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Robert Gardiner (Harrow, Middx United Kingdom)

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6 Pk Mens Pierre Calvini Luxury Stripe Cotton Rich Sock 6-11 UK
6 Pk Mens Pierre Calvini Luxury Stripe Cotton Rich Sock 6-11 UK
Price: £3.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 1 Jun. 2017
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fantastic value for money.

Klemperer Live in Concert
Klemperer Live in Concert
Offered by Music-Shop
Price: £9.55

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A revealing Portrait of Klemperer - especially his Mozart, 7 Sept. 2015
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First it ought to be pointed out that 2 of these 10 discs has recently appeared in other Klemperer boxes: disc 5 appeared in a 4 cd box called Klemperer in concert: I didn't like the performance of Mahler 4 not least because the soprano soloist in the final movement is very poor. But this box contained a magnificent performance of Brahms Requiem - the finest I have ever heard and an excellent Missa Solemnis so if it is the Kindertotenlieder or even the Mahler 4 that you really want I would say buy the other box. Disc 9 was issued as part of the 10 cd box just called Otto Klemperer. The performances of Beethoven piano concerto 4, and Brahms concerto 2 are both very good. That other box had the incomparable Bruckner 8 (along with very fine 4 & 7) and a fine set of the Beethoven symphonies so if it is just those concertos you want I would recommend that other box too.
So is there any point in buying this box? The performance here of the Beethoven 3 is from Stockholm in 1958 4 years later than the Cologne performance in the other box. All the movements are taken slower, the funeral march takes over 2 1/2 mimutes longer: I prefer the earlier one, though the playing in this performance is good. The performances of the Bruckner 7 are very similar.
I suggest that the best reason for buying the box is for Klemperer's Mozart: in particular the magnificent performance of the piano concerto 27 with Clara Haskil. Haskil's playing is delicate, her articuation is immaculate and Klemperer accompanies her perfectly in every phrase. It by no means sounds a dated performance and if anyone wants to know what the fuss is about with Klemperer this would be the work to begin with. Every line of the orchestral accompaniment is crystal clear, the inner parts sing out and are perfectly balanced with the the first fiddles and piano. The Jupiter symphony is also a great performance though the sound, sadly, is not great. It sounds like a blanket has been thrown over the orchestra. However, the slow movement is very winning: after a good allegro for the first movement my first reaction to the andante cantabile was that it was nearer to largo. However as it progressed I was drawn into it. The gentle singing of the violins were interrupted by the fierce stabs of pain from the lower strings and wind sections, but they countered with the most beautiful cantabile as if a soothing cream was being applied to a wound in a way I have never experienced in this well loved work before. The minuet and final fugue are well judged - though the poor sound quality robs the fugue of some of its bite. I have not yet listened to the other Mozart performances (symphonies 38, & 29, eine kleine nacht music or the 5th violin concerto).
There is a nice surprise in this box, too. Falla's night in the gardens of the Generalife. The recorded sound from 1951 is much better than most of the items I've heard so far. And the performace is brilliant. Again Klemperer matches the Dutch pianist, Willem Andriesson in everything he does. There is a real sultry Spanish feel - a corrective to those who want to corner Klemperer into a rough hewn Teutonic box. Yes he is best known for his Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler and Bruckner but here Klemperer shows what a great musician he was, and what a magnificent ear for balance and texture.
Another performance also deserves special praise: the overture to Meistersinger. Here Klemperer is not blessed with the best of bands. Some of the ensemble and intonation of the Turin radio orchestra is a bit approximate. But with a better orchestra what a fine performance this might have been. Once again it is the way that Klemperer reveals all the layers of the counterpoint that breathes life into the work. Despite its occasional blemishes I just wanted to hear that prelude flow into the chorale and hear the whole opera. Again it was his ability to work with the textures, reveal the strands, open up the sound with unparalleled clarity while holding strongly to the work's structure, that made him the great conductor that he was.
So because of the poor Mahler 4, the less convincing Beethoven 3 and the poorish sound on some of the tracks this only gets 4 stars. But at £10 it's a no brainer even if you have the other 2 boxes. However, that said, one or both of those other boxes probably gives a better introduction to Klemperer than this one.

Verdi: Falstaff
Verdi: Falstaff
Price: £10.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Falstaff, 4 Sept. 2015
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This review is from: Verdi: Falstaff (Audio CD)
Verdi's Falstaff has been my favourite opera for about 50 years, ever since I got to know it from LPs of Toscanini's famous New York broadcast. I have seen many productions of it in several opera houses, and own many cd sets. My wife came into church to the wedding music from the last act at our wedding! The best Falstaff I saw live was Tito Gobbi although it was I think his last opera performance in Covent Garden and his voice had dried out a little from what it had once been. Until now my favourite recorded performance has been Karajan's EMI version largely because of Gobbi's superb singing of the title role.
I am ashamed to say I was not aware of this performance until a few days ago when I saw it at such a ridiculously cheap price on the Amazon site. This goes straight to the top of the tree. I don't believe the wonderful score has ever been so beautifully played as it is here by the Vienna Phil. I can't believe that Verdi had those unique Viennese horns in his mind's ear when he wrote the piece but having heard their contribution it will be difficult to manage without them. The orchestra is so delicately balanced by Bernstein that at times it sounds like chamber music: the ensemble is perfect, the legato elegant and even the very quick movements winningly phrased. When the music demands a bold attack that is not lacking either and the dynamic range of the recording has both depth and brilliance, with the pianissimos very quiet but still clear, and the fortes loud and very forthright.
Bernstein's pacing of the score sounds ideal to me, with the emphases all falling in the right places and he is totally at one with his singers so that they sound superbly supported yet never drowned. All the solos are really well taken, the bassoon at the beginning of act 3 is a good example ... but there are no weaknesses here at all.
I have heard a large number of Falstaffs starting with Geraint Evans, including Glossop, Gobbi, Panerai (who sings Ford in this set) Bruson, Terfel, Jean-Pierre Lafont (at the proms in 2002?) and Donald Maxwell. When I put these cds in the player I had forgotten that Dietrich Fischer Dieskau was playing Falstaff on these discs. But such was the quality of the singing right from the outset that I called my wife in to listen and tried to guess who it was. Of course he sings the part. For an example of the majesty of this singing listen to the prologue to act 3. I have to say that I have never heard such a beautiful voice in this role before. I have not, in the past, always been impressed with DFD's singing in opera: sometimes he seems a bit hectoring (eg Don Giovanni) and not even his Hans Sachsseems totally convincing, but here he seemed right inside the role and was, of course, able, technically, to do all that was required of him.
The other really great singing performance on the recording is Regina Resnik as Mistress Quickly, who I saw in the role at Covent Garden in 1971. This was almost a calling card part for her towards the end of her career. But all the singers sing well (indeed very well) except for Juan Oncina as Fenton who swoops about a bit too much and seems a little heavy in the role for my taste. There is no libretto (but fans of the opera like me are likely to have several of those already). There is a synopsis which is keyed to track numbers.
This set was recorded in Vienna in 1966 under the supervision of Erik Smith when he was working for Decca with John Culshaw. In 1967 he went to be head of the recording department at Philips and was responsible there for many of the fine recordings made by Haitink and Colin Davis in the next 20 years. Obviously the original tapes must have been superb and they have been well mastered by Andreas Meyer and now sound excellent. Amazon are currently selling this for about £9, and it is now the best recording of Falstaff on my shelves.

Oase Aquarius Universal 2000
Oase Aquarius Universal 2000
Offered by Pond Planet Direct
Price: £62.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this pump is powerful, compact, well designed and ..., 7 Aug. 2015
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this pump is powerful, compact, well designed and quiet in operation . It took very little time and effort to get it installed and working. A big improvement on my previous pum

Martha Argerich and Friends Live from the Lugano Festival 2014
Martha Argerich and Friends Live from the Lugano Festival 2014
Price: £11.54

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars white hot music making in Lugano, 26 Jun. 2015
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For a short while every June for the last 13 years Lugano has been turned from the rather well padded polite lakeside resort, that it luxuriates in being for most of the year, into a white hot crucible of creativity, when Martha Argerich holds her music festival in which she and her brilliant friends across the generations make the most wonderful music. Fortunately she is happy to share the experience with those of us who just can't get to Lugano to be part of the event. And every year the concerts find their way into a well packed box of 3 cds.
I have bought several but this one is one of the finest I have heard. I would begin with the 2nd cd: it begins with a barnstorming performance of mendelssohn's first symphony arranged by Busoni for 4 pianists sharing 2 pianos. suprisingly none of the 8 hands are Argerich's. The first movement of the Mendelssohn is superbly athletic - as it should be. The ensemble between the 4 players is stunning: the dynamic shading, the attack, every nuance is together: and with what drive the music is propelled. The slow movement is properly lyrical but not at all droopy or sentimental. There are no fairies to be found in the 3rd movement which is a very rumbustuous scherzo, and the final movement is simply brilliant.
After this tour de force comes a glorious performance of the rarely heard early Borodin piano quintet in c minor. Another pianist, Alexander Mogilevsky steps up for this and is superbly balanced against the string quartet. There are only 3 movements and the finale takes longer than both the 1st 2 movements put together. But this is a lovely work that deserves to be performed more often.
The well filled disc ends with a fine performance of Frank Bridge's cello sonata. And another (6th) pianist Gabriela Montero beautifully accompanies regular Lugano cellist Gautier Capucon. Again this is music that deserves to be heard more frequently.
The 3rd disc begins with a fire-cracker of less than six and a half minutes by Poulenc for 4 hands. And at last Martha Argerich is at the piano - where she is joined by Dagmar Clotto (the 8th pianist heard so far) in a simply stunning display of pianism. The first 2 movements are marked respectively, modere, naif et lent. The last movement is marked as tres vite. It is delivered with astonising virtuoisty. The rest of the cd is fine,too, but I was well into listening to Poulenc's cello sonata -again fine playing from Gautier Capucon - accompanied by the 9th pianist on these discs, Francesco Piemontesi - before I had recovered my concentration from the condensed brilliance of the brief piano sonata that preceded it.
I do not enjoy Scriabin much and didn't find the short fantasy for 2 pianos (and yet another pianist Daniel Rivera) very illuminating. The substantial violn sonata by Weinberg (apparently a friend and colleague of Shostakovich) with which I was totally unfamiliar - though it was his 5th - deserves a much more detailed hearing but it certainly gets considerable advocacy here from Argerich and that master of modern music Gidon Kremer.
So to the first cd and much more familiar ground. It begins with a fine performance of Mozart's K466 in d minor. Martha Argerich is almost m/s Sturm and Drang herself and she plays this to the manner born with excellent support from the local orchestra under Jacek Kaspszyk. In the next work Argerich and Mischa Maisky (another regular at Lugano) play the fine and sometimes amusing variations for cello and piano on a theme from the Magic Flute. This is music making of the highest order each player listening and responding as if in after dinner conversation.
The disc ends with a surprise: a version of La Creation du Monde by Milhaud for piano quintet. The 11th pianist, Eduardo Huber, joins the string quartet and together play this delightful work with wit, elegance, togetherness and rhythmic accuracy: the jazz elements seamlessly absorbed into the structure, this performance will not fail to bring a smile to the face. These discs cry out to be bought!

Grieg: Piano Concerto in A min, Lyric Pieces
Grieg: Piano Concerto in A min, Lyric Pieces
Price: £12.55

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best performance ever of the Grieg piano concerto?, 6 Jun. 2015
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I agree with schumann_bg's review of the lyric pieces; the pianism displayed is outstanding. However for me the truly great performance was that of the concerto; at once passionate, powerful and at the same time delicate and poignant. This simply clears the field as far as I am concerned. I have heard very many performances of this rather well-worn work and have several other cds of it, many of them outstanding in their own right. But this performance just blew me away. I don't think I've ever heard such close collaboration between pianist and conductor. The range of colour, the subtlest rubato, the articulation and phrasing of Perianes is simply astonishing. But it is perhaps even more astonishing that he is matched so perfectly by the BBC SO which supports him in everything he does. The 1st horn deserves particular praise throughout but especially where in the last chord of the orchestral introduction in the slow movement before the piano enters it cuts through the hushed texture with a searing intensity that I have never heard before in this work, so that when the piano entered it was almost like drops of healing oil poured into a gaping wound. The flute was equally brilliant in its solo in the last movement. That such perfection was achieved at a live concert in the rather unpromising Barbican acoustic is greatly to the credit of Oramo the conductor and the recording engineers. Even if like me you've already got too many recordings of the Grieg concerto and/or are bored by the old warhorse make sure you listen to this. It shines out as if it was only written yesterday. This is astonishing music making.

Flash Boys
Flash Boys
by Michael Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.69

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 27 May 2015
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Paperback)
well written and eye opening book about the banking crisis.

Green - Melodies françaises on Verlaine's poems (Limited Edition Casebound Deluxe)
Green - Melodies françaises on Verlaine's poems (Limited Edition Casebound Deluxe)
Price: £10.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully decadent, 27 May 2015
this 2 disc set is fabulous. 20 very different composers are represented, and sometimes the same words have been set entirely differently several times. The accompaniment to Philippe Jarousky varies throughout. Often it's just the piano beautifully played by Jerome Ducros, but from time to time the Quatuor Ebene provide the richness of the string quartet. In one song Nathalie Stutzmann brings her woman's alto to counterbalance Jarousky's counter tenor. Some of the songs have a real jazz feel to them - others are more classical. But underlying everything is the sensousness of Verlaine's absinthe soaked poetry. These discs ooze a very stylish decadence which is almost as intoxicating as the spirit in which the poems were written. Philippe Jarousky goes through all the moods effortlessly. This is just wonderful singing. The best discs I have bought this year. Just one word of caution. Though the words to the songs are printed in the booklet - they are not printed in the order they are sung on the cds (partly of course because some of them are sung several times). For non French speakers this might be confusing.

Coup fatal
Coup fatal

3.0 out of 5 stars the instrumental playing is good and the arrangements often amusing, 10 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Coup fatal (MP3 Download)
the instrumental playing is good and the arrangements often amusing, but the counter tenor soloist is sometimes rather squally and not very easy to listen too: he is too closely recorded and his contribution is too great. I like the energy generated in some of the tracks. Rather uneven.

Decca Sound - The Analogue Years (Decca box set)
Decca Sound - The Analogue Years (Decca box set)
Price: £86.67

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars immense pleasure to anyone who loves great music., 3 Feb. 2015
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First of all let me reassure all those people who may have been concerned about the sound (as a result of one very negative review). I have by no means listened to all of these cds! But the ones I have listened to sound fine. Indeed the recording of the Franck violin/piano sonata is superb with violin and piano beautifully balanced and the piano tone having real depth and richness. This is a magnificent performance, too, but the quality of the recording serves it perfectly. By far the best recorded sound in this work that I have ever heard. At the other end of the sound spectrum with instead of just 2 instruments, a full orchestra with 2 pianos and a mighty organ, the recording St Saens 3rd symphony is also very good with that glorious moment in the last movement when the 2 pianos sparkle a descant through the orchestral texture is marvellously clear without ever sounding artificially illuminated and the organ sounds part of the ensemble instead of being in a different acoustic. There is of course variation in sound quality, with different locations, different conductors and orchestras and different dates. But interestingly there are differences even when conductor, orchestra, location and date are the same: eg the disc containing Monteux's performances of Sibelius 2 and Dvorak 7. Both were with the LSO, both were in the Kingsway Hall, both in 1959. The performance of Dvorak's 7th is magnificent one of the finest on record: I loved it on lp in the 60s. But the sound though good is not as open or dynamic as that of the Sibelius (with John Culshaw as producer) which precedes it.
The 2nd point I wish to make is that this box is exceptionally generous in terms of music contained in it. I was critical of the 2nd box of living stereo because RCA had simply transferred LPs to cds meaning that some of the cds were as short as 35 minutes. Here that is not the case. Almost all the cds have bonus tracks making many of them more than 80 minutes long. In the case of operas and longer works 2 cds are counted as one: so, for example Verdi's Otello, numbered cd 40 in this box, is actually a 2 cd set with total playing time of 144 minutes. So there are 54 well filled cds in this box. On the other hand the original record notes are not included in the booklet for any of the music nor any texts - or even synopses of the operas. Instead there are some interesting articles on the methods of recording, layouts of microphones and orchestras etc.
So what of the performances? In a box as large as this there are always going to be some performances which any one listener will find less convincing than others. For example, although it was well received at the time and still has lots of admirers, I have never been able to get to like Mario de Monaco's rather brash Otello, though it is certainly heroic. I find any of Domingo's performances more convincing, and of the vintage sets I prefer Vickers with Gobbi and Rysanek under Serafin, to this one. Protti's Iago is not very subtle and Karajan's conducting not as naturally flexible as Serafin's. Toscanini's performance with Vinay as Otello is in a class of its own. However, the playing of the Vienna Phil is wonderful and Culshaw's production and the Decca sound are vastly superior to other performance of the opera of that date. Tebaldi makes a touching Desdemona.
Similarly I have never been very fond of Solti's Verdi Requiem. But here it is generously squeezed onto one cd of over 84 minutes! A tremendous advantage being able to hear it all in one go. There are wonderful things in this performance: both the sanctus and the libera me choruses dance delightfully: the chorus is very agile and Solti’s conducting light and energetic. The Rex tremendae majestatis is suitably powerful and the dies irae episodes spit sparks and thunderous blasts appropriately. The chorus sings very securely and the VPO play like angels. On paper the solo quartet would have been difficult to improve upon in 1967 when this was recorded: Sutherland, Marilyn Horne, Pavarotti and Talvela. However, in practice, there are weaknesses. Although Sutherland does everything beautifully, especially her floated top notes, and she does try to articulate clearly in Libera me, for much of the time she is really only vocalizing, not interpreting the text. Indeed there are passages when it sounds as if she is sucking a gobstopper at the same time as singing: the words just aren’t there. Marilyn Horne is superb in the liber scriptus and blends fairly well in the recordare, but is it her singing in the Agnus Dei? It sounds more like Pavarotti to me. He sings the Ingemisco very well and is even better in the hostias, and is musical, well balanced and in tune in all the difficult a cappella bits. No weaknesses there (though I still prefer Bergonzi under Leinsdorf). Talvella is strong, well focused and solid throughout. But other basses (eg Flagello, Christoff and Ghiarov for example) have sung with greater warmth in passages like ora me cum benedictis, and greater chill in mors stupebit. And although the recorded sound is vivid and exciting I can hear more orchestral detail in the Leinsdorf performance with Boston forces in the Living Stereo 2 box, where Nilsson is almost ideal as the soprano and Bergonzi is unequalled as the tenor. So I have some criticisms of this performance: but are they really valid given that we get 84 minutes of marvellous music for about £1!!! ?
Rather surprisingly 2 works receive 2 different performances in this box: Grieg’s piano concerto and Rimsky’s Capriccio Espagnol. As far as the concerto is concerned I can well understand why both performances were included. Lupu’s disc with the Schumann as coupling is outstanding, not least for the way he and Previn make music together, each illuminating the other quite brilliantly in both works. The other is also from a classic recording; that by Clifford Curzon in collaboration with Fjeldstad. Lupu’s performance is a little more free than Curzon’s with some passages of almost frolicsome playfulness, especially in the cadenzas, which I enjoyed immensely. Curzon’s is straighter but very eloquent and Fjeldstad’s contribution is very telling. The much more recent recording by Lupu is wonderfully transparent but Curzon’s performance is strongly projected and the sound is full if a bit less subtle.
However with the Capriccio I am puzzled as to why Decca have included the Mehta performance with the Israel Phil. Maazel’s with the Cleveland is far better played, more idiomatically conducted, better balanced as a recording and I’m afraid if you play Maazel’s first, Mehta’s performance sounds mediocre. I’m sure that Decca could have found something better to add as a bonus item to the splendid performances of Bloch’s Schelomo and voice in the wilderness on this disc. Was there nothing more from Starker in their vaults? Incidentally Maazel’s performance of Prokoviev’s 5th at the beginning of cd 8 is fabulously played with the last movement totally stunning. And the recording both of the Prokoviev and the Rimsky items ion this disc is of demonstration quality.
I still have about 45 discs to listen to but I’ve decided to post this review already, before it gets any longer. I look forward to taking my time to do that. Some of them are familiar friends from my LP collecting days: some of them contain music that is totally unknown to me. So much pleasure lies in store.
I am not sure whom this box is targeted at. I fear that the newcomer to classical music will find a large number of the discs packed with unfamiliar and not altogether easy listening music eg Kraft, Martin Schoenberg, Scriabin, Surinach and Shostakovich chamber music while basic repertoire is hardly covered. On the other hand thorough collectors will have bought many of discs already. At £55 being asked by Amazon the box is a steal. It contains so many classic performances that it will bring immense pleasure to anyone who loves great music.And it offers the occasional surprise as well. Strongly recommended
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 5, 2015 11:33 AM GMT

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