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Reviews Written by
Derek Vernon-morris (Greater Manchester UK)

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Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A totally entertaining and vital tale of Mystery, Murder, and Romance., 7 April 2016
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This review is from: Brandon (Kindle Edition)
The character of Brandon is a complex one. Very philosophical and probing the mysteries of the Universe, yet very practical and determined as he becomes an undercover investigator, or 'a creep' as he describes it. Caught up with subversive forces that threaten his life that of his wife and children his strength and fitness enable him to return aggression and violence measure for measure, and his dogged determination combined with intuition and intelligence allow him to finally prevail against formidable odds.
At the same time his artistic nature and ability is an inspiration to his students as a Professor of Fine Arts. The characters in this book all come to life as Brandon uncovers the international network who murdered his best friend, Poet Hanwell, and left him in the South River of New York. Brandon and Hanwell's widow, English Lady Clarisse, become lovers, whilst he flirts ostentatiously with everybody's favourite PA, Maggie. After his beautiful but fragile wife Naomi deserts him and the children to stay with her sister in Canada, Brandon meets socialite Labella Emerson, who in turn suddenly leaves him and disappears mysteriously on a yatch near Bermuda.
There is a supernatural element also throughout the story as an aging ethereal and homeless character, Eric, appears constantly as a spirit guide apparition. Brandon is also befriended by investigating Inspector McArthur and his son Nigel. Several other colourful characters emerge within this totally entertaining tale of Murder, Mystery and Romance, and there are 30 beautifully reproduced illustrations which highlight features of the story.

Bach: St John's Passion  [DVD] [2007]
Bach: St John's Passion [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Bach
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and beautiful., 5 April 2016
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JS Bach is always surprisingly modern as it is often said because he explored avenues of harmony including atonality which are practically impossible to ignore or improve. What is often evident is that he wrote music for people to play and sing as well as raising the technical bar for those who possess virtuosity, and not just as an exercise in self expression.
This reissued recording from 1985 has remained fresh as it adheres to Bach's original concept with soloists from the Tolz Boys Choir singing the soprano and contralto parts. To great theatrical effect Jesus is portrayed by a bass voice (Robert Holl) and the sprecht-song Narrator Evangelist is a tenor (Kurt Equiluz). Pontius Pilate (Anton Scharinger) is represented as fully compassionate, and is given a beautiful lyrical baritone aria with an almost romantic lute style accompaniment. Peter is represented by a tenor voice (Thomas Moser).
Many traditional period instruments are employed by the Vienna Concentus Musicus, but the complete success of this musical account of events leading to the Crucifixion according to St John, is due in no small part to the direction and sensibility of Nikolaus Harnoncourt.

Rossini: Le Comte Ory [The Metropolitan Opera] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Rossini: Le Comte Ory [The Metropolitan Opera] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Dvd ~ Joyce DiDonato/Juan Diego Florez/Diana Damrau/Metropolitan Orchestra/Maurizio Benini
Price: £16.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Virtuoso Comedy., 18 Jan. 2016
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I cannot praise this performance of the Operatic Comedy by Rossini highly enough. Joyce DiDonato carries off her breeches role as the Page with convincing panache and bravura, whilst singing of course with her beautiful clear voice. She is an artist of amazing versatility if a comparison is drawn with her role of Maria Stuarda in the Donizetti Opera.
Diana Damrau is excellently cast as the beautiful Countess and highlights the humour of her role with pitch perfect histrionics.
Juan Diego Florez is of course excellent vocally, and brings a great deal of expressive tongue in cheek humour to his role as Le Comte Ory. He and the Male Chorus dressed as Nuns perform expert and hilarious dances during their plot to fool the Countess and enter the Castle. The three in a bed scene full of innuendo with the three principal actors is extremely well timed to the vocal expression.
The setting of an 18th Century stage managed by an ageing coordinator with all the theatrical mechanisms and effects operated by hand, is brilliant. Of course the Metropolitan Orchestra directed by Maurizio Benini realises the often rousing music of Rossini perfectly.

Neo G Airflow Plus+ Stabilized Knee Support Large
Neo G Airflow Plus+ Stabilized Knee Support Large
Offered by Online Sports Support Store
Price: £34.95

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These are excellent supports when there is a lot of walking and ..., 18 Jan. 2016
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These are excellent supports when there is a lot of walking and climbing steps or steep streets, to aid aching and stiff knees, due to injuries.. They look smart and professional so there is no embarrassment at having to wear them. They are undiscernible beneath regular suit trouser legs.
I do not wear them everyday but on alternate days during periods of high activity. Excellent.
They do register on security barriers such as at Airport Security, but because they are authentic medical aids there is no embarrassment at revealing them to be scanned.

Fire TV Stick
Fire TV Stick
Price: £34.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful product of exceptional value., 2 May 2015
This review is from: Fire TV Stick (Electronics)
The amazon Fire stick is a first class product. It arrives beautifully presented in a compact box, with the power unit and cable and batteries for the remote. Also included is a HD Socket Extension Cable which is invaluable when plugging the Fire Stick into the back of wall mounted TVs.
For Amazon Prime members the selection of Free Films and TV Series is very impressive and enjoyable, with a wide range of choices to suit most people's tastes, of Drama, Comedy and Animation. The Remote is simple and easy to use with clear on screen instructions for the initial wireless connection to the Broadband hub, and the Stick memory begins automatically from the last viewing session, when the same programme is selected.
In addition to Amazon Prime streaming, BBC iPlayer, Curzon Home Cinema, and Netflix and more are available plus a host of Gaming choices, and films to rent or buy.
I cannot recommend this excellent product too highly. It is exceptionally good value for money and a definite must to enhance anyone's viewing options.

Clean Sweep Ignatius (Short Reads)
Clean Sweep Ignatius (Short Reads)
Price: £0.98

5.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining short story with a surprise ending., 15 Mar. 2015
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A very clever and enjoyable short story, with almost an amusing twist at the end, about a Finance Minister who seeks to stamp out corruption, but uses a Bank's confidentiality to secret Millions in a private account. Brilliant.

eMemoryCards 16GB Ultra Fast Class 10 Micro SD SDHC Memory Card For Samsung WB30F Camera
eMemoryCards 16GB Ultra Fast Class 10 Micro SD SDHC Memory Card For Samsung WB30F Camera
Offered by eMemoryCards
Price: £5.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent technology., 28 Feb. 2015
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Excellent value for money.

Donizetti: Maria Stuarda (The Metropolitan Opera HD Live) [DVD] [2013] [2014]
Donizetti: Maria Stuarda (The Metropolitan Opera HD Live) [DVD] [2013] [2014]
Dvd ~ Joyce DiDonato
Price: £11.48

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scintilating virtuosity in an Elizabethan setting., 28 Feb. 2015
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This is another Tragic Opera by Donizetti and part of his 'Three Queens Trilogy'. The music is fabulous and calls for great virtuosity by Elza Van den Heever as the young Queen Elizabeth 1, and Joyce DiDonato as her cousin Mary Queen of Scots. The costumes of the Elizabethan court are flamboyant and joyful in contrast to the subdued dress of Mary who is a prisoner albeit a luxurious one by the standards of the day, in Fotheringay Castle.
Elizabeth, the rightful heir to the English throne as a daughter of Henry V111, and a Protestant, is a heretic and not legitimate in the eyes of Roman Catholic Mary, a descendant of Henry V111's sister Margaret Tudor who married James Stuart 1V King of Scotland. Mary had been forced to abdicate in 1567 as Queen of Scotland in favour of her infant son James V1, who united the two countries as James 1 of England, after the death of Elizabeth in 1603.
Political factions always gathered around Mary, and she was accused of arranging the murder of her husband Lord Darnley, Henry Stuart, her first cousin and father of James. Scotland had been ruled by Regents as Mary was only six days old when her father James V died. From the age of five she had lived in the French court of Henry 11, betrothed to his eldest son Francis. Her Mother Mary of Guise was French so the Royal houses of France and Scotland were already linked. Henry 11 also proclaimed her Queen of England before his untimely death, and briefly she was Queen Consort of France 1559-1560,as a well educated sixteen year old girl, before 16 year old Francis 11 died from an ear infection and brain tumour.
Catherine de Medici became regent of France for her second son Charles 1X, and Mary returned to Scotland a year after her young husband had died. There was a scandal involving her Italian advisor and musician and in addition to the conflicts between the Catholics and Protestants, Scotland found her court too Italianate. After the death of her second husband Darnley, she married Lord Boswell and miscarried twins, before she was forced to flee to England, and Boswell was imprisoned in Denmark, where he died, apparently insane. Mary's half brother James Stuart became Regent in Scotland. Whilst moved in custody between various Castles and Manor Houses, Mary was accused of plotting the assassination and overthrow of Elizabeth 1, with Spain, Austria, and France, and Germany. Apparently Elizabeth tried to avoid the execution of a Queen in spite of the precedent set by Henry V111, but finally allowed Parliament to have Mary executed at Fotheringay Castle on February 8 1587.

The Opera takes some artistic licence with the facts, but the pivotal plot is a love triangle between Elizabeth, the Earl of Leicester, and Mary, and the fateful meeting of the two women which eventually resulted in Elizabeth signing the death warrant, encouraged by Lord Cecil, (Joshua Hopkins)
The love songs performed by Matthew Polenzani, as Earl of Leicester, are enchanting; and Matthew Rose portrays the sombre role of guardian and confessor, Lord Talbot, as ageing Maria repents of her sins and sings 'one last prayer' with her silver rosary beads, Prayer Book and a wonderful chorus, before climbing the steps to the Axe man. True to documented detail her auburn wig is removed to reveal short grey hair, and a bright red dress is revealed beneath her sombre blue one, the liturgical colour symbolising martyrdom.

Based on a play by Schiller, with libretto by Giuseppe Bardari, Donizetti has created an entertaining as well as tragic and passionate musical drama. The Metropolitan Opera and Chorus, conducted by Maurizio Benini, and the charm of the soloists, make this clear and sharp DVD with introductions by Deborah Voigt, worth playing over and over again.

Xerses Franklin: The Saga Of Gabriel & Melona
Xerses Franklin: The Saga Of Gabriel & Melona
Price: £3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Murder, jealousy and hate fuelled by unrequited and unreasonable love., 28 Feb. 2015
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Gabriel is a popular poet and novelist, and the book is written in a very poetic style. Sometimes the prose merges into poetry for a very dramatic effect as in the chapter 'The Copse' which is an Edwardian story within a story dealing with the accidental death of an infant.
Melona is Gabriel's estranged wife who bears an unreasonable and unrequited love for Xerses since student days, but is unable to bear children. This is a great source of bitterness which turns to jealousy for Xerses and his beautiful wife Abby, when she discovers that Gabriel has bequeathed all of the royalties and film rights to his work plus a large amount of money to Xerses.
It is Xerses who accidentally kills his best friend Gabriel in self defence when his attempts to reunite him with Melona are misinterpreted. As well as feeling remorse over Gabriel, Xerses also has to witness another friend Graham, a racing driver, destroy himself, in this entanglement with Melona. Xerses and Abby find that their love grows stronger but narrowly avoid death, when trouble follows them to a Caribbean retreat.
Throughout the book the theme is not to discover who the murderers are, but whether or not they will be exposed by the law, or by their conscience.
The narrative by Xerses is very absorbing, and the 30 black and white hand drawn illustrations illuminate the text very imaginatively.
This is also a slightly different style of writing by Lee J Morrison.

Rameau: Hippolyte Et Aricie [Blu-ray] [2014] [Region Free]
Rameau: Hippolyte Et Aricie [Blu-ray] [2014] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Ed Lyon
Price: £29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The cool chaste icy world of Diana is threatened when Cupid ..., 19 Jan. 2015
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This Baroque opera by Rameau is ingeniously set in a huge Fridge-Freezer. The cool chaste icy world of Diana is threatened when Cupid emerges from an egg, and is granted precedence for one day a year by his father Zeus. Mercury the Messenger ingeniously floats on a barometer gauge, and the underworld of Pluto is represented by colourful fly and bug costumes in the dust and beneath the fridge motor. I don't happen to have an accumulation of dust and flies behind my fridge, but it is a clever idea.
Broccoli trees, an orange slice sun and other edibles are carried by the cast to form a landscape. In the sacrificial scene to Diana models of Stag carcasses are hung in a walk in freezer and simulated blood is smeared first over the walls, and then the cast indulge in smearing it all over themselves Aricie and unsuspecting Hippolyte. The Goddess Diana has the eloping lovers under her protection, from the wicked Queen Mother, the wife of Theseus, the son of Neptune who foolishly uses up all his three wishes and they all end up in the Morgue - the final set.
Throughout all of this amazing contemporary interpretation, directed by Jonathan Kent, William Christie conducts The Age Of Enlightenment Orchestra with his usual flare. Ed Lyon in his Cricket whites, and Christiane Karg in her white Chemise head a notable cast including Sarah Connolly and Stephane Degout. Amazing.

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