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Creative Tops 6-Piece Cork Wine Passion Corkback Traditional Placemats, Set of 6, Brown
Creative Tops 6-Piece Cork Wine Passion Corkback Traditional Placemats, Set of 6, Brown
Offered by China Street
Price: £15.00

1.0 out of 5 stars surface edge peeling away from cork and not yet used!, 30 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Very poor quality product.
Just received and noticed that one of the surface edges is peeling away from the cork undersurface and the mats have not been used!
I am returning the product.
I have bought 'Pimpernel' place mats in the past and will go back to this manufacturer from now on.


Creative Tops Menu Du Jour Traditional Cork Backed Placemats, Set of 6
Creative Tops Menu Du Jour Traditional Cork Backed Placemats, Set of 6
Price: £14.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars surfaces peeling even before use!, 30 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Very poor quality product.
Just received and noticed that two of the surface edges are peeling away from the cork undersurface and the mats have not been used!
I am returning the product.
I have bought 'Pimpernel' place mats in the past and will go back to this manufacturer from now on.


Works for Piano - Konrad Skolarski, piano
Works for Piano - Konrad Skolarski, piano
Price: £16.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best 1913 I have heard., 18 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I purchased this disc on the strength of the enthusiastic comments of the reviewer above.
The original 1913 version of Rachmaninov's second piano sonata has long been a favorite of mine.
As readers will know, the number of recordings is much less than the 1931 version which is leaner in passages with some of the denser, more virtuosic passages tamed a little.
In some hands the 1913 version can indeed sound laboured.
This recording from the young Polish pianist, Konrad Skolarski is a revelation.
His playing is of of the highest order with complete conviction. The denser passages are dispatched with ease and octave passages in the first movement leave one speechless.
I purchased this disc for the Rachmaninov. I regard it as one of, if not THE best recording of this version of the sonata to date.

Skolarski also plays three of Rachmaninov's Preludes from the opus 23 set with similar conviction. I have never heard the E flat major (no. 6) sound so hauntingly beautiful.

His recital continues with Scriabin's B minor Fantasy. This is very well played and gives a lot of pleasure. I have in my collection, however, some recordings which bring out more the longing and outpouring of raw emotion at the end of the piece.

The recital is completed with the second sonata of Prokofiev.
Again, this is played finely and he is able to respond well to the composer's quick changes of tempo.

The outstanding work on this disc, as I have said, is undoubtably the Rachmaninov B flat minor sonata, played in its original version.
It demands to be heard.

The piano is excellently recorded.


Liszt: Années de Pèlerinage
Liszt: Années de Pèlerinage
Price: £21.77

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'Must Have' for any lover of Liszt piano music., 17 Mar 2014
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A quick look on 'Google' informed me that this complete cycle has only been recorded 11 times (3 of them by Claudio Arrau)
Many other pianists have of course recorded the 1st and 2nd of the Années, and the so called Dante sonata has been recorded many times.
Here we have the complete cycle from the young French pianist Bertrand Chamayou. And what a cycle it is!
His playing throughout the three years of Pilgrimage is quite wonderful. He displays great insight into the writing of Liszt, the cycle spanning the different styles, from the virtuosic to the more sparse writing of his later period.
I wouldn't want to be without the interpretations of certain pieces from other pianists in my collection, such as Volodos in the "Vallée d'Obermann" where his breathtaking virtuosity takes the piece to another level.
However, as a complete set, I believe that Chamayou is unsurpassed. Listen to him in "Les Jeux d'eau......." the beauty of his playing as the notes imitate the water on the fountains is of the highest order.
I must mention also that the set is most attractively packaged with an informative booklet including many evocative photographs.

The three disc set can be thoroughly recommended.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2014 9:08 PM BST


Works for Piano Vol. 1 - Florian Noack
Works for Piano Vol. 1 - Florian Noack
Price: £16.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great start to a promised complete series., 13 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Here we have Vol. 1 of a promised complete series of the solo piano works of Lyapunov.

The pianist is Florian Noack, a young Belgian who, although only in his early twenties, has already attracted fame as an interpreter of some of the rarer works in the romantic literature. He has also composed transcriptions of works by, amongst others, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov.

I have always liked the 12 Transcendental studies of Lyapunov, played by such champions of the music as louis Kentner and Malcolm Binns. I have always felt these etudes deserved to be more widely known.
It is therefore great to hear that a pianist is embarking on the whole of the composer's solo output.

On this disc we have 13 works.
8 Mazurkas
3 Valse-Impromptus
a Tarantella and a further valse pensive (op. 20)

The program is well laid out and makes for a most enjoyable listening experience.
Florian Noack is a pianist of great sensitivity and his technique is in no doubt as he dispatches the more virtuosic passages with ease.
I was particularly impressed with the way he is able to bring out the nuances of these pieces, which often call for sudden and dramatic change of tempo.

The piano is recorded perfectly with a very natural sound, even in louder passages.
It is a Hybrid SACD which sounded perfectly on CD player.
I highly recommend this issue which, on the strength of the first installment, promises to be a welcome complete collection of piano music of Lyapunov.


In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores
In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £14.35

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply stunning!, 13 Mar 2014
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I received this CD set yesterday and have been playing the discs, one after the other, almost constantly since their arrival.
Yes, it is a 2 CD set and represents fantastic value for money.

Miss Hahn has recorded 27 Encores.
Her pianist on the recordings is Cory Smythe.
They have been superbly recorded at the Teldex Studio in Berlin.

The informative booklet tells us that Hiliary Hahn has long been interested in the Encore and decided that it would be fun to have some more modern examples of the genre in addition to the old chestnuts which have been around for so long.
She therefore approached 26 composers and asked them to write a short work, stipulating only that it should not exceed 5 minutes and be written for acoustic violin and piano.
For the final 27th encore of the set she launched a contest and selected a piece that she thought fitting to complete her recital.

Only one or two of the 27 listed composers were known to me.
The music, as you would expect from totally different composers, covers a wide spectrum.
There are many very technically demanding pieces which the violinist Hahn (and indeed pianist) play with great virtuosity.
There are other much quieter, almost dreamy pieces which are beautifully contrast the more energetic works.Listen to the 9th encore, entitled 'Farewell'. It will bring a tear to your eye.
The 27 encores have been skilfully placed over the two discs to make listening a real pleasure.
Often a whole CD of 'lollypops' can tire with repeated listening but that is not the case here at all.

All in all a wonderful collection of encores, played by one of the most talented artists currently performing.
Highly recommended.


Bernstein: Symphony 2 Age of Anxiety; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 (Seymour Lipkin / New York Philharmonic / Leonard Bernstein)
Bernstein: Symphony 2 Age of Anxiety; Shostakovich: Symphony No. 5 (Seymour Lipkin / New York Philharmonic / Leonard Bernstein)
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical interest only, 8 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this disc as I was curious about Bernstein's interpretation of one of the greatest symphonies of the 20th century.
The disc is from a live performance in 1959 with the New York Phil. at the Salzburg festival. It is in mono.
I am a big fan of Bernstein's later conducting of the works of Mahler, among others.
As most readers know in later life he was well known for slower speeds, sometimes verging on the very slow.
However, here as a much younger man, he displays the opposite tendency.
The 5th symphony is dispatched with great speed, preventing some of the great climaxes to fully develop.
This is evidenced most in the last movement where it is, to my mind at least, ridiculously fast, and where all drama is lost.
I am sorry to appear so negative when reviewing such a great conductor.
Anyone who wishes to purchase this symphony for the first time should buy a more modern recording, not so much for greater recording quality as the recording is acceptable, but for a more measured speed.
Rudolf Barshai (WDR Orchester) or Skrowaczewski (Halle) are just two examples which come to mind.

The other work is by Bernstein. His second Symphony (The Age of Anxiety)
This is a work with a prominent piano part and here it is played by Seymour Lipkin.
The symphony is on the whole well executed and as the composer is conducting, we must presume this is the way he wanted it.
The New York Phil. is on good form. The pianist cannot be faulted.
However, again with this work, I would recommend, for sheer enjoyment another more modern recording and one which displays the interaction of the piano part and orchestra more admirably.
This is with Marc-André Hamelin and the Ulster Orchestra, conducted by Sitkovetsky.

So, all in all, a disc recording an important live event.
Although I am a great Bernstein fan, I would recommend this only to the curious.


Liszt Organ Arrangements [Christian Schmitt, Martin Haselböck ] [CPO: 777472-2]
Liszt Organ Arrangements [Christian Schmitt, Martin Haselböck ] [CPO: 777472-2]
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ad nos as you have never heard it before!, 7 Mar 2014
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I have always liked the solo organ work by Liszt: 'Ad nos, ad salutarem undam'.
It is monumental work, lasting around 27 minutes and there are many versions available.
The main theme is from Act I of Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera Le prophète.
However, here we have Dupré's transcription for orchestra plus solo organ.
This Dupré version was apparently only performed once and then the score was thought lost until recently found in the composers's cellar. The second performance was only in 2007!
I think the transcription works very well and is most dramatic, particularly in fugue and be warned...if you have the volume turned up for the preceding adagio, the beginnning of the fugue will know your socks off!

the Ad nos is the main work and the only one for organ and orchestra.
The others are:-
Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen for orchestra,
Orpheus for solo organ, and
Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H, originally for organ but here played by the just orchestra.

This is a delightful collection of Liszt transcriptions, expertly played by Christian Schmitt (playing the Karl Schuke Organ of the Philharmonie, Luxenbourg ),with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, conducted by Martin Haselböck.

It is well recorded and I cannot recommend the main work to highly.


Symphonie No. 7 | Piano Concert [Lilya Zilberstein, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln] [Oehms: OC672]
Symphonie No. 7 | Piano Concert [Lilya Zilberstein, Gürzenich-Orchester Köln] [Oehms: OC672]
Price: £13.71

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and logical coupling of this material, 7 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Readers who already know the genesis of these two works should skip my introduction but I feel it is important for those who do not, to explain a couple of points.
The story is somewhat complex. Tchaikovsky was trying to write a symphony after his 5th of 1888.
He sketched the 4 movements but, despite reworking the material, became dissatisfied with the project and abandoned it.
He then wrote his sixth (Patetique) which was his last.
Subsequently, he reworked the music of the sketched first movement of the former work and turned it into what has become known as his 3rd piano concerto, a work in one movement.
His friend and pupil, Taneyev, after the composer's death, constructed a further piano and orchestral two movements from the remaining sketches which are referred to as the andante and finale. His idea was to have a performing three movement work.
However it is clear that Tchaikovsky wished his single movement piano concerto to remain as he had left it in one movement.
Now we come to the symphony. It is misleading to call it number 7.
Working with the sketches that Tchaikovsky had left, the Russian musicologist Bogatyrev between 1951 and '57 constructed a four movement performing work. The first performance was in 1957.

So we have on this disc a four movement symphonic work, followed by the one movement concerto.
The symphony is interesting and, although most definitely not Tchaikovsky at his best,it is most interesting to hear what might have been!
It is enjoyable music and is extremely well played by the Gürzenich-Orchester Köln, conducted by Dmitrij Kitajenko.
Before writing this I compared an old Meloydia record of the work with the USSR Symphony orchestra, recorded in 1962. The symphony has also been recorded by the London Philharmonic under Järvi in 1993, and earlier by Ormandy with the Philadelphia.
All these performances are fine but I do feel that the new recording under review has a richer tone and is just a tad more persuasive, especially in the two final movements.

Now to the concerto, which is the more important work as it is from Tchaikovsky's hand in its entirety.
The pianist is Lilya Zilberstein, a Russian possessing a fine technique which is displayed in the longish and demanding cadenza of this work.
She is admirably accompanied by the orchestra and they do make a good case for this work being more often heard in the concert hall.
Geoffrey Tozer from 1992 on Chandos also plays superbly but the recent disc, to my ears, has the edge, benefited by an excellent recording.

This is a Hybrid SACD.
All in all there is a lot to enjoy on this disc and I recommend it to those who are unfamiliar with this music.


Busoni: Late Piano Music [Marc-André Hamelin] [Hyperion: CDA67951/3]
Busoni: Late Piano Music [Marc-André Hamelin] [Hyperion: CDA67951/3]
Price: £25.68

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the wait..., 11 Nov 2013
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Marc-André Hamelin never disappoints with his CD releases and this is no exception.

Here he and Hyperion give us a three disc set of the late piano music of Busoni.
This music will be unfamiliar to many people, other perhaps than his Piano Concerto, again recorded by Hamelin and released on the same label.

The piano music has been neglected by many pianists and the only other recordings on my shelves are a six set release of Busoni's music from Geoffrey Douglas Madge, recorded for Philips and released in the 1980s.

I shall not list the complete contents and they can easily be found in Amazon's advertizing. However on CD1 is included seven Elegies, number four of which uses the 'greensleeves' melody.
CD2 includes four Sonatinas.
CD3 has, amongst other works, a wonderful Toccata and enjoyable variations on the Chopin Prelude in C min., op.28 no.20.

It is true that this music requires complete attention and, in some cases, repeated listening to fully appreciate the style of writing. Busoni was uncompromising in his writing and many were and are put off by the heavy modulation of the writing and length of some of the compositions. Yet this music is essentially tonal and will give much pleasure to those prepared to explore a neglected genius.

If you have an opportunity to sample before buying, try track one of the third CD. Here is a blazing Toccata, played here with an amazing virtuosity, showing once again that Mr. Hamelin is in a league of his own.

This pianist is the perfect guide as an introduction to this music which has so much to offer the patient listener and I urge you to try Busoni. You may just find yourself liking him very much ! At around 25 Pounds for the three disc set, this represents a real bargain.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 27, 2014 1:52 PM BST


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