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Viva Labs Organic Cacao Powder: Raw and Non-GMO, 1lb Bag
Viva Labs Organic Cacao Powder: Raw and Non-GMO, 1lb Bag
Offered by Premium Vitamins
Price: $18.95
6 used & new from $10.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Great in smoothies, brownies, November 20, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
For lazy cooks like me this is easy to add to smoothies, good rich flavor with practically no work. It can make a mean fudge brownie too, if you don't mind adding some of that unhealthy stuff. (I wouldn't know about healthy brownies, but I suppose they exist too.) Haven't tried anything else, but if it works for those it should work for anything you can use cacao for.


Bach, JS: Complete Solo Keyboard Concertos [+digital booklet]
Bach, JS: Complete Solo Keyboard Concertos [+digital booklet]
Price: $10.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Distinctive, with two unique transcriptions, November 19, 2014
Pianist Zilberquit and conductor Sondeckis deliver an enjoyable, bright performance on modern instruments. The Moscow Virtuosi are an accomplished chamber group, well matched to the music in size and precision. This makes a nice contrast to Gould and Golschmann. Zilberquit has a delicate, liquid, happy touch, while Gould is more muscular and often more intense or exuberant, with larger forces backing him. Zilberquit and Sondeckis stay closer to baroque style in that respect and others, though not entirely confined to it. In the fast movements they tend to keep to a quick but fairly square tempo, less liberal with variation in phrasing than some of the other recent modern piano recordings. It remains quite lively, however, and the rhythmic rigor has its appeal in this music. I'll get to the slow movements below.

The two Bach-Vivaldi pieces included here are adapted for keyboard and orchestra by Zilberquit from Bach's solo organ versions and the Vivaldi originals for strings. They're attractive additions to this collection of Bach keyboard concertos, and if you're tempted by them in this form, this recording is the only place you'll find them.

The piano is on the whole a superior instrument that I usually prefer, yet it isn't an ideal fit to this music, which often calls for the crisper, lighter, brighter sound of the harpsichord. Pianists sometimes attempt to approach the sound of a harpsichord: Gould had an uncannily sharp attack and release, and Zilberquit maintains a light touch, never too much forte.

The piano is generally even less suitable as a substitute for organ, which is a particular challenge in the Bach-Vivaldi transcriptions. The one that opens this set is an arrangement of BWV 593, based on RV 565. It begins with about a minute of piano solo that follows the Bach solo organ version before the orchestra joins in, a nice idea for the intro to the transcription, I think. The percussive sound of the piano produces a somewhat different effect than the organ does with a repeated base note through bar after bar, though, which called to my mind a Native American drumbeat as much as Bach. Interesting nonetheless. Most of the rest of the two Bach-Vivaldi pieces has more Vivaldi flavor and the fact that it's a piano rather than an organ doesn't figure as large. The other Bach-Vivaldi transcription, from BWV 596 and RV 522, closes the set.

The counterargument to what I said above about the suitability of the piano in this music may be most evident in the slow movements, which seem to me to benefit most from the greater pianistic expressiveness. Zilberquit doesn't overdo any Romantic overlay, but they're beautiful in a way not possible with a harpsichord, or an organ for that matter. The Largo e spiccato of the opening Bach-Vivaldi piece has become a popular confection and it's nicely perfumed here. The Andante of BWV 1058 achieves on piano more of the funereal sadness I personally associate with it, though it's even more ravishing in its version for violin (BWV 1041). There are many fine slow movements in these works that do well by Zilberquit and Sondeckis' sensitive, quiet treatment.

The sound is clear and well balanced. You can currently get this recording very cheaply on CD in its original Musical Heritage Society release.


J.S. Bach: Complete Solo Keyboard Concertos & J.S. Bach-Vivaldi: Two Concertos
J.S. Bach: Complete Solo Keyboard Concertos & J.S. Bach-Vivaldi: Two Concertos
Price: $22.33
27 used & new from $11.47

5.0 out of 5 stars Distinctive, with two unique transcriptions, November 19, 2014
Pianist Zilberquit and conductor Sondeckis deliver an enjoyable, bright performance on modern instruments. The Moscow Virtuosi are an accomplished chamber group, well matched to the music in size and precision. This makes a nice contrast to Gould and Golschmann. Zilberquit has a delicate, liquid, happy touch, while Gould is more muscular and often more intense or exuberant, with larger forces backing him. Zilberquit and Sondeckis stay closer to baroque style in that respect and others, though not entirely confined to it. In the fast movements they tend to keep to a quick but fairly square tempo, less liberal with variation in phrasing than some of the other recent modern piano recordings. It remains quite lively, however, and the rhythmic rigor has its appeal in this music. I'll get to the slow movements below. You can try samples here.

The two Bach-Vivaldi pieces included here are adapted for keyboard and orchestra by Zilberquit from Bach's solo organ versions and the Vivaldi originals for strings. They're attractive additions to this collection of Bach keyboard concertos, and if you're tempted by them in this form, this recording is the only place you'll find them.

The piano is on the whole a superior instrument that I usually prefer, yet it isn't an ideal fit to this music, which often calls for the crisper, lighter, brighter sound of the harpsichord. Pianists sometimes attempt to approach the sound of a harpsichord: Gould had an uncannily sharp attack and release, and Zilberquit maintains a light touch, never too much forte.

The piano is generally even less suitable as a substitute for organ, which is a particular challenge in the Bach-Vivaldi transcriptions. The one that opens this set is an arrangement of BWV 593, based on RV 565. It begins with about a minute of piano solo that follows the Bach solo organ version before the orchestra joins in, a nice idea for the intro to the transcription, I think. The percussive sound of the piano produces a somewhat different effect than the organ does with a repeated base note through bar after bar, though, which called to my mind a Native American drumbeat as much as Bach. Interesting nonetheless. Most of the rest of the two Bach-Vivaldi pieces has more Vivaldi flavor and the fact that it's a piano rather than an organ doesn't figure as large. The other Bach-Vivaldi transcription, from BWV 596 and RV 522, closes the set.

The counterargument to what I said above about the suitability of the piano in this music may be most evident in the slow movements, which seem to me to benefit most from the greater pianistic expressiveness. Zilberquit doesn't overdo any Romantic overlay, but they're beautiful in a way not possible with a harpsichord, or an organ for that matter. The Largo e spiccato of the opening Bach-Vivaldi piece has become a popular confection and it's nicely perfumed here. The Andante of BWV 1058 achieves on piano more of the funereal sadness I personally associate with it, though it's even more ravishing in its version for violin (BWV 1041). There are many fine slow movements in these works that do well by Zilberquit and Sondeckis' sensitive, quiet treatment.

The sound is clear and well balanced. You can currently get this recording very cheaply in its original Musical Heritage Society release.


J.S. Bach Complete Solo Keyboard Concertos / Bach-Vivaldi 2 Concertos
J.S. Bach Complete Solo Keyboard Concertos / Bach-Vivaldi 2 Concertos
Offered by CDSource
Price: $5.35
20 used & new from $3.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Distinctive, with two unique transcriptions, November 19, 2014
Pianist Zilberquit and conductor Sondeckis deliver an enjoyable, bright performance on modern instruments. The Moscow Virtuosi are an accomplished chamber group, well matched to the music in size and precision. This makes a nice contrast to Gould and Golschmann. Zilberquit has a delicate, liquid, happy touch, while Gould is more muscular and often more intense or exuberant, with larger forces backing him. Zilberquit and Sondeckis stay closer to baroque style in that respect and others, though not entirely confined to it. In the fast movements they tend to keep to a quick but fairly square tempo, less liberal with variation in phrasing than some of the other recent modern piano recordings. It remains quite lively, however, and the rhythmic rigor has its appeal in this music. I'll get to the slow movements below. You can try samples here.

The two Bach-Vivaldi pieces included here are adapted for keyboard and orchestra by Zilberquit from Bach's solo organ versions and the Vivaldi originals for strings. They're attractive additions to this collection of Bach keyboard concertos, and if you're tempted by them in this form, this recording is the only place you'll find them.

The piano is on the whole a superior instrument that I usually prefer, yet it isn't an ideal fit to this music, which often calls for the crisper, lighter, brighter sound of the harpsichord. Pianists sometimes attempt to approach the sound of a harpsichord: Gould had an uncannily sharp attack and release, and Zilberquit maintains a light touch, never too much forte.

The piano is generally even less suitable as a substitute for organ, which is a particular challenge in the Bach-Vivaldi transcriptions. The one that opens this set is an arrangement of BWV 593, based on RV 565. It begins with about a minute of piano solo that follows the Bach solo organ version before the orchestra joins in, a nice idea for the intro to the transcription, I think. The percussive sound of the piano produces a somewhat different effect than the organ does with a repeated base note through bar after bar, though, which called to my mind a Native American drumbeat as much as Bach. Interesting nonetheless. Most of the rest of the two Bach-Vivaldi pieces has more Vivaldi flavor and the fact that it's a piano rather than an organ doesn't figure as large. The other Bach-Vivaldi transcription, from BWV 596 and RV 522, closes the set.

The counterargument to what I said above about the suitability of the piano in this music may be most evident in the slow movements, which seem to me to benefit most from the greater pianistic expressiveness. Zilberquit doesn't overdo any Romantic overlay, but they're beautiful in a way not possible with a harpsichord, or an organ for that matter. The Largo e spiccato of the opening Bach-Vivaldi piece has become a popular confection and it's nicely perfumed here. The Andante of BWV 1058 achieves on piano more of the funereal sadness I personally associate with it, though it's even more ravishing in its version for violin (BWV 1041). There are many fine slow movements in these works that do well by Zilberquit and Sondeckis' sensitive, quiet treatment.

The sound is clear and well balanced.


Puccini - Turandot at the Forbidden City of Beijing / Mehta, Casolla, Larin, Frittoli, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Puccini - Turandot at the Forbidden City of Beijing / Mehta, Casolla, Larin, Frittoli, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
DVD ~ Giovanna Casolla
Price: $19.98
45 used & new from $2.90

4.0 out of 5 stars Beauty marred by ham-fisted special effects/cutaways, November 17, 2014
The biggest point in favor of this vis-a-vis other versions, the beautiful setting and stage production, is frustratingly detracted from with inexplicably bad taste in cutting away from the stage to show jarringly incongruous and not especially well shot scenes such as the Great Wall in broad daylight, or superimposing a moon or what is apparently supposed to be jade or ice at key moments.

There are also some failures to make much of some dramatic points. The short embrace between Turandot and Calaf, for example, is more a token than a portrayal of what their singing describes.

On the whole, though, the production is beautiful, the acting sincere, and the singing very good. I hope someday a restored version without the misguided effects/excursions will be available.


Menuhin Conducts Handel : The Messiah
Menuhin Conducts Handel : The Messiah
Price: $13.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting performance with an exuberance I enjoy, November 17, 2014
This is a live performance by a Lithuanian orchestra and chorus at a German music festival, with moderately-sized forces and modern instruments, led by famous violinist-turned-conductor Yehudi Menuhin in the year of his 80th birthday. But this isn't a stuffy old-fashioned performance, quite the opposite. It brims with energy, practically racing at times.

The soloists have fairly light voices appropriate to the style. The women in particular produce some beautiful moments. Some of the soloists have trouble with pronunciation, and there's some of the usual struggle to hit the notes. If you're sensitive to that kind of trouble, this probably won't be enjoyable for you. It doesn't spoil things for me, as I'm used to much worse in live performances.

The sound is good, in a reverberant acoustic, with very little audience noise.

You can currently get the CD version of this from the Amazon Marketplace sellers for quite a bit less than the download.


Handel: Messiah
Handel: Messiah
Price: $14.39
18 used & new from $0.48

4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting performance with an exuberance I enjoy, November 17, 2014
This review is from: Handel: Messiah (Audio CD)
This is a live performance by a Lithuanian orchestra and chorus at a German music festival, with moderately-sized forces and modern instruments, led by famous violinist-turned-conductor Yehudi Menuhin in the year of his 80th birthday. But this isn't a stuffy old-fashioned performance, quite the opposite. It brims with energy, practically racing at times.

The soloists have fairly light voices appropriate to the style. The women in particular produce some beautiful moments. Some of the soloists have trouble with pronunciation, and there's some of the usual struggle to hit the notes. If you're sensitive to that kind of trouble, this probably won't be enjoyable for you. It doesn't spoil things for me, as I'm used to much worse in live performances.

The sound is good, in a reverberant acoustic, with very little audience noise.

By the way, the product description is wrong about this being one disc, it's two, the complete work.


Psych: Seasons 1-8 (Dvd)
Psych: Seasons 1-8 (Dvd)
DVD ~ James Roday
Offered by R&M Bargains
Price: $139.99
5 used & new from $84.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Same as the newer complete set and the individual season sets except for . . ., November 14, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Psych: Seasons 1-8 (Dvd) (DVD)
This is the same thing you'll get in Psych: The Complete Series - Limited Edition except for the packaging and a disc containing the Psych After Pshow, which this set lacks. You can view that after show online for free anytime you want. Both this set and that one are just a compilation of the eight season sets, apart from the after show disc. The discs and their contents are exactly the same otherwise. So, compare prices and happy watching!

Oh, by the way, the show is good, a mix of oddly appealing humor (I can't account for why I like it), likable characters, and mostly decent mysteries. There are lots of reviews at the link for the other set, if you're unfamiliar with the show. Also a complete list of the contents of the discs, which include commentaries, bloopers, deleted scenes, etc.


Samsung Electronics Ultra-Slim Optical Drives SE-218GN/RSBD
Samsung Electronics Ultra-Slim Optical Drives SE-218GN/RSBD
Price: $33.04
34 used & new from $23.93

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comparison to other Samsung models, needs good USB power, Mac notes, November 12, 2014
Main points:

This DVD/CD player/burner does the same things with the same specs as the less expensive Samsung 208GB and the older Samsung slim burners. The main difference is that this 218GN includes My Story photo- and comment-sharing software. That software works on Windows only, not Mac or Android OS.

For PCs, included software installation is required for burning, and additional software for ordinary DVD movie watching (30-day free trial DVD viewing software is included with this model and the 208GB).

For Macs all the Samsung slim burners are plug-and-play for playing and burning.

Android doesn't currently support disc burning, but you can use any of the Samsung models to read discs--if you have enough USB power.

It only requires the power of a single powered USB port, but some devices don't have enough power in their USB ports. They can still use this with a separate powered USB hub, or with a Y cable if two USB ports are available (not included).

It plays DVDs and CDs quietly.

It's better/different than the older models in (1) lower power requirements, (2) ability to burn M-discs, and (3) placement of the eject button on top.

Fuller version:

This is one of the new Samsung slim DVD burner models intended to replace the very popular Samsung models that have long been top sellers at Amazon. The other new Samsung model on Amazon is the less expensive 208GB. The product descriptions don't say, but according to a Samsung representative, the difference between this model and the 208GB is styling and bundled software:

"Function is the same. Cosmetic is different. In addition, 218GN has 'My Story' software that you can download all of your posts in Facebook, Instagram, and Google+. if you follow 3 to 4 steps, you will get all of your pictures and comments from your family and friends will be secured in your PC or in a disc."

My Story works on Windows machines only, not Mac or Android devices. If you want the sharing software, this is the one to get. If you don't use a Windows machine or don't care about that software, the 208GB is a better deal, which is what I decided to get. As a player, both models do exactly what I wanted, play DVDs and CDs smoothly and *quietly*--important for watching a movie or listening to music. I'm only using mine to play DVDs and CDs, so I haven't tried burning them, but they burn them too, including dual-layer DVDs.

The cosmetic differences among the Samsung slim models are minor. Both new models look good and are almost exactly the same size, about 5-3/4 inches square and a bit over 1/2-inch thick including the foam pads on the bottom. They weigh just under a half-pound. Very portable. The housing is sturdy plastic. The tray pops out about an inch and you pull it out the rest of the way and close it manually. My 208GB tray (which is the same as the 218GN tray) feels a little delicate but like it will hold up fine under normal use.

For PCs, you need to install the included CyberLink software for burning, or use your own third-party software, and you'll need your own player software to watch ordinary DVD movies (a 30-day free trial of PowerDVD is included).

On Macs, it's entirely plug-and-play, no software installation required, since OS X includes basic DVD- and CD-playing and burning software.

Android doesn't currently support writing to discs, but you can use this to read discs. You need to change the AV mode (very easy instructions included).

The included USB cord for the new and old Samsungs, regular-to-mini type, is short, two feet including the connectors. It's unusually thick and fairly stiff. The mini-USB port is the only port/plug receptacle on the machine.

Improvements/changes

The listed performance specs for the new drives are the same as for the old. The improvements/differences from the older Samsung models are:

Improved power efficiency.

The new ones can burn M-discs (archival quality DVDs). You had to pay extra for that on the old ones.

The eject button is on top and is sensibly sized. The older models have the eject button in front.

Power

The Samsung slim models only require one powered USB 2.0 (or 3.0) port, no other power is needed. The Samsung rep says the new models use less power than the older ones, but some tablets, laptops, and even some USB ports on desktop computers might still not supply enough power through their USB port, so search reviews and questions answered for comments about your device first if you're uncertain. (Notably the Surface Pro 2 and 3 USB ports are underpowered for this. I've seen a report that the VAIO Pro 13 doesn't power it either.)

Try all the USB ports you have before giving up--sometimes they aren't all equally powered.

You can use a separate powered USB hub if your device's USB port is underpowered. Some have also reported success using a Y cable that plugs into two powered USB ports instead of one, like this one: 1 Feet USB Y Cable - USB A to mini B.

Mac notes

As mentioned above, this is true plug-and-play for Macs, requiring no software installation to operate.

The included software CD, which includes the manual and firmware update software, doesn't work on Macs. I've given links for the manual and Mac firmware update page in the first comment to this review. (Amazon removes links from reviews but not comments.)

Details

For Windows users the included software CD has a Live Update program that will automatically update the firmware.

Though this drive works with USB 3.0 ports, it won't work any faster than it does with USB 2.0.

The tray opens normally only if the unit is plugged into a powered USB port. There's a little hole in the front to open it with a paper clip if there's no power or the powered mechanism fails.

There's a one-year repair-or-replace warranty.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 12, 2014 6:12 PM PST


Samsung Electronics Ultra-Slim Optical Drives SE-208GB/RSBD Black
Samsung Electronics Ultra-Slim Optical Drives SE-208GB/RSBD Black
Price: $23.99
20 used & new from $22.31

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Same functionality as 218GN, needs good USB power, Mac notes, November 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Main points:

This DVD/CD player/burner does the same things with the same specs as the more expensive Samsung 218GN and the older Samsung slim burners. The main difference is that the 218GN includes My Story photo- and comment-sharing software. That software works on Windows only, not Mac or Android OS.

This machine is plug-and-play for Macs for playing and burning. For PCs, included software installation is required for burning, and additional software for ordinary DVD movie watching (30-day free trial DVD viewing software included). For Android (which doesn't support burning) it reads discs only.

It plays DVDs and CDs quietly.

It only requires the power of a single powered USB port, but some devices don't have enough power in their USB ports. They can still use this with a separate powered USB hub, or with a Y cable if two USB ports are available (not included).

It's better/different than the older models in (1) lower power requirements, (2) ability to burn M-discs, and (3) placement of the eject button on top.

Fuller version:

This is one of the new Samsung slim DVD burners intended to replace the very popular Samsung models that have long been top sellers at Amazon. The other new Samsung model on Amazon is the more expensive 218GN. The product descriptions don't say, but according to a Samsung representative, the difference between this model and the 218GN is styling and bundled software:

"Function is the same. Cosmetic is different. In addition, 218GN has 'My Story' software that you can download all of your posts in Facebook, Instagram, and Google+. if you follow 3 to 4 steps, you will get all of your pictures and comments from your family and friends will be secured in your PC or in a disc."

If you don't care about the My Story software, this 208GB is the better deal. My Story only works on PCs, not Macs or Android devices, so users of those machines won't have much reason to pay the extra for the 218GN.

As a player, this does exactly what I wanted, plays the DVDs and CDs my laptop won't recognize anymore. It plays them smoothly and *quietly*--important for watching a movie or listening to music.

I'm only using this to play DVDs and CDs, so I haven't tried burning them, but it does that too, including dual-layer DVDs, M-discs. (Others have tried burning DVDs and CDs and it works fine.)

For PCs, you need to install the included CyberLink software for burning, or use your own third-party software, and you'll need your own player software to watch ordinary DVD movies (a 30-day free trial of PowerDVD is included).

On Macs, it's entirely plug-and-play, no software installation required, since OS X includes basic DVD- and CD-playing and burning software.

Android doesn't currently support writing to discs, but you can use this to read discs. You need to change the AV mode (very easy instructions included).

The housing is sturdy plastic, looks nice, sleek. The tray pops out about an inch and you pull it out the rest of the way and close it manually. It feels a little delicate but like it will hold up fine under normal use. The receptacle for the USB cord feels solid (that's typically a weak point for portable devices).

The included USB cord, regular-to-mini type, is short, two feet including the connectors. It's unusually thick and fairly stiff. The mini-USB port is the only port/plug receptacle on the machine.

This burner is about 5-3/4 inches square and a bit over 1/2-inch thick including the foam pads on the bottom (5.8" x 5.7" x 0.55"). It weighs just under a half-pound (7.4 ounces). Very portable.

Improvements/changes

The listed performance specs for the new Samsung drives are the same as for the old. The improvements/differences from the older models are:

Improved power efficiency.

The new models can burn M-discs (archival quality DVDs). You had to pay extra for that on the old ones.

The eject button is on top and is sensibly sized. The older models have the eject button in front.

Power

This only requires one powered USB 2.0 (or 3.0) port, no other power is needed. The Samsung rep says these new models use less power than the older ones, but some tablets, laptops, and even some USB ports on desktop computers might still not supply enough power through their USB port, so search reviews and questions answered for comments about your device first if you're uncertain. (Notably the Surface Pro 2 and 3 USB ports are underpowered for this. I've seen a report that the VAIO Pro 13 doesn't power it either.)

Try all the USB ports you have before giving up--sometimes they aren't all equally powered.

You can use a separate powered USB hub if your device's USB port is underpowered. Some have also reported success using a Y cable that plugs into two powered USB ports instead of one, like this one: 1 Feet USB Y Cable - USB A to mini B.

Mac notes

As mentioned above, this is true plug-and-play for Macs, requiring no software installation to operate.

The included software CD, which includes the manual and firmware update software, doesn't work on Macs. I've given links for the manual and Mac firmware update page in the first comment to this review. (Amazon removes links from reviews but not comments.)

Details

For Windows users the included software CD has a Live Update program that will automatically update the firmware.

Though this drive works with USB 3.0 ports, it won't work any faster than it does with USB 2.0.

The tray opens normally only if the unit is plugged into a powered USB port. There's a little hole in the front to open it with a paper clip if there's no power or the powered mechanism fails.

There's a one-year repair-or-replace warranty.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 12, 2014 2:12 AM PST


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