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P. R. Rustage
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XID 5255 BOISE TRIO Ravel Paino Trio/Debussy Cello & Piano Sonata LP
XID 5255 BOISE TRIO Ravel Paino Trio/Debussy Cello & Piano Sonata LP

4.0 out of 5 stars Neglected classic performance in need of reissue, 10 April 2017
This is a classic performance sadly no longer available. Marvellous ensemble from the Boise in the Ravel. Parkhouse is steady throughout with excellent dynamics in the sonatas. Bean plays with his usual elegance but for me the highlight is Croxford's emotionally charged performance in the cello sonata. Recording quality is good for the time (this was an original Saga recording, not one of their many re-issues of other catalogues works). It is worth looking out for the stereo version as the mono version sounds a bit boxy by present day standards. Its about time someone found the original tape, remastered it and issued it as a download


A Saga Night in Vienna with Johann Strauss II
A Saga Night in Vienna with Johann Strauss II
Price: £5.49

1.0 out of 5 stars The performances are acceptable but the recording quality is very poor mono. There are so many better newer recordings ..., 17 Sept. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I downloaded this for nostalgic reasons. I used to have this recording when it appeared on a budget label Saga vinyl LP in the early 1960s. The recording was old even then, Dobrindt died in 1963 and this recording stems from about 1955. The performances are acceptable but the recording quality is very poor mono. There are so many better newer recordings of these works that there really is no reason to buy this at any price unless you are particularly interested in Dobrindt. Strauss, Johann II : Waltzes & Polkas is a better option, newer, better recorded, better performed and you get more tracks for your money.


Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9
Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9
Price: £7.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Poor sound quality, 1 Dec. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These are classic performances from 1958-60 and despite all the recordings that have appeared since there are still people who rate this as one of the best cycles of all. These are the recordings that after appearing at full price on EMI for a while were later reissued at mid-price on HMV Concert Classics and then on budget label Classics for Pleasure where they reached a whole new audience. Performances are tight and punchy where necessary and broad and expressive elsewhere and the BPO plays marvelously. At the price could one imagine a better bargain? Actually yes.
There is something seriously dodgy about this download. The sound quality is harsh and brittle and sounds like they are playing in a swimming baths. There are points when on long notes (e.g. the opening of the ninth) you can hear a distinctive wow - an artifact specific to vinyl LPs that should never appear on an mp3. I suspect these are transcriptions made straight from a retail vinyl LP - not even the master tape - and as such very poor quality.
These same performances are also available as individual symphony downloads at a higher price. In these cases the words "digitally remastered" appear as part of the title and on listening to them it is clear that the sound quality is way better. But if you were to buy all the symphonies in the remastered version then you are looking at the same price as most of the newer highly acclaimed recordings by the likes of Haitink, Chailly, Abbado, Rattle, Vanska, Thielemann, Zinman et al. With that kind of competition I would be hard pressed to recommend a 1958 cycle by Cluytens - even remastered.


Fraud Squad - The Complete Series 1 [DVD]
Fraud Squad - The Complete Series 1 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Patrick O'Connell
Offered by NextDayEntertainment
Price: £17.75

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best of 60's TV, 23 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There is a tendency, when watching TV series almost 45 years old to attribute percieved deficiencies in the production to merely a change in the style of acting and direction. Things were different then, you should judge by different standards. But when you compare this series with other shows that were being broadcast at the same time it is clear that even then this really wasn't up to much.

At the same time as this was being broadcast, we were seeing the last series of the Saint, the Avengers and Man from Uncle. Apart from being on film and in colour (which this is not) those series clearly had a level of acting and direction that way exceeded "Fraud Squad". Perhaps, considering the smaller budget and more modest technology a fairer comparison would be with the fourth and fifth series of Public Eye or final run of Softly Softly - both largely studio bound monochrome video productions. But even here the acting is in a different league.

The stories arent too bad - pursuing fraud from the petty to the corporate, sometimes with an interesting twist, But the characters are two dimensional, unloveable and starved of realistic dialogue. How much of this is in the script and how much the acting is hard to determine but Patrick O'Connell's one-size-fits-all delivery (which consists mainly of shouting) becomes wearisome very quickly. The blurb claims that in Joanna Van Gyseghem's character we have "the first British television drama to feature a female detective in a leading role" - but this is not so. Gyseghem is at best a characterless foil to O'Connell and at worst merely set dressing. Various directors are used but they seem to take their cue from the most prevalent, Michael Currer-Briggs who seems to regard all characters as either frivolous or confrontational and there's an end to it.

Ok so having been so critical I nevertheless got some pleasure out of the set if only because they were so "of their period" and thereby a touch nostalgic. But if you are into 60's TV gems there is Ghost Squad, Mr Rose, Sergeant Cork, Its Dark Outside and many more that are significantly better. Start with those then come back here when there is nothing else left.


Tales from Moominvalley
Tales from Moominvalley
Offered by Audible Ltd

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book - dissappointing audio, 12 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I didn't start reading the Moomintroll stories until way into adulthood and was surprised at how satisfying they are for an adult reader. The books do work on a number of levels and the later ones (of which this is the first) are definitely darker, more philosophical and satirical than the early stuff. Unfortunately the audiobooks are very definitely aimed at children with children's voices, funny music and a delivery by Hugh Dennis in that "play school" voice. If you are buying this to play to young children in the car or before bedtime then the CDs are fine but adults will find the production irritating.


ION Audio Profile LP Turntable with USB Conversion - Black
ION Audio Profile LP Turntable with USB Conversion - Black
Offered by eGadgetland
Price: £59.00

59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wow - theres too much, 31 Dec. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Build quality is good, it was easy to set up and the supplied software is OK for most purposes. If you have problem albums that you want to transcribe and do a lot of post processing on there is better software out there but that is still totally compatible with this kit. So far so good. The music played through my PC speakers as I was recording and sounded fine. The finished version when fed though my Squeezebox into the hifi system sounded just about as good as you can expect a scratchy old LP to sound.

However, even with the first transcribed album I noticed a few problems with tonality. I put this down to the album rather than the deck. The second however was worse. With each album the amount of wow and flutter increased. By the fifth album, the maximum speed was around 28 rpm rather than 33.3 and that was wildly inconsistent, fluctuating with each track. In the end the deck was wowing like crazy and the sound totally unlistenable. It wasn't even a consistent wow (i.e. a regular speed variation with each turn of the platter) but speed fluctuations that were unpredictable and chaotic. The deck is spirit-level horizontal on a sturdy table on a concrete floor yet sounds like lt's being played on a roller coaster.

Clearly there is something wrong with the motor or the belt. The whole lot is going back tomorrow. I will be asking for a like-for-like replacement since I am trusting the other reveiwers and presuming I have just been unlucky and got a duff belt.

I will update this review when the next one comes.

****************************************************
The replacement was prompt and efficient with no quibbles or foot dragging. The new deck is excellent and I have upped my rating from 1 start to 4. The only reason it isnt 5 is because their QA could obviously do with improving if they let a bad one out like that in the first place. But now I must admit the sound quality from even my oldest LPs is much better than I expected.

Incidentally if you have some really noisy damaged LPs you want to digitise this is how I get the best results:

1 Play them wet. Use a plant spray or atomiser to spray them with a mixture of 500 ml warm water, 2 caps of white vinegar and a two drops of fairy liquid. Spray them 2 or three times per side while you are recording to stop them drying out. Hard debris turns into a suspension which glides past the stylus noiselessly.

2. Play them at 45 rpm to speed up the process

3. Use a good wave editor to slow the sound back to 33 rpm and clean up the noise. Audacity is good - and free but I find Goldwave to be better even though it costs some money (not much)

4. Apply a light pop/click filter to the whole album, select particularly bad clicks individually and use a stronger pop/click setting for these. Dont use the strong settings on the whole album as this will affect the overall sound quality.

5. A good trick is to sample the sound of the blank space between tracks. This will have all the rumble, hiss crackle etc of the whole album but not the music. Consequently you can use it with the noise reduction function of your software and have it "subtracted" from the musical parts of the rest of the album. This will remove pretty well all of the background noise without affecting the sound of the actual music. (Incidentally make sure your sample contains no music at all - particularly not the reverb or fade-out of the previous track - subtracting that from the album will take all the life out of the sound).

I amm very pleased with the combination of this deck and decent software and have managed to get excellent results from 40 year old albums that were virtually unplayable at one time.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 2, 2012 10:59 AM BST


Chopin: Complete Piano Works
Chopin: Complete Piano Works
Price: £54.50

8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There are better alternatives, 23 April 2011
I first came across Idil Biret when listening to Jeremy Siepmann's audio biography of Chopin where she plays the musical examples. I couldnt help but laugh when hearing Siepmann talk about Chopin's "delicate shimmering style and close attention to the use of pedal" then following this with Biret clunking her way club-footedly through the etudes. "Chopin played quietly because he wanted to play quietly" we hear followed by Biret bashing it out in the left hand. I was beginning to think I had lost my own critical faculties when I read the reviews of the complete cycle on Amazon.com and found that no-one had noticed the awkward ungainly rhythms, stiff fingered arpeggios and overall sheer clumsiness.

I borrowed the complete cycle and lived with it for a month in the hope that perhaps there was something here that I was missing. There wasnt. I was pleased to give it back. I really cant understand how so many people can rate this recording so highly. Most of the reviews I have read say a lot about the awards she has won, the fact that she was taught by Kempff, the fact that she (unusually) is Turkish and what a great achievement this is. But they say precious little about the simple listening experience. Is it a pleasure listening to to Biret play? No, and thats the end of it. There are way better performances out there (Ashkenazy, Rubinstein, Argerich) at about the same price. The recording quality is also poor giving the piano a harsh and ugly sound that seems to make even the gentlest nocturne sound aggressive and threatening - or is that Biret's playing? - its hard to tell.

I hate being critical of musicians. They deserve respect and encouragement. Playing the piano is difficult and there is no doubt that Biret is a competent player and recording the complete Chopin cycle is a great achievement. But at the end of the day why settle for competent when there is genius around?


The Clocks: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)
The Clocks: A Hercule Poirot Mystery (Hercule Poirot Mysteries)
by Agatha Christie
Edition: Audio CD

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the Audiobook versions, 10 April 2011
This review is of the audiobook versions of the novel of which there are two currently on offer, the The Clocks (Hercule Poirot Mysteries) with Robin Bailey and the The Clocks: Complete & Unabridged with Hugh Fraser.

First off, both versions are excellent so you could choose just on the price. At the moment, the Harper Collins is the slightly cheaper of the two but prices vary all the time and by the time you read this the situation may be reversed.

If you have seen the TV version of Poirot then you will know the voice of Hugh Fraser, the actor who plays Hastings. Hastings doesnt actually appear in this novel and Fraser has to voice the main narrator, the spy Colin Lamb, Poirot himself and a host of other chracters. Fraser does this quite adequately with a Poirot voice that sounds remarkably like David Suchet but with the Lamb character one cant help but be reminded of Hastings and this can be a bit distracting.

Robin Bailey is best known for the character "Uncle Mort" from the BBC TV series but has appeared in many other and varied roles on TV, radio and stage. Bailey's range of voices is to my ear more varied - there is less chance of mixing people up. He has a different take on the Lamb character and does especially convincing females. Bailey's Poirot however is very different from either Suchet or the BBC's other Poirot voice John Moffat being slightly deeper, gruffer and more gutteral. I find I prefer this slightly to Hugh Fraser but many - who are more used to the "Suchet sound" will prefer Fraser.

Otherwise, production values are generally the same with good sound quality and packaging for both.


The Time Machine
The Time Machine
by H. G. Wells
Edition: Audio CD

15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Excellent novel - awful audiobook, 5 April 2011
This review is from: The Time Machine (Audio CD)
I see no point in reviewing HG Wells' novel here. It is a classic, much better than either of the filmed adaptations and you should read it. This review is of the audiobook edition.

Scott Brick has a good reputation in the field of narrating audiobooks. In general when he keeps to his own soft californian vocal style the result is often pleasing.

Here however he is way off the mark.

For some inexplicable reason Brick decides to narrate the whole work in an outrageous accent that I guess he thinks sounds like British but only if you went to the Dick van Dyke school of elocution. The result is a cartoon-like pastiche of what Americans think British people talk like which is not only ugly to listen to but - as a Brit myself - quite frankly, insulting. Even if you can get past the ludicrous pronounciation, the delivery is mannered and melodramatic, sounding more like a foppish eighteenth century aristocrat than an Edwardian engineer. This time traveller sounds like he is going to pluck a perfumed lace hankie from his sleeve before swooning rather than crack some morlock skulls with an iron bar. If Brick had kept to his relaxed but articulate Santa Barbara drawl the effect would have been much more acceptable than this travesty. If you cant do accents and get them 100% right then dont even attempt it.

Oh, and its lu-BOR-a-tree not LAB-ratry. Get it right.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 27, 2013 6:04 PM BST


The Time Machine
The Time Machine
by H. G. Wells
Edition: Audio CD

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful accent - horrendous delivery, 5 April 2011
This review is from: The Time Machine (Audio CD)
I see no point in reviewing HG Wells' novel here. It is a classic, much better than either of the filmed adaptations and you should read it. This review is of the audiobook edition.

Scott Brick has a good reputation in the field of narrating audiobooks. In general when he keeps to his own soft californian vocal style the result is often pleasing.

Here however he is way off the mark.

For some inexplicable reason Brick decides to narrate the whole work in an outrageous accent that I guess he thinks sounds like British but only if you went to the Dick van Dyke school of elocution. The result is a cartoon-like pastiche of what Americans think British people talk like which is not only ugly to listen to but - as a Brit myself - quite frankly, insulting. Even if you can get past the ludicrous pronounciation, the delivery is mannered and melodramatic, sounding more like a foppish eighteenth century aristocrat than an Edwardian engineer. This time traveller sounds like he is going to pluck a perfumed lace hankie from his sleeve before swooning rather than crack some morlock skulls with an iron bar. If Brick had kept to his relaxed but articulate Santa Barbara drawl the effect would have been much more acceptable than this travesty. If you cant do accents and get them 100% right then dont even attempt it.

Oh, and its lu-BOR-a-tree not LAB-ratry. Get it right.


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