Monday, March 19, 2018

Classical sacd round up part six - more Nordic sorts

Today on this months installment of the classical sacd round up seeing it had snowed this weekend, I look at two major Nordic composers.
Carl Nielsen was born on the Danish island of Funen on June 9th 1865, taking up music playing and attending the Royal Danish Academy of Music and is regarded as the pre-eminent composer of that country and died in 1931. His earlier works were inspired by Grieg and Brahms.
He wrote 6 symphonies all of which tended  to be around the half hour length  were written between 1892 and 1925 and have a number of common characteristics such as the prominence of the role of brass instruments  and unusual changes in tonality that have the effect of heightening the dramatic feel.

The London Symphony Orchestra recorded  between 2009 and 2011 all his symphonies on sacd and these were gathered up in this box set of three which also includes a audio only blue ray with high definition (192khz /24bit pcm) stereo and multichannel recordings for those who have blu ray home theatre systems.
 Decapo records issued a most useful sacd of his violin , flute and clarinet concertos  with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra performed live at Lincoln Center, Avery Fisher Hall New York that goes well with the Symphony box set.

A long term favourite composer of mine was the Norwegian Edvard Grieg and when it came to my cd based collection that was first started in September 1987 starting with Grieg's Peer Gynt in long extracts and disc of violin sonatas.
Edvard Grieg (1843 – 1907) was a Norwegian composer and pianist. He is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor and Peer Gynt (which includes Morning Mood and In the Hall of the Mountain King). Edvard Grieg is to Norway what George Washington is to America and William Shakespeare to England: his country's most celebrated human icon.
Apart from taking a chunk of his musics recording to this format, I also wanted to expand the scope of my collection.
Around 2005/6 the Swedish company BIS Records issued four sacds covering a wide range of his music so I started with this one of the Peer Gynt Suite.
String music is something I like and the one above plus the one by another label of his String Quartets expands on my original collection and features the lovely Holberg Suite.
I did have a disc on DG of the Norewegian and Symphonic dances that I wished to replace.
I was looking for a good modern recording of the Symphony in C and found this well regarded one fairly cheaply used.
I never had a recording of Grieg's Cello Sonata and this sacd is very highly regarded that has works by Grainger and Nielsen too.

 In 1996 I bought a recording by the Manchester pianist Ronan O Hora of Griegs Piano Concerto coupled with the Lyric pieces performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on Tring which the Penguin cd guide gave a rosette award to.
I was able to track down the 2005 Membran sacd issue of this recording .
To say the front cover is generic is an understatement but it sounds good so I switched the front cover over to the original one which is much nicer.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Going around the sun 2018 style

As you *may* of managed to work out it was my birthday last week but it just missed the publishing schedule which is why it is I'm writing about it today.
I had a number of cards from family and friends even if some were a bit late arriving with the recent extreme weather effecting when individuals could get out to mail them and also the UK wide delivery network.
 Tatty Teddy is such a cool creation, indeed I have a number Tatty Teddie stuffies and one person I know, my BFF sent me this lovely card through the mail.
I went out for midday lunch with family to celebrate to a local public house that does home made cooking with big chunky carrots and home prepared roast potatoes so I opted for a Turkey roast with cranberry sauce. Apple sauce never did that much for me to be honest.
I followed that up with home made Apple Pie and vanilla ice cream which was really scrumptious having lots of flavour and texture. I don't like mushy apple flavoured filling in fruit pies.
I had birthday wishes from the site that's the home of 'George' and the Famous Five and other Enid Blyton favourites and some forums including GT, the IK chat room and the classical music thread of a music site who put up with my regressive side pretty well.
That ties into having by way of presents four classical music discs one of which will be featured in a review next week, some money and a W H Smiths voucher I used toward this book when I went into town on Thursday. 

It was one that I kind expected to get but didn't at Christmas so didn't buy myself and there's new book in this historical series coming out next month.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Just being younger than my years me

As we enter a new month and approach a significant date I thought I'd post something around what it means to me.
 This time of year reminds me so much of the largely unchanged way that I am no different in many ways around the ages of these children and even the fuzzy warm lack of focus of it might as well be a metaphor for both how I am and the prism I see things through.
Any of them could of been me and certain respects more mentally sharper and alert too.
Our world compared to todays was a good deal simpler for just reading, playing and watching tv more often than not together and communication was mainly face to face by phone with parental approval so we'd sure know about it if anyone had been mean.
  We read comics, often joining fan clubs whose paraphernalia come through the mail and talked about them during school recess  and in many ways that remains what I loved and within reason love to do even now cos in my head I'm still the same.
 In the recent snowy weather my first instinct remains to gather up snow to have snowball fights and to make snowmen. This year even the outdoor model railway village got snowed in!!!
 I'm in so many ways the same as I was when I was legally younger.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Cutesy warmers

Wowies three comments on last weeks blog entry. Thank yous.
 This blog has always been electric-correction-eclectic in its scope dealing with things that broadly fit into my middle/littles life and vantage point as much as it might be easier to fill each entry with plushies and the like.
It's just me in the end contemplating an Exposure Value reading while clutching Theo with a bowl of ice cream at hand.
Anyway my liking plushies and cute things has always been mentioned here, at Angels and other sites before arriving on Tumblr as it goes back quite some time and even Mommy knows that.
She's responsible for that Pusheen sweatshirt being bought very spontaneously very recently for me from a shop in Chester,Ches. 
On a cold day like today I'm sure it'll come in very handy.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Littles Camp Report Winter 2018

After last weeks bit of a break, I am writing an account of how that six days and a bit spent at "Littles Camp" went although there  are some group rules about what information I can share so do bare with me.
Littles Camp is in some ways a bit like a spring or summers camp for actual children except it is for those 18+ who are in differing ways more 'like a child' and so the first thing to say is it isn't in any way connected to anything kink or sexual.
It's really a place where many of us can let out amongst others our child-like selves and while to make the thing happen we hire a place and look after our own catering needs, outside of that we're in a child-like place, what I call 'Little Space' so we do activities and act from "the child within".
The place we go to is in excess of one hundred fifty miles and that is after taking a lift with a  friend a few tens of miles away so in order to do that, I needed to catch two buses to our local rail station which is the biggest in the North-west Midlands and catch the train to South Staffordshire before meeting them then taking a bus to their place the day before.
One thing I do wish to comment upon is what you might wear because we all see and hear different things but the first thing to say is you don't have to dress any different because it's less about dress and more about that child within but different folk do things do things different some more infant others, more dressy and there some of us who wear things more like school or school age uniform depending how our little/middle side comes out.
In so far as it went with me, the first thing after taking my coat off at my friends was to get into my black pinafore dress before having a cup of tea and getting one of my dollies out before getting on to helping to make our evening meal which was Lamb Chop, Mashed Potato and boiled Broccoli.
I peeled and chopped the potatoes ready for boiling before butter was added for the mash and setting the table while they looked after the mashing and  cooking the lamb chops.
On the Saturday morning I helped with packing the car with not just our personal stuff but those things we had bought for for other people such as games and bread.
Seeing their were a number of local traffic issues, we decided to go via Halfpenny Green, the M5 and M40 motorways before criss-crossing  through Cambridge to East Anglia where our large venue was.
It took us about three hours thirty so we arrived around a quarter to three in the afternoon which happened to just in time for Sally and Karen who'd arrived a little earlier to offer to do what Britons call a "Bacon Butty" - literally cooked back bacon between bread which as we'd eaten before half past nine in the morning was very much appreciated that we had with some cakes.
Shortly after that I set up my room, fixed a drink and rested until about a quarter to six as I soon get tired so normally take an afternoon nap until my friend called me because it was getting toward time to fix some food.
Most people having arrived by now also were fixing food but that involved ordering Indian food and collecting it but we decided to fix our own so I had get utensils out and peel potatoes for some mash with our steak pies, the best in the Midlands which was soon enough done.

One group activity we did was doing jigsaws three of them  although I think we met our  match with one based on Chocolates that we really struggled with  and the London Underground (Brit speak for Subway) where we did get around 75% of it done but struggled with the masses of pure white bits that we couldn't slot in even though we knew they just had to.
On the Sunday a small Tatty Teddie was found outside my door and after a while it emerged so had everyone else as Kelly had left them which I though was a lovely idea.

Something I and I think a couple of others did was colouring so it was as well I bought my pencils and one book although there were  other things to colour in to which I did as I find both relaxing and also helpful with my hand-eye co-ordination.

On a few days a group of us including myself decided to walk varying distances around the neighbouring countryside, being alert to the local wildlife, vegetation and the solitude enjoying being in the fresh air, feeling care free.
On Monday, Victoria who was a member of the group but isn't able to come much, spent a few hours with us having fun which was a nice unexpected treat.
As well, that day saw Jennifer put on film show  with Paddington Turns Detective, an assemblage of Donald Duck cartoons plus the Laurel and Hardy classic Help Mates that we enjoyed and her home made sound movie of a 1999 steam trip from Birmingham to Liverpool Lime Street which featured a few stations I am most familiar with. Ice Cream cones were served during the interval.
A little surprisingly that home made film was a hit with everyone!
The all purrpuss nekomimi (look that Japanese word up!) put on a Music Quiz  that was won by Daisy and Suzy with second prize going to Fudge and Jillian. It was said there was something for everyone in it but I couldn't possibly comment.
Tuesday saw Alice doing a kind of Princess Hunt where you have to find them all to win a prize which was fun as rushed up and down the building looking everywhere for the princesses (and I mean everywhere including the Laundry!!!)
When it came to the catering side we had cold meat salads thanks to Daisy and Suzy for midday, Beef Stew with granary bread  followed by Rice pudding which was consumed in two helpings by the CatGirl thanks to Karla and Caroline, a  turkey roast thanks to Sally with others and Fish and Chips that collected by Jillian an order having been placed.
I should mention Andi's unforgettable 'Poncakes'  -at least that's how I  pronounce it, made totally by hand (not one ready mix was used) served with castor sugar, lemon and treacle which is something else that I had two off. All of which were truly scrumptious.
On the Wednesday we left after packing everything we'd taken with us and shared but because we needed to leave before mid morning several of us had done some packing before and generally tidied things up ready for the venues staff to come in and clean.
For me though this wasn't the end of this adventure after encountering  showers with temperatures around 2 degrees C  as we made our way toward Northamptonshire whereas it was really pretty sunny where we'd set off from we arrived back at my friends house.
After helping unload the car in two stages as it was a bit wet, the coal fire was lit and we had a cup of tea with cakes spending our time talking about the everything we'd all done and catching up on some tv such as Call The Midwife and The 2018 series of Great American Railroad Journeys travel documentary.
We had back bacon, mushroom, black pudding, sausage, fried eggs and bread for evening meal all bought locally from independent stores which was very yummy.
On Thursday I departed catching a train earlier than planned but itself delayed due to some incident at Birmingham that lead to one railway platform being taken out of use just as I had climbed part way up the stairs for it!
That wasn't the only odd thing as the internal information system with its electronic display and spoken announcements were so out of sync that it announced we were approaching Smethwick Galton Bridge where in reality we were going the opposite direction actually passing Mossfields, Stafford!!!
Thankfully getting the cab home at the other end was a lot more straightforward  and my driver was pretty talkative.
I'd like to thank everybody who was there contributing *something* to our littles camp not least those who "Bigged Up" to fix food and so on and also Jennifer for looking after me throughout the whole period.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Classical sacd round up part five - Jean Sibelius

While I'm away this week on a action packed littles meet up I thought I'd post the latest update on my increasing collection of Classical music super audio cds that also play on regular players.
The history of the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius's and my encounters with recordings of his works goes back to records from the 1960's and 1970's by the Austrian conductor Herbert von Kajaran for EMI and DG and in the early days of cd collecting,  I bought a four cd set by Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra but felt much of that didn't get that deep into the compositions.
It also sounded very lean and flat.
For Christmas I got a new five disc set but on super audio cd that also plays on regular players of the six symphonies by the pioneering  orchestra owned  label Lso Live from MDT Classics in Derby.
 This replaced the six symphonies and added a part choral work Kullervo which usually occupies a whole disc plus The Oceanides and Pohojola's Daughter that had been issued over a few years on individual discs.
Coming in this form, it was also discounted meaning for little over £20 I could get a complete set in the very finest quality.
 Taking a look at it, what we have is a box with the discs in individual sleeves and a booklet but also included for those who have home theatre blu ray systems is audio only blu ray so if they don't have super audio cd equipment they can play them back in high resolution surround sound.
 While looking at how to take the core of my Sibelius collection to super audio cd for it's greatly superior sound, I spotted a recent record that was an ideal add on to that five disc set by Chandos.
It's a superb recording by the acclaimed violinist Jennifer Pike of his Violin Concerto that comes with six short works, "Tone Poems" that includes favourites like Finlandia, Valse Triste and the Karelia Suite on one very well filled disc.
The Bergen Philharmonic are noted for their recordings by the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg but conducted by Andrew Davis are well in their element.
Finally to replace an older disc I had, I got this newer recording by Finland's Lahti Symphony Orchestra of the Lemminkainen Suite from which the "Swan of Tuonela" comes from coupled with the Wood-Nymph on BIS.
This resetting and upgrading in terms of sound and performances of Sibelius's work coupled with addition of a number of new compositions to my library has added to my appreciation of this composers work.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Nancy in the Sixth

After a bit of a break here's a return to our book series, Nancy at St  Brides/Maudsley and its heroine.

Originally written in 1935 it is a little more modern than the earliest adventures although we are still very much in a twentieth century mind set where girls would just wonder around woods by themselves with just a bike.
This picks up from The Best Bat although that was a mini novel and sees Nancy and her chums return as they thought to would be the Upper Fifth having taken their School Certificate examinations (a kinda precursor to the British GCE O levels people before 1987 took in the Fifth Form - aka Year 11 in post 1990's terms showing competence in the "Three R's" and other subjects ready to leave school for further study or employment).
I say that because we learn though family circumstances some who would of been in the Sixth left for overseas Colonies of our Empire such as South Africa, some to gain employment needed because their families faced lack  and others won scholarships to colleges and this meant the Sixth for this term would have precisely seven pupils which wasn't viable.
The Head Mistress, Miss Hale, sees actually her Fifth forms are unwieldy with rather more pupils than desirable and decides to move up those more academically capable in other respects mature members such as Nancy to the Sixth.
This is where the story proper begins because on the same day Nancy got moved up to the sixth she was promoted to a vacant prefectship triggering much trouble at Maudsley, their day school.
We learn about Clemency Walton's long standing jealous of Nancy that was triggered by a big misunderstanding that was not discovered until terms end and this jealous came to a head when the games committee proposed to make Nancy the captain of Cricket, this was far more than she could bear.
By the use of school gossip, not least the idea that an offer to play for the Lady Foresters cricket team had been accepted and to whom did play against Maudsley when in fact Nancy had not more for getting between work for the Guildry, Clemency manages to divert this honour -a mere formality given her cricketing and captaincy skills - from Nancy to herself.
But this isn't all in this story of jealousy running amok for Nancy had been down to play for an important school match encounters Ryllis Rutherford also of the the Sixth in something of a scrape offering her the use of her bike only not to make the match and facing being accused of 'cutting' it.
Clemency seizes her chance aided by the Second Form teacher who is the only other person with the final say on the team selection who is out of action with a cold, for malicious action to remove her from one selection and to call for practice sessions in away that Nancy would not of know and to which it would be easy to belittle her.
In the midst of this there is a scholarship -the Woodford-Leigh - for organ playing to which Nancy and Clemency are practising that requires a suitable instrument to practise on for  examination. Clemency swaps days to use the organ at St Ninians church with Nancy which would be fine other than several stops of it were damaged which naturally upset their organist Mrs Patterson apart from requiring repair. Because of the day it occurred on, all involved conclude it must of been Nancy as the swap was only agreed between the two girls before Bijah, a junior, who had attended thinking she'd hear Nancy playing saw Clemency but fell asleep and was rescued by Mrs Patterson makes an unplanned intervention.
It was a chance remark by the new junior schoolgirl  while taking tea with Mrs Patterson talking about her dog, that she know Clemency was playing that very day that unmasked Clemency's refusal to own up and let Nancy take the blame for something she was not responsible for.
Clemency is demoted not just for her use of a rumour she knew not to have been tested to get Nancy removed from the cricket captaincy and team selection but even as a prefect for her underhand ways.
The sorts of issues are not even today untypical of school life or indeed in other fields where we observe others work against people either making unfounded accusations or letting them stand because however wrong they are (and they know it) it suits them to let it happen and not hold out for what is true.
The moral lessons set I feel still stand in Twenty-first century Britain.