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Liszt: Piano Sonata in B Minor
Liszt: Piano Sonata in B Minor
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feltsman not "horrible", March 24, 2014
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After listening to Feltsman perform the Liszt sonata, I can't understand one reviewer who called it "horrible." This is by no means a "horrible" recording. It is actually a very good performance of the sonata. I've recently been listening to recordings of the Liszt sonata that I haven't heard in years or are new to me. I've known of the Feltsman recording ever since it first came out but am just now (2014!) purchasing a copy. From the review, I was expecting a less-then great performance. But listening styles are as subjective as performances themselves. A few of my all-time favorite recordings of the Liszt sonata are as follows:

1. Alicia Delarrocha (exceptional!!!)
2. Nikolai Demidenko
3. David Fray
4. Arthur Rubinstein (near perfect)
5. Jean-Philippe Collard
6. Claudius Tanski
7. Krystian Zimerman
8. Andre LaPlante (beyond exceptional)
9. Maurizio Pollini (perfect)
10. Ladislav Fanzowitz
11. Dezso Ranki (the 1991 Harmonia Mundi recording is better than the 1985 Denon. Of all the recordings listed here Ranki's 1991 recording is probably the best)
12. Sviatoslav Richter (1965 live recording)
13. Minoru Nojima (extraordinary!!)
14. Augustin Anievas
15. Arnaldo Cohen
16. Ernst Levy (totally unique)
17. Rafael Orozco (1972 Philips recording; a BRILLIANT yet grossly underrated performance)
18. Huseyin Sermet (a BEAUTIFUL performance that has gone largely unnoticed)
19. Cyprien Katsaris (a little eccentric at times)
20. Emanuel Ax (a sometimes dry yet SOLID 2nd tier performance that is listenable many times)
21. Dubravka Tomsic
22. Martha Argerich
23. Simon Barere (a really wonderful performance)
24. Jeanne-Marie Darre (GORGEOUS. An EXQUISITE gem!! The MOST SPECIAL recording of the sonata)
25. Robert Silverman (a little-known but good performance)
26. Peter Donohoe
27. Marc-Andre Hamelin
28. Yundi Li
29. Jorge Bolet (1960 studio recording Everest Records)
30. Valery Afanassiev (1976 EMI recording)
31. Earl Wild (a SPECTACULAR live radio broadcast late 1940s on Ivory Classics; the 1985 recording is tired and uninspired)
32. Elisabeth Leonskaja (a very fine performance)
33. Jeno Jando (a good solid performance)
34. Claudio Arrau (1973 Philips recording)
35. France Clidat (an extraordinarily fine performance despite a HORRIBLY recorded sound; an annoying distortion is heard throughout)
36. Setrak (one of the FINEST performances I've EVER heard, marred only by poor recording or duplication)

If I wanted to talk about "horrible" performances of the Liszt sonata, then I would certainly NOT include Vladimir Feltsman. While his reading of the sonata is sometimes anomalous in places, he still delivers a stellar performance, both interpretatively and technically. To my mind, "horrible" performances of the Liszt sonata might include . . . ready? . . . . Vladimir Horowitz and Leslie Howard. Horowitz is just too temperamental. In the 1970s version, he actually "bangs" in places and in the 1930s version some places are just too fast and too impetuous. Even though Leslie Howard has established himself as a Lisztian scholar, recitalist, and recording artist, his Liszt sonata is just too too fast. I do like some of his other Liszt recordings, but he runs and jumps through the sonata. Howard tends to muddy passages and his tempo is just a huge turn off. The worst recording I've heard (so far) of the Liszt sonata is by Boris Berezovsky, the new live version. For those who talk about pianists who "just play the notes," Berezovsky's rendering of the Liszt sonata fits that description to a "T". I was thoroughly disappointed by it because other Berezovsky performances are quite good. Other performances that I can listen to only once include:

1. Emil Gilels (a boring performance)
2. Van Cliburn
3. Jerome Rose (dry as dust)
4. Daniel Barenboim (meh)
5. Andre Watts (totally messy)
6. Lazar Berman (I know it's Berman; he excels in other pieces, but not the sonata)
7. Jorge Bolet (gives a very tired and uninspiring performance, early 1980s Decca Records)
8. Stephen Hough (limp)
9. Cecile Ousset
10. Daria Telizyn
11. Garrick Ohlsson (Ugh)
12. Valentina Lisitsa (too fast in passages)
13. Gunnar Johansen
14. Ronald Smith (not enough technique)
15. Leon Fleisher (ouch)
16. Fazil Say (plays it too rhapsodically)
17. Alfred Brendel (I have mixed feelings about this recording)
18. John Browning (Horowitz copycat, although not as impetuous as Horowitz)
19. Barbara Nissman (no good dynamic range)
20. Helene Grimaud (no good dynamic range)
21. Yuja Wang (no good dynamic range)
22. Annie Fisher (choppy)
23. Georges Cziffra (pyrotechnically fussy)
24. Markus Groh (I have mixed feelings about this recording)
25. Kevin Fitz-Gerald (plays it almost as fast as Leslie Howard)
26. John Ogdon (a shaky, sometimes ugly live performance from 1987)
27. Clifford Curzon (clunky)
28. Barry Douglas (ho-hum)
29. Ivo Pogorelich

In short, anyone interested in listening to a good performance of the Liszt sonata, do not hesitate to get Feltsman's recording. It is very good, and it certainly is not "horrible." It measures up to any of the most fine performances listed here. Feltsman deserves a "bravo" from his listeners. If you love the Liszt sonata, you (I think) will like Feltsman's rendering of it. Give it a listen if you haven't already!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 19, 2015 5:41 PM PST

Celestial India: Madame Blavatsky and the Birth of Indian Nationalism
Celestial India: Madame Blavatsky and the Birth of Indian Nationalism
by Isaac Lubelsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: $34.95
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Origins of Interest in the "Oriental" Languages in Western Europe, June 18, 2012
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Despite the subtitle of this book, Lubelsky's work is a highly readable account of the origins of Western academic/intellectual interest in "Orientalism," especially the study of Sanskrit and Hindu culture. This work provides excellent background to Blavatsky's "Aryan" narrative as it is related to occultism. Those interested in the relationship between philology and philosophy will find the origins of the philological justification for ethnic supremacy among Western Europeans. Max Muller is treated well here, too. His influence and those who influenced him, such as the 'father of linguistics,' William Jones, is chronicled brilliantly. This book is a revelation of sorts. The bibliography provides for fascinating further reading. Highly, highly recommended.

Athanasius of Alexandria: Bishop, Theologian, Ascetic, Father (Christian Theology in Context)
Athanasius of Alexandria: Bishop, Theologian, Ascetic, Father (Christian Theology in Context)
by David M. Gwynn
Edition: Paperback
Price: $35.95
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gwynn's Athanasius, April 30, 2012
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David Gwynn offers a fine biography on the fourth-century Church Father Athanasius of Alexandria. Gwynn offers a fine bibliography as well, and this provides essential reading for research. Much of what Gwynn says about Athanasius' theological positions, Arianism, the homoousios, and ascetism has already been stated elsewhere (and sometimes dealt with in greater depth and detail). I give Gwynn's monograph five stars, however, because he brings together commonly understood positions about Athanasius in a highly readable and succinct manner. Patristic scholars and specialists in the history of Christian theological development during the fourth century cannot go without this biography. However, I am STILL waiting on the definitive biography of Athanasius in the same vein as McGuckin's St. Gregory of Nazianzus. Will we EVER see that book?

Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine
Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine
by Khaled Anatolios
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $34.03
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't believe, find out, September 13, 2011
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Khaled Anatolios, who teaches historical theology at Boston College (also his Ph.D. school) has given his reading audience a very well-plodded and readable journey through the interpretive by-ways and hi-ways of Trinitarian theology. His treatment of Athanasius of Alexandria is exceptional. Never before has such a treatment been so well done. The only other exceptional book on fourth-century pneumatological/christological controversies can be found in Michael Haykin, The Spirit of God (and John Behr, The Nicene Faith, Part 2, 2 vols; and Lewis Ayres, Nicaea and Its Legacy). Anatolios restricts his map to Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine. This is a wise move on his part because, for one thing, it circumvents the problems that arise when you treat all three Cappadocians (the two Gregories and Basil) alongside Athanasius and Augustine. Anatolios shows that both pro-Nicene and anti-Nicene parties started from basic, same premsises. Their differences begin to emerge in the way that they define the relationship between God and Christ (and whether the Holy Spirit should be considered divine). Anatolios is able to distill large amounts of historical and theological data into a condensed, readable (and very astute) monograph without getting too bogged down in matters that could have hampered his work, e.g. treatments of Basil and Greg Naz that are already well done elsewhere). This work is highly recommended for both inquisitive lay persons (where does the Trinity come from?) and scholars alike.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 9, 2011 1:01 PM PST

Rachmaninov: Sonata No. 1 in D Minor & No. 2 in B
Rachmaninov: Sonata No. 1 in D Minor & No. 2 in B
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leslie Howard's Rach, August 12, 2011
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Those of you familiar with Leslie Howard's Liszt discography may accuse Howard of recording too much. It is refreshing, however, to hear Howard play ANOTHER composer's music besides Liszt. Howard's playing of the Rachmaninov second piano sonata is different than any other version I've heard. He plays the original 1913 version here, and he plays it so convincingly and with great command of the music and its interpretation. The first sonata is equally played very well and persuasively. The recording quality is really something to behold. One wishes that the engineers for this record had been present on all of Howard's Liszt records (despite the fact that the recording quality of some of Howard's Liszt Hyperion records are very good). You will not find the scintillating playing of Marc-Andre Hamelin here, nor the "swallow-you-whole" performance of Vladimir Horowitz. What you will find is a good, solid, clean performance of an old warhorse (the second sonata) that really stands on its own. Howard does play with a big sound and it is very effective and recorded very well. The piano sound is not too muffled or "high end." It is well balanced and comes through very very well. Howard should record more of the "non-Liszt" romantic piano music.

Late Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary
Late Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary
by Fritz Allhoff
Edition: Paperback
Price: $34.81
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Where is the "Commentary"?, April 6, 2009
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I was looking forward to lengthy commentaries on "essentail readings in late modern philosophy." This is a good compilation of philosophical texts from the late modern era, e.g., Part I-Empiricism: John Locke, George Berkeley, David Hume; Part 2-Critics of Empiricism: G. W. Leibniz, Samuel Clarke, Thomas Reid; Part 3-Kant's Critique of Rationalism and Empiricism; Part 4-Args. for the Existence of God: Samuel Clarke, William Paley, David Hume, Immanuel Kant; Part 5-Political Philosophy: John Locke, David Hume, Jean-Jacque Rousseau; Part 6-Moral Philosophy: Samuel Clarke, Davide Hume, Richard Price, Adam Smith, Immanuel Kant, Thomas Reid, Jeremy Bentham, Mary Wollstonecraft. While these are, indeed, essential readings, WHERE IS THE COMMENTARY ON THESE READINGS as the subtitle suggests: "Essentail Readings WITH COMMENTARY"? (emphasis mine). Trained as a biblical scholar, maybe I was expecting commentary that philosophers do not do (I had in mind the kind of commentary that one does on the letters of Paul or the gospels). The only thing that I can see commentary-wise are brief introductions to each Part, but this is really nothing unlike what you might find in a college primary reading text book. I was expecting detailed commentary AFTER EACH reading, but you do not get that here. You only get an introduction to each Part, then the readings, and that's it. No detailed expository commentary that discusses each reading and what each author means by what he says and why. That is why I give this, and the others in this series, only 2 stars. Again: WHERE IN BLAZES IS THE COMMENTARY? It ain't here. Or is it, and is this what philosophy profs call "commentary"?
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 1, 2015 3:45 PM PST

Sonata No 4 in E Flat Major Op 7
Sonata No 4 in E Flat Major Op 7
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Practice or Performance?, February 4, 2009
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I purchased this CD for the Sorabji piece that has its debut recording here, the Sonata Op. 0. I must say that Nassari's passage work is very very crystalline; very clear; with great CLARITY. But, on the other hand, his tempo is SSSSSSSSSSLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW. Upon hearing the Rachmaninoff 2nd sonata, I was wondering if I was hearing Nassari "practice" or "warming up" for performance level, or was this, indeed, his performance level of the piece? It was way too lethargic, dragging, and just plain too slow. The slowness interrupted the movement of each line and did not allow for the shape of the music to reveal itself as immediately as it should have. I applaud Nasseri for including the Sorabji sonata heard here for the first time. The Sorabji is the only real reason to purchase this CD. Otherwise, there are better performances of the Rachmaninoff 2nd sonata elsewhere: Hamelin, for instance. The Beethoven is pretty good here, but again, you'll find other performances more intriguing. If you are a Sorabji fan, or a fan of little known but good piano music, then by all means purchase this CD. Despite my giving it 2 stars, Nassari has done a great service in recording Sorabji's sonata Op. 0. But I wonder what it would sound like in the hands of Hamelin or Tellef Johnson, or Powell? Any way, get this CD for the Sorabji.

Powell Plays Sorabji
Powell Plays Sorabji
Price: $23.56
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un nido di scatole: Sorabji's Carnaval, October 16, 2008
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This review is from: Powell Plays Sorabji (Audio CD)
Jonathan Powell delivers a powerful and soaring rendition of Sorabji's Un nido di scatole, "A Nest of Boxes," completed in January of 1954, a piece I've never heard and, to my knowledge, has never been recorded till now. This title owes its origin to Sorabji's penchent for collecting small carved or ornamented boxes, many of which surrounded him in his music room or parlor. We owe Jonathan Powell much gratitude for his introducing us to never-before-recorded Sorabji repertory. Un nido di scatole is reminiscent of Schumann's Carnaval, little character pieces that vary material from the opening thematic material. I can't help but notice that the first 3 notes of Un nido di scatole ring of Mussourgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. Next to the Concerto for solo piano, Un nido possesses pianistic acrobats that sound impossible, but Powell pulls it all off with tremendous, clear, and tasteful technique. The music is pure Sorabji: enchanting, "other-worldly" sounding, whirling right-handed dirvishes and rolling left-handed descents down the keyboard, and nocturnal. Sorabji seems to weave every one of his musical flavors and techniques into this one piece, Un nido di scatole: excesses of OC, nocturnal mists of Gulistan, varied chromaticism, filigree everywhere of detailed etchings into a small ivory box that might have been in his collection; in short, Un nido di scatole is Sorabji's "Medicine Chest," a variety of everything that Sorabji was pianistically and musically about. Powell's performance of Un nido is probably the best performance of a Sorabji piece he has committed to tape (CD!), next to the Concerto.

Two other pieces are found here: Djami, Sorabji's second great nocturne that is preceded by Le jardin parfume, and that he would follow up later with Gulistan, and St Bertrand de Comminges ("He was laughing in the tower"). Powell's Djami is certainly a favored performance, next to Michael Habermann's version. I believe that Powell's performance of Djami is better than his performance of Gulistan (Charles Hopkins' Gulistan remains the gold standard). There are several recordings of "he was laughing in the tower" and Powell's recording, heard here, is, in my opinion, the best version there is available. I never knew that you could hear this piece in the way that Powell plays it on this CD. Powell really brings out dimensions of the piece that I never knew existed; much in the same way that a drop of water affects a shot of 18 year-old Macallan single malt. If you are looking for something new in solo piano music, something exotic but good, then look no further than to Powell's performance of Un nido di scatole, Djami, and St Bertrand de Comminges!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 17, 2015 7:36 PM PDT

A La Chapelle Sixtine / Six Preludes and Fugues / Fantaise and Fugue in G Minor
A La Chapelle Sixtine / Six Preludes and Fugues / Fantaise and Fugue in G Minor
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leslie Howard's Bach-Liszt Transcriptions, January 7, 2008
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Those who are familiar with the Leslie Howard Liszt CDs know that there are nearly 100 volumes, many volumes containing multiple CDs! I have not heard all of them and I don't know anyone who has. But this particular CD is HIGHLY recommended for different reasons: the recording quality is stellar, clear, clean, and crisp with the needed clear dynamics to bring out the low bass notes on the piano; and the performance quality by Howard. One would not guess Howard to be a true Bach player what with his concentration on Liszt (for instance, Glenn Gould does not immediately come to mind as a "Liszt" player what with all of his Bach recordings). But this CD shows that Howard truly possesses the technique, interpretive and all, to be classed as a first-tier Bach player, hands down. The playing is even and with the necessary bravura (but not overkill) that a Bach-Liszt transcription might require. Again, the recording quality of the Howard CDs varies; some are great others are not. This CD has some of the best recorded sound with one of the FINEST sounding pianos of the Howard-Liszt CDs that I have yet heard (and I have heard many of them). The Mozart transcription, A la Chapelle Sixtine, is another reason to own this CD. It is a great, dramatic, and theatrical Liszt-type transcription and Howard plays it to the hilt with controlled and soaring pianism and a great recorded sound. This is one Howard-Liszt CD to own. Get it.

The facts on channeling
The facts on channeling
by John Ankerberg
Edition: Unknown Binding

5.0 out of 5 stars A Conservative Evangelical Look at Channeling, July 27, 2007
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This review is from: The facts on channeling
During the late 1970s, 80s, and early 90s, John Ankerberg published many 35-40 page pamphlets on topics that Evangelical Christians needed to be informed of, many of which involved New Age topics and Occultism. This particular 41-page phamphlet, The Facts on Channeling, was published during the height of the so-called "channeling" craze of the mid-to-late 1980s, especially among those of the Hollywood ilk. In it, Ankerberg describes the phenomenon of mediumship whereby a person goes into a trance state and a spirit takes control of the vocal organs and speaks to spectators present. Once the spirit's address is complete, the spirit leaves the person's body, and the medium awakens without knowing what was said or what had transpired. Ankerberg provides good examples of this from the New Age community and shows how many of the messages of the spirits are anti-Christian and unbecoming of a Christian. Ankerberg is correct in his assessment of how channeling is usually practiced among non-discerning New Agers and in this way he provides a very good source for study. However, like many Christians, he lumps the whole business of spirit communication into the "devil" category without studying the Jewish and Christian texts of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd centuries A.D. that speak of the very same phenomenon in the context of "a divine spirit" and of "a holy spirit" or "the holy spirit" or "a spirit of God." Examples: The writings of Philo, Pseudo-Philo, and Josephus, 1 Thess 5:19-20, 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, 1 John 4:1-6, Didache 11:7,8,9,12, Shepherd of Hermas, Mandate 11, Montanism, and the musical instrument simile for prophecy by a holy or divine spirit found in Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Hippolytus, Clement, Theophilus, and Epiphanius. Nevertheless, Ankerberg provides one with a correct and true answer: spiritism and channeling are dangerous for the Christian. Yes, this is true. For it is always possible and likely that undiscerned spirit communication through channeling will bring forth low, negative, deceptive spirits. But, what is also true is that if one attempts to communicate or "channel" a holy spirit as was the practice of the earliest Christians, and test that spirit by having it swear in the name of God that it is, indeed, one of His spirits, and to further state that Christ was the expected Messiah, the expected Celestial Spirit who conquered "Death", that is, "Satan," then this would be of the Christian variety. For such tests see 1 Corinthians 12:3 and 1 John 4:1-2. Paul speaks matter-of-factly about "discernment of spirits" in 1 Cor 12:10 with no real detail for how to unmask a deceptive spirit. For impostor spirits see 2 Thess 2:2, "...a spirit allegedly from us..." But channeling as it is depicted in Ankerberg is exclusively demonic and forbiden in Scripture (Lev 20:27). Despite this, Ankerberg's writing is a very good resource on the subject if one understands the matter in a balanced way. His other pamphlets, The Facts on Spirit Guides, on UFOs and other Supernatural Phenomena, on the Occult, and on the New Age Movement are all equally highly recommended. Some critique these pamphlets as "pseudo-scholarship." Ankerberg never purports to be doing erudite scholarship with these pamphlets. Instead, his pamphlets on channeling and other New Age topics and Occultism are simply very good summaries of these issues from the pen of a Conservative Evangelical Christian. Highly recommended, but read with a clear and open mind; Ankerberg dismisses all in this field as "demonic" or "evil."

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