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Leon Fleisher Complete Album Collection [Box Set, Limited Edition]
Leon Fleisher Complete Album Collection [Box Set, Limited Edition]
Price: £84.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb music, superb playing. Fleisher is one of ..., 2 April 2015
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Superb music, superb playing. Fleisher is one of those classical musicians who has a indefinable 'x factor' that makes his work standout. Anyone elses boxset state that it's distributed by Sony Music Entertainment Poland?


Mozart: Cosģ Fan Tutte
Mozart: Cosģ Fan Tutte
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £18.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb performance but slightly frustrating recording, 17 Dec. 2014
This review is from: Mozart: Cosģ Fan Tutte (Audio CD)
I really like - even love - this Cosi in a great many ways. There's some truly gorgeous, vibrato-free singing on show throughout, with a thoroughly gorgeous Soave Sia Il Vento and an unbeatable 'Un Aura Amorosa standing out as particular highlights.

It's a shame that there are some frustrations with the recording (and I am referring specifically to the engineering of the recording, rather than the performance itself) that slightly irritate at times.

As others have noted, the singers sound curiously distant (not emotionally, mind) thanks to a rather spacious acoustic within the recording venue and you sometimes wish their voices sounded closer and warmer.

On the other hand, there are many clicks, pops and generally irritating extraneous sounds appearing at fairly regular intervals, which apparently come from the musicians. At times, it sounds as though someone's playing castanets, but it's the keys on period wind and brass instruments that are responsible.

It's a little annoying when an aria is disrupted by what sounds like a manuscript falling to the floor or someone dropping a polystyrene coffee cup. Some sounds appear that are just plain odd, so fastidious listeners who prefer very clean, studio recordings might find this one a little unappealing.

Not all listeners will agree with me about the quality of the singing, but I really, really like it. It works, in my view, for Mozart's operas to feature less vibrato. I like Currentzis' direction of the score, which I think he judges superbly. I do wish the recording featured fewer 'stage' noises - after all, it's not a true live recording, so it probably shouldn't sound like one.


Everyday Robots
Everyday Robots
Price: £4.99

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most talented British musicians working today., 30 April 2014
This review is from: Everyday Robots (Audio CD)
That's not empty hyperbole - I honestly believe Albarn to be one of the finest pop/rock/alternative/whatever musicians we've got. In fact, in his own way, he's up there with the best artists we've ever seen in this country.

This album, billed (slightly misleadingly, when you consider how many projects he's been behind wherein he was basically solely responsible) as his first solo endeavour, Everyday Robots is filled with beautiful ruminations on, well, life as he sees it.

I am not entirely sure what some of those who don't like this album have got against it. There are gorgeous melodies left, right and centre - were people expecting Parklife to make an appearance here? He's not, quite obviously, trying to produce a commercial pop sound here. That said, do you really not find tracks like Mr Tembo and Lonely Press Play pretty catchy? I know I do.

This is a mature album that perhaps demands considered attention to get the best out of it. A casual listen won't suffice with a record like this.


Beethoven: Symphonies 1-9
Beethoven: Symphonies 1-9
Price: £23.64

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to fault...and often better than many of the more famous cycles, 17 Aug. 2013
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Classical music is puzzling sometimes. Or rather, the world of classical recordings is a curious one. Some recordings seem to garner enormous publicity and renown, while others seem to fly almost completely beneath the radar. Sadly, this does not actually reflect quality. It's a pity that many newcomers to classical are probably steered towards certain recordings by default, despite the fact that the most famous recordings aren't necessarily the best recordings of a given work.

The label a recording is issued on naturally has some bearing on this; something that comes out on Deutsche Grammophon will almost inevitably receive rather more attention than something on a relatively small label is likely to get but, even with this in mind, the discrepancies sometimes seem rather extreme and ultimately inexplicable.

John Nelson's Beethoven symphony cycle, recorded with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris and released on Ambroisie/Naļve Records in 2008, is a case in point. It seems to be very little known, especially when compared to recordings like Järvi's chamber-sized cycle of the same works on RCA Red Seal, or Chailly's Beethoven recordings for Decca. It's hard to explain this, as Nelson's Missa Solemnis has received plenty of critical acclaim. His Beethoven symphony cycle, on the other hand, has passed many by.

And that, it has to be said, is a real shame, for this is an excellent cycle, with good sound and wonderfully well-judged tempi throughout. They may be a chamber-sized outfit, but the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris never sounds in need of reinforcements, even in the mighty Ninth. In fact, the sound is very well-balanced, neither too thin nor too cluttered, something that can occur with 'big band' recordings.

Modern, as opposed to period, instruments are used, and Nelson gives every impression of having considered in great detail how he wants these performances to feel. Jonathan Del Mar's relatively recent Urtext edition is used as a basis, so we get the currently preferred D, rather than the traditionally common B-flat, in bar 81 of the first movement of the Ninth, and a whole host of other modern refinements and 'corrections'. But Nelson is clearly thinking for himself here, and as such he isn't on a mission to produce a breakneck speed Beethoven here, instead showing awareness of LVB's metronome markings without attempting to rigidly stick to them.

When pitted against a dozen or more Beethoven symphony cycles, including a number of much-celebrated examples, Nelson's endeavours with Ensemble Orchestral de Paris really shine and are hard, for this reviewer at least, to fault. Controversial to some, perhaps, but I'd take this over a Karajan version any day.


Night of Hunters (Deluxe Edition)
Night of Hunters (Deluxe Edition)
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £14.24

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still Something Missing, 17 Nov. 2011
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Some fans would say her run of greatness ended with Boys For Pele. Others would passionately argue for the inclusion of From The Choirgirl Hotel in that list. This reviewer would suggest that all her records up to and including Scarlet's Walk in 2002 each had a special 'something', different each time but 'something' nonetheless that made them compelling, engaging both musically and lyrically, exciting - above all, they all had something that made them 'work'.

Then, out of the blue, we hit The Beekeeper (2005) and for some reason or another it all fell strangely flat. Tori Amos is a gifted writer and performer and as such there were still some undeniably strong songs but, almost indiscernably, there was 'something' missing. A large degree of Amos' trademark edginess had vanished from her music and lyrics; a big leap had been made into AOR/MOR territory. With American Doll Posse (2007), the songs seemed sharper and grittier - more engaging, certainly - but there were way too many of them and the overall concept (the songs were supposedly 'performed' by different 'dolls' - Amos in various wigs) seemed somewhat laboured and, ultimately, rather pointless. That said, Amos' shows on the accompanying tour were some of her best in years and things were looking up. Then she decided to follow this up with Abnormally Attracted To Sin (2009) in which Amos sounded like little more than her own insipid tribute act with many of the songs playing like Tori-Amos-by-numbers. Again, the album was way too long and Amos' persistent insistence on producing her own records seemed increasingly foolhardy. More than an hour and ten minutes of music is asking for trouble unless you are at your most inspired and vital and Amos quite plainly wasn't anything near to that when she recorded Abnormally Attracted To Sin. Next we got a Christmas themed album (Midwinter Graces) just a few months later, a break of a couple of years and here we are in 2011 with Night Of Hunters.

Sadly, Night Of Hunters isn't quite the record that, on paper at least, it suggested it might be. A set of songs with pieces of classical music as starting points seemed to automatically play to Amos' strengths and appeared to dictate a change in direction from the previous few albums of slightly mediocre AOR. But, alas, something still seems to be missing. Events seem to meander and sprawl in a way that is not always as engaging and attractive as it might be. Amos' vocals sound predictable and, despite the unarguably new brief here, still sound like mere imitations of her earlier triumphs. In fact, the album comes to life rather more when Amos' daughter takes over the lead vocals, something that I for one was definitely not expecting. And, yet again, the sheer length of the album is a massive problem.

Tori Amos desperately needs to work with a producer next time around in order to refocus her efforts and filter her ideas in a more meaningful and cohesive way. Another self-produced, over-long record from Tori Amos just won't do.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 6, 2011 12:59 PM GMT


Absolute Greatest
Absolute Greatest
Offered by stevecaptainkirk
Price: £19.99

10 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars And still it comes......., 10 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Absolute Greatest (Audio CD)
When will they learn? The Queen boys, which today means Brian May and Roger Taylor, can't seem to help themselves. Endless, and more pertinently, pointless reissues of their hits, which are surely owned several times over by everyone who cares by now, may help bolster their bank balances but do nothing for enhancing the affection in which they are held by their fans. What makes May and Taylor think that anyone wanted a CD abbreviating Greatest Hits I, II and III into one disc? Clearly May and Taylor are more interested in something that can shift a few units in HMV over Christmas, something designed for the casual listener, something aimed at younger listeners who are only curious about Queen because of their influence on The Feeling or Mika. Yet again, the long-term fans of old are not on the agenda. If they were, May and Taylor would be releasing a box-set of rare Queen material. But this doesn't look like happening. What a shame. Aside from a nice photo on the sleeve, I can't see anything interesting about this at all.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 24, 2009 7:41 PM GMT


The Stone Roses - The Collectors Edition
The Stone Roses - The Collectors Edition
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: £99.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed Feelings, 20 Aug. 2009
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Having reviewed the straight-forward remastered edition, in which I voiced some skepticism about the labelling of this album as 'a classic', I feel I ought to express my views on this ''deluxe'' edition. A previous reviewer has pointed out what a shame it is that only here can you actually purchase the remastered b-sides and non-album tracks. Indeed it is a shame, and one which must rank as one of the most cynical moves by a record label ever; and that's saying something! The Stone Roses debut is overrated, but it could indeed have been a classic if they had included some of those b-sides and non-album tracks which are often excellent. Surely the Legacy edition (the mid-range one of the three packages) should have been the original album, the b-sides and the DVD, rather than including as the second disc the demos which, surely to goodness, no one is really deeply interested in? Very devious move and one which I think should not go unnoticed. Many fans do not want/need all the superfluous nonsense here; vinyl, USB sticks, pointless artwork and so on. But now, should they want the remastered b-sides to sit alongside the remastered original album, they have to part with a huge amount of money to do so. Very poor show indeed.


The Stone Roses - The Special Edition
The Stone Roses - The Special Edition
Price: £19.35

13 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Twenty years on...and I'm still confused., 10 Aug. 2009
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This album has always confused me since the mid-nineties when, as a teenager listening to music furiously, I first heard it. It baffled me then and, inspired to listen to it again by its re-release for the twentieth anniversary (it deserves an anniversary?!), it still baffles me today. Don't get me wrong; some of their songs are great. If you don't think She Bangs The Drums, Waterfall and Made Of Stone are great pop/rock songs then perhaps you are, er, made of stone. But the rest? As soon as the standard of the songwriting drops below brilliant (and it often does) Ian Brown's irritating and slightly tuneless drone starts to get grating. And that is to say nothing of the plain bizarre production; was this recorded in the largest and mostly poorly attuned indoor space in England? That this album deserves to have people like it and listen to it is fair enough, but quite why it has managed to be filed under 'classic' is a real source of bewilderment. Let's face it, track 4 (Don't Stop) is merely track 3 (Waterfall) backwards, and track 6 (Elizabeth My Dear) is a misjudged attempt to sound like Simon & Garfunkel that, mercifully, lasts less than a minute. On one of the most frequently celebrated tracks, I Wanna Be Adored, the band plod their way through a lumbering track that is only noteworthy for teaching Liam and Noel Gallagher that arrogance can sell records. Elsewhere, I Am The Resurrection ends with a self-indulgent guitar workout that would bore even Jimmy Page and spoils an otherwise good song. Now included as the final track, Fools Gold lets us in on what it would sound like if Jimi Hendrix had lived to be able to jam with the Stereo MCs. Interesting, but that's about it. Their reputation as highly influential trend-setters perhaps seems even more surprising twenty years on when so many bands have walked the same walk as The Stone Roses to ultimately better effect. It certainly has its moments, but moments do not a great album make.
Comment Comments (52) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 20, 2012 10:32 AM GMT


Meš suš ķ eyrum viš spilum endalaust
Meš suš ķ eyrum viš spilum endalaust
Offered by Hardliner-music
Price: £7.79

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Icelandic four piece deliver more beautiful melancholy, 24 Jun. 2009
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Following on from the bittersweet atmospherics of Takk..., the verbosely titled Meš suš í eyrum viš spilum endalaust is imbued with essentially the same approach but this time the tracks are more shaped, and lean far less towards the largely instrumental symphonies of Takk..., bad news for those at the BBC in charge of soundtracking clips of everything from horse racing to obituaries. Not that the more frequent presence of lyrics and semi-choruses makes a tremendous difference to the overall mood that the band create; Icelandic is a language little understood in the English speaking world and as a consequence whatever it is that Jónsi Birgisson is actually enunciating merely adds to and meshes with the wall of sound created by the rest of the band and what is obviously a veritable army of strings and choirs and what might just possibly be the haunting wails and whimpers of the long-deceased. At times, as on Festival (one of two tracks here with an English title, three if you include the misspelt Gobbledigook), the music is so impossibly sad and weary that even Birgisson sounds morbidly depressed and broken. Somehow though, it all works and as with Hoppipolla on Takk... there is often a curious euphoria to what the band conjure up. The epic Ára bátur begins in so funereal a fashion that it could easily soundtrack a walk on the windswept moors with the Bronte sisters and its orchestral climax is so stirring that is could serve as a sort of requiem for every single thing that has ever happened, like someone finally cracking under the weight of the terrible beauty of it all. With this in mind, some may view the opening Gobbledigook as a form of misdirection, a sleight of hand that suggests an album of Flaming Lips-type eccentricity. But by the third track the melancholia has well and truly set in for the winter, and it only gets deeper as the album goes on. This may be the only flaw here; an album of such interminable sadness could wear heavily on some and perhaps the album could have been differently sequenced or the tracklisting amended to avoid this. But to argue with music this beautiful is like complaining about a bed being too comfortable. Soon, if you look up melancholy in the dictionary, you may simply find the words Sigur Ros by way of a definition. Stunning.


Midlife: A Beginner's Guide To Blur
Midlife: A Beginner's Guide To Blur
Offered by Side Two
Price: £3.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars not Out Of Time after all..., 21 Jun. 2009
So, Blur have decided to put their squabbles aside and have cleared their heads long enough to realise what a great group they were/are. I suppose it was inevitable that they would release something to coincide with the occasion and it may as well be this, a collection of some of their best moments. Choosing to include a fair few album tracks rather than sticking mostly to singles (as on the old Best Of) is a wise move, as is including (at long last) Popscene. However, it is a surprise to this reviewer at least that they didn't think to include at least one or two of their b-sides which, like their former rivals Oasis, are on occasion better than some of their album tracks. The band have admitted, for example, that the simply wonderful Young & Lovely should have at least been on Modern Life Is Rubbish, and probably could have easily been a successful single release. So why not include it here? This was perhaps their only opportunity to bring Young & Lovely to a wider audience (some sixteen years too late, mind) and they passed. Whose stuff-up was this? The band themselves or the record company? Who knows. Similarly, it would have been interesting to hear a b-side like All Your Life (from Beetlebum) that nearly made it on to Blur but was put to the side at the last minute. By including those tracks this would truly have represented a side of Blur that people weren't so familiar with, but as it is, for the fans at least, this is really not that interesting as, Popscene aside, there is nothing new here. So, as is so often the way with these things, an opportunity has been missed. But you cannot contest the quality of the tracks here, even if most people will probably press skip when they hear the overdriven fuzz of Bugman for the second or third time this year.


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