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xxsfgsvs "asdargthh"

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Bantock: Hebridean Symphony / Old English Suite
Bantock: Hebridean Symphony / Old English Suite
Price: £5.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Missed Opportunity, 10 Dec. 2013
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Granville Bantock’s music quickly slipped into obscurity after his death but has achieved a somewhat modest recorded revival in recent times. Any new recording is, therefore to be welcomed. Unfortunately there are good reasons why this one comes with some reservations. The Czech / Slovak Orchestra hardly sound world class but the recorded sound is very dull and unflattering to them: I’m sure they’re a better orchestra than they sound here. Secondly; the English Suite and Russian Scenes, whilst quite lengthy are not very memorable. The Hebridean Symphony is the main item but this has received a far better recording with Handley on Chandos. The Handley includes a group of more convincing works including the extraordinarily scored Celtic Symphony that includes six harps, who only play together for one flourish in the finale, and a huge string orchestra. For obvious financial reasons, that doesn’t get played often so you’d be well advised to check that Handley recording out.

Granville Bantock was no neglected master but he was a brilliant orchestrator and even much admired by Sibelius, who was literally the Chairman of his Appreciation Society. That might take some believing but Bantock was a great champion of Sibelius’ work. If the thematic material isn’t top class and the symphonic argument somewhat rambling the “Hebridean” still showcases his orchestral brilliance and it is even a one movement symphony, albeit one that could easily be seen as having four clear sections that are here itemised by Naxos. Had he lived later he could, doubtless have made a mint writing Hollywood scores. At this price the disc is worth having for the Hebridean Symphony alone despite the dead sound recording and a superior alternative elsewhere.


Sibelius, J.: Symphony No. 3 / Hindemith, P.: The 4 Temperaments
Sibelius, J.: Symphony No. 3 / Hindemith, P.: The 4 Temperaments
Price: £7.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Sibelius Lite, 10 Dec. 2013
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Let me say first that the playing in both works here is top class and the Ondine sound engineers have done them proud. I do have two issues though: firstly; though these are two substantial works you get little over fifty minutes of music so there was room for more. Secondly; though the playing in the Sibelius is superb this is a small orchestra and sounds that way.

I was unfamiliar with the Hindemith but it comes across as a fine piece – in a set of variations - in his mature style. Though it’s a work for piano and strings the piano is more of a lead singer rather than a combative concerto style soloist


Szymanowski, K.: Symphonies Nos. 1 And 4 / Concert Overture / Study In B Flat Minor (Warsaw Philharmonic, Wit)
Szymanowski, K.: Symphonies Nos. 1 And 4 / Concert Overture / Study In B Flat Minor (Warsaw Philharmonic, Wit)
Price: £7.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Szymanowski - Symphonies No 1 and 4, 25 Nov. 2013
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Like the recording of the Second and Third Symphonies by the Warsaw Philharmonic and Antoni Wit; these versions are very hard to beat. Both the First Symphony and Concert Overture whilst sharing much in common with Richard Strauss' musical language they surprise with their energy and coherence. The First Symphony is rarely heard and is clearly grossly neglected. The Study in B Flat Minor is very much easy listening compared to the intensity of the other works here so provides some relief.

The Symphony no 4 is almost a piano concerto though Szymanowski composed the piano part for himself and he was no virtuoso. By this late stage in his musical development he had taken on a more nationalistic, folk influenced style combined with a great formal classicism. For all that his orchestration is still very dense and colourful but this music sounds closer to Martinu with Bartok, Prokofiev in the background. After the heady eroticism of the Third this symphony is rather more earth bound but is still clearly the work of the same man. If anything this Symphony is a little neglected too and possibly the best of the Four. Overall this is highly recommended to anyone who likes Szymanowski's music.


Szymanowski: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3
Szymanowski: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 3
Price: £7.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Szymanowski Symphonies 2 and 3, 25 Nov. 2013
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This is as fine a version of Szymanowski's headily perfumed Third Symphony, which is aided by the bright and spacious sound. The only gripe is that the tenor does sound a little lightweight but he is supported by a tremendous choir in top form. The Warsaw Philharmonic, not surprisingly, are excellent with Antoni Wit yet again directing this music with great insight. The bonus here is how effectively the Second Symphony comes across. Yes Szymanowski may not have developed his own individual musical voice with this work strongly influenced by Richard Strauss but this comes across as a cogent, dense and very energetic work with some of the brighter colours of the Third's orchestration beginning to appear.

You'll be hard pressed to find better advocates of these works than here: highly recommended.


SanDisk Clip Zip 8GB MP3 Player with FM Radio - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)
SanDisk Clip Zip 8GB MP3 Player with FM Radio - Black (discontinued by manufacturer)

5.0 out of 5 stars An Improvement, 25 Nov. 2013
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Yes the sound quality has improved; it accepts a 32gb memory card and has added other enhancements with better screen image with album covers added. The sport settings are new and I have found the stop watch a surprisingly usual addition. With such a small screen and size you can't expect wonders but it is easy to navigate, sounds great and is still at a remarkable price. If I have any minor gripes it is that the battery indicator is not easy to view with the colour too close to their background wallpaper but it hasn't caused any issues yet. Really that's nothing much as complaints go so this is, overall a big improvement on an already excellent product.


Mcphee: Tabuh-Tabuhan - The Music of Colin Mcphee
Mcphee: Tabuh-Tabuhan - The Music of Colin Mcphee
Price: £7.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A One Hit Wonder, 25 Nov. 2013
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Tabuh-Tabuhan is the obvious draw to listeners here but beyond that the other works provide few insights and plenty of repetition of ideas. The opening of Tabuh-Tabuhan is striking, sounding like Steve Reich so it wouldn't be unfair to suggest his work influenced the minimalists but his lack of recognition may be down to how he uses Balinese gamelan as a flavouring to a more conventional orchestration and form. There's even a hint of Hollywood with the Balinese elements sounding more like a musical travelogue soundtrack.

Attractive as all these pieces sound there's little below the surface though it's worth getting acquainted with when you consider its influence on Benjamin Britten. So this recording is worth having but go no further.


Shostakovich & Barshai: Chamber Symphonies 1-5
Shostakovich & Barshai: Chamber Symphonies 1-5
Price: £4.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Swings and Roundabouts, 25 Nov. 2013
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Rudolph Barshai's orchestration of some of his quartets was sanctioned by the composer but in this recording at least you can see some gains and losses. The was animated and edgy sections lose here some of the precision of ensemble though under Barshai's excellent guidance, the more reflective sections are positively enhanced from the original quartets. Orchestrating them has helped to widen their appeal and works better in some of the quartets than others.The Eighth is so well known that it can stand alone as quartet and the light, delicate nature of the First seems better suited to that medium. The Fourth is one of his finest quartets but the orchestration adds a dimension despite it being a very restrained work. The Third echoes the Eighth Symphony and, if anything could be filled out with a bigger orchestration but with the Symphony already existing it is arguable whether it was necessary to orchestrate the quartet. Having said that, it is quite effective.

The Tenth suffers from the lack of precision in the more biting sections but it still works here. The rather dry recorded sound certainly doesn't help the ensemble in this recording but despite the gains and losses along the way, in part down to the orchestration and in part to the sound recording, these quartets are still the same fine music and are a real bargain, especially with Barshai's insights into this music.


Britten: The Young Person's Guide To the Orchestra / Variations On A Theme of Frank Bridge
Britten: The Young Person's Guide To the Orchestra / Variations On A Theme of Frank Bridge
Price: £5.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine Showcase, 25 Nov. 2013
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Naxos have done a great service to classical listeners by releasing many of these Collins recordings from the 1990s. This recording is aided by being led by Steuart Bedford with fine support from the ECO and the LSO. Pairing the Frank Bridge Variations with The Young Persons Guide to the Orchestra makes great sense with them being showpieces for their ensembles and both being in variation form. The Frank Bridge variations are remarkable for their array for diverse stylistic vignettes that still maintains enough weight and shape to be more than just a showpiece. The Young Persons Guide is a little more basic but is aimed as musical education, superbly played here in excellent Collins sound.

The other two pieces contrast with each other. The Prelude and Fugue is quite an austere work for string orchestra and makes a good counter balance to the lighter Frank Bridge variations. The Occasional Overture is a work discarded by the composer but is like so many other shorter orchestral works of that time by Britten - it is light, optimistic, athletic and a perfect concert opener. It is no masterpiece but is very enjoyable and well worth getting to know. So, all in all, a fine and thoroughly enjoyable programme from start to finish.


Ives/Brant: A Concord Symphony - Copland: Organ Symphony
Ives/Brant: A Concord Symphony - Copland: Organ Symphony
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Towering Masterpiece Just got Bigger, 22 Nov. 2013
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It’s a measure of Ives’ Concord Sonata / Symphony that this very fine version of Copland’s early Organ Symphony is eclipsed by it. It is questionable whether the Copland might have been better being placed before the Ives on this recording because it is pretty impossible to follow the Ives with anything. I can only agree with the other reviewers that this is a very fine live recording indeed with both works given excellent readings and spacious sound recording.

Copland’s Symphony may not be typical of his mature style but is no lightweight piece. It is not a quasi-organ concerto because the instrument largely is used to provide colour to the orchestra rather than act in a virtuoso role.

It could be argued that Ives wrote the greatest American sonata when he composed the Concord Sonata. You could equally argue that he wrote the greatest American Symphony - his Fourth - even if Copland’s Third is the more popular. Brant’s orchestration of the Sonata has provided serious competition for the Fourth Symphony, being a densely packed, philosophically fervent and transcendental late romantic work.

Brant’s orchestration doesn’t sound entirely authentically Ivesian but for the most part this only helps. The more exuberant parts of Hawthorn even take on a jazzy feel at times that sounds nothing like Ives but is in the spirit of the music. This more airy modern orchestration is generally preferable to what might have sounded rather clogged up in shades of brown had Ives orchestrated it himself – orchestration wasn’t one of his strongest skills.

The other issue is the order of the movements: taking the same order as the sonata works less well here because although Emerson is a slow movement, when orchestrated, it sounds particularly dense and busy. When immediately followed by the excitement of Hawthorn you’re left rather drained for the two quieter movements that conclude the work. Swapping Hawthorn and Alcott around seems to balance the symphony better.

These are very minor gripes because this comes across as an immense late romantic / modernist outpouring: among the finest things Ives ever produced. This recording is tremendously exciting and although not the premier of Brant’s version it is a very important addition to the Ives discography. For Ives enthusiasts this is essential listening whilst providing a treat for Copland fans too.


Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4
Shostakovich: Symphony No. 4
Price: £4.39

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Polished Facade, 22 Nov. 2013
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Petrenko’s Shostakovich symphonic cycle with the RLPO has been much lauded to date and I’ve certainly enjoyed a number of the series with a few being outstanding. Some of the symphonies have been less well served than others in Petrenko’s approach but it’s fair to say that the RLPO have sounded outstanding throughout, thanks in part to his efforts and the excellent sound engineering from Naxos. The musicians themselves, of course deserve great credit.

Once again the playing here is wonderful and the level of detail picked out is quite extraordinary at times. So regardless of how the conductor interprets the piece this was always going to sound great. The series as a whole has been pretty good but has had a tendency to emphasise shape, detail and architecture at the expense of the more visceral, expressive and theatrical moments: this was always likely to be an issue with the remarkable Fourth where the form of the opening movement plays hide and seek with sonata form and the finale is a complex web of vignettes. It is Mahlerian indeed but reflects the age of cinema; a moving montage with many effects intended to be theatrical and unnerving.

The result is that Petrenko takes rather a staccato approach to the opening movement and manages to make the more aggressive passages seem surprisingly lightweight. The shrill opening doesn’t grab the throat in the way that Daniel Raiskin’s excellent version does or the conductors who were close to the composer, like Barshai and Kondrashin. It’s as if Petrenko wants to continue the glib, slightly facetious Shostakovich of the Second and Third symphonies in this opening movement.

The central rondo is played at a deliberate pace but this is less of an issue than it is the finale which, even when the allegro begins, continues to be leaden footed. The light but slightly sinister vignettes, that appear later in the movement sound harshly etched and heavy handed – they fail to dance as lightly as they should. The grand final climax is dragged out though it is effective. The tempo of the desolate conclusion feeds from this climax, which may make architectural sense but loses its dramatic effect where contrasting the array of dramatic set pieces is a the core of the work’s form.

Rudolf Barshai conducted a wonderful version of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony which gained its power largely through the rigour of his interpretation – avoiding melodrama by following Mahler’s formal arguments. He takes a very different view of the Shostakovich, recognising it as the radical and expressively terrifying and unnerving work that it is. So here was a rigorous classicist reading the work in a very different way to Petrenko.

We are not short of truly excellent versions of this great symphony now but Petrenko’s is not one of them. The stunning recording and playing still make this a version well worth getting to know even if it falls short of Petrenko’s best work in the cycle. It may not be the best around but this still sounds like the great symphony that it is.


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