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Dr. P. W. Barlow "Peter Barlow" (Bristol, UK)
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Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina
by Leo Tolstoy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars why publish a nicely bound and printed book like this with such a ..., 10 Sept. 2015
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This review is from: Anna Karenina (Hardcover)
I don't want to review the book or the translation: - the translator's introduction I found, needless to say, given Rosalind Bartlett's credential, very informative.

I want solely to highlight a question I have for the publisher (OUP), who I expect gets to read Amazon reviews at some stage. The question is: why publish a nicely bound and printed book like this with such a strange dust jacket? The jacketon my copy has some sort of thin lamination which causes it to curl. Every time I open the book, the dust jacket threatens to fly off! What's wrong with using a traditional paper jacket? And by the way, the cover illustration of a rather haughty-seeming lady is quite appropriate, given the sort of description of Anna K to be found in the book.


Chopin;Polonaises/Tarantell
Chopin;Polonaises/Tarantell

5.0 out of 5 stars It's good to have the early Op, 22 May 2015
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Authorative, strong playing from a masterful pianist somewhat forgotten nowadays. It's good to have the early Op. 71 Polonaises of Chopin on disc, too, even if they are a little boring in places (not 71 no. 2 which is a gem!)


Washington Square (Wordsworth Classics)
Washington Square (Wordsworth Classics)
by Henry James
Edition: Paperback
Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to Henry James, 21 May 2013
It's not for nothing that Henry James has been called "The Master" - limpid style (at least in his early-middle novels and stories) and always having a particular twist to the plot just before the conclusion. The commissioned Introduction, written by Ian Bell, is a pretty academic piece, as though prepared for an Eng Lit tutorial. But it gives a useful account of the contemporary background to the actual place, Washington Square, New York, as it was in the 1840s, the years in which some of the novel is set, and James's view of it in the 1870s, when the novel was written.
What came to mind when reading this edition from Wordsworth Classics is how sloppy publishing has become if the first three words of Chapter 5 can be omitted without anyone at the Wordsworth noticing. The sentence starts " He learned what ..."


Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit
Ravel: Gaspard de la nuit
Offered by trec002
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great pianism, 2 April 2013
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I am convinced that Pogerelich was a genius of the piano. This disc shows this clearly with terrific control of technique and nuanced interpretations. A must for lovers of fine piano playing.


Villa-Lobos: The 5 Piano Concertos
Villa-Lobos: The 5 Piano Concertos
Price: £5.99

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Here, the listening was more a duty than a pleasure, 2 April 2013
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I guess that Miss Ortiz learned these five concertos in dutiful hommage to her compatriot, Villa-Lobos. But, to me, although they may have some moderately interesting virtuoso piano writing and noisy and brash orchestral passages, the concerti as a whole seemed pointless and unstructured. I have been fascinated by some of Villa-Lobos's purely orchestral works, but the present works were a disapointment.


Schumann: Etudes Symphoniques; Papillons; Fantasiestucke
Schumann: Etudes Symphoniques; Papillons; Fantasiestucke
Price: £10.74

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars mixed schumann, 8 Mar. 2010
It was good to be reminded of these fine pianists in this compilation of Schumann's solo piano music.
Gulda sounds good in the Phantasiestucke, a piece I would not have expected him to have recorded. Many movements respond well to his brilliant and seemingly effortless technique, even if they sound quite manic at times. Haebler plays Papillons very nicely with good Viennese rhythms in the dance pieces and fleet fingers in sections with more rapid figuration; but these latter often seem just too fast: listen, for example, to Papillon No 11, the penultimate movement - a bit of a gabble. I cannot work out exactly why Magaloff sounds so extremely dull in the Symphonic Studies. Maybe the very close microphone and the mushy acoustic spoiled my appreciation of his playing. But the problem seemed deeper than this. The really aggressive fortes that come from nowhere, and over-pedalled passages, don't make for a very nuanced interpretation. And he also plays the rather indifferent `extra' variations. They made the performance additionally wearisome. A disappointment.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2012 8:16 PM BST


SCRIABIN Late Piano Works
SCRIABIN Late Piano Works

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Scriabin, 26 Feb. 2010
Founded by three connoisseurs of the piano keyboard, Prometheus Editions strives, in their words, to capture "the seemingly lost art [of] real performances" in which "it is the spirit of the music that prevails, and not just the letter". Thanks to the pianistic gifts of Yuri Paterson-Olenich, this aim is abundantly realised in this first production from Prometheus, a recital of late piano works by Alexander N. Scriabin.
It is not the intention, just now, to present any critical 'review' of the present disc, except to say that the pianism herein transcends all the technical demands of late Scriabin. Additional qualities are, however, required of the performer of these works, for latent in every note and phrase of the piano scores is a throbbing ecstasy that requires both super-fine sensitivity and super-fine energy to liberate and realise Scriabin's vision.
The disc was a revelation in another way. Listening to Sonata No. 7 ('White Mass'), one of the high points of this recital, the keyboard seemed no longer to be something made of solid black and white material but, rather, to be a pulsating multilayered surface upon which sensitive fingers may press and thereby release from some mysterious cauldron of creativity a welter of sound, in turns, of celestial voluptuousness, profound sweetness, mysterious resonance ... The genius of Scriabin was that he raised effable from the ineffable. But, while living through the seventeen minutes of the Sonata, a sensation came to me that what was being experienced was, at the same time, somehow incomplete. It seemed that the audible music was only one aspect of a greater whole. Then, a casual glance at the excellent booklet essay (authored by the performer) reminded me that Scriabin was a sound->colour synaesthesiast: in other words, he would have mentally experienced a colour world entangled with a sound-world. For Scriabin the composer, the piano score was a code for the realisation of both sound and colour (perhaps issuing images like those in the painting 'Under Fern Hill' by Alan Criddle, reproduced on the CD booklet cover). For non-synaesthesiasts, however, this superb rendering of the White Mass Sonata has to be accepted on a purely aural level; but to a synaesthesiast it might acquire an exceptional new dimension and beauty.
It would certainly be interesting to learn how sound->colour synaesthesiasts experience this music. And can it be known what Scriabin himself would have experienced in this respect? Some research might discover this. Moreover, the synaesthesiastic element sheds light (colour) on Scriabin's 'Mysterium' project. His proposal to integrate colour and music (and much else besides) would enable both synaesthesiasts and non-synaesthesiasts to experience the totality of this, now intangible, work.


Debussy: Estampes, Images Book 2, Preludes Book 2
Debussy: Estampes, Images Book 2, Preludes Book 2
Price: £15.22

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful debussy, 28 Sept. 2009
An authentic guide to the prerequisites of performance of Debussy's piano is to be found in E Robert Schmitz's "The Piano Works of Claude Debussy". Schmitz, who was a friend of Debussy and heard him play his own works many times, states these to be found in Knowledge of: Counterpoint, Harmony, Melody, Rhythm, Scoring, Time and Tempo, Pedalling, Touch and Colouring in piano technique. This is a formidable list of requirements, but absolutely essential in order to transmit the incredible subtlety of Debussy's piano music. The music also requires, of course, a super-sensitive interpreter, extraordinarily open to the allusiveness of what are essentially pictorial images translated into sound. So, as in pictorial images, there are layers of sound and rhythm in Debussy's piano music that have to be carefully balanced to provide atmosphere and melody.
The pieces on this disc are some of the finest works of Debussy. While I am aware of the playing on discs by some of the acknowledged masters of Debussy piano-playing (Michelangeli, Gieseking, et alia), the present disc from Mr Russell Sherman struck me as extraordinarily fine. He is absolute master of Debussy's tone world. Mr Sherman displays a consistently beautiful touch and gradation of tones throughout, coupled with clear definition of the melody and a sense of where the music is going; there seemed always a perfect trajectory from start to finish.
My only quibbles came with the ending on tha last few pages of the first piece from Estampes, "Pagodes": where the composer repeatedly asks for "piu piano" (quieter and quieter), Sherman presses on regardless at mezzo-forte. What a pity; especially when we can hear elsewhere that he is capable of really ravishing pianissimo playing. And then at the start of the second Estampes, "Soiree dans Grenade", some ugly stabbing of staccato chords intrudes. Surely, the Debussy staccato is not like this, even if it is conjuring up guitar strumming. For the rest, the disc is well worth exploring and we might look forward to Mr Shermann's rendering of Book I of Images and also Book I of the Preludes.

The booklet accompanying the disc is a bit strange: there is a lot of Mr Sherman's 'New Age'-type response to the music. If that's how he feels, then so be it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 21, 2012 1:13 AM GMT


Soviet Politics 1917-1991
Soviet Politics 1917-1991
by Mary McAuley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Student book, 5 Sept. 2005
Irrespective of the merits of this brief text on Soviet Politics, one wonders how Oxford University Press can possibly justify such a high price (£17.99), especially when this book is a recommended purchase for students reading politics, as I happen to know to be the case.
Had a paperback book of this size and, it should also be said, with the present distinctly unattractive running headings to the pages and the uninspiring appearance of the printing and presentation of the text, been a novel, it might have been priced at around £6. But for a University Press to offer a paperback of a mere 130 pages at 3 times this cost, even taking into account the restricted type of readership, seems something of a scandal. The fact that it is in paperback does suggest that OUP's expectations of sales for this book are quite high. By contrast, as everyone including OUP must know, students' purchasing power, loans notwithstanding, is quite limited.
So: Think again OUP! Be more realistic with your pricing. I hope that Amazon is buzzing with searches for second-hand copies. Amazon's generous 30% discount for a new copy of this book suggests that someone realizes the original price was too high.
Dr Peter Barlow, Bristol University


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