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G. Wilkins "Lover of books and learning!" RSS Feed (Massachusetts, USA)

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E Power Biggs Plays Scott Joplin on the Pedal Harpsichord
E Power Biggs Plays Scott Joplin on the Pedal Harpsichord
2 used & new from $9.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding record from E. Power Biggs!!, March 9, 2008
This is a phenomenal record.

I must say that I have been a fan of E. Power Biggs ever since I heard the Prelude and Fugue in Eb (St. Anne) and went forward from there. Biggs is my favorite keyboard player bar none.

The Joplin tunes on pedal harpsichord were very inspiring. I never thought of the harpsichord in the way of playing that Biggs does and that is part of what makes him so special. He can render Bach and Joplin with equal seriousness and equal class. Biggs was a genius.

His playing here is quite pure and concise and he treats Joplin's scores with the respect they deserve. He also makes them his own, proving why they sound exciting and fresh on the harpsichord and why Biggs was the one to figure that out. His genius playing Joplin's genius is a perfect combination.

In short, any lover of 1) Biggs; 2) Joplin; or 3) the pedal harpsichord will most definitely NOT be disappointed by this record!!

Chess Tactics for Champions: A step-by-step guide to using tactics and combinations the Polgar way
Chess Tactics for Champions: A step-by-step guide to using tactics and combinations the Polgar way
by Hoainhan Truong
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.70
82 used & new from $6.39

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Chess Tactics for Champions, March 9, 2008
Susan Polgar's book intrigued me from the start as it focused rather like her father's book on prolems and working to figure out what your first move. The only drawback is that it is heavily influenced towards the White pieces. Overall, though, Polgar's book really helps you develop an idea of playing 'for the future and not just for the now' (i.e. you need to play smarter and not just better).

The idea is also to develop the ideas about looking 2-3-4 moves ahead and that will benefit all players enormously!

The Civil War: A History
The Civil War: A History
by Harry Hansen
Edition: Paperback
41 used & new from $0.01

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great one-volume introduction to the Civil War, July 17, 2006
If you only have time for one book on the Civil War, you ought to consider this.

I thought when I picked it up that it might be rather plodding and just a recount of 'Grant moved here and Lee counterattacked'. I was wrong.

The book sucks you in right away with the reasons and legislature behind the Civil War, like the Missouri Compromise, the Dred Scott decision, etc. How Lincoln fought Steven Douglas for the Senate seat in Illinois and lost, then won the election to become President. There is a wide range of speeches and comments by Lincoln. The old chesnuts of 'A House Divided' speech, plus some less well-known quips about generals.

This is a great one-volume instroduction. I have found myself ripping through it eager to read more. It is not just about the Civil War, but it lays the foundation for what will come in the ensuing years as war breaks out and both sides jockey for supremacy.

I hadn't really read anything on the Civil War since high school, so this makes a welcome refresher and a book that makes you stop and think 'hey, I never knew that' and has an engaging and fluid writing style most readers will welcome.

33 used & new from $1.89

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very musical, very tasteful and very artistic, July 3, 2006
This review is from: Captive (Audio CD)
Firstly, I am in awe of the technique of the Edge, his musicianship and the way he can craft music.

You wouldn't think that playing arpeggios and simple chords could sound so good, but that's his forte. He is a genius of the modern age of music.

You could try to play like the Edge, but you never will achieve that mantra of musicianship and sound. The Edge is very gifted that way.

Not only can he play the guitar well, he is great on the keyboard as well, an inspiration for me to learn the keyboard. And he has inspired countless thousands of others as well (my brother is one of them).

I can't believe it took me this long to buy this CD. You cannot go wrong with this CD, for it's atmospheric melodies and artful guitar technique. Somehow it never seems out of place. It is a driving disc that gives me shivers of joy when I listen to it.

Sinead lends her voice to the theme ('Heroine') and it is not out-of-place. She adds a graceful voice and is not out of place. I enjoy her music ('The Lion and the Cobra' is a great CD!) and voice, but here it is just right. I don't know how best to describe it.

If you like U2, or the Edge in particular, you cannot go wrong adding this disc to your collection. Aspiring musicians can learn how to mix melody and technique. You don't need to tear up the fretboard to make music. The Edge proves it is so.

Beautiful soundtrack!

Bad Animals
Bad Animals
Price: $8.19
215 used & new from $0.01

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Heart album (IMHO the Best)!!, June 27, 2006
This review is from: Bad Animals (Audio CD)
This CD is by far my favorite of Heart's. I think it was one of the first CD's I ever bought. I remember listening to 'Alone' and marvelling at the complete lack of hiss in the totally DDD recording.

But the songs hold up too, as I soon discovered. 'Who Will You Run To' is great, but one of my personal faves is 'Wait for an Answer'. I love how the song builds in fervor and intensity. Of course, any song Nancy is lead vocalist on ('There's the Girl' and 'Strangers of the Heart') goes right up there. Nancy has a beautiful voice.

'Alone' is a cool tune as well as 'Bad Animals'. Great stuff. This CD harkens from, what amounts to the Best 6 years of popular music, 1985-1990. This era includes U2 - The Joshua Tree; Peter Gabriel - So; Genesis - No Jacket Required; Midnight Oil - Blue Sky Mining, as well as others I think are slipping my mind right now. That's quality company. It's an awesome follow up to 1985's self-titled album. Sadly, I didn't find the follow-up, 1990's 'Brigade' to be as good, perhaps since this was such an excellent album. Still, if you want to get a great taste of Heart, this is an excellent start.

Heart is an excellent band and they also do some excellent renditions of Led Zeppelin tunes, like 'Rock and Roll' and a personal favorite 'Battle of Evermore'
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2016 1:22 PM PST

Doctor Who: The Complete First Series
Doctor Who: The Complete First Series
DVD ~ Billie Piper
Offered by Brandon's House of Fun
Price: $49.95
6 used & new from $33.36

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Doctor is Back!! Not only is it about Time, it's Awesome!, June 8, 2006

I had reservations when the combo of Russell T. Davies and Christopher Eccleston was announced. Russell was best known as the creator of "Queer as Folk" and Christopher was, at least to me, the nasty Duke of Norfolk in 'Elizabeth' starring Cate Blanchett.

Now, let me mix in that I am HUGE fan of the Early Doctor Who (read as 16mm telecine and monochromatic and you get the idea). I really enjoy the years from Patrick Troughton to Tom Baker. I like Peter Davidson too.

I am a "fan" of the 'classic' Doctor Who. I am not a *fanatic* (I don't have a 27-foot long scarf, my mom would never knit one anyway :) )

Now you have a picture of a HUGE fan of Doctor Who. Still am!

Let's turn forward to 2005 and the new series.

I was ROCKED when I watched the first episode. Yes, gone are all the hokey effects, the "clamps and bits of wire" and the sometimes entirely passable acting and rubber suits.

Christopher Eccelston brings the Doctor to the new series and he is absolutely FANTASTIC (yes, one of his favorite sayings!). Billie Piper ROCKS as Rose. She is one of the best companion characters I have seen.

And Russell... well, what can I say. He gets my vote as almost on level with Sydney Newman (he created Doctor Who, in case you didn't know) with just about a genius in regard to the way he resurrected a series, gave it a new flair and set it on the road to success. I will never question him for what he has done to bring back my all-time favorite series.

OK... now a few notes about the new series.

'Rose' is a great opening episode.

I found 'The Unquiet Dead' to be quite a good episode and had a nice 'Who' touch to it.

'Father's Day' is good with a nice performance by Billie Piper. The interaction between the Doctor and Rose's mum is not to be missed.

'Dalek' let me down a little at the end, but it was a great start, had an almost Stargate quality about it.

'Bad Wolf' has a great introduction to it. "You are now live on Channel 44,000. Please do not swear." "Oh, you have GOT to be kidding me."

The Slitheen episodes "Aliens of London" and "World War Three" are great. Good writing on what happens when you pop off for a jaunt in the TARDIS and leave loved ones behind. And then you find the time machine has whoops a 18 hour abscence into 12 months...

This is a great television series again and I really enjoy it. I have raved about it to anyone who cared to listen. It's quite simply, excellent!!!

Star Trek Deep Space Nine - The Complete First Season
Star Trek Deep Space Nine - The Complete First Season
DVD ~ Avery Brooks
Price: $50.87
21 used & new from $43.24

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Series and Best Trek Series (IMHO) ever!!, May 31, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This had it's moments, but none of them were terribly weak.

Firstly, let me say I am a HUGE fan of Avery Brooks (Hawk in 'Spencer for Hire') and Rene Auberjonois is great. Then came the newcomers.

The first, best strength of DS9 as a series is that it can get away with story arcs (3-part and even 8-parts) can be fulfilled. You don't have the curse of having a 35 minute problem, 8 minute solution and then 2 minutes of fillers.

There is a huge amount of humor in this series too. The interplay between Odo and Quark is GREAT! My favorite lines from the whole season:

QUARK: How did you know?

ODO: You told me that your brother Rom fixed the replicators.


ODO: You're brother's an idiot. He couldn't fix a straw if it was bent.

That one kills me and leads to a lot of Quark protestations and Odo harrumphings down the line. Great work here.

The religious factioning on Bajor is important, though it's a lot of the focus of the first two seasons ('The Circle' for example in Season Two). However, Season One works to iron out the kinks of any new season. It is MUCH stronger than TNG and Voyager. Please, let's not even go on about that parody of a series called "Enterprise".

Strong characters, strong writing and great acting make this easily the best series. I can say that I am not in the least bit unhappy to have purchased the whole thing.

Other episodes later on after the Dominion comes into the fold and the Cardassians are given a new fold on diabolical nastiness (do you ever feel comfortable with Garak as a "simple tailor"?), you REALLY get sucked into the Trek Universe.

Outstanding series!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Piano Concertos 1 & 2
Piano Concertos 1 & 2
24 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oustanding!!!!, May 21, 2006
This review is from: Piano Concertos 1 & 2 (Audio CD)
What else can I say??

This is an outstanding collection and played with, what I believe is a air and atmosphere worthy of Brahms himself. The playing is fluid and the mixture of orchestra and klavier (piano) in the first movement sets the rich misture to be repeated throughout.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Stephen Hough may be unknowns, but after listening to just 1 movement of this, I am tempted to overlook them no longer.

My father gave me this CD because it was by my favorite composer and because he had recently got a new version. I am glad to see it is still available. It is an outstanding pair of discs. I cannot see how anyone can say this disc is short of anything but the most outstanding musicianship, artistry and devotion to bringing out the clash of Classical and Romantic inclinations that Brahms was torn between.

A piece of trivia is that the Piano Concerto No. 1 in d minor was a set piece to be his first Symphony, but evolved until it was published as his first piano concerto. And what a piece. I adore his first symphony in c minor, but this piece is equally outstanding. Brahms seems to understand the interplay of the orchestral forces and that of the pianoforte. No other piece has this force throughout. Previously I had considered Tchaikovsky's bb (B-flat) minor Piano Concerto (No. 1) to be the acme, but the #1 of Brahms puts that honor securely in a young Johannes' hands. Not to put down Tchaikovsky, his 'Pathetique' Symphony is one of my all-time favorites, but this collection is monumental! And I do not say that lightly!

One thing, Amazon claims this is by "Timothy Hugh", it is in fact by Stephen Hough. If you have a few dollars and are looking for collection of outstanding orchestral/piano works, you would not do yourself wrong to choose this 2 CD work. It is fabulous!!

Harmony: Fifth Edition
Harmony: Fifth Edition
by Walter Piston
Edition: Paperback
Price: $67.33
48 used & new from $37.35

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to Harmony, May 21, 2006
This review is from: Harmony: Fifth Edition (Paperback)
When I first learned Harmony in the ninth grade, I was taught on an aged and practically antique fourth edition of Piston's Harmony. The first thing I noticed is that the fifth reworked some of the chapters and the order they are in. For example Chapter 10 in the 4th edition was Cadences, but the 5th it is the six-four chord.

After many years away from practice and learning harmony, I came across it again and was tempted. Should I buy it? Would it be changed after all those years?

I am glad to say that it's like an old friend came by. Despite some of the chapters are different in order, the structure remains the same. Piston uses a lot of musical examples to show what he is trying to teach. He starts out with very easy concepts (positions of notes in a chord and intervals). It is assumed that the reader can read music and knows the difference between a whole note and a quarter note, etc.)

The concept of inversions is covered quite thoroughly, giving the reader time to ingest and start to feel comfortable with first inversion, he gets into the second. Finally, in the section on dominants, he gets into third. In between there are chapters on harmonization of a melody, cadences (the old ii-V-I, etc.), triads, modulation, seventh chords, textures, Neapolitan sixths, etc.

One of the greatest strengths of this book is the musical examples that it is drawn from. Once you start getting into triads, etc. you start seeing output from actual composers (usually keyboard reductions) for teaching the works with a piano or keyboard.

If you are a reader interested in learning the craft and the technique of composition, Piston's book will not steer you wrong. It is good to welcome back an old friend.

Bach: 3 Oboe Concertos
Bach: 3 Oboe Concertos
28 used & new from $0.29

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding CD by an outstanding oboist, May 16, 2006
This review is from: Bach: 3 Oboe Concertos (Audio CD)
I have been an enormous fan of Heinz Holliger since, well, since I can remember. I consider him THE premier oboist in the world, even to this day. Part of my interest in the oboe stems from Mr. (or more accurately Herr) Holliger.

This is a fantastic recording. If you appreciate the oboe, you will nearly weep with the steady control of his trills and fluidity of his notes. When I play it sounds like a load of distressed ducks trying not to get plunked by the huntsman's shotgun. That being said, Herr Holliger plays the oboe like a musical instrument and a beautiful one at that. What more can you say?

If you a) appreciate the artistry of Heinz Holliger, b) appreciate the mastery of musical composition genius of Johann Sebatian Bach or c) like the oboe, you CANNOT go wrong with this CD. J.S. Bach is in my top 5 composers along with Brahms, Dvorak, Beethoven and Schubert.

I repeat myself, you CANNOT go wrong with this CD!!!!! If I could give it 6 stars, I would. I was listening to it in the car on the way to work this morning!

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