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Richard Threadgall RSS Feed (University of Virginia, Charlottesville)

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Mezuzah Scroll - Mezuzah Parchment - Comes in Gift Box - from Bjcrystalgifts
Mezuzah Scroll - Mezuzah Parchment - Comes in Gift Box - from Bjcrystalgifts
Offered by Shofars For Sale
Price: $25.00
3 used & new from $25.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Kosher., November 4, 2012
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I have paid $30 plus shipping for a piece of paper which I must now take the time to take to a geniza--let's count the problems:

1. This is not a klaf. It is written on low-quality paper.
2. The ktav isn't even close to kosher--the characters are misshapen, there are gaps in the strokes, the name of G-d is ILLEGIBLE in the first line, characters have been corrected and traced over.
3. The ayin and dalet are not enlarged.
4. There are no tagin.

How did this happen? Did a goy write it? How could this be sold as kosher? I am at a loss.

Twentieth Century Oboe Concertos
Twentieth Century Oboe Concertos

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Even the virtuoso has his limits., December 19, 2008
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Despite my enthusiasm for Klein, unquestionably one of the great performers of our time, and despite the high quality of each of the three performances on a technical level on the part of both Klein himself and the Czech NSE, the recording as a whole was for the most part a disappointment.

The Martinu concerto is excellent, and if nothing else this CD is an admirable introduction to his work. Notably, the Klein of this recording is very different from the creamy, flexible recordings of the 80s and early 90s--his style has become much more rigid and abstract, hard-edged, you might say. However, the simple compositional quality of the remaining two compositions is very low. The Sydor piece is clattery and obnoxious, accompanied by some of the most pompous and adolescent program-writing I've ever seen--the struggle of "the common man fighting to save the last ideals from being dishonored" against "the Maggots"? What, is the composer channeling his inner highschool socialist? Really embarrassing stuff. Lastly, Yano's piece alternates between intellectually disorganized (post) modernism and disappointingly conventional tonal movements. The themes are catchy, but the treatment--especially compared to the great folk music-inspired symphonies that came out of England in the early years of this century (E. J. Moeran and Vaughan Williams especially come to mind)--is very flat, very superficial. Even Klein's mastery couldn't save this stuff.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2011 12:52 PM PDT

Selected Songs
Selected Songs
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5.0 out of 5 stars Farley's aggressive romanticism perhaps not spot-on, Rorem delightful, December 14, 2008
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This review is from: Selected Songs (Audio CD)
It's hardly a surprise to discover another delightful recording from Naxos, and I was prepared to gush about the accompaniment before commenting on Farley's performance; in my ignorance, I hadn't taken the time to check the name of the accompanist. Rorem himself! What a twit I am. In any case, it's hardly surprising then that we have been delivered 32 pieces of supple, sensitive, and--typical of Rorem--glowingly diaphanous keyboard work. I have rarely been so charmed by such a typically charming composer. Treasonously, I found myself wishing that Farley would desist and let the piano take center stage. Naturally, this is the worst thing I could say about a collection of art songs--so, a couple words on the soprano.

These songs are, for the large part, slightly uptempo in comparison to other recordings of the same work, and the delivery is more forceful--operatic, even. Investigating other recordings of Rorem's work for upper-range voice I discovered that this is, to varying degrees, the standard form of presentation; pieces I would expect to be delivered in a subdued and gauzy fashion are typically sung--well--loudly. "Loud" is really the word for Farley's performance, both in the usual sense and in the sense of graphic design--other reviewers have accused her of affectedness and, while this is perhaps unjust, her delivery certainly draws attention to itself. For instance, in "What if some little pain"--a piece with a markedly simple, yearning accompaniment--she inflicts so much breathy rapture on the word "doth" in the final verse that the melody and, I would say, the progress of the piece is temporarily brought to an aesthetic halt.

Because the vast bulk of my listening habits, as far as vocal music is concerned, have been concentrated in the more post-classical style one finds in Gavin Bryars, Louis Andriessen, and the minimalists, it is possible that this final point is unjust, i.e. that I may have a tin ear in this regard: However, I would criticize Farley's technique itself in that she often seems to lose her pitch in the interstices between notes, a sort of toneless vibrato static between sustained pitches. If this is ignorant of me, I readily accept that I may be mistaken.

In final defense of Farley, although it was unsettling in a few pieces I found her more forcible energetic delivery particularly effective in a number of pieces--"Visits to St. Elizabeth's" and "Root Cellar" in particular, as well as the Roethke cycle as a whole, were particularly good. She is also particularly good when she adopts a gentler and more lyrical style, for instance in the very first piece, "The Waking," in which she is just as sweet, supple and intelligently ravishing as could possibly be desired.
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Songs and Poems for Solo Cello
Songs and Poems for Solo Cello
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depth, and a very unexpected romanticism., November 30, 2008
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Unlike virtually every other Glass composition to which I have been exposed, "Songs and Poems" displayed real intellectualism and honesty of a kind I have never expected from the man who produced (and continuously re-produced) "Glassworks." These compositions, while recognizably minimalist in style and form, are unusually jagged-edged and stormy--romantic, I would say, in a way very unlike Glass' usual treacle and posturing.

Sutter's command of the material really elevates and justifies its emotional content. I would have never expected it, but these pieces are not only emotionally convincing, but convincing in a gripping and agonized fashion which reflects impressively on the soloist. She is both restrained and emphatic; for the first and only time in Glass' body of work I think we have encountered real, unselfconscious command of the emotional possibilities of minimalist music. I can't over-stress Sutter's contribution to this impressive success: Her intellectual command of the material and her expressive technique have literally made the piece what it is.

It is unusual for me to compliment a composition on its emotional content, but it is so extremely unusual to see Glass write with honest and unsentimental vulnerability, depression, elevation and rage that it's all the more surprising how effectively he has carried it off. As suspicious of emotionally sensational material as I am, I have repeatedly enjoyed this recording and, in fact, enjoyed it more each time.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2011 12:40 PM PDT

The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass
The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modernist, intelligent and profoundly moving, May 1, 2008
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Although the sentiments of the text are markedly politically and socially liberal--exponentially Vatican-II, even to the point that one could imagine this being played in a unitarian universalist meeting--the mass itself has so much to speak for it that I am rather intimidated by the task.

The bluegrass idiom is not a domineering force in the music: It has been wholly internalized and classicized, much the same way Moeran and Williams internalized and classicized the idiom of British folk music in their pastoral work. What could have so easily manifested as a gimmick is instead unflaggingly surprising and incisively intelligent: Barnett's score is utterly modernist in its handling of expectation and satisfaction, administering the familiar movements of American folk music in ways that underscore both the intellectuality of post-Romantic tonal composition as well as delivering a deeply affective textual and musical package. The first time I listened to this album in the privacy of my home I was brought almost to tears upwards of _four times_--freakish, considering my disposition.

The form and content of the mass, though modernized and treated with great liberty, is completely faithful to both the formal outline of the classical mass as well as the theological ideas it carries except in the case of the Credo, which has been replaced by an inappropriate (but beautiful) meditation on labor and paradise. Undercutting the affirmation of faith in an indivisible trinity reduces the very real emotional impact of the ballad which divides the mass into its canonical sections--a theological point which I raise as a non-religious person, and which I doubt will be of concern to most listeners. Other than the Credo, the faithful inventiveness of the text is a source of delight.

The high point of the Mass is, I think, without doubt the Kyrie, a show-stopping and sophisticated handling of folk idiom in a modernist context. The Sanctus is another real pleasure, although Barnett's score is far less complicated; what it temporarily lacks in sophistication (the folk idiom is not commented on or exploited by her setting, but feels taken for granted) it makes up in joyful energy: It is the most exuberant, sincere and personally moving piece of sacred music I have heard.

Purchase the album for the Mass--the choral pieces tacked onto the end are handsomely executed but nothing to compare with the feature event.

I simply cannot praise this album highly enough.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2011 12:41 PM PDT

The Secret History
The Secret History
by Donna Tartt
Edition: Paperback
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45 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent literary fiction, seriously flawed., February 10, 2008
This review is from: The Secret History (Paperback)
I come away from this book at a loss as to what to say about it: It deserves both high praise and heavy criticism. It is a rapturous, beautiful, intricate and balanced work of art; it is also oddly archaic, strangely disconnected from reality, and oftentimes more dissolute than well-worked.

In praise, its insight into the kind of effete degeneracy that seems to well up when one isolates maturing intellectuals with one another is chillingly apt: It is apt, however, more in the sense of metaphor than in any naturalistic sense. The romance, luxuriousness, and cruel beauty of the cultivated degeneracy Tartt takes as her theme is evoked with brilliance and not inconsiderable talent.

In way of criticism, however, the novel is long and hangs loosely on its frame; its narrator, a character standing halfway between the position of a blank-slate observer and a character in his own right, vacillates between transparency and muddiness, his gestures toward the development of a personality alternatingly muddy and tragic, and this narratorial shapelessness contributes to the baggy-monsterness of the text as a whole.

Though it is easy to identify the themes of the work in broad strokes, I come away from an attentive reading of the text without being able to put my finger on its moral center, which is, I think, a flaw in Tartt's writing, not an element of her design; _The Secret History_ works very hard to achieve a sense of this moral center, and it is a very grave and wise one, at that; but it fails to alight on it definitively. The novel does not easily settle into the sum of its parts.

A very unsettling element of this book is the weird timelessness of its setting: I had to guess continuously when it might have been set, my first guess being the sixties, then gradually moving up through the decades as bits of background information trickled through the text. As nearly as I can tell, it takes place in the eighties--a time during which students use typewriters and rely on pay phones, but contextually after the sixties and seventies. Being the eighties, however, virtually every character speaks in his own bizarrely archaic voice: Bunny sounds like a hybrid of Teddy Roosevelt and Gatsby; Francis like a Victorian effeminate; and the unflattering peripheral characters like technicolor Californians or oddly outdated cokeheads. I can't determine whether this is an element of its structure or a flaw.

Finally, as a Classicist myself I came away with the uncertain suspicion that Tartt does not actually herself possess any classical languages. Virtually every instance of Greek in the text is orthographically wrong in some way; for instance I saw a lambda mysteriously mistyped as a gamma, that is, flipped upside down in the transcription process (it caused the word to read "pogyeides" not "polyeides"); and when the diacritical marks aren't wrong, they're lacking. These quibbles aside, it may well be that we ought to blame the typesetter, not the author, because Tartt's use of classical material in the text is unwaveringly appropriate and often quite erudite.

Despite its flaws, the book is intoxicating: I took a long shower the day I finished it, when I was about halfway through; I didn't realize until halfway through the thirty-minute soak that I was lingering because I actually felt _infected_ by the guilt of Tartt's characters, that my immersion in this book had made me uncleanly complicit to their crimes, their dread. This little work of sympathetic magic on her part is a testament to the intellectual and moral impact of her text, and, I think, excuses in itself the flaws one may point out in it; it is, moreover, beautifully written and unflaggingly rich. This book may never be a classic, but it is without a doubt fiction of literary merit.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2011 12:41 PM PDT

Andriessen: M Is for Man, Music, Mozart/De Stijl
Andriessen: M Is for Man, Music, Mozart/De Stijl
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps not all the recording could be., December 15, 2007
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I recently discovered that I own the only recording of Reich's Tehillim that allows the music to be as excellent as it actually is--namely the red one on the Cantaloupe label; the other two or three are so unfortunately recorded that, had I only heard them, I would have dismissed "The Desert Music" (presently my favorite recording in my collection) as a mediocre comoposition and been unable to recognize "Tehillim" itself as the work of genius it actually is.

To the point, I suspect that this recording of De Stijl suffers from the same flaw. The choral component of the composition sounds muffled.

Granted, Andriessen is a postmodernist and is full of awful ideas about what music should sound like, but the energy and clarity of the instrumental parts of "De Stijl" suggest to me that something has gone wrong in the process of performance and recording.

Of course, I doubt we'll ever have a second recording.

"M is for Man" etc. on the other hand was excellent, though (to my reading) it carries some fairly ideologically toxic implications about the nature of man and his place in the world. I dislike the style of singing which Andriessen has written for--"Blend the boundaries of high and low culture" jazz-influenced nastiness--but that's the condition of music in our century, I suppose.
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The Black Madonna
The Black Madonna
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ensemble Unicorn is unmatched., September 28, 2007
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This review is from: The Black Madonna (Audio CD)
This is flatly the best early music recording I have ever encountered. The strength and musicality of the performance is unmatched anywhere else; Ensemble Unicorn introduced me to the notion of following an ensemble's discography rather than pursuing recordings of particular compositions.
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Once Around the Sun
Once Around the Sun
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A stark disappointment after "Dying Swan.", September 17, 2007
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This review is from: Once Around the Sun (Audio CD)
I awaited with great anticipation the day I would finally be able to hear "Once Around the Sun," after being introduced to lyric minimalism via Talbot's "Similarities Between Diverse Things." Unfortunately, the textural and technical intelligence behind the best work on "Dying Swan" has been utterly lost in these compositions: Unlike Michael Nyman, whose great successes in film music never ostend themselves in his serious composition, "Once Around the Sun" will simply not allow us to forget that Talbot is primarily a pop composer.

And pop it is: What's worse, when romantic classical music becomes pop classical, it instantly becomes New Age; and the entirety of this cycle could have been understandably published by Windham Hill.

This is intellectually vapid music. An after-image of the complexity of Talbot's better work in "Dying Swan" can be found in the fourth movement, "April," but even this compares unfavorably to his lyric and sophisticated elegy (for practically the same instruments), "Similarities Between Diverse Things."

I am very sorry to see Talbot misuse his inclination to the lyric in this fashion.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2011 12:36 PM PST

Primer of Greek Grammar (Focus Classical Reprints)
Primer of Greek Grammar (Focus Classical Reprints)
by Evelyn Abbott
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.95
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The binding falls apart., August 13, 2007
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I cannot complain about the text itself, which is proving extremely useful.

Unfortunately, after using the book for about five days, the binding has completely disintegrated. I am forced to keep the paradigms I've already studied in a binder clip; as soon as I turn a page, it breaks off.

Excellent review text ruined by poor materials quality.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 12, 2011 12:54 PM PDT

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