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Roderick Keech (Australia)

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Charme Incarne
Charme Incarne

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another opportunity to enjoy one of France's best secrets, 15 Mar. 2011
This review is from: Charme Incarne (Audio CD)
Lucienne Delyle (1917-1962) was one of the most important French singers, but one who has sadly never achieved the status of international stardom, despite hits and frequent releases of her recordings.

This 4 CD set is broken into categories:

Disc 1 : Grands Standards et inédits (Great Hits & unreleased songs) 1942-1956 / 25 tracks

Disc 2 : L'Age d'Or (Golden Age) 1954-1956 / 25 tracks

Disc 3 : Derniers succès Pathé (Last successes at Pathé) 1956-1959 / 25 tracks

Disc 4 : La nouvelle aventure Barclay (New adventures at Barclay) 1959 / 25 tracks

All track listings can be found under the MP3 link.

This set is currently unique in that it delivers 100 songs over the period 1942-1959, something that Marianne Melodie did in 1996 with their 5 CD set called 'Rendez-vous avec Lucienne Delyle' - long since deleted. That set had generally poor to average sound, clearly transferred from very used records, while this set has very good sound, with the exception of the tracks from the '40s, but then even EMI Pathe/Columbia who own those recordings seem incapable of finding better source material. The choice to buy this set will rely, then, on whether the song selection appeals. Interestingly, some of her greatest hits on Barclay, at the end of her career, are missing from this collection, and still AWOL on CD to date ('Je suis seule ce soir' and 'J'attendrai', for example.

I live in hope that Marianne Melodie will revisit the old 5 CD set using better quality masters and fill in the gaps that even this set leaves. Otherwise highly recommended.

Chopin: Piano Concerto No.1
Chopin: Piano Concerto No.1
Price: £12.51

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for the audiophile, 11 Mar. 2011
This Blu-Ray Audio only disc is Region Free, as are all Naxos releases.

Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0 and LPCM2.0 @ 96kHz/24bit, this disc sounds muddy, in either sound option. There is no other word to describe it. The orchestra is indistinct and even the piano lacks the clarity and resonance expected from high-rez discs. I'd be very interested to compare it to the Redbook CD version of the same performances, as they are extremely good performances, only marred by the sound quality in this format. It certainly doesn't stack up aurally against my SACDs of the same concertos. My advice is to demo it before you buy, as you can pick up the RBCDs for under £4.00.

If Naxos is trying to woo the audiophiles away from SACD to Blu-Ray, this offering will not be the answer. It seems clear they need to engage better engineers as EuroArts and other labels manage to produce Blu-Ray discs with spectacular sound.

A great disappointment.

Cherubini - The Six String Quartets
Cherubini - The Six String Quartets
Price: £14.84

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less than optimum sound quality, 23 Feb. 2011
I bought this set on the strength of another customer review. I will not comment on the music, as that has been discussed previously, but rather the sound quality.

To me, it has a steely quality that wears on the ears after a short listen. Expecting it to be in nice, warm, remastered analogue sound, I checked the booklet. There was no mention of these recordings from the early '70s having been remastered, so I contacted Brilliant Classics in The Netherlands. They confirmed that they had not, in fact, been remastered. This would explain the sound.

I guess, as in all things, you get what you pay for. While the performances are not in question, the sound quality is. This leaves the potential buyer in a bit of a predicament: go for interpretation or sound quality ? The alternatives (in a complete set) are currently Cherubini: Complete String Quartets & Cherubini String Quartets (Complete) - Quartetto Savinio. Check out the review for the CPO set, which is extremely informative about all the choices, even if it was written prior to the release of the Melos set from Brilliant.

Luigi Cherubini: Masses/Overtures/Motets
Luigi Cherubini: Masses/Overtures/Motets
Price: £23.11

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic collection at a bargain price, 16 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Cherubini is a much over-looked composer. Few know that it was his Requiem in C minor that was performed at Beethoven's funeral. Thankfully Riccardo Muti has been steadily recording his works over the last 30 years and EMI have issued this set to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth. While I think that the inclusion of texts would have been ideal, or even a weblink, what EMI have done is compile 7 discs in a neat box at just over £2 a disc. Obviously to get this price advantage some compromises must be made, such as the absence of texts, and I think 'BMK's' 3 stars are a bit unfair.

That being said, the performances are excellent, from solists, choirs and orchestras, and I for one am prepared to accept the absence of a more comprehensive booklet and texts in order to be able to purchase this compilation of wonderful works at such a price, as to buy them individually would be cost prohibitive.

Neville Marriner's contribution of the Overtures is most welcome, as is Callas's aria from Medea to round out the collection.

I recommend you buy this exceptional set and enjoy 'listening', even if you don't understand all of what is being sung. If you are desperate for the texts, a quick whiz around Google should provide you with what you want. Oh, and you don't have to have a religious bone in your body to appreciate and enjoy these works.

A great bargain that hopefully will introduce Cherubini to the wide acclaim he so richly deserves.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 26, 2011 6:27 PM BST

Im Kiki Dee  The Fontana Years 19631968
Im Kiki Dee The Fontana Years 19631968
Price: £11.77

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How do you explain the inexplicable ?, 27 Jan. 2011
Firstly, I have to confess to not being aware of Kiki Dee before the release of the single 'Amoureuse' in the '70s. I was also ignorant of the fact that she had a catalogue of recordings and experience prior to that landmark song until I came across 1000 nadelstiche, Vol.10 (UK Girls)where some three of her songs from the '60s appear in German. It was therefore with great interest that I awaited my copy of 'The Fontana Years 1963-1968'.

For me, this CD is pretty much divided into two sections. Although not presented in a strictly chronological order, the first 16 tracks include her earliest recordings, and, as one might expect for a newly signed and very young artist, there are some clunkers in there (sorry Kiki, I'm sure they made you do them). The second half of the disc is of most interest and enjoyment to me, covering the bulk of 1966-1968, when her voice had matured to be the unmistakeable one we know and love today and when her material and arrangements were superior. Listening to it once again begs the question : why wasn't she elevated to the same star status as others when she clearly had the talent ? Unfortunately this is a question that will never be definitively answered, where the whims of a certain time and the promotion of certain artists conspire to squeeze some others out. After all, Kiki performed at the 15th San Remo Festival alongside her compatriots Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark yet she had to wait 10 years for serious recognition.

The spine of this release carries the slogan : By Collectors For Collectors, and that sums up this compilation very well. It aims to be complete and for the completist, including some material that clearly isn't top notch. Sound quality is variable in the early years which, from what I can gather, is due to the original recordings and not the mastering for this disc.

Once again, RPM, a Cherry Red label, has brought together an important body of work that will more than satisfy the curious, the fan and the completists alike. With a very generous 32 tracks one could never feel cheated if not every single is brilliant or a hit - remember, this is a chronicle of all her recordings for Fontana. What is for certain, though, is that many of them should have been hits and will provide enjoyment for fans today, hopefully more than they did back in the '60s when they were released. If you like Kiki Dee's voice, buy this without hesitation. The liner notes and photographs are a bonus at this very attractive price.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 5, 2011 6:13 PM BST


35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars (Almost) Forgotten treasures, 6 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Oddities (Audio CD)
Culled from their extensive personal archive of songs they 'liked a lot', these twelve brilliant tracks from the legendary Kate & Anna McGarrigle, "Odditties", are a treat for every fan who thought Kate's passing would result in the end of their output. Recorded in the duo's prime, between 1973 and 1990, some are demos (although that doesn't mean they sound in any way inferior), some are different versions to those already in the market - one thing they all have in common is that they are equally delightful and previously unreleased.

For those who can't read the front cover image, which is where the titles are listed, this CD contains:

1. Was my brother in the battle (Stephen Foster)
2. Better times are coming (Stephen Foster)
3. Gentle Annie (Stephen Foster)
4. Ah may the red rose (Stephen Foster)
5. The log driver's waltz (Wade Hemsworth)
6. My mother is the ocean sea (Wade Hemsworth)
7. As fast as my feet (Anna McGarrigle & Chaim Tannenbaum)
8. A la claire fontaine (Traditional)
9. Parlez-nous a boire (Dewey Balfa)
10.Lullaby for a doll (Kate McGarrigle)
11.Louis the cat (Anna McGarrigle & Audrey Bean)
12.You tell me that I'm falling down (Anna McGarrigle & C.S. Holland)

For fans of these singers, whose unique harmonies and clever songs are hard to match, this is a wonderful treasure chest of material that might never have seen the light of day. The CD provides no information on the provenance of each track, but if you are interested you can look at the McGarrigle website where Anna provides some interesting background.

If you like any of Kate & Anna's albums, you will love this.

Most highly recommended.

PS I'm still holding out for a CD release of 'Pronto Monto' - properly remastered too :)
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2012 1:50 PM BST

Bread & Roses
Bread & Roses

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not remastered, 22 Dec. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Bread & Roses (Audio CD)
I received my copy of this CD and on the cellophane wrapper was a sticker proudly stating that the CD had been remastered. I looked at the artwork and there was no mention of this inside and when I played it, it became apparent that this was not the case. The sound is anything but optimum. I contacted Collector's Choice directly and they confirmed that it had not been remastered.

While the sound may be adequate for most, if you are expecting anything special you will be disappointed.

The packaging is bare bones: a single folded card with an essay but no recording details.

Album content 5 stars
Sound quality 3 stars
Packaging 2 stars
Overall rating 3 stars

This has always been one of my favourite Judy Collins' CDs, but I will wait in hope for a better issue than this.

Special Things
Special Things
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £9.91

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Big Break Records success, 13 Dec. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Special Things (Audio CD)
This is the second CD release of the album "Special Things", the Pointer Sisters 1980 effort for Planet Records, the first being from Wounded Bird, a US re-release outfit.

The third of six albums for Richard Perry's Planet label, "Special Things" marked a deliberate attempt to create a mainstream pop album, with potential chart hits. Their previous release, "Priority" (1979), was rock at it's finest, yet produced no successful singles, and was something of a surprise to their non-plussed fans who had bought "Energy" (1978) (the first Planet Records release, and designated P1) because of the high charting cover of 'Fire'.

Richard Perry brought in songwriters with a guaranteed hit-factor, such as Tom Snow & Cynthia Weil, Burt Bacharach & Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen. With high production standards the results were predictable. "He's so shy" was a massive hit, and other tracks such as "Could I be dreamin'" also did very well, once more establishing the Pointers as bankable artists. Taking a glance at the musicians gracing "Special Things" gives you a good idea of how high the bar had been placed - even the legendary Burt Bacharach arranged the strings for his two co-penned tracks : "The love too good to last" & "Where did the time go"

This CD issue includes a bonus track, "Movin' on", written by the Pointers, Trevor Lawrence and Marlo Henderson, but there are no details provided about the musicians or at what session this track was recorded.

BBR have to be commended for the incredibly good mastering of this issue. The sound quality is even superior to the Sony/BMG remasters of certain tracks included in their many compilations.

Not only is the sound fantastic, but the packaging is of the highest order. Extensive liner notes, full track listings and credits (excluding the bonus track) and great images make this an outstanding release. Worth every penny.

When you buy this CD, make sure you get the BBR release and not the poorer quality Wounded Bird release.

Richard Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel; Burleske; Also Sprach Zarathustra
Richard Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel; Burleske; Also Sprach Zarathustra

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What a fiasco, 24 Nov. 2010
If you're waiting for this to be released, do not hold your breath.

I have had it confirmed by the Director, PR & Marketing, of the Staatskapelle Dresden, that the Orchestra have withheld their consent for this recording to be released.

It is hard to understand how this could come about, especially as the artwork was done and a Sony catalogue number allocated - along with many release dates, each postponed.

One can only speculate as to the reason the Orchestra have cancelled what was to be the final in their Strauss cycle with Fabio Luisi, who left the Orchestra before his contract was due to expire.

Such a pity, given the quality of the preceding releases.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 23, 2011 3:41 AM BST

Bruch/Goldmark - Violin Concertos
Bruch/Goldmark - Violin Concertos
Price: £10.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neglected works, 29 Oct. 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought this disc on 'spec', wanting Bruch's 2nd Violin Concerto, written for Pablo de Sarasate. It is common knowledge that all of Bruch's works have been over-shadowed by his 1st Violin Concerto, a fact that dogged the composer during his lifetime and has continued pretty much to this day. The 2nd is somewhat radical in structure, commencing with an Adagio as the first movement. While this is in no way an inferior composition, it does not have the immediate and general appeal of the more melodic 1st, however it is strongly recommended and should not be ignored.

What really surprised me was the Goldmark. I have to confess to a complete ignorance of this composer and was both delighted and impressed with the melodic and technical invention. In many ways I felt it surpasses the Bruch, certainly in instant appeal.

Both works are helped immeasurably by the excellent soloist Nai-Yuan Hu and the Seattle Symphony under the baton of Gerard Schwarz. The recording is warm and clear and should be on any collector's shelf.

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