on the natural overtones of the open strings, underpinned by the sounds of glissandi played in natural harmonics. I found this to be most effective and, at the same time, affecting.

The Flight of Icarus is a immensely impressive piece, wonderfully orchestrated, as indeed are all of the works. Again, I felt that the slow final section is the highlight and illustrates John Pickard's ability to compose music that is both very moving and imaginative.

Possibly, the final work on the CD, Channel Firing, is the finest of the three. The title, as John Pickard says in his own excellent programme notes, comes from a poem by Thomas Hardy, written shortly before the outbreak of the Great War, describing a night time scene in a churchyard on the south coast of England. As John Pickard says, the depiction of the sound of gunfire, brilliantly orchestrated by him, splits the night air, a sound loud enough to wake the dead, which in this case it actually does. By virtue of this depiction, I was immediately drawn into the drama of the piece and remained riveted to it until its end.

All of the participants in this wonderful CD deserve the highest accolade, including, the conductor, Martyn Brabbins and his excellent orchestra, Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra. Full marks must also be given to the sound engineer and to BIS for the supreme quality of the recording made in Norrkoping, Sweden.


Visit Sunny Chernobyl: Adventures in the World's Most Polluted Places
Visit Sunny Chernobyl: Adventures in the World's Most Polluted Places
Price: £4.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting slant on tourism, but not for the faint hearted!, 5 Jun. 2013
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I was intrigued by the subject matter of this book. I particularly enjoyed the first chapter about his visit to Chernobyl, although much of the detail was well known to me. The chapters about the tar sands in Canada and the one on the Amazon were also well worth reading, but the subject matter of some of the other chapters was, to my mind, of less interest and accordingly I feel unable to give the book 5 stars. However, one has to admire the author for his enterprise and courage in facing up to the hazards he inevitably had to encounter during the course of his long journey of exploration.


Pickard: Tenebrae | Piano Concerto | Sea Change (Martyn Brabbins)
Pickard: Tenebrae | Piano Concerto | Sea Change (Martyn Brabbins)
Price: £14.67

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful but approachable modern music by an excellent British Composer, 12 May 2013
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I had the great pleasure of meeting John Pickard for the first time on 11th May in London. I told him that I had been listening a great deal to this BIS CD of his music. In my opinion, all of the music is of very high quality and I find repeated airings have proved to be very rewarding. I particularly enjoy the Piano Concerto with its jazz inflections, but undoubtedly the most striking orchestration is in Tenebrae, with its very dark tones and use of such unusual instruments as an alto flute, bass oboe, contrabass clarinet and contrabassoons .

Martyn Brabbins has produced outstanding performances by his Swedish Orchestra, Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra and the recording is very much up to BIS's high standard.

As a consequence of obtaining much enjoyment of the music and also precipitated by my conversation with John Pickard (but without any prompting by him!), I have now ordered the first BIS CD of his Orchestral Music, which I will be reviewing in due course.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 5, 2013 4:05 PM BST


Tubin: Prelude solennel / Violin Concerto No. 1 / Violin Concerto
Tubin: Prelude solennel / Violin Concerto No. 1 / Violin Concerto
Price: £14.66

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent music by this sadly neglected Estonian composer., 28 April 2013
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For some years I have owned CDs of all of Tubin's 10 symphonies and other works on the BIS label. I have enjoyed many of them immensely and especially the 4th, 5th and 10th Symphonies, plus the 2nd Violin Concerto. The music on this CD is well up to standard and is both superbly played and recorded. I particularly enjoyed the 1st Violin Concerto and very much agree with the other reviewer that the 2nd movement is especially beautiful. I can only hope that some enterprising promoter will include of one these or other of his works on a concert programme in the not too distant future.


Hello Cruel World
Hello Cruel World
Price: £13.47

4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent album by one of the US's best singer songwriters., 7 April 2013
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This review is from: Hello Cruel World (Audio CD)
I had the great pleasure to see Gretchen perform live in Bristol a few weeks ago before, as it turned out, a packed house. She and the other two performers, including her Husband, Barry Walsh, were extremely polished and as a result of the concert I purchased this, her latest album. I feel this is very good indeed and I strongly recommend it. All of the songs are well crafted and I would have given the album 5 stars if she had included a few more up tempo numbers. However, the lack of these did not really detract from the quality of the album.


The Help
The Help
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book about racial attitudes in the USA in the 1960s., 7 April 2013
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This review is from: The Help (Kindle Edition)
Having recently seen the film of the Help, I was very interested to read the book. Clearly, the film is very true to the book. I thought it was a superb read and I strongly recommend it to anyone. It was, in my view, most evocative of the period in the deep south of the USA.


Angels Without Wings
Angels Without Wings
Price: £12.96

4.0 out of 5 stars An irish singer with a very distinctive voice, 23 Mar. 2013
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This review is from: Angels Without Wings (Audio CD)
This is the second CD of Heidi Talbot I have purchased and I enjoy it every bit as much as the first. Her voice is both fragile and beautiful and in the main the songs bring her undoubted talents to the fore. I particularly enjoyed Dearest Johnny, Button Up, the Loneliest and New Cajun Waltz.


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