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James Walters (Scotland)

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Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche
Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche
by Haruki Murakami
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.98

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars photos please, 17 Nov. 2009
The repetition is one of the fascinating aspects of the book-for me,this isn`t a problem. I'm slightly troubled by the reviewer who says the translation is somewhat lacking as the prose stlye is certainly prosaic.
One tiny gripe- -I`d like to have photograps of all the people interviewed-it would make this a more distinctive document.

Herbert Von Karajan - Maestro For The Screen - A Film By Georg Wubbolt [DVD] [2008]
Herbert Von Karajan - Maestro For The Screen - A Film By Georg Wubbolt [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Herbert Von Karajan
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £18.96

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a good supplement to the Dornhelm docu on DG, 3 Sept. 2009
An admirably candid portrait of Karajan and his passion for filming classical music.
His pursuit of an idealised beauty entered into the visual arena-eg.beards were banned, and the balding had to wear wigs.
As ever,a complex personality, full of contradicions emerges.Some of the relationships with film directors were rather strained but his generosity in other other areas comes across well.
-infact,I feel this is a classier appendix to the Dornhlem documentary on DG than EMI`s film (Karajan,a portrait) which is overly reverential.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2009 1:02 AM GMT

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
by Alex Ross
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some wonderful anecdotes and a brilliant fresh perspective., 31 Aug. 2009
Worth a read for some of the unusual anecdotes eg.Boulez kissing Shostakovich's hands. Given Boulez's supposed antipathy (or is it just a pose?)it seems unlikely, but the story is apparently from a trusted source.
The perspective of Ross's book is refreshingly different from previous attempts as figures like Strauss,Sibelius and Feldman (sidelined by Paul Griffiths) are given prominence over some of the usual suspects.
Most tellingly,Ross has the ability to capture the flavour of a particular time and place which puts him ahead of comparable volumes, and why I'd imagine this book has reached beyond the normal confines. This has only been achieved in the medium of television: Paul Crossley's 'Sinfonietta' which was broadcast on Channel 4 in the late 1980s.
On the nitty gritty of musical grammar Ross can be absurdly spurious-take the comparison drawn between the opening four notes of Sibelius's 5th Symphony and Coltrane's 'A love Supreme'-this is thrown in to impress readers who are less familiar with musical notation.
I guess it's inevitable, but Ross is on shakier ground when it comes to living composers-here we are left with speculation, and bereft of the sifting process which takes place over a period of time:Here I feel Ross succumbs to the allure of the fashionable.
An amazing amount of attention is lavished on John Adams,composer of the incredibly anodyne opera 'Doctor Atomic' and a truly atrocious violin concerto.
Only time will tell...I may well be completely mistaken of course!
By comparison, Frederic Rzewski(b.1938) is a mere footnote, and the unconventional British composer Michael Finnissy (b.1946) doesn't even get a mention.

The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (2CD)
The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant (2CD)

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars outstanding contemporary opera, 25 Aug. 2009
Barry's opera sets every word of the text for Fassbinder's film of the same name.
Remarkably,the opera gets through it in less time than the film (106 as opposed to 119 minutes)-Barry's approach is different to the film which is full of silences and more thoughtful.
The opera is has a feverish intensity -even a seemingly casual phone call to book flights is underpinned with brutal orchestration and angular vocal lines. Against all odds,this emerges as one of the strongest operas of recent times and it stands up well without the visual element.

Bruckner: Symphony 2
Bruckner: Symphony 2
Offered by best_value_entertainment
Price: £7.89

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a good place to start if you don't know any Bruckner symph., 22 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Bruckner: Symphony 2 (Audio CD)
I bought this album merely to fill a gap in my collection....truth be told,i hadn't high hopes for this most overlooked Bruckner Symphony.
However,I've been hooked:the slow movement is utterly heart wrenching from the outset and the savage scherzo anticipates the 9th symphony's same movement.
Alot of the credit must surely go to Tintner:the edition chosen here (Bruckner's first thoughts)is much better than the Haas which Gunther Wand uses.The 2nd big climax (about 12 minutes in)of the slow movement is horribly touched up in the later version.Scherzo and slow movement are reversed in Bruckners later thoughts which again is less striking.
National Symphony orchestra of Ireland is not as plush as BPO or even Wand's Cologne Radio Orchestra but they play with such conviction under the assured but inpired baton of Tintner that any reservations can be brushed aside.
If you've never heard a Bruckner symphony or if previously you've grappled without success this could be a good place to start.

Essential Handel
Essential Handel

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Lavish Feast of Delights, 22 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Essential Handel (Audio CD)
Even for those who are normally adverse to such compilations it's hard not to surrender to the endless delights on offer.There's an attractive mixture of the familar and the more obscure:who can fail but be swept away by the majestic 'Solemn March' from Joshua (track 15)or the beguiling 'Hark! he strikes the golden lyre'(track 16)where the the sequential figure three minutes in is utterly heart wrenching.

Barrett: Vanity
Barrett: Vanity
Price: £8.68

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars strikingly original orchestral score, 27 Jan. 2005
This review is from: Barrett: Vanity (Audio CD)
Vanity(1990-94) is one of the most remarkable of orchestral pieces to have emerged from the UK in recent years.Abrupt shifts between great sensual beauty and moments of nightmarish intensity, there's an inevitabilty to the musical language which is never coupled with the polite social pleasantries afflicting so much music coming from these shores!
Barrett has in the past been lumped together with ferneyhough but in terms of actual sound i don't detect any particular resemblance.There are influences are influences-Xenakis,Lachemann,Stockahusen,Andreissen-but there's a refinement and unpredictability of pacing which is entirely original.
Strongly recommended even to those who normally steeer well clear of the more radical aspects of music!

Rachmaninov Preludes & …tudes-Tableaux
Rachmaninov Preludes & …tudes-Tableaux
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £12.01

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great playing,drops in recording levels, 16 Dec. 2004
Great playing and a give away at this price but a minor word of caution about the recording as there are some rather alarming drops in recording levels(eg.the ending of the famous G minor prelude.)
Ideally this disc should be supplemented with Alexis Weissenberg's COMPLETE recording of the Preludes on RCA,one of the finest of Weissenberg's recordings.

Les Introuvables D'alexis Weissenberg
Les Introuvables D'alexis Weissenberg
Price: £222.26

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars critics were aghast at the violence of his approach, 30 Nov. 2004
When they first made a showing back in the 60's and 70's many of these performances were greeted with hostile,at best muted reviews in the Gramophone magazine.Unimaginative critics were aghast at the violence of Weissenberg's approach and apparent lack of sensitivity.However,with the passing of time a large number of his recordings have earned an almost legendary status,enhanced by an overlong abscence from the catalogue.'les introuvables...':especially selected by Weissenberg himself, is a good introduction to one of the most fascinating pianists of the 20th century.
There are many pleasures to be had from this collection but the tracks i've returned to most often are three solo items of a more intimate nature:Bach/Busoni(sustained intensity),Franck(searingly lyrical)and a surprisingly bracing Brahms intermezzo, most notably in the middle section which surges ahead where others become sentimental.
Low points are terrible recorded sound(and odd piano)for the Stravinsky and Ravel solo pieces.
The crisply articulated Rach 3 is one of the most exciting ever recorded but a bit of the opening string chord has been erroneously sliced off in this remastering.

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