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Saddleback Leather Satchel Purse Chestnut
Saddleback Leather Satchel Purse Chestnut
Offered by Saddleback Leather
Price: $278.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Durable BUT with a Major Design Flaw That Probably has an Easy Fix, February 4, 2016
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This review is from: Saddleback Leather Satchel Purse
Beautiful and high quality materials, as one would expect from a made-in-USA product intended to last a lifetime, BUT with a critical design flaw: the poorly designed clasp requires two hands and some dexterity to do and undo. One simply cannot lock the clasp on the fly with one hand when one is encumbered or driving. I suggest that Saddleback re-design this essential element and offer all purchasers a recall and replacement.


Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen [16 CD/DVD Combo]
Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen [16 CD/DVD Combo]
Price: $37.06
37 used & new from $19.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensable, but will need supplements, February 4, 2016
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There is no perfect Ring set. Solti's has the advantages of fabulous stereo sound and good to superb performances, with very few outright duds. Solti excels at excitement and power but is less successful in portraying mystery and complex human relationships, things that are very important in repeated hearings.

Some of the more emotionally riveting performances come from Bayreuth in the 1950s when there were more great Wagnerian voices singing these roles, but none of those recorded benefit from the kind of spectacular recording technology of Solti's Ring. Some argue that the 1955 Keilberth Ring, also recorded by Solti's Decca team, has pretty good stereo and high fidelity sound, and the great Wagnerian singers (Hotter, Neidlinger, Svanholm, Modl, Varnay, Uhde, various Valkyries) were then in their vocal prime. I would agree. The Furtwangler La Scala and Rome recordings are wonderful for the singing but the orchestras are subpar and sound quality varies from inferior to passable.

So get the Solti set. His Rheingold and Siegfried are hard to beat. His Act Two of Gotterdammerung is essential. You won't be disappointed. Supplement Solti with the Keilberth Stereo 1955 Die Walkure and Gotterdammerung, the Karajan/DGG Stereo Das Rheingold and Die Walkure, the latter mainly for the thrilling Act One with Vickers and Janowitz, or the Leinsdorf/Decca Die Walkure, with Vickers again and the under-appreciated Brouwenstijn. If you have lots of listening leisure, you can then explore the dozens of others in the market, but do not neglect Furtwangler in spite of the lackluster sonics. I have not heard the Knappertsbusch or Konwitschny or Bohm Ring cycles, which have won wide admiration. The Clement Krauss 1953 Bayreuth performances are also well performed but the release I heard had poor sound (although more recent releases are said to be much improved in the sound department).

All the cycles since Solti have pretty good sound but overall weaker casting. Their singers have barely adequate to quite satisfactory voices, but few of the voices seem truly "Wagnerian." Karajan's set is so beautiful that it earns a recommendation, but with some exceptions, singers in his set lack the easy nobility of utterance heard at Bayreuth in the first half of the twentieth century. Barenboim, Levine, and Haitink all have great orchestral contributions and fine ensemble, but shortchange us with weak renditions of the main characters: underpowered or wobbly Brunnhildes, so-so helden tenors, and hoarse Wotans.


AIDA (3CD)
AIDA (3CD)
Offered by lola's dream
Price: $22.59
50 used & new from $16.07

44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Old-Fashioned Star Power and Vocal Thrills, October 2, 2015
This review is from: AIDA (3CD) (Audio CD)
To get to the bottom line, there is rare star power here and Pappano elicits superb orchestral execution from the Orchestra dell Accademia di Santa Cecilia. The sound reminds me of a very good Chandos House style: vivid and kind to the voices, bright and reverberant but with plenty of detail and dynamic range.

On a single hearing, I am impressed most with Kauffman's exciting Radames, Semenchuk's old-fashioned Amneris, and Tezier's sturdy Amonasro, all of whom come close to the greats of the past in vocal allure and provide plenty of thrills, especially Kauffman. His baritonal, burnished voice seems not at all too dark and un-Italianate for Verdi in this recording. Of those three only Semenchuk had performed the part before. Tezier was the biggest surprise -- I would like to hear more of this fine baritone -- will he be the great Verdian baritone of the current generation?

Harteros' Aida and Schrott's Ramfis are quite good and much better than serviceable if not at the very top. Harteros, if not equal to Price, Tebaldi, Callas, or Ponselle, is competitive with Maria Chiara, Daniela Dessi, Mirella Freni, Aprile Milo, and a host of other names who have essayed the part successfully. She can handle the dramatic moments and the lyrical ones with beauty of tone, but the voice sounds unwieldy at times and when under pressure. A bit like Gwyneth Jones but with less opulence and a bit better control. Pappano lends chemistry to the enterprise, he steers the many moving parts with a sure hand, the ensemble and chorus episodes have everything one wants, and his own Verdian passion is clear and contagious. Pappano also pays due attention to the lyrical moments.

This set will not likely supplant your favorite stereo versions -- mine being the Bergonzi/Tebaldi/MacNeil/Karajan/VPO Decca recording, followed by the Price/Domingo/Milnes/Leinsdorf on RCA -- or the many riveting accounts before stereo. I think Kauffman and Pappano make this a very tempting choice for those who cherish Verdi and this opera.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 8, 2015 11:30 AM PDT


Mozart: Complete String Quintets
Mozart: Complete String Quintets
Price: $20.72
48 used & new from $13.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive, thanks to Grumiaux, September 15, 2015
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I've tried so many recordings of these great works. This is the set closest to being a definitive one for me. The lyrical elegance, Mozartian grace, and pristine intonation of Arthur Grumiaux perhaps is what inspires his colleagues to such a beautiful collective effort. The analogue sound is vivid and easy on the ears. Perhaps the Danish Quartet and the Fine Arts (see below) sets portray Mozart's pathos with more probing sensitivity, but Grumiaux and friends are always expressive.

My favorite LPs were done by the Danish string quartet in the late 70s, which had similar verve and depth, but the first violin does not quite capture Mozart's operatic voice as well as Grumiaux does. I'd also rate this ahead of the fine versions of the Fine Arts quartet (Music and Arts, musical, great cellist but lacking a Grumiaux at first violin), the Orlando Quartet (BIS and Brilliant, boomy acoustic, and with some lumpish execution in the great K. 515 and 516), and a set by the Juilliard I recently acquired (Sony, fleet, accurate, but expression strikes me as pedestrian).


Foster Harris House Cookbook
Foster Harris House Cookbook
by John MacPherson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $29.95
22 used & new from $11.05

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cookbook of Virginia's Best Inn, September 15, 2015
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The recipes are playful, witty, and inventive, pretty much like John McPherson himself. Grab a copy, or better yet, visit his wonderful dining room and small hotel (or is it a B & B? Seems much better than any B & B that I've ever stayed in) and wallow in comfort and his playful culinary delights, made all the more delightful by his charming hostess, wife Diane. The Foster Harris House is my number one rated tourist destination in Virginia.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 6, 2015 5:45 AM PST


Dr. Frederick's Original Nighttime Bunion Splints - 2 Double-Stitched Velcro Bunion Correctors - Bunion Relief for Bedtime - for Men & Women
Dr. Frederick's Original Nighttime Bunion Splints - 2 Double-Stitched Velcro Bunion Correctors - Bunion Relief for Bedtime - for Men & Women
Offered by Frederick Medical Supply
Price: $18.99
2 used & new from $17.94

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good beginning..., September 15, 2015
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Seems to helping with the bunion and joint inflammation. I am surprised to notice positive change so quickly. I hope it will keep up. Time will tell.


Mahler: Symphony No. 4 / Schreker: Prelude to a Drama
Mahler: Symphony No. 4 / Schreker: Prelude to a Drama
13 used & new from $8.32

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Mahler Fourth to Treasure, July 30, 2015
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There are not many outright disappointing recordings of this most joyful symphony of Mahler. I was curious how the German Argentinian conductor Michael Gielen would come across. By reputation he has been a specialist in the second Viennese school of composers such as Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. He shares with his contemporary Pierre Boulez a reputation for clarity. So, would this be a performance in which all the notes and instrumental lines stand revealed? Yes, indeed, it is. Would there also be lyricism, narration, and appreciation of the sonorous splendor and structure in the score beyond the printed notes, qualities that some exponents of musically complex scores downplay in the pursuit of clarity and light? I find all of that here as well.

Comparing this performance with Reiner CSO, Bernstein Amsterdam, Gatti RPO, Zander Telarc, I prefer Gielen. He captures the score brilliantly and is abetted by detailed but atmospheric sound in a beautiful, burnished acoustic. Gielen heeds and gives voice to all of Mahler's feelings, his joy, angst, tenderness, doubt, fearfulness, humor, spookiness, innocence, and exaltation. This performance really gives us the best of all possible worlds. The soprano soloist in the fourth movement is very good if not the best ever recorded performance, but there is nothing distracting in the performance that on second or subsequent hearings would wear poorly, as is the case with the Reiner or Bernstein recordings.

The Schreker "Prelude" is a wonderful bonus and strikes me, after several hearings, as one of the very best late romantic works I had never heard about until this disc came by. I would put it on a par with almost anything by Richard Strauss, and it projects an ominous atmosphere not unlike the latter's opera Elektra.

In sum, highly recommended. Gielen has risen in my estimation, through this recording and others of music from Beethoven to Schoenberg, as an enlightening and musical presence on the podium, one who delivers story, beauty, and clarity. The orchestra lacks nothing in tonal splendor or virtuosity.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2016 7:12 PM PDT


Nielsen/Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos
Nielsen/Tchaikovsky: Violin Concertos
Offered by MEGA Media
Price: $13.63
39 used & new from $6.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the 21st Century's Most Individual Violin Voice, April 7, 2015
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Vilde Frang is exceptional both as a musician and instrumentalist. She plays the Tchaikovsky with passion and virtuosity. It is hard to take such a repertoire staple and shed new light on it, but she does so through her own expressive individuality. I have listened to it several times and her reshaping of overfamiliar material seems sincere and faithful to Tchaikovsky and the genre of the Romantic violin concerto. She draws a ravishing sound from her violin. I saw her in February at a concert with the National Symphony Orchestra in WashDC performing the Bruch 1. I was impressed with her mood setting stage presence, her rapt focus on the orchestral contribution when it was their turn, and a fluid and powerful bowing technique that filled the hall with glowing tone.

I also regard Frang's Nielsen concerto highly. It is more animated and colorful than the Virgin disc with violinist Arve Tellefsen and Menuhin/RPO. While both readings of the Nielsen are technically superb, Frang projects a welcome whimsy and enthusiasm that gives it more personality than I hear in the Tellefsen rendition.

I have purchased several other recordings by Frang. None have disappointed, and all possess individuality.


Sibelius: Violin Concertos, Humoresques; Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1
Sibelius: Violin Concertos, Humoresques; Prokofiev: Violin Concerto No. 1
Offered by IMS Distribution
Price: $15.77
41 used & new from $6.69

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Expressive, Powerful Sibelius and Prokofieff, March 21, 2015
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Frang is wonderfully musical and blessed with a fabulous technique. This Sibelius jumps to the top of the class, ahead of every other recording I've heard, including classic recordings by Heifetz (Hendl), Oistrakh (Ormandy), Kavakos (Vanska), Kennedy (Rattle), etc., on down. Maybe the Heifetz (Beecham) mono recording is at the top as well, but more for its unparalleled virtuosity than for its musical content. Have not heard Ida Haendel's famous version and several others, but this is simply superb technically and musically the most satisfying of all for me. Frang plays with amazing focus and concentration, and is never on auto-pilot. Her articulation is clear regardless of tempo, her dynamic and bow control amazing, rubato is un-mannered, and she is always sensitive to possibilities for heightened expression. What a musical imagination she has! Nothing here is routine.

The Prokofieff Concerto no 1 also receives a scintillating, thrilling rendition, much superior in nuance and detail to Vengerov's ballyhoo-ed but beefy performance with Rostropovich on Warner with the LSO. I have not done side by side hearings of this recording with others of the Prokofieff in my collection.

The orchestral support by Sondergaard and the WDR is powerful and well rehearsed. The partnership shows soloist and orchestra to be in synch and listening/responding to each other.


Mozart: Complete Wind Music
Mozart: Complete Wind Music
19 used & new from $9.21

5.0 out of 5 stars Souvenirs of an earlier era of joy in music making, March 21, 2015
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Delightful and, in some instances, great music performed with spontaneity, personality, and color. These recording date from the sixties. In the early stereo era British woodwind sound production tended to be slender, nasal, or even bagpipe-like, due to reed techniques and materials for the oboe and clarinet of that time. So some listeners might prefer performances dating from the 80s with their rounder, plummier woodwind tone and color.

However in these wind serenades and divertimenti of Mozart, the sixties sound seems appropriately fresh and bracing, and I really enjoy its less immaculate colors, ideal for music meant to be heard outdoors. These performances have a festive and joyful character that many of today's concerts and recordings lack. Go for it, as the price is right. The performers were all first tier orchestral players and soloists of their day and clearly loved the music and the chance to play together.


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