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Hallelujah Trail
Hallelujah Trail
by Bill Gulick
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
17 used & new from $3.57

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The book the movie was based on, August 22, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you like droll, Mark Twain-wannabe writing, this work approaches the mark. Interest in this book comes from two quarters, I suspect -- (1) from fans of Bill Gulick, and (2) fans of the motion picture. I'm the latter. One Amazon List is about movies that were better than the book they were based on, and listed The Hallelujah Trail as just such a film. Such an assessment didn't bode well for reception of this book. But I bought it anyway to give it a whirl, and though it differs significantly from the movie, it was mildly enjoyable in its own right. I got to understand the back-stories of some of the characters better.

First thing to know: The Hallelujah Trail was NOT the original title of the book. It was called The Hallelujah Train. On this account, you can find either title available for sale from Amazon marketplace dealers. I don't believe this book is currently in print.

Second, the book uses a framing device involving an investigative reporter and President Grant. The movie screenplay jettisons this artifice, without apparent harm.

Third, bathing, which is so prominent in the movie, is absent as a plot expedient in the book.

Fourth, dePatie-Frehling's maps don't really match Gulick's maps (yes, Gulick uses elaborate maps as well to try to explain the collision of the forces at play).

Fifth, Massingale is a suffragette first, a temperance activist second in the book. The suffragette component to her actions is omitted in the movie (probably for the better).

Sixth, you will become ever more impressed, page after page, at how the screenwriter improved both the action and dialogue, creating an ultimately more satisfying product in the process. In the book, Massingale doesn't stab the horses with her hatpin to make them bolt away from the exchange point; in fact, she's not even at the exchange point, she's with Col. Gearhart. The wagons are pulled by mules, not horses, and they're spooked by the champagne bottles exploding. The name of the final disaster was changed, for in the book Quicksand Bottoms is only an incidental fraction of the Oxbow region, and the various campaigns therein also differ. At tale's end, Oracle Jones lives alone at his homestead at Quicksand Bottoms, while Frank is a broken man up in Julesberg. How much more satisfying the movie version is, memorable for Brian Keith's reaction to the emerging casks. The book explains that Chief Five Barrels merely chooses some relatives to help him pick up some wagons of firewater. The movie transation concerning the "two brothers-in-law" is one of the dry comic highlights of the film. Wallingham is only mentioned in passing as "a good Republican," but the movie makes this a distinctive mark of the character.

You come away from the book appreciating the greater depth of the characters you've gleaned, but, even more so, appreciating the genius of the screenwriter's adaptation of the book. Some scenes are unique to the movie and not found in the book (as suggested earlier regarding the bathtub scenes), and explanations for some scenes are also different (e.g., Massingale massages Gearhart's neck because of an actual headache, not a hangover). In any event, director Sturges apparently moved pretty quickly from printed page to celluloid, since the book came out in approximately 1962 while the movie was released in 1965. The trip to the screen looks to have taken record time.

Recommended for those who love the movie who want to learn more about the characters and actions as originally conceived by Gulick. I'd hesitate to recommend the book to anyone else, however.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 9, 2014 9:57 AM PDT


Hallelujah Train
Hallelujah Train
by Bill Gulick
Edition: Hardcover
5 used & new from $4.96

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hallelujah Train = Hallelujah Trail = Book the movie is based upon, August 22, 2007
This review is from: Hallelujah Train (Hardcover)
If you like droll, Mark Twain-wannabe writing, this work approaches the mark. Interest in this book comes from two quarters, I suspect -- (1) from fans of Bill Gulick, and (2) fans of the motion picture. I'm the latter. One Amazon List is about movies that were better than the book they were based on, and listed The Hallelujah Trail as just such a film. Such an assessment didn't bode well for reception of this book. But I bought it anyway to give it a whirl, and though it differs significantly from the movie, it was mildly enjoyable in its own right. I got to understand the back-stories of some of the characters better.

First thing to know: The Hallelujah Trail was NOT the original title of the book. It was called The Hallelujah Train, so this copy on Amazon is the original. On this account, you can find either title available for sale from Amazon marketplace dealers. I don't believe this book is currently in print.

Second, the book uses a framing device involving an investigative reporter and President Grant. The movie screenplay jettisons this artifice, without apparent harm.

Third, bathing, which is so prominent in the movie, is absent as a plot expedient in the book.

Fourth, dePatie-Frehling's maps don't really match Gulick's maps (yes, Gulick uses elaborate maps as well to try to explain the collision of the forces at play).

Fifth, Massingale is a suffragette first, a temperance activist second in the book. The suffragette component to her actions is omitted in the movie (probably for the better).

Sixth, you will become ever more impressed, page after page, at how the screenwriter improved both the action and dialogue, creating an ultimately more satisfying product in the process. In the book, Massingale doesn't stab the horses with her hatpin to make them bolt away from the exchange point; in fact, she's not even at the exchange point, she's with Col. Gearhart. The wagons are pulled by mules, not horses, and they're spooked by the champagne bottles exploding. The name of the final disaster was changed, for in the book Quicksand Bottoms is only an incidental fraction of the Oxbow region, and the various campaigns therein also differ. At tale's end, Oracle Jones lives alone at his homestead at Quicksand Bottoms, while Frank is a broken man up in Julesberg. How much more satisfying the movie version is, memorable for Brian Keith's reaction to the emerging casks. The book explains that Chief Five Barrels merely chooses some relatives to help him pick up some wagons of firewater. The movie transation concerning the "two brothers-in-law" is one of the dry comic highlights of the film. Wallingham is only mentioned in passing as "a good Republican," but the movie makes this a distinctive mark of the character.

You come away from the book appreciating the greater depth of the characters you've gleaned, but, even more so, appreciating the genius of the screenwriter's adaptation of the book. Some scenes are unique to the movie and not found in the book (as suggested earlier regarding the bathtub scenes), and explanations for some scenes are also different (e.g., Massingale massages Gearhart's neck because of an actual headache, not a hangover). In any event, director Sturges apparently moved pretty quickly from printed page to celluloid, since the book came out in approximately 1962 while the movie was released in 1965. The trip to the screen looks to have taken record time.

Recommended for those who love the movie who want to learn more about the characters and actions as originally conceived by Gulick. I'd hesitate to recommend the book to anyone else, however.


The Hallelujah Trail (a Double D Western)
The Hallelujah Trail (a Double D Western)

0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Notably different from the movie based upon it, August 22, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you like droll, Mark Twain-wannabe writing, this work approaches the mark. Interest in this book comes from two quarters, I suspect -- (1) from fans of Bill Gulick, and (2) fans of the motion picture. I'm the latter. One Amazon List is about movies that were better than the book they were based on, and listed The Hallelujah Trail as just such a film. Such an assessment didn't bode well for reception of this book. But I bought it anyway to give it a whirl, and though it differs significantly from the movie, it was mildly enjoyable in its own right. I got to understand the back-stories of some of the characters better.

First thing to know: The Hallelujah Trail was NOT the original title of the book. It was called The Hallelujah Train. On this account, you can find either title available for sale from Amazon marketplace dealers. I don't believe this book is currently in print.

Second, the book uses a framing device involving an investigative reporter and President Grant. The movie screenplay jettisons this artifice, without apparent harm.

Third, bathing, which is so prominent in the movie, is absent as a plot expedient in the book.

Fourth, dePatie-Frehling's maps don't really match Gulick's maps (yes, Gulick uses elaborate maps as well to try to explain the collision of the forces at play).

Fifth, Massingale is a suffragette first, a temperance activist second in the book. The suffragette component to her actions is omitted in the movie (probably for the better).

Sixth, you will become ever more impressed, page after page, at how the screenwriter improved both the action and dialogue, creating an ultimately more satisfying product in the process. In the book, Massingale doesn't stab the horses with her hatpin to make them bolt away from the exchange point; in fact, she's not even at the exchange point, she's with Col. Gearhart. The wagons are pulled by mules, not horses, and they're spooked by the champagne bottles exploding. The name of the final disaster was changed, for in the book Quicksand Bottoms is only an incidental fraction of the Oxbow region, and the various campaigns therein also differ. At tale's end, Oracle Jones lives alone at his homestead at Quicksand Bottoms, while Frank is a broken man up in Julesberg. How much more satisfying the movie version is, memorable for Brian Keith's reaction to the emerging casks. The book explains that Chief Five Barrels merely chooses some relatives to help him pick up some wagons of firewater. The movie transation concerning the "two brothers-in-law" is one of the dry comic highlights of the film. Wallingham is only mentioned in passing as "a good Republican," but the movie makes this a distinctive mark of the character.

You come away from the book appreciating the greater depth of the characters you've gleaned, but, even more so, appreciating the genius of the screenwriter's adaptation of the book. Some scenes are unique to the movie and not found in the book (as suggested earlier regarding the bathtub scenes), and explanations for some scenes are also different (e.g., Massingale massages Gearhart's neck because of an actual headache, not a hangover). In any event, director Sturges apparently moved pretty quickly from printed page to celluloid, since the book came out in approximately 1962 while the movie was released in 1965. The trip to the screen looks to have taken record time.

Recommended for those who love the movie who want to learn more about the characters and actions as originally conceived by Gulick. I'd hesitate to recommend the book to anyone else, however.


Phantastische Erscheinungen
Phantastische Erscheinungen
Offered by skyvo-direct-usa
Price: $16.55
22 used & new from $8.99

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another vastly under-rated composer you should get to know, April 18, 2007
I'll admit that I've been burned before by the glowing reviews that music critic David Hurwitz gives various albums, having learned that only one out of every five or so CDs that he lauds actually warrant effusive praise. I'm happy to report that Hurwitz was more than right on this release -- the two works on this CD are masterful, gorgeous, played with conviction, and composed with elan, passion, and cleverness.

Braunfels was active in the first half of the 20th century, operating in a tonal medium that I suppose could be called post-romantic, with original overtones winding through each work. The larger work on this program, written in 1917, is the Fantastic Appearances of a Theme by Hector Berlioz, the theme being taken from "The Song of the Flea" in Berlioz's Le Damnation du Faust. While Hurwitz sees an affinity to Strauss's Don Quixote in Braunfel's set of orchestral variations, I hear more of a closer affinity with works like Respighi's Metamorphoseon or even Walton's Variations on a Theme by Hindemith. Braunfel's approach to percussion -- less is more -- takes some striking forms (e.g., the clever punctuation of the beginning of of a phrase with mezzopiano bass drum off beats -- highly imaginative!).

The Serenade of 1909, scored for smaller orchestra, does have some Straussian harmonic affectations, but the melodic invention is remarkably fresh despite the way the main theme hugs the major triad. Like the later variations, this work also bears repeated listening.

As usual, the CPO recording is pristine, with rich sonics that lack nothing in either body or clarity. Conductor Dennis Russell Davies strives to get maximum impact out of his forces, and it shows. The Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra is no second-class outfit, this recording being witness.

Suffice it to say that this CD has provoked me to seek out "Die Vogel," an opera Braunfels composed after the two works that appear on this disk. I tend to be tight-fisted when it comes to buying expensive recordings, but these recordings indicate that the more expensive Braunfels opera will in no way be a gamble. Highly recommended. Get to know Braunfels -- you won't regret it.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 27, 2013 5:39 PM PST


No Title Available

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another vastly under-rated composer you should get to know, April 13, 2007
I'll admit that I've been burned before by the glowing reviews that music critic David Hurwitz gives various albums, having learned that only one out of every five or so CDs that he lauds actually warrant effusive praise. I'm happy to report that Hurwitz was more than right on this release -- the two works on this CD are masterful, gorgeous, played with conviction, and composed with elan, passion, and cleverness.

Braunfels was active in the first half of the 20th century, operating in a tonal medium that I suppose could be called post-romantic, with original overtones winding through each work. The larger work on this program, written in 1917, is the Fantastic Appearances of a Theme by Hector Berlioz, the theme being taken from "The Song of the Flea" in Berlioz's Le Damnation du Faust. While Hurwitz sees an affinity to Strauss's Don Quixote in Braunfel's set of orchestral variations, I hear more of a closer affinity with works like Respighi's Metamorphoseon or even Walton's Variations on a Theme by Hindemith. Braunfel's approach to percussion -- less is more -- takes some striking forms (e.g., the clever punctuation of the beginning of of a phrase with mezzopiano bass drum off beats -- highly imaginative!).

The Serenade of 1909, scored for smaller orchestra, does have some Straussian harmonic affectations, but the melodic invention is remarkably fresh despite the way the main theme hugs the major triad. Like the later variations, this work also bears repeated listening.

As usual, the CPO recording is pristine, with rich sonics that lack nothing in either body or clarity. Conductor Dennis Russell Davies strives to get maximum impact out of his forces, and it shows. The Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra is no second-class outfit, this recording being witness.

Suffice it to say that this CD has provoked me to seek out "Die Vogel," an opera Braunfels composed after the two works that appear on this disk. I tend to be tight-fisted when it comes to buying expensive recordings, but these recordings indicate that the more expensive Braunfels opera will in no way be a gamble. Highly recommended. Get to know Braunfels -- you won't regret it.


Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps
Stravinsky: Le sacre du printemps
Price: $14.36
79 used & new from $8.01

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth adding if you already own other versions of Sacre, April 12, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Like some other reviewers, I was expecting to fall in love with Salonen's work (given how strong a performance he recently recorded of three major works by Hindemith, and the care he took with those, albeit recorded in a different concert hall with the LA Philharmonic). This version of Le Sacre does have its moments, but I find Gergiev's performance more compelling (notwithstanding the sometimes recessed sound of the eight French horns), and surely more dramatic. Sonically, there's enough bass drum content in this recording to probably inspire some low rider to tool around town in a lowered Chevy playing this CD loud enough to crack his own ribs, a result that's highly desirable in his value system. But the bass drum is more dramatic and even harrowing in Gergiev's recording, which is somewhat inexplicable yet nonetheless true. In any event, the hype over this recording is somewhat overstated: it is hardly revolutionary.

I also regret to report that Salonen's performance of the original version of Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain" does not compare to the premiere recording by Claudio Abbado, which still comes across as definitive interpretationally, in regard to balance, and with respect to sonic clarity. This is something of a surprise, given how little competition Salonen has to deal with in bringing this work to the public's attention. My complaint throughout most of my listening was "where are the details? everything sounds muddy compared to Abbado!" Maybe the engineers are still figuring out how to get clarity recording in this new hall -- they certainly haven't achieved it as yet.

The Bartok work is well-recorded, and although I own several other versions, this might end up being my go-to interpretation for the work: it is at least tied with the other top contenders (Abbado's on DG, and the Complete Bartok Edition version as well).


Petrouchka / Firebird Suite
Petrouchka / Firebird Suite
14 used & new from $8.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Performance A+, Original Mastering A+, This Remaster D-, April 12, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The right channel on this SACD/CD release has an unacceptable hum in it, which mars an otherwise fantastic performance brilliantly captured by the original engineers. It's too late for me to return it to Amazon, from whom I purchased it, so if you purchase it with the right to refund it if defective, LISTEN to your CD the moment it arrives, and don't leave it in an auditioning stack for a couple of months like I did. If the CD you pick up does NOT have the hum, you've got a 5 STAR in your hands. The pressings with the hum drop the star count by two. I'm reviewing the copy I have, since you have a chance of acquiring the same problems in your CD. Buyer beware: check your CD out, rejoice if it's kosher, act quickly if you've got that hum. This is all the more a pity since this is now my favorite take on Petrouchka, and I own about 15 different versions of the ballet. I'll even listen to it with the hum -- and I'll eventually break down and repurchase this in the hope my next copy is hum-free.


The Essential Sibelius
The Essential Sibelius
5 used & new from $81.65

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Predecessor to The Complete Sibelius Edition (pending), December 14, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Essential Sibelius (Audio CD)
BIS set itself the task of recording EVERY work by Sibelius, and this 15 CD set is the downpayment on that more ambitious project. That in no way renders this so-called Essential Sibelius set modest or compromised. This set is so good, it risks eclipsing the subsequent Complete Works project BIS is still working to finish. All the major works (symphonies, tone poems, songs, Kullervo, concerti) are represented here and are gorgeously recorded. All but the second half of the 15th CD are digitally recorded (the analog material is restricted to some piano works).

The recording engineers at BIS do stunning work, and this collation is no exception. Let's consider the symphonies as representative of the set itself. This is a marvelous traversal of all seven. I own the readings done by Sir Colin Davis (still highly respected), the four that Bernstein recorded with the Vienna Philharmonic, and Maurice Abravanel's recordings. In virtually all particulars, Osmo Vanska betters the competition. He's done something I would not have thought possible (given that I own over 2,000 classical CDs): one of these disks has earned entry into my "Ten Desert Island CDs" list. That would be CD 2, containing the Second and Third Symphonies of Sibelius. Astonishingly compelling music-making: authoritative, with deeply carved emotion, overwhelming power, and soul-searching tenderness. It was like rediscovering Sibelius anew. I don't think there can be any higher praise than this.

The multi-lingual booklet is informative on a biographical level, but weak on extended discussion of the individual works. The sleeve packaging is arguably bargain-basement level, as is the silkscreening on the disks, which sometimes requires the booklet to let you know what you're facing. But at the stupendous price these gorgeous recordings are offered at, to complain about the packaging is to quibble.

There is something authoritative about any Sibelius project BIS puts its hand to, and one gets that sense in this collection. National pride, corporate pride, and (as we learn from the booklet) a personal connection to Sibelius, is evident in this box set and the loving attention the interpreters and recording engineers lavished on these works. Rediscover Sibelius by starting here. This box set will become the new benchmark for Sibelius box sets, at least until BIS finishes the Complete Works project in the future.


Homage to Satie: The Orchestral Works
Homage to Satie: The Orchestral Works
Price: $15.88
14 used & new from $8.00

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another coup for Abravanel. Nobody cleanses the palate like Satie., February 3, 2006
Let's first say that I was not predisposed to like Satie, given my love for counterpoint (from Bach to Hindemith) and my respect for the nobility of the musical enterprise, as opposed to superficial fluff. So my 2,500+ collection of classical CDs is packed with "monumental" items (tons of Bruckner & Mahler versions, complete works of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Hindemith, etc.), most of which tends toward the heavy, thick side (if not sonically, then in terms of musical values and aesthetics). But I listened to these two Satie disks totally enthralled, breaking out into spontaneous smiles at what Satie has achieved. The "breath of fresh air" that critics have ascribed to Satie's works isn't mere hype, at least insofar as Satie is accurately represented in this orchestral set list: this truly is some of the most gorgeously crafted music I've ever heard. Most of the movements are concise to the extreme (which makes Satie something of the Anti-Bruckner), but this formal structure works to the advantage of the music, where elegant ideas are presented without excessive hyper-rationalization. Even the humorous, parodistic parts of the ballets are well-crafted.

The performances are outstanding across the board. The surprise, sonically, is the virtual absence of tape hiss, and the crystal clarity of this dynamic recording. It sounds better than several hundred digitally-recorded CDs in my collection! Too bad more analog era recordings don't receive so excellent a transfer and re-mastering (none of which are even credited on this CD). The engineers were apparently humble as well as perfectionists. (If their humility was involuntary, oh well.)

If you have preconceptions about Satie's "lack of depth," etc. (as I once did), this recording will realign your priorities. Satie's depth is found in a different place. In their own way, the various miniatures he has crafted are actually as intensely packed as any Webern movement for string quartet. Satie has stripped the music back to what HE regarded as the essentials. The result, far from being stark or austere, comes across as embodying musical joy in an utterly unpretentious manner. This is a CD I will likely break out every other month just to cleanse the palate. You HAVE to respect a composer who can bring a smile to your face, and you have to respect a conductor who knows how to bring such elemental music to vibrant life as Abravanel has done here. Highly recommended.


Released Upon The Earth
Released Upon The Earth
Price: $13.98
7 used & new from $8.98

4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best version of the 1962 Organ Concerto, January 30, 2006
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Released Upon The Earth (Audio CD)
Before acquiring this, I enjoyed the only other version of the 1962 Organ Concerto of Hindemith's conducted by Werner Andreas Albert (also linked with the 7th Kammermusik -- only the 3rd element in the setlist differs between Albert's CD and this one, with Albert going for the Viola d'Amore Kammermusik while this CD hits the rare mechanical organ works of Hindemith). This version was an absolute eye-opener: as if listening to the work totally fresh. Phrases were shaped and had character. Lines were clear, strong, easy to differentiate from the other textures, and subtle or powerful as required. Truly amazing that a work I'd already come to know and love suddenly takes brand new shape -- the difference in the versions can only be compared to the difference between black and white television and color HDTV. Some of the sonic differences may reflect hall acoustics and engineering, but the interpretation is simply more alive as well. Astonishing. I have no idea why this brilliant version of the concerto went out of print, it is so superior to the Albert version. There is a depth to the solo organ playing, particularly in quiet passages where the dynamics aren't flattened (as they appear to be in Albert if only by comparison with de Burgos).

These differences are most noticeable in the first three movements; one can see that Albert brings out several details in the finale that aren't as obvious in the de Burgos reading (which, apart from other differences, takes a slightly slower tempo for the last movement at the outset). Albert emphasizes the dissonant clashes that de Burgos tends to treat as incidental to other lines. However, so many details obscured in the Albert sing loud and clear in the de Burgos -- important lines in the strings I never even knew were there. In the cadenza, organist Martin Haselboeck makes it easy to hear the main theme (Veni Creator Spiritus) rather than permitting it to be buried in the surrounding textures. The lead-out from the cadenza into the string passage is far more emotionally rendered than on the Albert CD. However, Albert does far more justice to the final 2 minutes: here, he emphasizes the right things, while de Burgos regrettably puts the woodwinds too heavily into the forefront, so we lose some of the expertly voiced brass writing Hindemith had positioned at the foundation of this sequence. The broken triplet string figures are magical for Albert, but de Burgos here is the perfunctory version.

On the 7th Kammermusik, pride of place still goes to Chailly's reading, followed very closely by the old Telefunken LP version with Concerto Amsterdam. But this comes in a very strong 3rd, and again we have the benefit of the similar acoustics that captured the later concerto so well on the first 4 tracks (although the hall is reportedly a different hall). Here we have Haselboeck playing the organ AND conducting the work. We see that, like de Burgos, Haselboeck is no slouch in music-making either. These readings make me wonder whether Haselboeck has committed Hindemiths' three organ sonatas to CD as well -- if so, they'd also be strong contenders based on Haselboeck's work here.

The Suite for a Mechanical Organ, using Welte rolls that Hindemith hand punched, is rendered in analog mono sound (it's a historic recording). Sometimes it sounds like someone who's had too much espresso playing a calliope: wild sequences of runs followed by fascinating dotted rhythms (here sounding fresh, unlike their worn-out appearance in so much later Hindemith). One can consider this the first MIDI work ever done, and it is brilliant. Note that the mechanical organ has major percussion capability - the 2nd movement focuses on such voicings. There are vast stretches where, if it weren't for the dated sonics, you'd think you were listening to some particularly inventive electronic work of the 1990s with unflagging energy and forward propulsion. There's nothing conservative about this virtuoso work. Apparently one of the best kept secrets in modern music, this.

The organist appeared to have written most of the program notes in the CD booklet. The notes are informative, and I only noted one apparent error (the flutes in the 3rd movement of the 1962 concerto are said to be double-tongued, but in reality they are playing flutter-tongued runs, as correctly noted in the Albert program notes).

Highly recommended for the lover of high integrity modern composition for the organ and orchestra, and, of course, for those who hold Hindemith's works in high esteem. This album has the goods.


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