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Adolf Busch & The Busch Quartet - Complete Warner Recordings
Adolf Busch & The Busch Quartet - Complete Warner Recordings
Price: £25.08

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real deal, head and shoulders above the rest after the best part of 100 years, 7 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I see this is the best-selling thing on Amazon at the moment in the String Quartet area and I am pleasantly surprised :-) I first heard the Busch Quartet decades ago as a grad student, it was their Beethoven Op 130 Quartet. I was pretty entranced, and since then I have never heard a performance of the 'cavatina' movement from that quartet that has sounded so 'right.' Off and on I have listened to several other recordings by them of the late Beethoven quartets and while I like other performances, these really have a special aura that is not exactly about their age. Now I am ploughing my way through this set and it really is something that makes you question the idea of progress, as these recordings, mostly from the 1930s and 1940s make most of the others you will have heard pale in significance and impact. I can only give a few examples, and I haven't listened to all of it yet (imagine the Brandenburg Concerti and Orchestral Suites of Bach included here will be more of an acquired taste, for example). The Schubert "Death and the Maiden" Quartet is absolutely riveting, the energy, skill and drive of the finale in particular will hopefully knock you out - very exciting. His last quartet is played extraordinarily well. I hadn't heard their Brahms before, but, sure enough, when the clarinet quintet started up with Reginald Kell, within about a minute you can tell its is an exceptional performance, streaks ahead of most of the many you may have heard. Brahms' Piano Quartets (1 and 2 only) with Rudolf Serkin are really really striking, wonderful and with a very different feel to other performances I have heard. Can't wait to hear the Piano Quintet! Also some beautifully intense playing of solo Bach by Busch, along with some lovely piano-accompanied Bach sonatas with Serkin. The Beethoven sonatas included are just as intense and wonderful. Just listening to the first Brahms Violin Sonata as I am writing this and I don't know, you could get a newer recording with a wider dynamic range, but the emotional generosity and communicative ability of Busch and Serkin has to be heard to be believed and I'd be very pleased if this were the only recording I had of this lovely work. I'll leave it to others to talk about sound restoration issues, but the levels of hiss are low and nothing seems to have been done that threatens the intensity of the listening experience.
Sometimes it is right to be suspicious of the reputation of old performances and recordings of classical repertoire, and of course we have more wonderful chamber groups performing and recording these days than ever before, with fantastic technical skills. *However* in this case, we are dealing with a very very special and unrepeatable combination of musicians, and the performances really do deserve all the hype they have gathered over the many decades since they were set down. At the price Warner is offering this at, if you like the classical repertoire, I'd just buy immediately, it really is the real deal, amazing stuff :) If you haven't heard any of this before, I am really jealous.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 4, 2016 2:05 PM GMT


Haydn: Complete String Quartets (Decca Collectors Edition)
Haydn: Complete String Quartets (Decca Collectors Edition)
Price: £52.43

5.0 out of 5 stars I'd recommend these performances without hesitation, 26 Oct. 2015
I'd recommend these performances without hesitation. The re-release box isn't as attractive as the original that I have but I have been very pleased and impressed with the achievement here. Beautiful playing, fairly refined so not so many rough edges as in some Haydn quartet playing, but very little ego as a result. These are the core of European classicism and I know theres a lot else going on in music, but if you wonder whether so much writing for 4 string players is dull and antiquarian, well, i'd urge you to think again. There's such talent here in so many ways that it might be the only music you ever have to listen to...


Poulenc Integrale - Edition du 50e anniversaire 1963-2013
Poulenc Integrale - Edition du 50e anniversaire 1963-2013
Price: £23.51

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a fantastically good value way to enter Poulenc-Land, 26 Oct. 2015
This is a fantastically good value way to enter Poulenc-Land. OK some of the piano music etc is better on other releases but you get things that vastly compensate for that. The songs - the core I think really of his achievement- are beautifully done by some very accomplished and famous singers, interesting to compare with the DECCA releases of there complete songs which are more recent and in some ways better. Also there's the beautiful single disc overview on Naxos from Michel Piquemal to consider, if you only want one Poulenc disc don't be put off by the bargain label, it is the real deal. Gerard Souzay was past his best maybe as recorded here as opposed to earlier recordings available on Testament and other labels, but still very good. There is even Jessye Norman here which is a bit unexpected. The stage works have Denise Duval and are to be honest hard to believe could be bettered, despite sound. I'm sure I'll be listening to Les Mamelles de Tiresias in this version until I pass on. Fascinating person, engaging music, a sort of synthesis of what was going on in the European music of the 1920s-50s that is not so much path-breaking as heart-breaking. Tel jour, telle nuit must be one of the most remarkable intense and beautiful song cycles about love since Schumann's Dichterliebe, to which it is a sort of 20th century counterpart and response. Very worth buying at the price.


Brahms: Piano Quintet op34; Schubert: Trout Quintet D667
Brahms: Piano Quintet op34; Schubert: Trout Quintet D667
Offered by KAOZI168 Classical_ ''Dispatch From London within 1 day ''
Price: £19.85

5.0 out of 5 stars ) Enjoy!, 26 Oct. 2015
This is one of those discs or two discs that once you hear it the first time, you will immediately know you want to have around forever. As always it is hard to explain in works that have been recorded so much, but there is just a lovely sense of live performance in both, a sense of real engagement in performance. I find the Brahms Piano Quintet a hard nut to crack but here, well no problems. As for the Schubert Quintet, lets just say I've played it over and over again, really lovely performance, sense its the only one you would ever want :) Enjoy!


Brahms Piano Concertos No.s 1 & 2
Brahms Piano Concertos No.s 1 & 2
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £12.17

5.0 out of 5 stars This is my favourite recording of the Brahms piano concertos, 26 Oct. 2015
This is my favourite recording of the Brahms piano concertos. There are many others which are worth hearing over and over, as with all the best music, but, especially as remastered, there's an intensity and drama here that is really hard to beat. Fleisher was and is a technically gifted pianist, and in his partnership with Szell in these and in the Beethoven concertos, he also demonstrated an ability to create a sense of excitement and sheer drive that I can't quite find elsewhere. Real enduring classics, don't hesitate.


Carl Schmitt: A Biography
Carl Schmitt: A Biography
by Reinhard Mehring
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £27.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars it's really rather sad that he is still taken seriously on the left, 21 May 2015
A fascinating book and something of a service to humanity. It's very long and written in a dispassionate style. It takes the attitude that facts really can sometimes speak for themselves
Carl Schmitt is the nearest thing we can find to an advertising executive in widely read 20th century social theory. The friend enemy distinction, the definition of sovereignty, the talk of "spatial revolution" is almost uniquely sloganistic. No matter how incredulous or sceptical his reviews were he stuck to these compelling simplicities. The biography quietly shows us a ghastly social climber, abuser of those close to him, and a man who, in order to blend in with various legal, Jewish, Catholic and Nazi circles simultaneously, ended up as a personally and intellectually incoherent disgrace. The chapters on his siding with the NSDAP are of course the most disturbing, but there's much else that is deeply unattractive. Five stars because we need to be alert to these sorts of clever but characterless people, it's really rather sad that he is still taken seriously on the left, and it goes without saying on the reactionary right. Hopefully talk of the "Political" in France and elsewhere will be profoundly challenged by this work of scholarship.


Berg: Wozzeck/Lulu
Berg: Wozzeck/Lulu

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Karl Boehm was a great advocate for Berg and it all sounds just wonderful, 11 Jan. 2015
This review is from: Berg: Wozzeck/Lulu (Audio CD)
Yes, this set has the limitation of only containing the two act version of Lulu, and the excerpts from the Lulu Suite that conclude are hardly a compensation for having the whole reconstructed opera now normally performed. Whatever the problems with Act 3 as left by Berg and reconstructed by Cerha, the palindrome at the centre of the opera doesn't make the impact it should with a truncated second half! However, and it's a big however, Karl Boehm was a great early advocate for Berg and it all sounds just wonderful, compelling, utterly overwhelming as it should. The casts are great, Gerhard Stolze, Josef Grindl, Evelyn Lear, etc marvellous. Plus Fritz Wunderlich as Andres?! Madness casting, and he is fantastic of course. The kids at the end of Wozzeck, SO important however short their contribution, are very impressive. Of course it is hearing Fischer-Dieskau as Wozzeck and Dr Schoen that is the most compelling reason to buy this immediately. DFD is a sympathetic Wozzeck. I don't think he sounds too "elevated" for the part at all, there is a nobility about Wozzeck that makes the deterioration and murder all the more disturbing. Fischer-Dieskau had amazing capacities for vocal inflection which can be annoying to some in other repertoire but is an absolute asset here in such an expressionist work. His Dr Schoen is the best I have heard and I rather doubt you'll ever quite be satisfied by anyone else doing it - "jetzt kommt die Hinrichtung" at the end of Act 1 has never sounded quite so "right." Wozzeck and Lulu are "lucky on disc" as they say - and I think they are the most magnificent of all 20th century operas, although there are plenty others that are wonderful. Some people think opera in the 20th century has had a struggle, but I'd have no hesitation in saying that Wozzeck, in particular, is one of the ten or so greatest operas of all, and this is a very great representation of it, it will hopefully leave you in a bit of a wreck at the end as it should :)


Schumann Project - Complete Piano Music
Schumann Project - Complete Piano Music
Price: £24.78

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good value and comprehensive but in the end, there's so much competition here...., 15 Nov. 2014
This is a very good set and the price is astounding. Worth snapping up even if this is Cortot, Horowitz, Kempff, Pollini, Argerich etc territory and so it is an uphill struggle for anyone now to exceed the finest available performances of the greatest pieces here. However, Schumann has long had cachet in France, and Reine Gianoli's earlier set (perhaps rather difficult to get now) is one of the most important Schumann recordings, so it's lovely to see this tradition continuing. Le Sage is a very good artist and this is well recorded and will likely introduce you (as it did me) to some of his lesser known things. 4 stars only as there is so much startling competition in the pieces you are more likely to return to often....


Schumann: Violin Concertos, Phantasie - Baiba Skride
Schumann: Violin Concertos, Phantasie - Baiba Skride
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a really fantastic disc, and finally I think i 'got' the ..., 15 Nov. 2014
This is a really fantastic disc, and finally I think i 'got' the violin concerto in particular. Beautifully played and recorded.


Schumann - The Masterworks
Schumann - The Masterworks
Offered by ScreamingCd
Price: £55.15

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good, if not perfect, anniversary tribute, 15 Nov. 2014
I think this is very very good, although currently it isn't looking like much of a bargain as Universal seem to have withdrawn it. Schumann is very fashionable now but there is still a lots of his music that many listeners, myself included, haven't heard or don't know too well.
Some things here are just about the best, or at least it's hard to argue with the choices. Using Gardiner for the symphonies was an excellent in, these are really gripping performances on period instruments. The Konzertstück for 4 horns is really amazing. I don't think all the overtures are here. Licensed version of the whole of the Manfred incidental music, Gardiner's excellent Paradies und die Peri with Christoph Pregardien, the excellent Britten recording of the scenes from Faust. The songs are especially welcome as Fischer-Dieskau's set has been in circulation for years but here this is reunited with repertoire sung by Edith Mathis and others and is finally more comprehensive.
Perhaps the set is a little weaker in the piano and chamber departments. Ashkenazy's piano concerto is rather good, but I think there are better performances in the universal catalogue. There's a lot of Pollini, which is generally good, but it's a pity Kempff couldn't have been used a bit more for some of the work contributed by Ashkenazy et al, as his set, while not exactly virtuosic in an obvious way, is really rather special. I have a feeling the piano discs could be a little more comprehensive, for example, theres only a partial performance of Waldszenen from (I think from memory) Tamas Vasary, but DG have a complete recording by Richter, no less, albeit in mono. They also have Uchida, Argerich, Lupu and others in their catalogue so this is a little disappointing. The chamber recordings are generally good although the Paul Gulda / Hagen Quartet version of the Piano quintet is perhaps a bit over caffeinated. There are some (admittedly rather obscure) sacred works missing, and there's no Genoveva, but Universal would have had to license these from other labels, I think. Overall, very much worth having if you can find it at a reasonable price, and biggest set of Schumann that I know of in any case.... Documentation is pretty poor but thats always the way with these big budget sets.


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