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Revueltas: Centennial Anthology (1899-1999)
Revueltas: Centennial Anthology (1899-1999)
Price: CDN$ 16.09
18 used & new from CDN$ 8.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wealth of Excellent Revueltas, Jan. 12 2002
Silvestre Revueltas is an exciting and original composer and this well-priced 2 CD set is an excellent way to enjoy his music. Having listened to numerous CDs of his works I can happily report that this CD contains as fine performances as can be found anywhere. With its wealth of material, it's one-stop-shopping for Revueltas. There is not a weak moment from any player on either CD.
Sensemaya is the best known work and the Sensemaya here rates along with Bernstein as the finest I've heard (Salonen's is a little too mild, Zinman's not mean enough, and others tend to be uneven). The inclusion of the Stokowski 1949 Sensemaya is interesting historically but not musically. The Night of the Mayas here is excellent, and the 3rd and 4th movememnts shine especially well, although the biggest treat for me here was Redes, which I heard for the first time and was quickly taken by. Revueltas seemed to have a gift for film music, and also for writing music that transferred well to the concert hall.
The CDs contain both chamber and symphonic works. I'm sure that Copland must have heard and been influenced by Revuletas as hints of El Salon Mexico are rampant in the smaller Revueltas works (especially 8 X Radio). Revueltas had a very clear, original voice, although at times it got a little abstract for me. Notes are thorough and very well written and include three pictures of Revueltas. The only possible way to improve this package would be to include the texts to the seven songs for soprano, but the book was already so big that perhaps this idea was rejected.
If you are getting started with Revueltas, or have heard Sensemaya on another compilation CD and want to hear more, these 2 CDs belong in your library. Once you've gotten to know these, expand your knowledge with Enrique Diemiecke's Unknown Revueltas on Dorian. Revueltas has something unique and exciting to offer and this set is the best possible way to enjoy his music.

Belkis Queen of Sheba; Dance
Belkis Queen of Sheba; Dance
Price: CDN$ 23.89
18 used & new from CDN$ 12.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Performance and Recording, Jan. 12 2002
This is an excellently played album that stacks up to any of the bigger name orchestras. The selections include a standard (The Pines) and two lesser-knowns (Belkis and The Gnomes). Oue is a conductor who lets no detail slip past his attention and his orchestra is first-rate from top to bottom. I was particularly struck by the woodwind solos throughout and by Oue's ability to shape melodic lines, letting them breathe when necessary and making it very musical. The slow movements here are slower than in other recordings but the music never drags or gets dull.
This is only the second Belkis recording to my knowledge and it is excellent. Winds, strings, and percussion are excellent throughout, although the brass need more punch at the beginning of the War Dance (they find it later in the CD so it isn't a question of ability). Also, the wordless tenor chant in the final movement seemed more random than meaningful. It's a relatively minor part in the suite and I think he should have opted to leave it to the trumpet (the composer-sanctioned alternative option). The slow movements are beautiful and throughout the suite, as in the rest of the CD, balance, ensemble, and intonation are all outstanding. The Dance of the Gnomes is a new one to me although I did enjoy the music. The inspiration is a macabre poem about dual gnome brides killing their mutual husband on the wedding night and although the poem (text included) describes some nasty events, the music stays relatively tame.
The Pines recording stacks up to any I've heard and is a definite challenge to Reiner and Chicago. I found some of the solos (especially clarinet) better than Reiner's and, again, Oue's tempos are slower but the music is very beautiful and expressive. The brass are also up to the challenge with the requisite power in IV and excellent sound and control in other areas (particularly high brass). Recording quality is excellent on the whole CD and we get to enjoy a few seconds of reverb at the end of Pines.
Oue has an excellent group of players and I look forward to hearing more of their work.

Partial Seizure Disorders: A Guide for Patients and Families
Partial Seizure Disorders: A Guide for Patients and Families
by Mitzi Waltz
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from CDN$ 4.52

5.0 out of 5 stars For Anyone Affected By Partial Seizures, Sept. 13 2001
Anyone whose life is significantly impacted by partial seizures, whether directly or indirectly, should own this book. This is the only book that I have come across that specifically addresses partial seizures (simple and complex), and as such it is tremendously valuable to parents, friends, family members, and people who have Epilpesy themselves. It seems that books on Epilepsy are either very cheap (and broad and shallow in scope) or extremely expensive (and bordering on encyclopedic), but this book falls nicely in the middle. It weighs in at a reasonable price and provides a wealth of information that an interested person might otherwise only find by sifting through a large volume.
I have read this book twice and I was still learning as I read it the second time. It includes lots of personal accounts, both by people who have seizures and caregivers (mostly parents of children with seizures). I think that these varied accounts provide a great deal of insight, particularly for those who don't themselves have seizures but must face its issues. The book includes lots of resources in terms of books, addresses, websites, and organizations, and also includes a good section on insurance issues. If your life is affected by partial seizures, you should have this book.

Vespers
Vespers
Price: CDN$ 19.80
22 used & new from CDN$ 6.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended Rachmaninoff Vespers, May 30 2001
This review is from: Vespers (Audio CD)
This is a piece of outstanding work from the Choir of King's College. Its principal difference from other recordings is that it uses boy sopranos instead of a mixed choir and, while I was initially skeptical, I would call this CD a great success.
Ensemble, balance, and intonation are excellent throughout, as is recording quality. The boy soprano timbre floats on top of the group excellently, although it does strain in some of the louder sections and towards the end. The basses have a solid low C, although the Bb is inconsistent and not secure enough at the end of V. The group's Russian diction is uniform and excellent as well. Mr. Cleobury does a particularly beautiful job of crafting the melodic lines in IX, X, and XI. Some of the tempos are faster than other recordings and I wish that he had let his choir take V at the same pace as XI. The Nunc Dimittis here is one of the fastest that I have heard, and although the intonation and ensemble never suffer, some of the words do blur together. I would prefer that the soloist tone it down a bit as well, especially in V, where I heard the same bizarre ornament that Robert Shaw's tenor soloist inserted.
This recording also opens with chant, which seems to be becoming standard procedure on newer recordings, as groups are working to recreate the liturgical setting of the work. Notes are good throughout, and transliterated texts and translations (as well as sources) are included. I wish that someone would include the original text in Cyrillic letters with a recording of this work!
This is an excellent Vespers recording, although it doesn't beat out Chernushenko's on Russian Season. The use of boy sopranos gives it something unique to offer and the recording is certainly not short on emotion. If you enjoy choral music, this deserves a place in your collection. It is a great way to enjoy one of music greatest treasures.

Symphony No. 3/ Quiet City
Symphony No. 3/ Quiet City
Price: CDN$ 19.37
20 used & new from CDN$ 9.51

5.0 out of 5 stars First Rate Copland, Dec 11 2000
This is an excellent CD in all respects: musicianship, conducting, recording quality, etc. The string sound at the opening is serene and beautiful and the brass and percussion are strong but never out of balance. The opening of the second movement on this CD is one of the finest brass orchestral passages that I've heard.
This is also Leonard Bernstein in outstanding form. He made a number of excellent recordings later in his life with DG, including this and his Mahler Symphony cycle, and I have yet to hear a bad CD from the lot. Bernstein recorded an earlier Copland Third that is (I believe) presently out as part of the Bernstein Century series on Sony. Both are excellent readings, but if you have to pick one, the later DG wins out.
The addition of Phil Smith, who is in the top handful of trumpeters in the world, playing Copland's beautiful and reflective "Quiet City" makes this hard to turn down. If you are a Copland enthusiast, interested in American music, or simply in search of a beautiful CD, this will not disappoint.

Sing We Christmas
Sing We Christmas
Price: CDN$ 18.34
14 used & new from CDN$ 2.02

5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Christmas Listening, Nov. 14 2000
This review is from: Sing We Christmas (Audio CD)
I could quite likely make it through the Christmas season with only this CD. Chanticleer is an ensemble that sets the highest standards for itself, in terms both of performance and production, and lives up to them with every album. This album presents a variety of languages, cultures, and time periods (Renaissance to American Gospel) and Chanticleer switches seamlessly from style to style, often in the same piece.
The vocal sound and ensemble are unparalleled by any other group I've heard. Every line is clear and beautiful, from the bass up through the soaring countertenor voices. While there are occaisonally soloists, there really are no stars in this album - it is a performance by the entire group. The arrangements are also very creative, such as Silent Night with 3 verses, each in a different language, and In Dulci Jubilo with 4 verses, each by a different arranger.
The bottom line, however, is the music itself. It doesn't matter how many different styles will fit on one album if the end result is musically lacking. That is not a concern here - music is first and foremost, and this album rises well above a densely-packed field of Christmas records.

Mahler: Symphony No. 5
Mahler: Symphony No. 5
Price: CDN$ 15.82
20 used & new from CDN$ 7.55

3.0 out of 5 stars Keep looking for a better Mahler 5, Nov. 11 2000
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony No. 5 (Audio CD)
I enjoy Solti's Mahler 1 on London, but I can't say nearly the same for this recording. This symphony is very emotional, and I don't think that that emotion comes through as much as it needs to, especially in the first movement. The Chicago Symphony has a bad reputation for too-loud brass with Mahler and unfortunately this recording reinforces that. Balance is not good at all and that causes the whole ensemble to suffer. I gave my copy of this recording away.
Mahler's Fifth is very powerful and covers a wide range of emotions, from death/ despair in the first movement all the way to peace and serenity in the fourth (for harp and strings only). This recording is OK, but there are much better ones that are more enjoyable. Check out Mehta/ NY Phil on Teldec or Leonard Bernstein on DG (almost always a safe bet with Mahler).

Symphony No.1
Symphony No.1
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 33.59
10 used & new from CDN$ 9.92

4.0 out of 5 stars Solti/ Chicago play Mahler's First, Nov. 11 2000
This review is from: Symphony No.1 (Audio CD)
I've had mixed success with the combination of Solti and the Chicago Symphony playing Mahler. The biggest criticism, usually, is balance problems, namely overdone brass. That doesn't happen here, and this may be the finest Mahler that I've heard from the Chicago Symphony on record or in person.
Balance, first of all, is excellent. What impressed me first was the effect of the trumpets in the first movement, sounding as though they are placed at oppopsite ends of the stage, or even off stage. There is a real effect of distance from the ensemble, which makes the trumpet calls more effective as the signals they are supposed to be. Intonation and ensemble throughout the first movement are fine, and percussion is an integral part of the group.
The second movement has a true dance rhythm to it and I think that Solti does a great job of bringing that out. It's supposed to be a peasant dance, not a stiff waltz, and the reading has a lot of spirit. The final two movements don't disappoint, either. Tempo transitions, especially in III, are smooth and the percussion blend in and out excellently. I noticed a little of what sounded like either tape hiss or background noise. I can't tell if this is a live recording or not, but either way it's only a minor distraction.
This is a well performed and enjoyable Mahler 1st. Chicago has a reputation for playing Mahler with overly loud brass, but that doesn't happen here. I wouldn't recommend every CSO Mahler recording, but I do recommend this one.

Antiphonal Music
Antiphonal Music
Price: CDN$ 11.80
23 used & new from CDN$ 5.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Standard of Excellence, Nov. 10 2000
This review is from: Antiphonal Music (Audio CD)
This is one of the top handful of brass albums available. It is a once-in-a-lifetime recording - many of America's top brass players reading through polyphonic music of Gabrielli. Playing, intonation, and ensemble are all exactly what you should expect: outstanding. Also, this album is not the result of hours upon hours in the studio - the rehearsal and recording took place in a total of nine hours (the Chicago/ Cleveland/ Philadelpia brass ensemble part). That aspect adds further to this CD's special place in the listening catalogue.
This CD falls basically into two parts: the Chicago/ Cleveland/ Philadelpia brass ensemble and E. Power Biggs/ Boston Brass Ensemble. I find the triple brass group to be more of the attraction than the organ and smaller brass group. E. Power Biggs has numerous other recordings, but this is the only one made by the combined forces of three of America's top brass sections. The 13 tracks of Gabrielli are more than worth the price. Still, with the inclusion of Armado Ghitalla from Boston, the performer list for this album reads like a "Who's Who" of American orchestral brass players.
Don't be thrown off by the thin neckties on the cover - fashion may have moved on, but the musical strength of this album has not wavered at all. Notes are detailed and excellent, and the price is lower than more recent but lesser quality CDs. If you buy one album of brass instruments, this should be it.

Sensemaya A New Portrait
Sensemaya A New Portrait
Offered by Fabulous CD
Price: CDN$ 21.99
4 used & new from CDN$ 21.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Revueltas, Nov. 9 2000
Revueltas is rightfully being recorded more and more frequently these days, and this recording is an excellent account of his work. Up until now, most of Revueltas' recordings have featured his large orchestral works. This CD is different because it displays some of his smaller scale, lesser known pieces. With three exceptions, the pieces here are under four minutes. His music is still very rhythmic, creative, and compelling. The performers are all excellent, as is the recording quality.
The best known Revueltas work is Sensemayá, which is heard here in a different version from the well known full orchestra setting. Since I had heard the longer version first, this version initially sounded somewhat clipped to me - as though it were missing something. I have since changed my mind and find this to be a similarly thrilling account - more so than some full orchestra readings. The playing and conducting are intense and excellent. Sensemayá is a thrilling piece to listen to and is even more thrilling to see performed live. Other excellent Sensemayá accounts have been given by Eduardo Mata, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Leonard Bernstein. There is a relatively lame account by Esa-Pekka Salonen that should be avoided.
The notes are detailed and well written, including information on the numerous talented musicians who collaborated for this recording. If you already have one Revueltas CD, this will make a great second.

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