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Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland)
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Asreal/Rafael Kubelik
Asreal/Rafael Kubelik

5.0 out of 5 stars BBC CD Review best buy, 15 April 2014
This review is from: Asreal/Rafael Kubelik (Audio CD)
I'd simply want to endorse what Mr. Howe and 'Philoctates' say, and to add that this issue was chosen as best buy in BBC3's CD Review when they last looked at this Symphony - a few years ago now. It deserves to be much better known!


Elgar Concertos
Elgar Concertos
Price: 9.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, wonderful Violin Concerto Coupled with Historic Casals, 23 Mar 2014
This review is from: Elgar Concertos (Audio CD)
I am very pleased to see that Campoli's Elgar has reappeared, coupled here with Casals's famous (though at the time controversial) 'Cello Concerto. Campoli is technically absolutely assured in this music (and as the recording, which is excellent, spotlights him just a little you can be sure of that). His first movement is only 50 seconds or so slower than Heifetz (also wonderful), but whereas with Heifetz you get a slightly uncomfortable 'see-me' feeling when he zips through rapid passages, this never happens with Campoli, who is also more flexibly and interestingly accompanied by Boult than Heifetz was by Sargent, good as he is. It is a very moving performance which has perhaps never received its full due - I don't know why. The only problem is the rather backward balance of the orchestra when it is accompanying - important detail is audible but not as prominent as it should be. This has the advantage of enabling you to hear every note Camploi plays, but it does a slight disservice to the music. The Decca, as it was originally, recording for Campoli is brighter than the HMV recording for Heifetz, but that is better balanced. The Casals 'Cello Concerto has appeared many times and is currently available on Naxos (and probably elsewhere as well). It's very, very good, but its virtues are well known and don't need special pleading at this stage. It is the Violin Concerto that makes this a special issue.


A Late Quartet [DVD] [2012]
A Late Quartet [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Philip Seymour Hoffman
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: 8.53

4.0 out of 5 stars thoughtful and very well made, 18 Mar 2014
This review is from: A Late Quartet [DVD] [2012] (DVD)
This is an unusual and enjoyable film about the breakup - possibly - of a twenty-five years intense professional and personal relationship, that of the four members of a string quartet who have met virtually daily throughout that time in the course of their work ; more - the second violinist (Philip Seymouir Hoffman) and violist (Katherine Keener) are married and have a daughter, herself an outstandingly promising violinist. Preparations are made for the 25th anniversary concert, but the 'cellist (Christopher Walken), aware of slight signs of failing powers, is diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, which means that sooner or later - almost certainly sooner - he will be unable to perform. Unexpected tensions are uncovered when he makes his announceement, which is devastating for all of them. He was 30 years older than they, with an established career when he approached them as students to join him in the Fugue Quartet, and he has been their father fugure and mentor from the start, though he is now primus inter pares. More than anything he hopes that the Quartet will continue, with a new cellist, but to his great distress deep, serious divisions which have nothing to do with his illness appear. What will happen? They all owe it to him to continue if possible, but it seems that the relationship has been strained beyond breaking point.

However, the final concert of the established quartet, with the 'cellist, does take place, and it forms a charming and convincing ending to the film. Has the damage been healed? We cannot tell, though we hope it has.

This film is well made, with excellent performances from the four main players, Walken, Hoffman, Keener and Mark Ivanir. All have been well coached in the simulation of string playing, and though they are clearly not the players whom we hear (it's the Brentano String Quartet, and they are first-rate), they are convincing enough for us to suspend our disbelief. Imogen Potts, who plays the promising daughter, is not as good at that but is otherwise excellent in a rather difficult role. There is a gentle, elegaic tone about the whole film, but with an appropriate undercurrent of disquiet. New York is beautifully filmed and there are memorable scenes in, for example, Central Park, Sothebys and an art gallery (presumably the Metropolitan). The musical background is (mostly) Beethoven's Quartet Op. 131,among the greatest and most mysterious of all string quartets, and it is hauntingly used in the film.

I was not quite convinced by the tensions that develop, on which I cannot be specific without giving too much away, for two reasons : it seemed strange that there should not have been signs of these prior to the 'cellist's announcement, and there was an element of melodrama in the way they played out. Not five stars from me, then, but four, but it is a good film, an unusual one, and well worth seeing.


Poems (Oxford Standard Authors)
Poems (Oxford Standard Authors)
by James Kinsley
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent one-volume Burns - Poems, Songs and the Tunes as well, 14 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is the tried-and-tested, well-known single-volume version of Professor Kinsey's authoritative 3-volume OUP Burns. No doubt more recent scholarship has added valuable insights, but as an inexpensive way of acquiring Burns's Poems in a very reliable edition, along with the Songs and, importantly, their tunes, I don't think this can bettered. There's a good Chronology of Burns's life and a comprehensive Glossary as well. It's an invaluable book.


Balakirev: Grand Fantasia on Russian Folksongs, 30 Songs of the Russian People
Balakirev: Grand Fantasia on Russian Folksongs, 30 Songs of the Russian People
Price: 12.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unfamiliar but important repertoire very well presented, 14 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a particularly interesting and attractive CD - I'm inclined to add 'important' to that. Balakirev was a hugely influential figure in the Russian national school of composers. Here we have 30 Russian songs well and authentically sung, each followed by his keyboard version of the same song. Some of these are recorded for the first time. All are interesting, and there is more variety than you might think, though sonorous Russian melancholy does play quite a big role. The Fantasia is a very early work and is not much more than interesting for what it is, an impressive achievement for a 15-year-old, but it is well performed and well recorded, as is everything on this CD. There are very good and helpful notes by Nicholas Walker. If you want to learn more about the relationship between Russian folksong and composing in the mid-19th, century, this is a very enjoyable way of doing so.


8 x Heavy Duty Metal Book Ends 180mm
8 x Heavy Duty Metal Book Ends 180mm
Offered by Globe Packaging
Price: 12.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars practical, sturdy and cheap - effective and very good value, 6 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These bookends are well designed, strong though lightweight and excellent value. They do the job well and unobtrusively and I can't fault them!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 4, 2014 7:08 PM GMT


Handel - Messiah - highlights
Handel - Messiah - highlights
Price: 5.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good performance - a little lightweight : Lorraine Hunt wonderful!, 5 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an enjoyable and expertly made performance in baroque style with small forces. In comparison to John Eliot Gardiner, John Butt and Martin Pearlman with Boston Baroque, I found it a little less effective, partly because McGegan's 'light and shade' approach to dynamics in some choruses seemed fussy ; this music is above all things direct and does not need that kind of help. In addition, the small choir is very lightweight and sometimes seems underbalanced against the baroque chamber orchestra. One standout track is 'He was Despised', in a soprano version, which I have never heard so beautifully, movingly, interestingly sung - the singer is the wonderful Lorraine Hunt Lieberson ; it is breathtaking. The voice is glorious, the breath control absolute, the depth of meaning incomparable and the use of ornamentation on the Da Capo entirely appropriate. Enough superlatives? If you've heard it - not really!! It's worth the price of the CD several times over.


For Those In Peril [DVD]
For Those In Peril [DVD]
Dvd ~ George MacKay
Price: 13.51

7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Accomplished in many ways - but it doesn't quite work, 31 Dec 2013
This review is from: For Those In Peril [DVD] (DVD)
This film has won a good deal of praise and is certainly unusual, beautifully acted and often visually striking. Michael and five crew of a Scottish fishing boat are drowned ; one, his brother, survives. This is, of course, an appalling tragedy for the village, not the first it has had to face, we presume, but perhaps the worst. Throughout the film we learn absolutely nothing about the reason for or the circumstances of the sinking. In various ways the survivor is ostracised ; people will not speak to him, he receives little or no sympathy, he is cat-called, a dead fish is 'posted' through his letter-box, young lads whom he knows treat him with a mixture of curiosity and disdain. This is, I suppose, a possible reaction, but the complete lack of warmth in the village towards him is somewhat hard to take, though there are hints of a backstory which may contribute towards it. His only allies are June, his brother's girlfriend, who seems to transfer her affection wholeheartedly to him (again, this is not quite convincing) and his mother. He believes that his brother is not dead and can be reclaimed, that he can find him, and this he tries to do in a number of ways. He slowly loses touch on reality and his behaviour becomes increasingly bizarre, destructive and dangerous. I cannot go into detail without giving too much but increasingly the film, which seemed initially to present us with hard reality, became less and less convincing, though it was always highly atmospheric and intriguing. A fantasy element enters, linked to a childhood story that the brothers' mother used to tell them, and the film ends startlingly with that. The ending is visually very striking but dangerously close to being risible.

This is an almost unremittingly gloomy film. I watched it in a small independent cinema which was close to full, and the audible reaction was one of disappointment - 'too bleak' / 'too puzzling' / too unconvincing' - though I suspect that most in the audience admired the craft of the actors, which is exemplary, the haunting 'cold' watery photography and the looming atmosphere. But I don't think it quite works. It is strangely close in subject-matter to the excellent Icelandic film 'The Deep' which likewise deals with a sinking, five deaths and one survivor, but that is a hugely accomplished retelling of an actual event (in 1984). It equals 'For Those in Peril' in atmosphere, camera-work and acting but far surpasses it in narrative and involvement, as far as I am concerned anyway.


Chanson Dans La Nuit - Viola & Harp
Chanson Dans La Nuit - Viola & Harp
Price: 13.21

4.0 out of 5 stars Viola and Harp - an attractive programme very well played, 14 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A very attractive CD of viola and harp music, mostly duos but with some solo work on each instrument, expertly and very musically played by the two young Czech players. The recording is excellent and the sound of the two instruments, an unusual combination, is often gorgeous. Only Ravel's Pavane is really well-known here ; there is in addition Debussy, Vieuxtemps, Kreisler, Marin Marais, a little JS Bach (from a violin Partitia, beautifully arranged for harp). Zrenek Lukas, Salzedo and Gideon Klein. It's quite a varied programme, all good and well worth hearing.


The Story of Antigone (Save the Story)
The Story of Antigone (Save the Story)
by Ali Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 14.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars just terrific!, 12 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is wonderful, and well worth its modest cost. Ali Smith has taken the grim story of Antigone and retold it for children from the point of view of a very characterful crow with pleasingly raw detail about how and what the crow likes to eat, especially after a battle - children will like that. It's all there, lucidly and naturally told, with excellent, rather moving illustrations by Lucy Paoletti. Antigone's steadfast loyalty and courage, her sister Ismene's fearful reservations, Haemon's defiance of his father and above all the all-too-human uneasy arrogance of the king, Creon, ring true and all add to the compelling narrative. There is unexpected humour in the crow and a dim little dog, of which the crow has little good to say, and especially in the entertaining versifying of the Elders (the youngest of whom is 94), who are at once the king's advisers and overawed by him and his draconian decisions. When the tale has been told, Ali Smith explains to the crow, in an interview, where it has come from and why she has modified it a little. It is all impressive and enjoyable. I'd read it to children from about 6 upwards, but adults will admire and enjoy it too. As if this were not enough, the book is notably well-produced in boards with attractive and varied typefaces. It's a real find!


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