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Glilla Bear (Isle of Wight, UK)

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Donizetti: L'Elisir D'Amore (Glyndebourne 2009) [DVD] [2010]
Donizetti: L'Elisir D'Amore (Glyndebourne 2009) [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Donizetti
Price: £24.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A colourful production with some beautiful singing, 30 Nov. 2012
My first impression on watching this dvd was that the singers are not world-class, and to some extent I remained of that opinion. Ekaterina Siurina and Peter Auty both pick up as the show goes on, but neither has what you might call a 'strong' voice. Peter Auty, an ex choirboy whose voice has matured into a pleasing lyric tenor, acts the part of Nemorino with some lovely, comic quirks, but although 'Una furtiva lagrima' is beautifully done, it lacks the finesse of somebody like Villazon, and the audience seems only moderately enthused. On the other hand, he is far better suited to the role than some better-known and more strident tenors (Pavarotti, Alagna and Flores come to mind). The chorus and orchestra are placed very forward, though this might be partly down to the design and positioning of the new Glyndebourne pit. It is wonderful to hear so clearly how Donizetti (as Janet Baker has pointed out) supports the voice with his instrumentation and harmonies, in a way quite unrivalled among bel canto composers, and unique to him. On the other hand, the sheer volume of the chorus and orchestra can become irksome, and like another reviewer, I had to fiddle constantly with the balance and volume in order to hear the soloists. Alfredo Daza is a very convincing Belcore and Luciano di Pasquale is a fine Dulcamara - indeed in his late Act 2 duets with Adina, she and he both sing superlatively well. There are too many reservations here for this to be a first choice, but it is a pleasing performance and no doubt made for a thoroughly enjoyable evening.


Lehár: Die Lustige Witwe, Das Land Des Lächelns
Lehár: Die Lustige Witwe, Das Land Des Lächelns
Price: £13.41

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lustige Witwe only - but what a performance!, 30 Nov. 2012
I have the Naxos 'Lustige Witwe' which is this same performance dating from April 1953. Although the initial issue was on Columbia LPs, the orchestral sound is pretty boxy. I do not remember the old 33CX series as being typically poor on orchestral reproduction, but there we are. However, the singing - ah, the singing ---
Whenever I hear Schwarzkopf, I wonder whether she possessed not only the most beautiful soprano instrument of her generation, but of ANY generation. Here, she is unspeakably wonderful. Kunz and Gedda, likewise prodigiously gifted, are likewise beyond criticism in this work. Ackermann (a scandalously underrated conductor) has this music in his veins, and although the orchestral sound is constricted, the idiom is more than evidently pure.
At its price - indeed at ANY price, this is a true bargain, and must be heard and cherished by all Lehar lovers.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 5, 2015 9:43 AM GMT


Infapower AA 2500mAh with 4 Rechargeable Batteries
Infapower AA 2500mAh with 4 Rechargeable Batteries
Price: £7.30

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rechargeable - but short-lived!, 28 Nov. 2012
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I entirely agree with the reviewer who mentions the short life of these batteries. The batteries, despite their 2700mAh rating, don't last long. I use them in a weather station, and a fully charged set lasts no more than a couple of weeks. If they are recharged and stored for later use, they discharge quickly and completely, and need recharging at the time they come to be used. Disappointing.


Mysterious Death of Miss Austen, The
Mysterious Death of Miss Austen, The
by Lindsay Jayne Ashford
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real novelty - just how did Jane die? - and, on the whole, intelligently and fastidiously written., 22 Nov. 2012
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This novel is a little tour-de-force, and the idea is gripping from the outset. What was the great secret of the Austen family which some of them needed to keep quiet? The tale is told from the point of view of Jane's dear and anguished friend, Anne Sharp, a keen observer of the 'goings on' among the Austens (and beyond....) The English is, for the most part, exemplary without being didactic or pedagogic: we'll forgive the odd subject pronoun being used as direct object pronoun (and vice versa). This is a book greatly to enjoy. I cannot say, in all honesty, that I found it 'unputdownable', but it is certainly compelling for all that.


Anna Karenina [1985] [VHS]
Anna Karenina [1985] [VHS]
VHS

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A convincing transcription of a wonderfully powerful tale, 22 Nov. 2012
This film is as convincing an account of the story of Anna Karenina as you'll get on film. Christopher Reeve is a suitably handsome Vronsky, acting his part with sensitivity; Jacqueline Bisset is convincing too as the starcrossed Anna and Paul Scofield is impeccable as the righteous yet ruthless Karenin. Every line of the novel is heavy with philosophical reflection, and this can never be conveyed in a less-than-three-hour film, but this is a very smart and accomplished production and, somewhat peculiar episodic gaps nothwithstanding, as good an account on film as you're likely to see.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 19, 2014 4:46 PM BST


Dvorak-Rusalka [DVD]
Dvorak-Rusalka [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dvorak
Price: £12.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful film - but is it a performance of "Rusalka"?, 14 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Dvorak-Rusalka [DVD] (DVD)
This inexpensive offering from Suraphon is a strange beast. The singers recorded the piece in 1961 and a film mostly of other actors, some of whom cannot mime to save their lives, was apparently superimposed 14 years later on the performance to make a sort of hybrid. The film, it must be said, is beautiful - and so is the singing, but the fact that the characters you are seeing are not the characters who are singing certainly gets in the way of your enjoyment of the performance(s). The score has been badly cut, much of some very important sections having been excised. A performance typically lasts for 2 and 3/4 hours: this one lasts for 2 hours. I saw the Glyndebourne Touring performance last week, and that (excluding breaks)came out just shy of 3 hours. Still, for £8 odd, this ought to be bought and seen - it has its own beauty.


22 Britannia Road
22 Britannia Road
by Amanda Hodgkinson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An engaging story, somewhat confusingly told., 9 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: 22 Britannia Road (Paperback)
This story, of a Polish family with secrets trying to achieve some kind of normality in post-war England, is engaging enough, but I find the way Amanda Hodgkinson has gone about it, skipping quite briskly between locations/characters, with the almost certain consequence of tense confusion, deprives it of the emotional gravitas it cries out for. I enjoyed reading it, but I did not feel, by the end, that I had read anything momentous, or indeed anything which would engage my thoughts for months on end, as some novels do. Silvana is a curiously 'cardboard' figure, we do not get inside the head of her disturbed son Aurek until the very end of the book, and Janusz comes across as a good, but not a very interesting man. Of the three big 'secrets' of the characters, I guessed two. So, yes, do read this book - it's far from being a waste of time; but don't expect to be moved by it.


The Lost Queen
The Lost Queen
by Norah Lofts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intriguing tale, well told, 8 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: The Lost Queen (Paperback)
Caroline Matilda, youngest sister of George III, was somebody I'd never heard of. So why read a novel about her? Well, I know from reading others of her books, that Norah Lofts is capable of creating an enthralling tale from threads of historical fact, and I was not mistaken in reading "The Lost Queen". The reprint has typographical errors aplenty, but this does not detract from the story. Princess (Queen) Caroline marries the already-eccentric king of Denmark and pays the price (not that it is really her choice to marry him, you understand!) Her difficulties become manifold and only her spiritual and mental resolve carry her through. There is tragedy here, but romance too, as Caroline discovers what true love really means. The writing, as one would expect, is of a consistently high standard, lacking perhaps that ultimate breathtaking turn of phrase which makes one re-read it, and which one finds (rarely) in The King's Pleasure as in a couple of Philippa Gregory's more inspired offerings. Reading this gave me a great deal of enjoyment.


Lehár: Die Lustige Witwe
Lehár: Die Lustige Witwe
Price: £15.07

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Is there anything Gardiner cannot do?, 6 Nov. 2012
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John Eliot Gardiner brings his wide-ranging and very considerable talents to Viennese operetta. The performance bubbles along, and all the distinguished soloists acquit themselves idiomatically. The sound seems to me to be a problem: it is as if one is hearing the singers from behind the orchestra - yes, but NOT with the orchestra in a pit. It almost sounds as if the soloists are coming from an adjacent room with the door half-closed! Some of the spoken dialogue is very difficult to make out. Orchestral detail, though, is fresh and clear (as it would be, of course, in such circumstances.) This might not bother some listeners, but I find it very disquieting.


Dvorák: Rusalka
Dvorák: Rusalka
Price: £29.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want a recording of "Rusalka", then this MUST be for you!, 11 Oct. 2012
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This review is from: Dvorák: Rusalka (Audio CD)
These CDs provide a wonderful realization of Dvorak's best-known opera. Based loosely on the Hans Andersen story (in a Czech incarnation) of "The Little Mermaid", the work is incredibly dramatic, rivalling parts of "Yevgeny Onegin" and even Act 2 of "Parsifal". Although heavily influenced by Wagner, it is unmistakeably Dvorak: the orchestration, to those who are familiar only with his orchestral works, has his fingerprints all over it, especially in his use of woodwind. The music is often 'muscular' in the way that parts of the eighth and ninth symphonies are muscular - quite extraordinarily compelling. This recording has huge advantages over others: first, the great and sorely-missed Czech "specialist" Charles Mackerras presides over the proceedings (he would probably not have appreciated the label I have accorded him, which does not indicate by any means that I overlook any other area of his wide-ranging mastery, not least in Haendel.) The Czech Philharmonic plays miraculously for Sir Charles, and, as has been noted elsewhere, Fleming and Heppner are at the height of their powers, obviously utterly committed to this music. If you've been used to reacting to the story of "The Little Mermaid" with a slightly ingratiating smile, you will find this recording of this wonderful score quickly changes your facial expression!


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