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Popescu Lucian (Bucharest, Romania)

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Mass in B Minor
Mass in B Minor
Price: CDN$ 38.39
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5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding performance, June 3 2004
This review is from: Mass in B Minor (Audio CD)
Again, five stars for Mr. Gardiner. The tempi are thoughtfully chosen: neither rushed, nor sluggish. Throughout the entire work, as in his outstanding renditions Passions, Gardiner rests faithful to the music and its appropriate style, giving it an extra impulse which I find most pleasant. The quality of singing is unsurpassed: every leading instrument or vocal counterpoint can be followed with no difficulty.
Just as Rennaissance paintings, Bach's choral works are more than masterpieces. Their Christian themes, although branded "irrelevant" by politics-obsessed post-modernists, are CENTRAL to the works, far beyond being just tools subjugated to an artistic sense. Bach's Passions (not to mention Cantatas), Michelangelo's Sixtine Chappel murals are not only highest art, but highest CHRISTIAN art. The very motivation of their existence is religious. The lung with which they breathe is the evangelical message of Christianity. Although i'm not personally a believer, I find hindrance of this character outright mutilating.

by Jean Paul Sartre
Edition: Paperback
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the dread of living, April 28 2004
This review is from: Nausea (Paperback)
The whole plot is but a motivation of making us understand author's theory of existence devoid of essence. That existence is devoid of essence is clear. Even more, existence IS only when seen from an inward perspective (through an existent). Outside of it, existence is just a mass of attributes (SOME OF WHICH WE, THE LIVING, AGGREGATE AS "BEING"). The driving force behind any human's actions, just among any OTHER animal, is his instinct of self-preservation. Characters other than Roquentin skillfully represent the mirrored variations of ONE archaic being who lives in complete stupor, operating on a multitude of automatisms, instincts and archetipes. This is man: a product and bystander of many illusions, a BEING conditioned through its very nature. To say EVEN ABOUT the one who knows this that by such he TRANSCENDS such order would be as idiotic as claiming a rebelious fish left his seas and built a shelter on mainland...
How man reacts when confronted with such absolute inescapable realities. Can the instinct of self-preservation withstand such vicious assault which threatenes to destroy the beautiful heartfelt love for the self? It can, in theory: since being conditiones thinking and not the viceversa. However, in practice, it does BADLY, since the very basis upon which automatisms are built gets downgraded towards a pitiful state, when you KNOW you are nothing more than disposable meat mass...

Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 1: The Spell of Plato
Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 1: The Spell of Plato
by Karl R. Popper
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 42.14
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1 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars disgusting..., April 28 2004
I read this disgusting book a couple of years ago out of pure masochism, knowing it is nothing more than pure despicable propaganda, one of "20th century crowning philosophical achievements" (so termed by its mostly unaware followers: fully indoctrinated people with "democracy" and "human rights" flags on one hand and censorship on the other).
What can I say?... Popper was under no circumstance an intellectual (in the right sense of "thinking person"), yet a highly opportunistic mass member who managed to rise in totally unmerited positions by constantly keeping himself within the fashion of his times.
Typical to thoroughly primitive humans, Popper does not understand concepts being separated of actions and translates the former into the latter, actions being the only things he truly had any command into. For Popper, a concept is valid once it's transposition into action is "acceptable" (in the twisted post-modern sense). A clear manifestation of this common process is how in the entire waste of words of whom this book consists, NEVER does the author attempt some insight into an issue, merely remaining on the outsides looking for imputable manifestations. This is a MUST among modern "proffesional" academics, as well. Such procedure serves two reasons:
1. it promotes a political agenda to whom the author is in debt by being granted the formal position he has.
2. it diverts discussions into ad-hominem attacks, something anybody, no matter how archaic-minded, can deal with.
Arguments are meaningful only to those who understand them. They are but a manifestation of weakness in the eyes of those with an unbounded instinct of conservation such as Popper. The best strategy of all for dealing with propagandistic garbage would be to simply IGNORE it. An even better alternative (since propaganda is boringly repetitive) is to respond directly with an ad-hominem...
I am glad I didn't bought this book. In Romania, during the Dark Ages of Stalinism, it was customary to burn "dangerous" books. In latter times, people used marxist books to wrap fresh eggs so they won't break when being carried together. If I happened to buy a Popper book, I would have hesitated wrapping eggs with it, for the fear they would be contaminated.
Some aspects of the book are involuntarily amusing. The (...)author, probably in a pousee of overinflated "self esteem", compares himself with Aristotle and forgives the latter for being a crypto-fascist... Popper proves himself outstandingly as part of a cathegory of intellectuals where lack of conscience is a weapon of both defense and attack. Defense, for it prevents the shattering projection upon self's being. Attack, for obvious reasons...

Bach: Die Kunst Der Fuge
Bach: Die Kunst Der Fuge
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Die Kunst der Fuge, April 27 2004
This is one extraordinary, highly original, very complicated work of unmatched beauty. In his latest years, Bach decided to complete his long project of doing a work which would sum up all his achievements. Art of Fugue is sole in its kind where beauty, variation, insight, profondeur are all at their highest peak. This work consists on a collection of counterpoints evolved from the main theme in the first movement. It is as clear as the sun in the sky this work it was intended as a keyboard work. In the adjoining booklet, Leonhardt proves this undeniably, in an age where some people still thought (and unfortunately still do) it was a chamber work. While I'm not against performing it on piano or organ, this should be remembered as fact.
Back in 1952, when this recording was done, historical harpsichord were yet to be manufactured. Leonhardt performs on a "modern" harpsichord (the type Martha Landowska played on), which sounds EXTREMELY bad. Even with this third rate instrument, Leonhardt was the first to do justice with Kunst der Fuge. His interpretation, compared to modern standards, is quite slowish, maybe or maybe not a reminescence of the ways of performing in his age. The interest in conveying every voice, every inflection is always apparent. The clarity of counterpoint, helped by the tempi, is always present. This was back in his age proof against those who thought Kunst der Fuge as virtually impossible on a single instrument (because of the number of intervowen voices).
All in all, this is among the best interpretations available for this magnificent work.
I wouldn't have hesitated ONE VERY MOMENT for giving this recording a five PLUS rating, but the sound of his harpsichord is so enerving, I ended up opting for other performances...

Partitas 1-6 / Preludes & Fugues
Partitas 1-6 / Preludes & Fugues
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, April 27 2004
These are (after Art of Fugue) by far the finest, most profound, least repetitive works for solo keyboard (piano, harpsichord, organ) ever written. Even if all of Bach's other works were lost, he would still clearly classify as world's greatest composer. Those who question my superlative accounts on these works should listen to the concluding movement (Gigue) in BWV 830 partita. Such beauty is indescribable...
Gould's interpretation is one among the very few where the piano doesn't muddle the counterpoint. His tempi are thoughtfully chosen, although (compared to Leonhardt landmark harpsichord performance) they tend to be somewhat fast. The clarity of counterpoint is crisp and the love for performing properly is unquestionable. There simply is no comparison with his "pianistic" contemporaries (who quite litterally were careless on how Bach should OBJECTIVELY sound like).

Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History
Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History
by Mircea Eliade
Edition: Paperback
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3.0 out of 5 stars post-modern archetypes, April 20 2004
Reading this book, I came to acknowledge in no modern scholar's analysis is there a possibility of divergence from "politically accepted" thought. To say a primitive (someone illiterate, living bounded into archetypes) has a theory of being is highly ridiculous, especially as the author himself acknowledges primitive man's disconfort in living outside the world of archetypes. To link an archetype (which is a form of instinct, with equivalents among other higher mammals) with philosophy, and even with the highest stance of the latter (ontology) is "mentally incorrect".
These pitiful relativistic stances should be immediately ignored by a serious person. Otherwise, the influences of Jung's theories are always apparent. As always, ideas aren't bad in themselves, but their interpretation makes them a vehicle of relativism.
According to Eliade, the archaic man lives in a world of archetypes and cyclical past, while for the "fallen" man of modern civilizations archetypes no longer exist and time is linear. This is obviously incorrect. His very idea that "we should respect other peoples cultures and not judge others as primitive" is an ALWAYS recurrent mindless ARCHETYPE of Post-Modern ages.

BACH. Violin Cti, Double Cto. Manze/Podger/AAM
BACH. Violin Cti, Double Cto. Manze/Podger/AAM
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3.0 out of 5 stars Absurdly Fast, May 30 2003
At such absurd tempi, no matter the quality of violonists involved, everything is treated in a light manner and the music suffers a great deal. This kind of interpretation, scratchy and horribly fast, has given a bad name to the otherwise great merits of HIP musicians.
For HIP performances of Bach's surviving violin concerts, I recommend Simon Standage/English Concert and Elizabeth Wallfisch/Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
There is no non-HIP performance that I could really recommend. All those I've listened to suffer greatly from the flaws of late romanticism when performing older music. DO NOT get yourself impressed by the "big names" involved (Perlman, Grumiaux, Stern, Oistrakh). They "explore" the unexistent romantic side of this composer. Yet, how could a fugal line, a counterpoint, the stones upon which Bach constructed his magnificent oeuvre, how could they have ANYTHING whatsoever in common with Romanticism?

Violin Concertos
Violin Concertos
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but far from great, Jan. 25 2003
This review is from: Violin Concertos (Audio CD)
This recording is part of a broader historical release and at that time it was breaking grounds in ways of performing World's greatest composer, J.S. Bach. Concertus Musicus Wien was among the first orchestras to perform (successfully) with original baroque instruments or reconstructions of those. The following review will discuss all of TELDEC's violin concerti 1041-1043 and reconstructed 1052, 1055, 1056, 1060 and 1064, not only the selection provided by this disk.
However, especially in the violin concertos 1041-1043, influences of old school interpretation are annoyingly apparent. Tempi are too slow and Alice Harnoncourt is less than an extraordinary violonist. Another impediment was Harnoncourt's obsession for syncopated playing (staccato), based on his correct (or not) assumptions about Baroque music. However, I preffer Harnoncourt's reading to much of the modern lightning-speed recordings of HIP school (eg. Manze/Podger).
BWV1052 (violin)
Harpsichord Concerto in D Minor BWV 1052 was originally written for violin and then transcribed by Bach for harpsichord. Unfortunately, the violin original text has not survived to present times but it has nevertheless triggered scholar's interest on how it might sounded like. Harnoncourt's reading is one of the handful, be that historically informed or uninformed performance. The playing is impecable. Alice Harnoncourt gives here the interpretation of hers lifetime. Sound is crisp, never too slow or too rapid. Orchestral support is outstanding. Five stars with no doubts in mind.
BWV1055 (oboe)
Although not included into this collection, i will rate it because it's a reconstructed concerto as well. Another outstanding interpretation for this harpsichord piece, performed on oboe, by Jurg Schaefterlin. Same scarcity of similar recordings to compare with. Five stars again with no doubts in mind.
BWV 1056 (violin)
This is the shame of the Harnoncourt's rather impressive approach on Bach. Not only orchestra sounds bland, absurdly brass-band syncopated, with uncontrolled tempi, but Alice Harnoncourt is very far here from making us believe she was elected to perform for a reason other than she was the wife of the conductor. Menuhin is better, Perlman is better, Biondi is better, although their approach is rather romantic than baroque.
BWV1060 (oboe & violin)
There are two competing reconstructions of BWV 1060: for two violins (which I preffer) and for oboe & violin (which conductors seem to take as the most accurate). There are very few recordings to compare Harnoncourt's reading with, but his performance is bland and boring, similar to his violin concerti. I heard Pinnock's and should I remind you how MUCH better that is?
BWV1064 (three violins)
An interpretation of Hogwood/Academy of Ancient Music. Very good but as far as I know there is no other historically informed performance of this piece to compare it with. Nevertheless, an outstanding reading. The basso continuo, as in all other reconstructed concerti is in part provided by Gustav Leonhardt himself.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Jan. 9 2003
This review is from: Concerti (Audio CD)
Extraordinary performance,highly recommended. I never knew Violin Concerto RV 761 can be so beautiful. The violin playing is absolutely outstanding. All instruments are contemporary to 17th century, during which the composer lived.

Das Komplette Kantatenwer
Das Komplette Kantatenwer
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5.0 out of 5 stars recommended, Dec 7 2002
This complete set of Bach sacred cantatas is not only a bargain price, but it contains some of the most profound interpretations these pieces ever had. Recorded during the 1970s on period instruments, with some of most prodiguous singers (Equiluz, Esswood) and an outstanding orchestral support, this is the best integral collection of cantatas there is. In order to restore the forgotten sence of baroque music, instrumentation is reduced to a minimum, the continuo is supported with antique instruments such as the basoon, tenors have been thoughtfully selected as NON-operatic. Another reconstructionist aspect was the use of boy choirs, which in later recordings Harnoncourt gave up. Boy choirs are not only authentical, but have the advantage of pitch purity. While in some arias (such as the extraordinary duet "lobe den herren" - BWV 137) this seems an excellent choice, in most it fails in more or less apparent manner.
While Herreweghe's or Gardiner's new interpretations are CERTAINLY better in both orchestral and vocal support, they all are greatly in debt of Harnoncourt/Leonhard, for it's always simple to improve something ALREADY existing instead of breaking new grounds (as this stellar 1970's recording did). Not to be forgotten is the fact newer version bring a sence of lightness which pleases anyone's ears, but it's manytimes inappropriate for the content of the music.

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