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I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland)
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David Attenborough - Life Story [Blu-ray] [2014]
David Attenborough - Life Story [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ Sir David Attenborough
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £7.47

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is yet another wonderful series from the BBC. This makes an imperative viewing experience., 19 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This series was shown for the first time on television in 2014 and created considerable admiration for the latest levels achieved in the photography. When this Blu-ray version of the series became available it received even greater acclaim. Now the same discs can be viewed via the latest 4K televisions, a level of technology which was unavailable for the general public at that time. With the aid of these increasingly available 4K televisions, the series packs even more of an awesome punch visually.

The structure of the series essentially charts the transition though the stages of life from birth to parenthood. This sequence of stages is seen to be the essential aim of all varieties of life as each struggles to continue its own individual survival. Examples of this development are drawn from all parts of the world with each episode focusing on one stage at a time. A wide selection of creatures representing the range of invertebrates to vertebrates are focused upon throughout in order to make the series universally applicable to all forms of life.

The challenge for the film makers was to revisit previous life topics in a fresh way and to attempt to illustrate facets of life never before captured on ‘film.’ Just having improved technology was not considered sufficient to justify the series. It can be confirmed that, without doubt, such intentions have been fully met in each episode with some truly remarkable coverage.

The commentary by David Attenborough for many viewers, and that includes this one, is an integral part of the success of these programs. At all times the depth of his understanding and his commitment and belief in what he says is absolute. It takes the experience far beyond casual, although awe-inspiring, visual entertainment and deeply into the realm of studies. These are delivered in a way that transforms what could be an academic exercise into a gripping natural drama that has implications for all life on earth. The responsibilities for all forms of life are made clear as well as the consequences of failure.

Quite apart from the main feature of each program there are also the additional 10 minute documentaries added on which give an insight into the making of part of each program. One mesmerising documentary in this series, for example, features the team enduring the most unimaginably inhospitable environment in their attempt to capture the behaviour of bonobo apes. The privations for the team are extreme and lead from initial hope and determination through to utter dejection. The final success results in ecstasy for the cameraman only just falling short of tears.

The above is only intended to give pointers as to what lies within this series. To do full justice to the series requires an understanding and appreciation that can only be gained by purchasing the discs.

This is yet another wonderful series from the BBC. This makes an imperative viewing experience.


Brahms:Serenade No. 2, Alto Rhapsody, Symphony No.2 [Sara Mingardo; Bavarian Radio Choir; Lucerne Festival Orchestra] [Andris Nelsons] [ACCENTUS MUSIC: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Brahms:Serenade No. 2, Alto Rhapsody, Symphony No.2 [Sara Mingardo; Bavarian Radio Choir; Lucerne Festival Orchestra] [Andris Nelsons] [ACCENTUS MUSIC: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray] [2015]
Dvd ~ Michael Beyer
Price: £31.31

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a warm occasion, warmly delivered, warmly supported and well recorded providing much for purchasers to enjoy, 17 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an attractive programme recorded in 2014 at Lucerne with Andris Nelsons replacing the much loved Claudio Abbado who had planned the programme before his recent death. This was therefore an important occasion as it was hoped to successfully lead the way forward into the future Lucerne Festivals. Nelsons, who had led the previous Memorial Concert and was therefore known to the orchestra, had the advantage of familiarity in what might have been a stressful occasion for all concerned. Viewers of this recording will note pleasure and support rather than any signs of stress.

Nelsons leads a particularly glowing and relaxed account of the opening Serenade 2, scored for small orchestra without violins. This orchestration in itself determines the warmth of the string writing and that comes over strongly in this performance. That warmth and glow continues with a particularly moving account of the Alto Rhapsody led by Sara Mingardo whose meaningful delivery of the script was able to convey Brahms’ emotional response to a recently failed romantic attachment. The soloist was a favourite choice of Abbado and it obvious why that would be so. Collectors may also be aware of her fine contribution to the two Vivaldi Glorias with Rinaldo Alessandrini and will enjoy this further example of her art.

The concert concludes with an equally warm and glowing, autumnal would be an appropriate descriptor had the symphony been a later work, account of this sunniest of all the composer’s four symphonies. Those who are aware of this conductor’s love of extreme pianissimo dynamics, coupled with slowing tempi in order to heighten his desire to convey emotional impact, will notice plenty of examples of such lingering affection. This will either be a positive or a negative view depending on the listener’s concept of the music.

Generally timings for movements are a bit on the long side but this is mostly the result of the lingering over slow and quiet passages rather than delay over fast and more energetic passages. Basic comparisons on these points with Abbado’s own studio recording of the symphony (and the Alto Rhapsody,) plus recordings by Ansermet, Kertesz, Suitner, and Karajan for further examples, show their general preferences for more forward movement with a greater sense of directional intent, in another word, drama. Collectors and purchasers need to be aware of this distinction.

None are more so intent on drama than Beecham in his famous ‘live’ account where the final brass flourish is highlighted by doubling the two trumpets just for the last two bars. This expensive display is simply thrilling despite an elderly recording. Nelsons, on the contrary, actually holds back the very final chord, losing the expected rhythmic pulse and contributing to the only moment in the concert where his decision results in a slightly ragged attack from members of the momentarily wrong-footed orchestra.

Regardless of the above proviso this is still a most enjoyable concert that will particularly please those who respond most strongly to the conductor’s love of physical expression. The audience rises to give a standing ovation encouraged by Nelsons himself who, briefly sitting down on the conductor’s rostrum, signals to the audience to stand in appreciation. This they do, and with that rather unusual experience the recording fades out!

The recording itself is completely up to the high standards now expected of the Paul Smaczny team. Paul Smaczny regularly ensures exemplary clarity of vision coupled with involving, but never invasive, camera work. The sound is equally clear providing precision without sacrificing cohesion. The playback options are for DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 and stereo. This is a quality recording. There is a subtitle option for the Alto Rhapsody and the booklet provides an interesting and thorough background to the concert and is very supportive of all concerned.

This is a warm occasion, warmly delivered, warmly supported and well recorded providing much for purchasers to enjoy.


Table Tennis Case: Gewo Game Double Bat Wallet - Black/Grey
Table Tennis Case: Gewo Game Double Bat Wallet - Black/Grey

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a well-made basic case by Gewo that is likely to serve its purpose well and offers a good life expectancy of use., 16 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was one of a pair of contrasting double cases, one bought for me and one for my wife. We both have Stiga bats but not the same models. The different outside design of the cases makes it easy to identify whose bats are inside which case without opening them to find out.

Considerable attention was paid to three main things - were the zips likely to survive repeated use and was the case robust enough to cope in the same way. In this Gewo example the answer is a very likely 'yes.'

The other key question of course was whether the capacity of the case was sufficient for two bats. There are two separately opened compartments, each opened by external zips. Internally the space provided for the bat in each compartment is generous but, unlike the Stiga alternative, there are no other internal compartments. However, there is a further external compartment for spare balls or other useful essentials including lipstick!

This is a well-made basic case by Gewo that is likely to serve its purpose well and offers a good life expectancy of use.


No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a well-made case by Stiga that is likely to serve its purpose well and offering a good life expectancy of use., 16 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This was one of a pair of contrasting double cases, one bought for me and one for my wife. We both have Stiga bats but not the same models. The different outside design of the cases makes it easy to identify whose bats are inside which case without opening them to find out.

Considerable attention was paid to three main things - were the zips likely to survive repeated use and was the case robust enough to cope in the same way. In this case the answer is a very likely 'yes.'

The other key question of course was whether the capacity of the case was sufficient for two bats. There are two separately opened compartments, each opened by external zips. Internally, in each case and beyond the space for the bat there are further smaller compartments, once more for spare balls or other useful essentials such as lipstick!

There is also a further compartment opened externally suitable for other small, flat objects such as notepads. It is unlikely that spare balls would be a suitable choice. This Stiga design, while being marginally smaller externally, actually contains more storage space for extras than the alternative, slightly cheaper but more basic, Gewo design. Both designs are equally robust.

This is a well-made case by Stiga that is likely to serve its purpose well and offering a good life expectancy of use.


Mahler:Symphony No. 5 [Matthias Goerne; Lucerne Festival Orchestra,Andris Nelsons] [Accentus Music: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray]
Mahler:Symphony No. 5 [Matthias Goerne; Lucerne Festival Orchestra,Andris Nelsons] [Accentus Music: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ G. Mahler
Price: £25.65

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Des Knaben Wunderhorn is undoubtedly impressive whereas the symphony offers more of an emotional roller-coaster ride, 15 Dec. 2016
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This disc starts with a striking rendition of seven songs from Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn cycle sung with considerable impact by Matthias Goerne whose vocal performance is darkly prepared and under-pinned by Andris Nelsons’ understanding of Mahler’s orchestral settings. Matthias Goerne has two natural attributes that aid his performance of this progressively darkening and ironic selection. They are his warm but dark-hued baritone voice complemented and reinforced by brightly piercing eyes and compellingly mobile body language. The overall tempi choices are steady but allow for a remarkably telling degree of orchestral detail to fully register.

In conclusion this makes for an inspired choice to lead the listener into the opening funeral march movement of the Symphony 5. The subdued choice of male clothing with dark ties predominating underlines the implied tribute to Abbado who had died the year before. Abbado, as is well-known to collectors, made a memorable recording in 2004 at Lucerne which was also produced by the Paul Smaczny. The same recording attributes are here repeated in 2015 with clear imaging, revealing but not invasive camera work and impressively realistic sound presented in DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio and stereo. Subtitles are provided for the Des Knaben Wunderhorn songs. The orchestra, as one would expect, give unstintingly of their support for the conductor.

However, there the similarities with Abbado’s concept of the symphony end. Whereas Abbado created, in the sleeve note’s words ‘a flowing, transparent and ethereal interpretation’ Nelsons delivers a far more outwardly robust view of the work and one which is compelling in its very different way. As an overall description this performance of the symphony could be described as one of extremes. The emotional temperature is consistently at a high – Nelsons does not do cool or emotionally reserved. This observation can be made quite independently of tempi although these too tend to vary considerably.

In the first movement for example, the opening funeral section is paced steadily and by the time it reaches the second faster, more turbulent section, it has slowed even more so that any suggestion of physical movement has become unlikely. The emotional temperature at this point is deeply sombre rather than tragic. That following fast section is taken rapidly, the contrast in tempo emphasising the change in emotional temperature rising to levels of exuberance before the first section of this movement ends sombrely while avoiding tragedy. The second complete section of the opening movement, marked vehemently, also includes references to the funeral theme and these two concepts vie for attention throughout the movement.

The slower second section of the second movement, the scherzo, offers another clear example of Nelsons' very different emotional concept from that of either Abbado or Chailly. Here it slows and quietens to a point of extended, almost motionless, inaudibility. To achieve this extraordinary effect the solo horn in particular has to call upon considerable technical control of pianissimo playing accompanied by similar shared control within the string section. While acknowledging the sheer orchestral virtuosity of such playing, some listeners may also wonder if this is really Mahler’s intention.

At this point a broad comparison of movement timings as delivered by Abbado, Chailly (who is Abbado’s successor at Lucerne) and Nelsons (who is Chailly’s successor at the Leipzig Gewandhaus) may be appropriate as a general guide to interpretive approach beyond the above indications.

Movement 1 section 1: Abbado 12.42; Chailly 12.20; Nelsons 14.41
Movement 1 section 2: Abbado 14.43; Chailly 14.11; Nelsons 18.14
Movement 2: Abbado 16.56; Chailly 16.45; Nelsons 18.14
Movement 3: Abbado 8.33; Chailly 8.39; Nelsons 11.26
Movement 4: Abbado 16.26; Chailly 18.46; Nelsons 18.33

It is clear from these broad timings that Chailly is closer to Abbado by some margin and both offer notably tauter readings than Nelsons in terms of maintaining a grip on basic forward pace. In general terms, the disparity of these timings is largely the result, not of an overall slower tempo but more the result of slower slow sections.

Of course, raw details such as the above movement timings can only give a very rough guide as to what to expect as they inevitably lack details of interpretive subtlety. Nevertheless, they may still offer a clue for potential purchasers. The examples drawn from the first two movements are intended to provide examples of the interpretive subtlety that basic timings cannot.

In summary therefore, this pair of readings can be described as both individual and highly flexible in their intention to deliver a high degree of emotional expressiveness. The opening sequence chosen from Des Knaben Wunderhorn is undoubtedly both impressive and convincing in this way. The symphony, as a result of its far larger scale, offers rather more of an emotional roller-coaster ride.


R. Strauss: Don Quixote; Dvorak: Symphony No. 8 (Yo-Yo Ma, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Mariss Jansons) [Blu-ray] [2017]
R. Strauss: Don Quixote; Dvorak: Symphony No. 8 (Yo-Yo Ma, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Mariss Jansons) [Blu-ray] [2017]
Dvd ~ Strauss
Price: £23.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yo-Yo Ma offers a compellingly sympathetic view of Quixote and this is balanced by Jansons’ predominately joyful view of Dvorak, 15 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Those who are attracted by the notably joyful image of Yo-Yo Ma caught whilst playing with the orchestra may be a little surprised by his individual reading of Strauss’ Don Quixote described below. It offers an intriguing alternative to many of the previous established performances of repute by Janigro, Fournier, Tortelier and Rostropovich to name but a few. Both Fournier and Tortelier have recorded the piece on more than one occasion with various conductors.

Essentially those established alternative interpretations respond to the quixotic character of Don Quixote by making the most of the potentially humorous aspects of Strauss’ composition such as the attacks on the windmills and the sheep as well as this airborne adventure. In the best performances, those elements are balanced with the more serious aspects of his character such as his perception of Dulcinea and especially his eventual death. It is important that Quixote is able to die with dignity and with the onlookers’ sympathy. He should not be seen merely as a figure of amusement.

In this case, and perhaps because we live in more enlightened times, Yo-Yo Ma’s interpretation seems to play down the above listed more humorous events while making the most of the more tender moments. To underline this impression one can notice that there is not a moment where members of the orchestra respond to Strauss’ inventive musical imagery with any evident sense of fun. On this occasion such humour seems to be no laughing matter! This is clearly a serious view of Quixote which portrays him with unfailing warmth and an apparent understanding of his disturbed mental state. It is essentially a notably sympathetic, even noble, view of Quixote. It is one that is projected with complete affection and which ultimately accumulates into a deeply compelling and convincing alternative view of the work. Wen Xiao Zheng, lead viola, provides good support in the role of Sancho Panza.

By way of contrast there are two encores - The sadness of Dulcinea from Massenet’s opera Don Quichotte, played absolutely exquisitely, and a duet for two cellos by Jose Elizondo. Yo-Yo Ma plays the lower part to Mazimillian Hornung’s share of the work which is very Tango inspired. Yo-Yo’s partner is the lead cellist of the orchestra. Both of these encores clearly give enormous delight to the other players, Jansons and the enthusiastic audience.

The disc continues with sympathetic versions of Dvorak’s Carnival Overture and Symphony 8. These are lively performances which end with appropriately exuberant climaxes. These are essentially lyrical performances which bring out the Slavonic dance elements as they should. The whole effect is that of portraying Dvorak’s two compositions in a predominately joyful manner. This emphasis makes an attractive contrast with the previous Don Quixote and the whole concert has a satisfying sense of musical and emotional balance.

However, it must be mentioned that purchasers familiar with the previous versions of these Dvorak works as performed by Szell, Kertesz, Kubelik, Jarvi and more recently, Harnoncourt, may find Jansons’ view a touch lacking in sheer dramatic bite. This seems to be largely the result of emphasising the lyrical nature of the string and woodwind writing at the expense of the impact of the brass, especially the higher brass. In the same way, the timpani could also have been more incisive at rhythmically incisive moments.

The trumpets in particular have more of a blended nature rather than a cutting-through nature. As a result details such as their rapid scale work or syncopated rhythms which add sparkle to the codas of the first and last movements are virtually inaudible. The trumpet dominated central melodic climax to the first movement is also more of a blended rendition. It is reminiscent of the old (humorous) advice to conductors to avoid looking at the brass as it only encourages them! The important horn trills in the final movement are still able to make their effect though so not all is lost!

The recording is excellent in every way with clear and precise imaging and a faithful reproduction of the orchestral sound within a realistic recorded ambience and presented in both DTS Master Audio 5.0 and stereo. Those familiar with the equally excellent sound of the Welser-Most Brahms set will recognise a similar quality here.

In summary this is a notable and enjoyable disc. Yo-Yo Ma offers a compellingly sympathetic view of Quixote and this is balanced by Jansons’ predominately joyful view of the Dvorak. Purchasers are likely to share the obvious enthusiasm of the audience.


Frozen Planet - The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
Frozen Planet - The Complete Series [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ David Attenborough
Offered by Champion Toys
Price: £7.02

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful series and one which may never be repeated as global warming takes its destructive course - imperative viewing, 11 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This series was shown for the first time on television in 2011 and created considerable admiration for the latest levels achieved in the photography. Shortly after, in 2012, the Blu-ray version of the series became available to even greater acclaim. Now the same discs can be viewed via the latest 4K televisions, a level of technology which was unavailable for the general public at that time.

The broadcast experience, both visually and sonically, was arguably the best achieved at that time and continued a very long run of natural world triumphs. These have regularly pushed the boundaries of technology relative to their vintage at the time of recording and this series was no exception in that line of development. With the aid of increasingly available 4K televisions, it continues to pack an awesome punch visually.

The structure of the series is essentially showing the transition though the seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter with two flanking programs providing an introduction and a conclusion. Each program follows events in the two Polar Regions by alternating between the two. This allows the viewer an opportunity to make appropriate comparisons in terms of their similarities and differences.

The commentary by David Attenborough for many viewers, and that includes this one, is an integral part of the success of these programs. At all times the depth of his understanding and his commitment and belief in what he says is absolute. It takes the experience far beyond casual, although awe-inspiring, visual entertainment and deeply into the realm of studies. These are delivered in a way that transforms what could be an academic exercise into a gripping natural drama that has implications for all life on earth. The responsibilities for human-kind are made clear as well as the consequences of human behaviour.

Quite apart from the main feature of each program there are also the additional 10 minute features added on, in this case appropriately entitled ‘Freeze frame,’ which give an insight into the making of part of each program. The second documentary in this series, for example, places a team of just two into the Antarctic to document the lives of the penguins which meet up to breed there. This is the most unimaginably inhospitable environment where prolonged storms lasting for days and with winds of up to 130 mph are a recurring feature. An enduring memory of this sequence is the increasingly deadpan sense of humour exhibited by the two men which leads Attenborough to suggest on more than one occasion that he would doubt their continuing sanity!

The above is only intended to give pointers as to what lies within this series. To do full justice to the series requires an understanding and appreciation that can only be gained by purchasing the discs.

This is a wonderful series and one which may never be repeated as global warming takes its destructive course. This makes an imperative viewing experience.


Vivaldi: Concertos for Two Violins / Concerti per Due Violoni
Vivaldi: Concertos for Two Violins / Concerti per Due Violoni
Price: £13.25

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a disc full of invention and interest and well up to the standards expected of these players by keen collectors., 10 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
1. General background information to this large body of work.

It is estimated that Vivaldi wrote about 50 concertos for two violins. These were spread throughout his career and those who are familiar with his Opus 3 set will be aware that four of the 12 concertos (RV 519, 522, 565 & 578) feature two solo violinists. There are two more to be found in the Opus 9 sets (the distinctly different autograph and the published sets) catalogued as RV 520 and 530.

Other than those, collectors will need to search out three single discs focused on the double concertos specifically. They are the recent one by Carmignola as recorded here (RV 505, 507, 510, 513, 527 & 529), one by Minasi (RV 508, 509, 510, 515, 517 & 523) and one by Guglielmo (RV 506, 509, 513, 514, 516 & 523). A small amount of duplication will be required but at present there are no alternative options.

The double concertos showcase Vivaldi’s work at its arguable peak and were probably used to be showcases of both his compositional skill as well as the skills of the players. He used four basic compositional techniques to maximise interest. These are the use of parallel 3rds and 6ths; contrapuntal play between the two soloists including imitation; one soloist accompanied by the other using arpeggios patterns and competitive writing with one part being dominant. The performances were often laid out with the soloist facing each other either as partners or as protagonists.

The scores are written for three violin parts so the two soloists frequently become part of the general ensemble when not being soloists. The remaining parts are for viola cello, double bass and harpsichord bringing the ensemble up to 7 parts. This is standard Vivaldi scoring but larger ensembles can be used by doubling players per part as in a modern orchestra and as on this disc.

2. This disc in particular in the light of the above

All six of the concertos here are varied in these ways and represent compositions from the early 1710’s (RV507) to the 1730’s (RV 505). All are full of interest and are expertly dispatched by the renowned Giuliano Carmignola and Amadine Beyer, also a reputed artist in her own right. Collectors will have noticed that the RV numbers are not in chronological order.

The playing, as is usual with Carmignola, favours a generally brisk and no-nonsense approach to these works and this is completely convincing and appropriate to the period. However there is no suggestion of undue haste or 'driven' music making as can occur with some ‘period’ groups. Consequently there is plenty of opportunity for both players to respond to each other in any of the above ways without distraction of undue speed and full due is given to the opportunities afforded by Vivaldi’s constantly inventive and imaginative writing.

This recording was made in 2016. The engineering places the players fairly close to the listener but not so close as to lose a sense of space or ambience. It gives a realistic impression of the orchestral body of 12 recorded players and underlines the impact of the playing which at all times is immaculate. The supplied notes read easily and are fulsome in detail concerning the music and information about both soloists and the ensemble.

This is a disc full of invention and interest and well up to the standards expected of these players by keen collectors.


Vivaldi: Double Violin Concertos
Vivaldi: Double Violin Concertos

5.0 out of 5 stars This is a disc full of invention and interest and well up to the very high standards now expected of these players., 9 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
1. General background information to this large body of work.

It is estimated that Vivaldi wrote about 50 concertos for two violins. These were spread throughout his career and those who are familiar with his Opus 3 set will be aware that four of the 12 concertos (RV 519, 522, 565 & 578) feature two solo violinists. There are two more to be found in the Opus 9 sets (the distinctly different autograph and the published sets with Guglielmo) catalogued as RV 520 and 530.

Other than those, collectors will need to search out the three single discs focused on the double concertos specifically. They are by Carmignola (RV 505, 507, 510, 513, 527 & 529), by Minasi (RV 508, 509, 510, 515, 517 & 523) and this one by Guglielmo (RV 506, 509, 513, 514, 516 & 523). A small amount of duplication will be required but at present there are no alternative options.

The double concertos showcase Vivaldi’s work at its arguable peak and were probably used to be showcases of both his compositional skill as well as the skills of the players. He used four basic compositional techniques to maximise interest. These are the use of parallel 3rds and 6ths; contrapuntal play between the two soloists including imitation; one soloist accompanied by the other using arpeggios patterns and competitive writing with one part being dominant. The performances were often laid out with the soloist facing each other either as partners or as protagonists.

The scores are written for three violin parts so the two soloists frequently become part of the general ensemble when not being soloists. The remaining parts are for viola cello, double bass and harpsichord bringing the ensemble up to 7 players which is what we have here. This is standard Vivaldi scoring but larger ensembles can be used by doubling players per part as in a modern orchestra.

2. This disc in particular considered in the light of the above

All six of the concertos here are varied in these ways and are full of interest and are expertly dispatched by Federico Guglielmo and his father, Giovanni, who formed the ensemble with his son in 1994. The other soloist is Carlo Lazari who shares solo honours with Giovanni and with Federico playing soloist throughout.

Federico Guglielmo favours a brisk and no-nonsense approach to these works and this is completely convincing. There is no suggestion of undue haste or 'driven' music making. It is rather like a somewhat turbo-charged version of Pinnock's approach. Those looking for a more expressive rendition with variants of tempi and phrasing such as Biondi favours, another exponent of equal stature, will not find it here.

This recording was made in 1996. The engineering places the players fairly close to the listener but not so close as to lose a sense of space or ambience. It does give an illusion of a larger orchestral body than 7 and underlines the impact of the playing which at all times is immaculate. The supplied notes read easily and are fulsome in detail concerning the music and information about Guglielmo, his ensemble and their recording activities at that early time in their career.

This is a disc full of invention and interest and well up to the very high standards now expected of these players.


Violin Concertos [Nikolaj Znaider; Gewandhaus Orchester, Riccardo Chailly] [ACCENTUS MUSIC: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray]
Violin Concertos [Nikolaj Znaider; Gewandhaus Orchester, Riccardo Chailly] [ACCENTUS MUSIC: BLU RAY] [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Bach
Price: £29.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This disc can be welcomed as offering a satisfying combination of core repertoire in equally satisfying performances, 8 Dec. 2016
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This disc, reviewed here as a Blu-ray, contains recordings dating from 2012 and 2014. The earlier recording features the Beethoven concerto and the later recording features the Mendelssohn concerto. In each case there is an encore – the Sarabande movement from Bach’s unaccompanied Partitas for violin 1 and 2 respectively. Despite the slight discrepancy in recording dates the two recordings are completely well matched and faithful in all sound considerations (presented in both HD Master DTS 5.1 and Master PCM stereo). Visuals are crisp and offer an involving visual experience without being invasive or fragmentary. The HD recordings are of the usual high quality that one has come to expect from the Paul Smaczny team.

The soloist, Nikolaj Znaider, has achieved an enviable reputation over the preceding years and is now considered to be one of the most sought-after soloists. On this occasion he delivers performances of all four works with consummate skill and insight which should give much satisfaction to purchasers. The two Bach Sarabandes make suitably satisfying encores and are much appreciated by the audiences on both occasions. There is much to enjoy and appreciate about the performances in total and nothing that would cause doubt as to the attraction of the disc as a purchase option. It is unlikely that it will be seriously challenged on either performance or interpretive grounds other than by discs offering alternative couplings or presenting ‘period’ performances on ’period’ instruments.

The booklet emphasises the ‘lively tempos’ adopted by Znaider and Chailly in the two concertos. While this is certainly true of the Mendelssohn, whose final movement is played at the limit of feasibility for the accompanying woodwind players, and also the cheerful finale of the Beethoven, the same cannot in all honesty be applied to the opening two movements of the Beethoven. These need not be a matter of concern though as the style is correct. Whereas Mutter in her performance with Ozawa and the BPO adopts an approach that could be loosely described as ‘steady early Romantic era’ Znaider and Chailly adopt an approach to these two movements more in line with ‘steady central Classical era.’ Isabelle Faust adopts similar tempi throughout in her 2015 account with Haitink and the BPO whose coupling is Beethoven's Symphony 6.

To support this impression, the performance times might be worth considering. Whereas Znaider takes 23.51 and 8.56 for the first two movements, Mutter takes 27.29 and 11.02. This is a considerable difference and this changes the stylistic nature of the two performances in the manner as suggested. However, in terms of actual liveliness, there is no-one to compare with Heifetz, now available on superb re-mastered SACD, linking the same two concertos. He nips through the Beethoven in 37.49 complete and the Mendelssohn in 24.01 and all without any sense of hurry!

There are a number of interesting details that link the two concertos, the soloist and the violin to Leipzig and which are described in some detail in the supplied notes. Znaider himself has played at Leipzig with this orchestra and Chailly often enough for a real sense of partnership to have developed. Mendelssohn was inspired by the Beethoven concerto, which he also conducted a number of times, to write his own violin concerto. It was dedicated to his friend Ferdinand David who was the Concert Master of the Leipzig orchestra and who gave the first performance.

The 1741 ‘del Gesu’ Guarneri violin Znaider plays is on permanent loan from the Royal Danish Theatre supported by both the Velux Foundation and the Knud Hejgaard Foundation and is the once owned and used by Kreisler. It is therefore also known as the Kreisler del Gesu violin. The link between Kreisler, the violin and Leipzig is that Kreisler played the Beethoven concerto in 1907 with the orchestra. He also used his own cadenzas instead of the more familiar Joachim cadenzas and it is the Kreisler cadenzas that are used in this performance by Znaider.

In summary this disc can be welcomed as offering a satisfying combination of core repertoire in equally satisfying performances.


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