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Peter Bracken (France)

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An Introduction to French Pronunciation 2e (Blackwell Reference Grammars)
An Introduction to French Pronunciation 2e (Blackwell Reference Grammars)
by Glanville Price
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.50

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How do you pronounce that?, 9 Jan. 2009
Glanville Price is an exceptional academic of French Language. His best selling grammar book is still, well, the best. And now he gives us this expert guide to French pronunciation. I keep it with me whenever I venture across la manche because the devil is always in the detail - and it's the detail that Price is so good at explaining. It doesn't cover everything - it's only a slender book - but what it does cover is emphatically comprehensive.

Heartily recommended.

Great Pianists of the 20th Century - Jorge Bolet
Great Pianists of the 20th Century - Jorge Bolet
Offered by Japan-Select
Price: £51.24

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magisterial Bolet, 9 Jan. 2009
Bolet was a fascinating musician. He held strong views about the role of a pianist, famously arguing that whilst a sonata might take 6 months to compose, it often took a lifetime to master - and that this fact alone conferred rights on the performer.

Well, listen to this disc, by turns overwhelmingly powerful and exquisitely deft, and you'll understand precisely what he meant. There are no idiosyncracies to talk of - Bolet was far too faithful to a composer's score to indulge his fancy. But there is, amid the fidelity, a quite stunning exploration of the depth of meaning in these pieces, such that one wonders if the composers themselves might be asking: 'did I write that?' and applauding themselves for having done so.

The Chopin Preludes are recast with a measure, delicacy and tonal palette that defies the best of the later digital interpretations. But of course, the Blue Danube and Tannhause overture are the centre pieces of the performance, and if a reader can point to a more exhilarating and commanding interpretation of either, I'd be delighted to hear about it. Bolet's bravura mastery is magnetic - the music is genuinely of a seat-of-your-pants quality and excitement.

What's that I hear? Liszt himself demanding an encore?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2011 9:05 AM GMT

Perfume (Penguin Essentials)
Perfume (Penguin Essentials)
by Sean Barrett
Edition: Paperback

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The aroma of the soul, 24 Feb. 2008
There is good for reason for Penguin to reissue this novel as a 'Modern Classic'. It is a work of real imagination, evocatively written and beautifully crafted.

I read it back in 1992 and returned to it when the film was released (worth seeing incidentally). I'd forgotten just how captivating the narrative was, and how fine the writing needed to be to sustain the outrageous central idea: of murder in the cause of bottling the perfume of the soul.

Give yourself a treat and buy it.

Liszt: Piano Works, Vol.6 /JORGE BOLET
Liszt: Piano Works, Vol.6 /JORGE BOLET
Offered by worldcollectabilia
Price: £9.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opulent Liszt, 23 Feb. 2008
This volume by Bolet - the greatest ever Lisztean in my book - is among my favourite in his unsurpassed Liszt series for Decca.

Two pieces deserve special mention because they are not well known yet are memorable, beautiful works. 'Les jeux d'eau à la ville d'Este' allows Bolet's pianism to shine in all its jaw-dropping glory - the cascading, glittering fingerwork evoking the play of water exactly as Liszt would surely have wanted. The intimate, contemplative quality of music is utterly absorbing.

And the other work - 'Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude' - is one of Liszt's greatest compositions; ardent, passionate and life-affirming. It is a heavenly 17 minutes long, though even then it passes too quickly. I used to jog to it years ago - and never before or after has running seemed so painfree.

The recording quality is exceptional - demonstration quality. A very special disc indeed.

Liszt: Piano Works, Vol.7
Liszt: Piano Works, Vol.7
Offered by worldcollectabilia
Price: £8.97

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Herculean grandeur, 23 Feb. 2008
Bolet attracted a cult-like following but never achieved true celebrity status which is odd because his command of Liszt's repertoire was absolute.

A few critics bang on about his keyboard reserve but they are clutching at straws. The finest Lisztean of his generation, and among the finest ever, Bolet's recordings for Decca are staggeringly brilliant. The scale of his achievement in the service of this gloriously gifted composer is writ large in this disc, comprising music of formidable creative power and rhetoric. This is not background or easy listening fare: the pieces demand attention, and deserve it. None more so than the finest of the set, 'Harmonies du soir', whose relentless, tidal-like grandeur takes the breath away.

Bolet's poise, control of colour and transcendental articulation are majestic, and he is served by a recording to match. Outstanding in every way.

Ivan Moravec Plays Chopin
Ivan Moravec Plays Chopin
Price: £12.76

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Moravec, 3 Feb. 2008
Clive James once said that if the house was burning and he only had time to retrieve one CD, Moravec's recording of Debussy's Images etc would be it.

This release also includes works by Chopin, but the sense conveyed by James' remark remains intact: this is a recording of transcending brilliance and one that no lover of piano, of Debussy, indeed of music in general should miss.

The Debussy IS especially special. I have never before or since encountered the delicacy of Moravec's playing of Images (Book 1) and though I have several recordings of the piece, it is to this performance that I return again and again.

Remarkable, beautiful, uplifting.

Great Pianists of the 20th Century - Jorge Bolet
Great Pianists of the 20th Century - Jorge Bolet
Offered by In Tune UK
Price: £25.95

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in how to play Liszt from the master, 19 Jan. 2008
Bolet's Liszt has won all the plaudits so I don't really need to add my own, but I will anyway!

This is a fabulous selection, beautifully boxed by Phillips, of Bolet's twilight-years' recordings of Liszt's piano music on Decca. If you don't want to collect all of Bolet's output (and I think you should) then this is an inexpensive introduction to what you've been missing all these years. The qualities that made Bolet the finest Lisztian of his day are all here: power, control, romance and limpid, crystalline articulation.

I heard him play in Bath the year before he died. I shall never forget it. Nobody who was there ever will.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 31, 2011 12:15 AM BST

Concerto Piano 2/3
Concerto Piano 2/3

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get it if you can, 19 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Concerto Piano 2/3 (Audio CD)
I feel lucky to own this out-of-this-world recording. Buy it when it's available, because it is the most hair-raising performance of Prokoviev's second and third that you're ever likely to hear. Wow just about sums it up.

The technical difficulties that attach to both concertos are contemptuously tossed aside by Bolet, which allows their inexorable sweep and grandeur to overwhelm the listener. This really is an on-the-edge-of-your-seat recording, and if you're not familiar with either piece this is the version to buy. The recording is full of power and weight and brilliance, even if it is over 25 years old.

It is a disc that confirms once again that Bolet was the best in the world at his peak. Incredible.

Jorge Bolet Rediscovered - Liszt Recital
Jorge Bolet Rediscovered - Liszt Recital

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bolet - simply the best, 19 Jan. 2008
In the land of virtuoso pianists Bolet was and remains a giant. Dead for 18 years now, what a fantastic, almost heroic discovery this disc is: a veritable, literal blast from the past that make one almost weep with gratitude.

The giant was underappreciated in his lifetime and this neglect seems all the more savage when you listen to the pieces recorded here: everyone a gem, not least the Spanish Rhapsody which Bolet never recorded again, and which here is given the most glittering, pulsating of renditions.

The recording quality is superb - totally suited to Bolet's peerless articulation.

Preludes/Nocturnes etc. (Rodriguez, pno)
Preludes/Nocturnes etc. (Rodriguez, pno)

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect Rachmaninov, 19 Jan. 2008
This disc is quite phenomenal. The power and sweep of Rodriguez's performance is breathtaking and simply surpasses any other recording available. I've listened with pleasure to Ashkenazy's Decca recording of the Preludes for many, many years but it appears - dare one say it? - light in comparison to the Cuban-American's effort. I can say honestly that this is a disc that makes the listener hear Rachmaninov afresh - a big claim but one amply demonstrated from first to last bar.

Fabulous stuff.

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