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Reviews Written by
John David Charles Hilton "Creative spark...." (Redcliffe, Bristol United Kingdom)

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Beethoven: Complete Symphonies, Concertos & Overtures, Creatures of Prometheus, Missa Solemnis
Beethoven: Complete Symphonies, Concertos & Overtures, Creatures of Prometheus, Missa Solemnis
Price: £31.47

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly wonderous set..., 13 Aug. 2007
Nikolaus Harnoncourt looms over the gaps between 'modern' and 'period' performance with a mixture of enviable application and genuine feeling for the music.

The depth of thought and study that went into these recordings is obvious and rewarding, bring crisp rhythms, beautiful phrasing and firm grip on structure without ever losing sight of those telling details...

The tempos tend to be slower than those of the period movement, but clear phrasing and pointed rhythms prevent any of it sounding sluggish.

This set includes pretty much all the essential Beethoven orchestral works (the symphonies, concertos, Prometheus & overtures) as well as the Missa Solemnis.

The sound quality is excellent throughout and the packaging compact but still attractive.

The booklet contains all the relevant texts with translations. The only disappointment is the notes, which consists of a four page essay...

All in all a real bargain, and highly recommended, especially for those new to Beethoven...

Sibelius: The Symphonies / Tone Poems / Violin Concerto
Sibelius: The Symphonies / Tone Poems / Violin Concerto
Price: £18.58

26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now even better value...., 4 Aug. 2007
There is no shortage of recordings of the Sibelius symphony cycle and there are many fine recordings among them.

This is one of the finest, Colin Davis' being the only set that I would definitely put above this one...

Ashkenazy keeps a tight grip on the structure of these symhonies, for though none are 'epic' in the traditional sense, they do inhabit a huge, sometimes cavernous sound world.

The trick is in bringing out the sense of 'space' that is so important to these works without leaving that space feeling empty. Ashkenazy manages this beautifully and his sense of pacing is spot on. He doesn't quite succeed in drawing out the sense of drama in the way that Davis does, but he gets damn close...

The set also includes good recordings of 3 tone poems, the violin concerto, the 2 seranades, the Karelia Suite, romance for strings and the aria like Luonnotar. It's pretty comprehensive.

And all of this for, at the time of writing, just over 11 quid.
Exceptional value for exceptional performances.

Schubert: The Ten Symphonies
Schubert: The Ten Symphonies
Price: £29.49

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifuly realised set..., 4 Aug. 2007
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This six CD set contains all of the extant symphonic works of Franz Schubert, the seven completed symphonies, completions of the 7th & 8th, a speculative expansion of the notes for his '10th' symphony and a few fragments.

But whilst these are the obvious selling points for the set, it has much more to offer than debatable completions...

Marriner brings out the Schubert's mixture of precise structural control and emotive lyrical outpouring in a way that puts this set amongst the finest recorded, and does so without losing sight of those delightful rhythms... The sound is wonderfully pointed and sharp but still has plenty of ambience...

The sleeve notes are good.

The completions make this set essential for all Schubertians...

The quality of performance and sound make it a good purchase for all lovers of fine music...

Shostakovich - The Golden Age
Shostakovich - The Golden Age
Price: £13.15

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent recording of classic but forgotten ballet, 3 Aug. 2007
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Shostakovich composed three full length ballets, though the third (The Limpid Stream) utilised a significant amount of music from The Bolt...

The Golden Age is the finest of the three scores and, with its parodies, theatricality and youthful energy, is one of the 20th Century's most enjoyable full length ballets. If you don't already own Rozhdestvensky's recording of the score for Chandos, then is probably the one to go for.

If you do, then it's debatable.

Billed as the first 'complete' recording, the 'extras' over the earlier recording mostly consist of a few extra repeats that don't really add anything significant... It does, however, take it's titles from the original Leningrad performance... Time wise, it's 143 minutes against Rozhdestvensky's 133...

The playing on the Naxos version however tends to be slightly tighter and more theatrical than the earlier recording. It highlights the parodistic elements of the music that little bit better and has a greater sense of youthful exuberance... On the other hand the older version has a more biting sense of sarcasm underpinned by a touch of bitterness and maybe a better sense of the overall architecture... But the difference between the two is not great on any count... Both have good booklet notes and both are well recorded.

Neither set is likely to disappoint, though the Naxos version has a considerable price advantage...

Poems, 1960-2000
Poems, 1960-2000
by Fleur Adcock
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.95

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Generous selection from a rewarding poet..., 30 July 2007
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This review is from: Poems, 1960-2000 (Paperback)
(Kareen) Fleur Adcock is one of the most rewarding poets to emerge from the 1960s. A relaxed pace hides a biting wit and psychological perceptiveness.
This comprehensive collected takes us from the slightly contrived air of classicism that pervades her early work, through the more flowing and natural style that emerged in 1979s The Inner Harbour to the beauties of her later work, where technique is all but hidden behind an almost sublime sense of imagary and characters...
Wonderfully put together by Bloodaxe Books with the alphabetic list at the back which, annoyingly, many Bloodaxe collections lack...
That cover makes more sense as you
Highly recommended to poetry lovers.
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Singing the Spirit Home [European Import]
Singing the Spirit Home [European Import]

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unsung hero of folk, 16 Jun. 2007
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Eric is known for his evocative protest songs, and he has written some of the finest examples of that genre, but there is more to his talent than that. He can also be very funny indeed. Try 'Little Gomez', a tale of a particularly randy little dog, or "Do You Know Any Dylan?" and you'll soon see what I mean.

Add in a hefty romantic streak and a dose of melancholy and you have a rewarding set.

The CDs in this set are a little over three quarters of an hour long each, so there's a lot of music here. But there's plenty of variety of style and expression to stop it getting stale.

Wagner : Tannhauser
Wagner : Tannhauser
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £26.95

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A perceptive treat..., 17 May 2007
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This review is from: Wagner : Tannhauser (Audio CD)
Baranboim's output as a conductor is quite in the same league as his paino playing, and considering his status as one of THE great living pianists, that is saying something.
The approach here tends to be lyrical, which gives the singers a chance to really SING... And sing they, do, with power or pathos or rage or indeed everything the score calls for.
The recorded sound and mix is superb.
It's not the greatest recording of this great work ever made, but it is damn fine and well worth those sheckles.
Lovers of Wagner operas need not hesitate.
[...]Highly recommended.

Collected Poems 1947-1997
Collected Poems 1947-1997
by Allen Ginsberg
Edition: Hardcover

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giant volume by one of the great 20th Century poets..., 14 May 2007
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Few poets stride the second half of the 20th century in the way that Ginsberg does... His voice can be heard in everything from Dylan's lyrics to Iain Banks' novels (no, really).

His long lines jumble upon one another, bringing forth image after image, all with an type of elequence and boldness and, last but not least, vivacity that hadn't been seen in poetry before.

The influences of Blake and Whitman on Ginsberg's work is well documented, and for sure, it's not difficult to spot, but AG's voice is distinctive and rewarding.

This volume contains all of AG's published verse plus about 80 pages of prose, mostly by AG, but also William Carlos Williams' introductions to Howl and Empty Mirror.

Make no bones about it, this is a big book, in all senses of the word. And it offers such a array of styles and voices, and, whatever effects Howl may have had at the time, there are scores of other poems of equal worth and candour.This is the 'beat' movement in extremis and not recommended for those who reject any poem that doesn't look like a nursery rhyme.

The book itself is beautifully presented, as befits a volume that will be read for a very long time to come.... A book that will 'settle for immortality "I walked on the banks of the tican banana dock and sat down under the shade of a huge Southern Pacific locotomotive to look at the sumset over the box house hills and cry" That's real and that's art...

Lovers of modern poetry need this book. Sorry, but you just gotta have it.... there's a lifetime's rewards in them pages....
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Offered by zenia2006
Price: £12.78

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag, but on the whole, good..., 26 April 2007
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This review is from: Words/Music (Audio CD)
John Betjeman was, and indeed remains so decades after his passing, one of the most genuinely popular English poets. And John was very English.

Here we have 30 of his poems converted into (mostly) pop songs, sung by a wide range of singers. Some, Cliff and Jon Anderson spring to mind, make nice songs, but really don't get into the feel of the poems at all. But others, Ian MacNabb on the infamous Slough and Mike Read himself on Sub Altern's Love Song spring to mind, really bring the words alive. The biggest surprise is David Grant's performance of Conversion of Saint Paul. He really brings out the angry undercurrents of the work in a remarkable vocal tour-de-force...

The biggest disappointment is the two choral adaptations. JBs poetry just doesn't fit this sort of solemnity and the tracks fall pretty flat.

But the good outweighs the bad by a wide margin and I would say that this set is well worth your pennies.

I certainly don't regret buying it.

Uakti - Aguas Da Amazonia
Uakti - Aguas Da Amazonia
Price: £14.76

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding collaboration...., 12 April 2007
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Philip Glass is, arguably, the greatest living composer. Originally seen as a leading light of the minimilist movement, the last fifteen years have seen him spread his wings in all sorts of unexpected directions.

Uakti are a Brazilian ensemble with an outstanding array of ability and imagination.

Put these two parties together, and the results are sublime. This disc comes under the increasingly meaningless 'world music' banner, but is so much more than that label suggests.

Varied sounds and rhythms take the listener on a delightful journey along South American rivers and landscapes.

The music is dreamy without being background. It doesn't quite sound like any other Philip Glass work, though it's not totallly unfamiliar either. At just short of an hour, it is leaves you wanting more....

To sum up, highly recommended both to Glass fans and fans of inteligent instrumental music everywhere.

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