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Reviews Written by
M. Hayward "Dr Soil" (Hampshire, UK)
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The Middle East: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)
The Middle East: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides)
by Philip Robins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A useful context for what's going on now., 5 Sep 2014
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Just what I wanted. Not bang up to date, but provides the context to understand current developments. A few surprising errors that may be more than just typos, but I forgive them in the context of what is overall a pretty masterful survey.


Goodbye to All That (Collectors Library)
Goodbye to All That (Collectors Library)
by Sean Barrett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.99

5.0 out of 5 stars I bought this small hardback as this is a book I would like to last and not yellow, 5 Sep 2014
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I read this book many years ago. I bought this small hardback as this is a book I would like to last and not yellow. His account of his war experiences is riveting, and while his life before and after was more humdrum, he is an engaging writer, and his account is never less than interesting.


Puccini without Excuses: A Refreshing Reassessment of the World's Most Popular Composer (Vintage Original)
Puccini without Excuses: A Refreshing Reassessment of the World's Most Popular Composer (Vintage Original)
by William Berger
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, keep dipping into it, 5 Sep 2014
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Loved it, keep dipping into it. This author is a Puccini fan, forgiving any faults and boosting him when necessary. I will get round to reading his Verdi (first) and Wagner (probably somewhat later) books.


Puccini: La Bohème
Puccini: La Bohème
Price: £7.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Where have you been all my life?, 23 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Puccini: La Bohème (Audio CD)
Opera has not been one of my musical loves, but I felt it was a dimension of classical music that I could become acquainted with now that prices are so low. I have listened to this set several times now and the melodies keep running through my head. Puccini is a good starting point because his melodies are irresistible and he avoids ancient gods and mythology. Reviews of this set are all positive, and who am I to disagree?


Puccini: Tosca
Puccini: Tosca
Price: £7.25

3.0 out of 5 stars A good Tosca, 23 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Puccini: Tosca (Audio CD)
Having "got into" Puccini via La Boheme, I tried this for contrast. It is beautifully sung, and the orchestra is on great form. The Scarpia lacks menace. I was not disappointed as the price is low, and while it lacks the gut-wrenching drama of Callas/Gobbi (since purchased) it is a good interpretation. No libretto, and the synopsis does not make links to the numbers.


Bizet: Carmen
Bizet: Carmen
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £15.81

4.0 out of 5 stars First opera CD set, 23 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Bizet: Carmen (Audio CD)
I have shunned opera, partly because of cost (multiple CDs) and time (when?). However, knowing the great tunes of this opera from the orchestral suites, I thought I would give this a go, It starts at a rollicking tempo, and all the great numbers occur, one after another with spoken dialogue in between. Heavy going it is not, and Berganza, although in her forties at the time (suspension of disbelief is important for opera!), sounds young and fresh and does not have horrible wide vibrato.I looked at reviews to find a bargain, and I was not disappointed with this.


Verdi: La Traviata
Verdi: La Traviata
Price: £7.25

4.0 out of 5 stars I know that tune..., 20 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Verdi: La Traviata (Audio CD)
I have listened to and loved classical music for years, but shunned opera...squally sopranos, silly stories etc. I have started with some famous works like this. I must have heard some of the melodies before. Joan Sutherland had a magnificent voice, and the part of Violetta is a bit like a concerto for soprano. She carries it off beautifully but murders the Italian language! Her diction is poor. But my goodness, she hits the notes. And isn't squally. I like this Decca series for the listening guides (no librettos).


Beethoven: Fidelio
Beethoven: Fidelio
Price: £10.46

4.0 out of 5 stars A small-scale Fidelio, 20 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Beethoven: Fidelio (Audio CD)
Until I started appreciating opera, Beethoven was particularly admired by me because he only wrote one! I purchased this set because I felt I ought to become familiar with the great man's only opera, with a fine conductor, and DFD as the "baddie". Not disappointed as Beethoven's commitment to humanity and his symphonic sweep are there in abundance. I feel the performance is a little lightweight, although it could be argued that the small body of strings is a precursor to "period performance". However, I felt that the orchestra needed more heft. I'll investigate the Klemperer.


Operas, The [17cd]
Operas, The [17cd]
Price: £22.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Puccini packs a punch, 20 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Operas, The [17cd] (Audio CD)
I haven't cared much for opera, preferring orchestral and chamber music. However, I was knocked out by La Boheme, so purchased this boxed set to get a whole load of Puccini. The overall quality (I believe) is very good, although individual operas and performances can be surpassed by separate purchases. Long-time fans of the composer will have strong views, but as a novice I am impressed. As I said, I have preferred orchestral music (in fact, symphonies), but Act 1 of La Boheme is an impressive 30-minute span carried by expert use of the orchestra. Then there is shear drama such as Tito Gobbi's Tre Sbirri...Va, Tosca! I will keep coming back for more.


United Kingdom Union Jack and European Union EU Friendship Flag Pin Badge
United Kingdom Union Jack and European Union EU Friendship Flag Pin Badge
Offered by Emblems-Gifts Ltd
Price: £4.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Go away Farage, 17 Mar 2014
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A small gesture... As an ardent European since the days of Ted Heath, I wear this. The Union Flag is just to show that I think the Scots should stay with us.


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