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Mr. John S. Craig (Fort William, Scotland)

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Homo Erraticus (Deluxe)
Homo Erraticus (Deluxe)
Price: £12.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars homo genius, 29 April 2014
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This review is from: Homo Erraticus (Deluxe) (Audio CD)
Over 35 years, I have purchased and listened in depth to over 50 Tull CDs, and this music has in consequence been a background to a very major part of my life. It is no easy matter therefore to pop a new Ian Anderson CD into the player and listen with fresh, innocent and objective ears !
The cover, booklet and general presentation all looked excellent and raised high hopes, and on reading the words Ian's superlative poetry once again was apparent. (no other lyrics, or indeed poetry, come close, in my opinion).
Firstly, I decided to have a look at the DVD, and felt that it all looked a bit staid - everyone looked old (who am I to speak) - where was the Ian of Stormwatch and Songs from the Wood - but there again, hair never made the man. I then listened with analytically critical ears to the CD. Was the recording up to my expectations? How do the new instrumentalists compare? Is the music too reminiscent of too much that has gone before? Could some tracks have been developed a bit more? Were some tracks a bit 'samey'?
. . . but nevertheless, I have been unable to stop playing this new album, and the more I do, the more moments of sheer Tull pleasure I have discovered. Maybe it is not as new and radical as I might have wished, but then, do I really want that?
The first track 'Doggerland' (great title) starts off a lot like Roots to Branches, but in the chorus section has strong feelings of tracks from Stormwatch and Heavy Horses (two all time favourites). Puer Ferox Adventus is super classic Tull, as is 'The Browning of the Green' and 'Cold Dead Reckoning'. - I can never get enough! Gradually, after all the analysis and criticisms, having now played the album over and over again in the car, I have accepted it for what it is . . .and I love it !
. . .it is full of typical Tullishness, and confirms Ian's continuing genius as a composer and lyricist. I always feel that it is the union of his words and music that creates an indefinable and inexpressible magic, which is much to be desired, and rarely attained.
. . .thank you Ian.

Wagner: The World Of The Ring [Blu-ray] [2013]
Wagner: The World Of The Ring [Blu-ray] [2013]
Dvd ~ World of the Ring
Price: £24.24

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best and most enjoyable explanatory music DVD I have seen . . ., 22 Feb 2014
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I had the fortune to be introduced to the music of Wagner when I was 14 years of age, and immediately loved the music, albeit in small doses for a number of years (Overtures, Entry of the Gods into Valhalla, Forest Murmurs, Siegfried's Rhine Journey etc., all without vocals). Gradually, I acclimatised to hearing some singing, although I at first felt that it spoiled the sound !
After hearing some of the Decca/Solti Siegfried, I bought it complete on LP, and subsequently have purchased the Bayreuth/Boulez and Solti complete 'Rings' on CD, and also now DVD versions by Chereau/Boulez, Kupfer/Barenboim,Pierre Audi/Haenchen, and Mehta/La Fuera dels Baus, and so have gradually got to grips with the detail of this multi-layered masterpiece. Also,having read over 25 books on Wagner, I do feel that a deeper understanding of The Ring's extraordinary power and magic is at last being attained, but never have I encountered such a detailed and enjoyable sound and vision exposition of the work as on these DVDs. Not only do I have a clearer understanding of the 'storyline', explained as it is by Elke Heidenreich, but have a greater understanding of the political and metaphysical aspects, and, also, (and most importantly), a greater understanding of the music itself, thanks to Christian Thielemann's verbal insights and impassioned conducting, and Stefan Mickisch's revelatory comments and piano expositions of the many leitmotifs in this vast work. So much that I have intuitively gleaned over the years has now been articulated and expressed with such clarity that I am beginning to understand it all at last (I think!). I thank the previous reviewer for prompting me to buy this DVD, as I feel that that learning from it has never been more enjoyable !

Thick As A Brick 2
Thick As A Brick 2
Price: £17.34

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new day has arrived, and a new Tull album at last . . . ., 4 April 2012
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This review is from: Thick As A Brick 2 (Audio CD)
. . .have been waiting for a new Tull album for - oh so many years. At last it has arrived, and I play it for the first time, with fear and trepidation. How can it possibly live up to that vast catalogue of albums that I have come to love more than any other, apart from other minor composers such as Bach, Wagner, Britten ! - and yet it does ! - I love it.
For so many years, it seems that Ian has been waiting for inspiration to truly match that of his earlier albums - in particular 'Thick as a Brick'. That has always been an album of strange and compelling fascination like no other, and to me it was so good to hear through-composed music that had something to say, in the manner of a classical work, rather than dis-jointed individual tracks for those of short attention spans. Such profundity and perception, but still something we can all relate to as part of our youth - and now we have something that is part of all our maturity, thanks to the enlightened objectivity of Ian's poetical lyrics, and a re-creation of the original sound of the 70s palette but with words that have moved on in time and in life - an amazing re-construction - and yet fully 21stC digital-age music at the same time !
My faith has been re-kindled in Tull, although it is not Tull - where is Martin, Doane, etc. Dare I say it, but on this album, it does not seem to matter as far as the sound is concerned - it is Ian's sound entirely. I never thought it could happen after so long, but I haven't enjoyed an album - oh so much - for years.
A large glass of malt whisky, consumed at the same time will make it doubly eophoric!

Sadko: Kirov Ballet And The Kirov Opera [DVD] [2006]
Sadko: Kirov Ballet And The Kirov Opera [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Brian Large
Price: £13.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ....i love this..., 20 Feb 2012
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Most operas that I really like I have now purchased on DVD. I do not really get on well with Verdi or Puccini or other Italian opera composers. My favourite by far is Wagner, but I also love Britten, and have also acquired Pelleas et Melisande, Bluebeard's Castle, The Rake's Progress, and also a little Mozart.I was unsure of where to venture next, but, having purchased a version of Boris Godunov and liking it very much, I felt inclined to look further at Russian opera.Some of my earliest musical memories are of Scheherezade, Capriccio Espagnol and the Russian Easter Festival Overture, amongst other works of Rimsky-Korsakov, but generally I feel that I have moved on quite a bit in my musical tastes, viewing these works as colourful and exciting but a bit shallow and mainstream ( musical snob that I am !).
However, Sadko is a small and very enjoyable revelation. Yes, it is light and tuneful in a Russian folksy way, and the music is firmly 19thC.,but how refreshing and lovely it all is, and (in the underwater scene) quite magical.The production is certainly traditional, but why have it any other way when it comes over so entertainingly. Vladimir Galusin as Sadko is very personable and appealing in addition to his fine singing, as are the rest of the cast. I particularly liked his wife, Lyubava, as portrayed by Marianna Tarassova, and also Princess Volkhova and the Sea King are well cast, I feel.
DVD quality is great - this is not Blue-Ray, but I was not conscious of poor picture quality, so 5 stars from me for a very pleasant viewing and listening experience. And I even was able to discern that Rimsky had been listening to Wagner ! - reminiscences of 'Forest Murmurs' from Siegfried, the Rhine music from the opening of Das Rheingold (and other places) and the descent into the undersea world of Tableau 6 reminded me of the Descent into Nibelheim, also from Das Rheingold.

Birtwistle: Night's Black Bird / The Shadow of Night / The Cry of Anubis
Birtwistle: Night's Black Bird / The Shadow of Night / The Cry of Anubis
Price: £10.31

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Birtwhistle you will love this CD . . ., 10 July 2011
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. . . if you don't like Birtwhistle, you will hate it !
I have noticed when reading serious music reviews that if the piece is well known and part of the general repertoire, then the reviewer tends to concentrate on the performance and recording, but where the music is relatively unknown, or it is the first recording, greater emphasis is put on a discussion of the relative merits of the piece itself. I have listened to quite a bit of Birtwhistle now - one piece that I have particularly come to love is 'The Triumph of Time' - another is his recent opera 'The Minotaur'. This recent offering is in a similar dark-hued, rugged form, which on first-hearing would be termed 'difficult' by many I'm sure. I find a bit of perseverance to familiarise oneself always pays off, as it does when listening to anything, and I now enjoy this music greatly. I cannot comment on the performance, not having any other versions to compare, but the recording and presence is excellent, and to anyone who feels like letting some quality modern serious music wash over their eardrums, I recommend this CD wholeheartedly

Pelléas et Mélisande, opera by Claude Debussy (Theater an der Wien 2009) [DVD] [NTSC]
Pelléas et Mélisande, opera by Claude Debussy (Theater an der Wien 2009) [DVD] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Natalie Dessay
Price: £11.99

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars . . great performance, terrible set . . ., 16 Dec 2009
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Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande has long been a favourite of mine.Many times I have read that it is a 'difficult' opera, and I suppose if you are accustomed to Verdi and Puccini it is certainly different. However, for me the lack of multiple arias, trilling sopranos and massed choirs is a definite plus, and the beauty with which Debussy phrases the vocal lines and captures the atmospheric reality of this reflective and moody tragedy makes it truly a great masterpiece.
No DVDs currently on release have previously tempted me but this latest 2009 production from Virgin certainly looked promising. After watching for 1/2 hr I went to bed, only just resisting the temptation to throw it in the waste bin. My whole pre-conception of how this wonderful drama should be presented had been shattered. The dark, gloomy, ivy-clad castle of my imagination had been replaced by a bare, plain, wooden structure, the gloomy and foreboding forest by a selection of pillars and poles, the cave by an upturned wooden boat, and the pool and fountain by some paving slabs. The Pre-Raphaelite style costumes of my mind had been replaced by what looked like pre-war peasant clothes.
The next day I did decide to continue to the end, and I am so pleased that I did. I feel that all the singing is superb, the acting also (Laurent Naouri as Golaud so fine I was brought to tears), and the orchestral realization and sound/picture quality are all excellent.
I cannot now wait to watch again what is a truly magnificent and emotional performance, and will try and cope with the pathetic sets.

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