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P. A. Murphy "Paulie" (London)
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World of Britten
World of Britten
Offered by westworld-
Price: £20.00

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid introduction to Britten's work, 19 Sept. 2001
This review is from: World of Britten (Audio CD)
Nearly all the pieces contained on this disc feature Britten himself, either conducting or in some other performing/ supervisory capacity. In addition, Decca producer John Culshaw's far-sightedness in recording works in stereo way back in the early 1950s means the label possesses a formidable array of gorgeously preserved and authoritative readings of Britten pieces, many of which have been cherry-picked to form this delightful entry into his world. Two popular orchestral pieces, The Young Person's Guide... and Simple Symphony, are included in their entirety (in what can for once be described in that oft-misused term, as 'definitive' recordings) and there are good, representative excerpts from several Britten operas, folksong arrangements and - of course - choral pieces. If you are interested in a good, inexpensive and credible sample of Britten, then you need look no further than this.


Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit
Machaut: La Messe de Nostre Dame; Songs from Le Voir Dit
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £6.98

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful (and cheap!), 1 Aug. 2001
Jeremy Summerly's Camerata give a sturdy, controlled, yet vigorous rendering of Machaut's greatest achievement, the Messe de Notre Dame, possibly the most famous, certainly one of the most eminent pieces of the Medieval age. The rest of the tracks are not mere trifles simply to lard out the CD, though: the secular pieces from Le Voir Dit are not only splendid, but insightful too, revealing a great deal about the (not altogether pure!) mind of one of Medieval music's most interesting figures, and treated with similar verve by Summerly and his accomplished colleagues. For scholars of music, enthusiasts of history or simply those who have an ear for something that is very beautiful, please do buy this - there's really no excuse at the budget price!


Machaut: Messe De Notre Dame (Ensemble Organum)
Machaut: Messe De Notre Dame (Ensemble Organum)
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £19.95

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique among interpretations., 31 July 2001
Purists may throw their hand up at Peres's apparently free hand in the phrasing and tempo of this, Machaut's (and arguably the Medieval world's) most famous work, but the gentle pace and Arab-styled melismas on the choral sections make for compelling listening. By dint of the age of the piece, there could never be a version of the Messe de Notre Dame one could describe as 'definitive' and this one squats like a toad of a distinctly different colour among the dozen or so recordings available, but it is beautifully performed - and recorded - by the Ensemble Organum. Recommended simply as an example of just how unusual and sumptuous medieval polyphony can be.


Tielman Susato: Dansereye
Tielman Susato: Dansereye
Offered by Virtuoso Classics
Price: £14.02

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the most dazzling early music CD ever., 20 July 2001
Philip Pickett first worked with that eminent force of early 70s Early Music revival David Munrow, and the energy and panache that Munrow imbued his recordings has positively bled into Pickett's astonishing releases. Beautifully recorded and exquisitely arranged, Pickett creates a thematic dance suite, bristling with buzzy, cheeky sounds of early wind instruments and ever-luscious string sections. Susato had a knack for collecting and composing feverishly catchy dance melodies that are at once stately, yet personable - and doesn't Pickett and his group of musicians just capture it! Speaking as a lay person when discussing musical technique or merit, this is an enchanting CD, by turns grand, pompous, informal, scary, jolly and quite frankly nothing ever short of spellbinding. As far as Renaissance dance music discs go, between this CD and Munrow's own CD of Renaissance dance music, there's nothing to touch them. This music - simultaneously weird and yet comforting - really can change your life.


Dances From Terpsichore / Motets
Dances From Terpsichore / Motets

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Happy, beautiful, intricate, frightening, sad, accomplished., 20 July 2001
Praetorius's pieces from Terpsichore have some of the most well-known 16th Century dances among their number. His prescribed instrumentation was left generally to the discretion and expediency of the performers, and this is where the tragically short-lived, gifted Munrow brings his taste and sensibility to bear on this music. Approaching this from a strictly non-technical, non-historical standpoint this album simply staggers me with its invention. Renaissance music seems to have a familiar-yet-alien quality, due in no small part to the bristling texural array of the instruments, and none more so on this recording: Munrow's astonishing collective of musicians give virtuoso performances on reedy racketts, buzzing crumhorns and bright lutes, creating a lush and extremely special sound. Elsewhere, on Praetorius's lesser-known choral pieces, Munrow brings out an energy and passion in the music without ever forsaking its devotional intent. Despite Praetorius's carte blanche given to the arrangements, this recording can be regarded (along with Munrow's recent successor Philip Pickett's Terpsichore CD) as definitive.
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Bedazzled
Bedazzled
Offered by trec002
Price: £29.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Julie Andrews!, 17 July 2001
This review is from: Bedazzled (Audio CD)
This has been a long time coming. For years Dudley Moore's score to the original 1967 film Bedazzled has been only available second-hand, or on import vinyl. No longer - finally, we can all appreciate Moore's beautifully jazzy, swinging sixties soundtrack accompaniment to the nigh-on perfect film he co-wrote with Peter Cook. For those who need to know, oh yes, you do get both musical numbers from the film, Moore's Tom Jones-ish "Love Me" and Cook's freak-out "Bedazzled", demonstrating Moore's understanding of the fickle pop market at the time (then?). For those unfamiliar with the film - if you like contemporary 60s lite sounds, you'll find this a gem. The only problem I have with it: where's that spooky piano piece that accompanies Pete and Dud's trip to heaven? And does this mean the film will be coming out soon on video/DVD?


This Little Ziggy
This Little Ziggy
by Martin Newell
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest rock'n'roll star you never knew., 23 May 2001
This review is from: This Little Ziggy (Paperback)
Martin Newell's biography covers his childhood through to his early adulthood via passionately-written and frequently hilarious tales of discovering the joys - and pitfalls - of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. Like a pop version of Zelig, Newell has been, if not actually present, then at least in the audience at the birth of some of the major developments in popular Brit culture. And his enthusiasm for it now as much as then shows, with witty and consistently readable anecdotes thrown away at the drop of his Victorian top hat. Aficionados of his poetry and his music in bands such as The Cleaners From Venus and his own solo work will recognise their hero as he brings an adroit style to stories of drug abuse and violence, without ever glorifying or glamorising, yet always being entertaining and capable of deep feeling. It all makes for a highly personal account of what it was like to grow up in the sixties and early seventies. This Little Ziggy has a tang of authenticity and honesty that makes it an essential read for any student of pop music in the last 40 years. Hopefully, it will bring his music into focus at the same time. And, sir, when's the next volume coming out?


Greatest Living Englishman
Greatest Living Englishman
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £21.95

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elegantly ramshackle, thoroughly likeable, 24 April 2001
Martin Newell is often mentioned in the same breath as other classic, English pop writers: Syd Barrett, Ray Davies, Lennon & McCartney, Robyn Hitchcock, Andy Partridge etc. So he should. The title track alone is a pop masterpiece, and the whole album is crammed with lots of wee biddies to keep you occupied without ever swamping the overall sound or the simple smarts of the songwriting.


Golden Cleaners
Golden Cleaners
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £34.95

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jangly, spangly sparks of good, smart criminally unsung pop, 19 April 2001
This review is from: Golden Cleaners (Audio CD)
Martin Newell of the Cleaners From Venus has filtered all the great pop music of the last 35 years into his music and this album, a 20-track retrospective, is testimony to his innate sense of what makes a good, classic tune. While the 80s went crazy on a morass of synthethisers and mindless dance remixes, Newell's slightly dated but finely-honed songwriting and incisive lyrics ploughed a steady, consistent furrow. Songs like "Julie Profumo" and "Illya Kuryakin" distil everything that was great about the 60s into three minutes like no-one this side of the 70s ever could. Elsewhere, such as on "Blue Swan", Newell displays a nice, sly way with chord changes and lyrical jokes. The Cleaners basically connect on many levels, whether you're a muso who appreciates the songwriting process or just a casual listener after a damn fine ditty. If you like solid, decent, vibrant, intelligent and unjustifiably overlooked pop music, chance your arm on this - more hooks than a fisherman's bait box and no maggots!


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