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Laszlo "CD Explorer" RSS Feed (Ashburn, VA (USA))

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Rejouissance
Rejouissance
Price: $15.25
12 used & new from $3.30

2.0 out of 5 stars Not for true explorers, July 3, 2015
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This review is from: Rejouissance (Audio CD)
If I still buy CDs is not only for the music but to LEARN about the music.Otherwise, I would simply download, period.
That labels would release items with no information on the composers and/or the music is, for me, outrageous. This glitzy booklet is a commercial ad on the musicians et al, not one word on the works therein. For instance, "The Deathtree" is an actual 15-minute long symphonic poem for wind band by David Holsinger, which contains interesting gestures (plus a vocal); it would have been educational, to say the least, to know something about it. Since the music, interpretation and recording are excellent, my frustration is even greater.
I must be obviously spoiled by what I get from Germany and the UK in terms of production values. I wonder... is this a metaphor for the pathetic level our culture has fallen into? Perhaps.
If you want good band music, well played, get this. If you want to learn something, forget it.


Dimitri Tiomkin: The Greatest Film Scores
Dimitri Tiomkin: The Greatest Film Scores
Price: $20.91
25 used & new from $11.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Found this truly worth having, June 2, 2015
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I am writing this to compensate for what I consider an unfair weighted average of stars earned by this item.
First of all, the fact that a label released a CD of Tiomkin music is already worth celebrating. Mr. Tiomkin was one of the great in the Golden Era of Hollywood scores (along with Steiner, Korngold, Newman, et al) and not many anthologies of his film music are out there compared to the others. He earned one release in the iconic series of recordings from the 70's conducted by Charles Gerhardt, but his was, admittedly, not one of the best of the lot.
Now you can criticize all you want this release but I find the conducting and playing quite good and the sound as good as any antology you might find on RCA, Silva or Naxos. Since I am avid collector of these, my comparative hearing states it clearly.
This truly covers (77' minutes!) the gamut of Tiomkin's oeuvre. From the epic to the more mellow; and along the way you'll hear some truly mmorable melodies. So, from my side: kudos to Mr Kaufman & daughter, the LSO & Voices and the label LSO for this.


Diabolic Inventions and Seduction for Solo Guitar, Vol. 1: Music of Astor Piazzolla
Diabolic Inventions and Seduction for Solo Guitar, Vol. 1: Music of Astor Piazzolla
Price: $12.08
48 used & new from $5.08

1.0 out of 5 stars What a waste of time and money, May 26, 2015
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I am so dissapointed.
As a born and raised Southamerican I adore the music of Piazzolla and have my favorite pieces (e.g., Adios Nonino) in dozens of versions. I also have respect for Di Meola's musicianship and virtuosism. But his conception here (as it has been expressed somewhere else in these reviews) is extremely annoying, boring and ultimately un-musical. To the extent that Piazzola's music becomes an excuse to go into runs and (worse) add a truly cheesy annoying percussion. Just in the last track (8) there is more soul (and no percussion) but by then is too late. In summary: paperwall music, absolutely no feeling; only...well, virtuosism!
This is one occassion where I like that "the portions" were small: the total timiming is a mere 38 minutes.
For a driven-macho-porteño-tanguero of quality like Piazzola, this is a miss.


Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 & Finlandia
Sibelius: Symphony No. 5 & Finlandia
Price: $9.00
2 used & new from $5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, May 25, 2015
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With a certain degree of embarrassment I have to start by stating that I have around 30 different versions of this symphony in my collection. To some, it might indicate that I am crazy, to others that I just plain love this symphony. Indeed. This is one of my desert island symphonies, period. And I am always interested at what label, conductor or orchestra can do with the piece. Those top choices that first come to mind are Bernstein (NY), Rattle (Philharmonia), Vanska (BIS) to cover a few decades of recordings (I am sure I am forgetting other superb versions.)
I heard this CD this morning, with headphones. This is what I liked about this recording (with the caveats therein):
- The performance is very good but admittedly the Rochester band in 1960 did not have the refinement that you can hear in so many other labels.
- The sound quality is excellent if you like your orchestra in close-up. You can clearly hear the different melodic lines and instruments so that it makes you appreciate the genius of Sibelius as an orchestrator. However, the close up (or is it the venue?) does not provide enough bloom to the music so the result is a bit dry.
- Artwork is minimal but excellent. Enough liner notes to make this a professional release (not like so many classical music CD-R released out there)

Minuses.
- This is a 38 minute CD. Certainly what it was in its initial LP inception, but we have gotten used to feel that at least 50 minutes are warranted. It is likely that an appropriate filler was simply not available.
Thus…
at the Amazon price, you should ponder whether it is worth. For me, it is; but don’t make this your first Sibelius’ 5th recording.


Sibelius: Symphonies No. 2 & 7
Sibelius: Symphonies No. 2 & 7
Offered by WholeTownBooks
Price: $16.99
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ormandy needs a remastered Sibelius box!, May 19, 2015
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To my mind, this release raises the question of why BMG/Sony is not releasing a boxset of all Ormandy-Sibelius properly REMASTERED.
I heard this and the recording of the 1st (both on Essential Classics) with headphones and marvelled at how good Ormandy was as a conductor, in general, and a Sibelian in particular. His control of dynamics and crescendi is spectacular. It makes everything sound right and never too long (which happens to me with some performances of Sibelius 2nd) so it ends up being extremely emotional without any bombast or exagerations. Magic, in sum.
That these Essentail Classics recordings are still in circulation after almost twenty years of being released just proves its value. Still, you feel (especially with headphones) that there is room for improving the 1950s-60s sound as it has been done elsewhere.
On that, I really don't understand BMG/Sony not doing anything with these recordings. Too much investment for something that keeps selling well? Hmmm... There have been so many good boxsets released by them, why not an Ormandy/Sibelius PROPERLY remastered? As a fan and discriminating listener, I'll buy in a second in spite of duplications.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 1, 2015 2:26 AM PDT


Bruckner: Symphony No 3
Bruckner: Symphony No 3
13 used & new from $4.00

5.0 out of 5 stars The swift and terse side of Bruckner, May 19, 2015
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This review is from: Bruckner: Symphony No 3 (Audio CD)
After listening to many performances in its different editions (this one is the Novak 1889) I have learned that Bruckner's 3rd Symphony can have many exciting performances for as many different reasons. Depending on the counducting it can also be a very long -- and even boring-- symphony. I am amazed, therefore, on the crucial role that a conductor plays with Bruckner, the orchestra following it closely, and the quality of the recording.
I found this 3rd to be fabulous from all angles. Listening with headphones was a trip. The swift tempi, the clarity of the counterpoint, the terse textures in the treatment and the almost schubertian nature of the rhythms. Wand did it again (as before in Cologne, and after in Berlin).
This makes me think on how puzzling it is that BMG/Sony has not released this NDR cycle as a box set yet. Their 9CD set, with the Cologne (Kölner Radio Symphony), is a spectacular bargain and worth every penny. I would assume from what I have read that the NDR would be even better as a whole set. And I would not hesitate in having both.
Are you listening BMG?


Anatevka - Fiddler on the Roof
Anatevka - Fiddler on the Roof
Price: $19.45
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars polish and great sound, this is truly dissapointing, December 26, 2014
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Being a fan of musicals and having a soft spot for "Fiddler onthe Roof" (it was one of the first I ever heard) I investigated this release with due curiosity, since I understand German.
With all the adding of extra music, polish and great sound, this is truly dissapointing. It is not only interpreted as an operetta, but worse, as if Bruckner composed it!. Asa true universal work, 'Anatevka' (the German title to Fiddler) is supposed to withstand translation. The German "libretto" is very skillful). But the turth of this show has eluded everyone here. There is no elan, drive nor Jewish oy. Perhaps the operatic or operetic idiom fits these artists, but the musical, as shown here, not. It probably proves that a German Tevye is a true oxymoron.
Boring.


Cancion
Cancion
Price: $15.98
32 used & new from $7.00

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sloppy produced and stingy, December 22, 2014
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This review is from: Cancion (Audio CD)
The musical value of this release is unmistakable. The guitar playing is amongst the cleanest I have heard while infusing the music of flow and musical worth. In that sense (and having grown with some of these songs) while the Assad arrangements are fabulous, it is Milos playing that makes them so lovely. Ergo: 5 stars to the first four tracks.
I was a bit skeptical of the guitar & orchestra arrangements but driven 'Libertango' has the right elan, while 'Romance' & 'Fandango' do not fall (alas!) into the usual kitsch; tough when there is so much competition, including the original versions. In that sense, the famous Villa-lobos aria (here with soprano & guitar) works well and at a very intimate level, thanks to both performers.

Now to Ravel's Bolero...you wonder how: a 15-18 minute piece into 3' minutes? This is what it is: a guitar introduction into the Bolero's FINALE; with that, the CD is over... with a bang! Oh well. What its NOT mentioned anywhere on is who arranged it and who performed it (apart from Milos' guitar, of course). Then I checked the colorful booklet and found out that the CD tracks come from a mishmash of sessions in the UK and Germany (individual track years not specified) during the 2011, 2012 & 2013. The two Villa-lobos Etudes from 2007(!), and the date of the 'Romance' and 'Fandango' unclear. Sorry, but if I pay full price for a DG release, I would expect the good production values they have given us, collectors, for decades.
Lastly: 45 minutes of music is a bit stingy nowadays when most CDs go from 50 to 80 minutes.

My conclusion: this was put together and launched fast, fast, to exploit the good rap built by Milos and make money fast, fast. Not a very European approach, uh? Two stars down.


In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention: Live At 54 BELOW
In Constant Search of the Right Kind of Attention: Live At 54 BELOW
Price: $15.99
18 used & new from $13.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Superb performer, good buy, December 6, 2014
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To call Ms Benanti eclectic would not be fair. She it truly versatile as the owner of many voices. Which means she can sing folk in a proto-Joan-Baez or Joni Mitchell style, always maintaining her soprano on top and its many colors throughout. That makes her a spectacular singer. If you add her humor and wit, we are in the presence of a truly first class performer.
This is an very entertaining hour-plus CD, ending on a true tour-de-force from 'Women at the verge...". Along the way we get to know her, thanks to her very articulate humor and witty take on her life and those few kids who were born loving specials songs and the theater and cannot find someone to share it with!
By the end of the CD I was smiling all over, but just a tad disappointment. I truly would have liked more musical theater songs. Given her mention of Sondheim, why not one of his? So in a personal way, and musically, the CD did not leave a memorable impression, with exceptions.
The other problem was the piano. Perhaps 54Below should secure a first call one? Not one that is noticeably clanky. For some personal reason, it bothered me and took my attention away from the singer.
Caveats aside, it does not diminish my admiration for Laura Benanti.


Reflections
Reflections
11 used & new from $2.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Worth discovering, December 5, 2014
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This review is from: Reflections (Audio CD)
I recognize that the cover prompt me to buy this CD (I fall for such marketing ploys) in addition to the other two reviews here. I cannot disagree that Ms Vas is a true rennaisance woman with a magnificent voice. I also admire the fact that she tackles many styles, but that is precisley what backfires about having a whole CD. Some of these track are sublime, others trite pop. Of course, that is a personal take.
My favorite track goes to 'Il Voto'. My least liked: 'Me Dices'. That would say more about me than about Ms Vas since I can think of many who will find that to be just in reverse. I also liked some of the arrangements (the more classical oriented, the better) and the expansion (or, as put, 'derivative works') on Dido's Lament and other appealing tunes. By the end I could not help thinking of Sarah Brightman.
Regarding Ms Vas interpretations, voice and, why not, looks: they are really excellent. Ah! and MUCH better than Sarah Brightman's!


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