I got a bunch of CDs about a month ago but all I've gotten through have been
Herbie Hancock - The Prisoner: It would help if every last song weren't the exact same tempo; this was a drag on listening to this the first couple of times. Five tracks, five mid-tempo jams. This sounds (surprise) a lot more like the other solo acoustic Hancock albums I've heard in harmony and has the right kind of melodies to get under your skin -- eventually. Not the best album ever but it's perfectly good.
Beethoven - Piano Sonatas (Bavouzet): The first twenty-nine; I have yet to listen to the ninth disc (30-32). These are fine performances, if they don't have the personality of a Schnabel. After a certain point I stopped evaluating the performance and just listened to the music and it's all very good; I wouldn't recommend it for your first recording of the sonatas, though. The sonatas were the last huge Beethoven works that I hadn't yet absorbed just six months ago, and they came easily and I think I know at least the opening of all of them now.
That was all the CD HAUL I got through, because I upgraded my vinyl setup with this turntable, this cartridge, this phono preamp, and I also got this record cleaning machine. It doesn't make much of a difference with already-reasonably-clean discs (obviously) but is night-and-day with a lot of mine, rescued from thrift shops, that have 50-60 years of dust and grime in the grooves.
Because the preamp has MC capability I've got my eyes set on this. That's still a long time in the future, though. The new turntable practically eliminates mechanical noise but Grado cartridges are unshielded, with a slight hum, and I've been wanting to hear what moving-coil cartridges sound like and (believe it or not) this is about the cheapest of all of them. I'm going to keep the Grado as a backup, since you can't replace the stylus on the Ortofon (so I'll be setting myself up for plunking down another few hundred when the time comes).
Anyway, vinyl stuff. I'm giving the following to a friend of mine to expand and improve his nascent record collection. I was going to stop listening to my own records but I've come around on that, but I think that friend will appreciate these far more than I do:
The Moody Blues - In Search of the Lost Chord: I have a soft spot for this album. It was the first Moodies I heard (I still don't own Days of Future Passed in any format) and hey, it's psychedelic, from 1968, has a song about Timothy Leary and a literal astral (aero)plane (I wonder if this was a joke or whether they just didn't understand the far-out lingo); the first side is some of the best stuff they did. The second drags and ends in "Om".
The Moody Blues - On the Threshold of a Dream: Graeme Edge only did his poetry on about half of their albums but it's pretty bad on this one. Don't remember too much of it.
The Moody Blues - To Our Children's Children's Children: Great, not as good as George or John say. It's awfully hard to talk about Moody Blues albums since they're all so even. They did have a group of solid songwriters.
The Moody Blues - A Question of Balance: Now this is great. It's funny; looking at the tracklisting on this, and with the others, the first side comes to mind clearly and I can think about the music easily, but the second is more opaque, though I remember really liking it the whole way through. If I remember right "The Balance" kind of sucks, but you'd think it would have left a bigger impression if it were an end-of-Threshold-or-Lost-Chord kind of bad, so I guess it doesn't?
The Moody Blues - Every Good Boy Deserves Favour: I liked this a lot the few times I spun it but I'll be damned if I can remember a single track besides "Our Guessing Game". The shouting-Latinate-(not-Latin)-words that George hated so much is reprised on "One More Time to Live" because that's the beginning of the second side (as the shouting begins the first side). I don't know if that's obscured by an added transition on CD but some reviews act surprised.
The Moody Blues - Seventh Sojourn: I don't recall the tracks between the opener and closer but this is a good album.
Justin Hayward and John Lodge - Blue Jays: I mentioned this while ago. To my ears it sounds a lot like early '70s Bee Gees, and really there are no bad tracks and some quite good ones.
Also LPs, presented without comment:
Shostakovich - Piano Concertos (Shostakovich)
Shostakovich - Violin Concerto No. 1; Symphony No. 6; Ballet Suites (Oistrakh; Maxim Shostakovich)
Shostakovich - Ballet Russe; Tchaikovsky - Serenade Mélancolique ("Ballet Russe" is an arrangement of pieces from those ballet suites)
Shostakovich - Symphony No. 4 (Ormandy)
Shostakovich - Symphony No. 5 (Bernstein)
Shostakovich - Symphony No. 7 (Mravinsky)
Shostakovich - Symphony No. 8 (Previn)
Shostakovich - String Quartets 7 & 8 (Beethoven Quartet of Moscow)
Shostakovich - Six Preludes and Fugues (Shostakovich)
Sibelius/Paganini - Violin Concertos (Menuhin)
Sibelius - Symphony No. 1 (Ormandy)
Sibelius - Symphony No. 2 (Koussevitzky)
Sibelius - Symphony No. 2 (Barbirolli)
Sibelius - Symphony No. 5; Finlandia (Karajan, with the Philharmonia Orchestra)
Sibelius - Four Legends from "The Kalevala" (Lukas Foss)
Sibelius - A Sibelius Fesival (Ormandy - four orchestral showpieces)
Smetana - The Moldau, "Bartered Bride" overture; Dvořák - Slavonic Dances (Szell)
Smetana - The Moldau, "Bartered Bridge overture and dances; Dvořák - Slavonic Dances (Bernstein)
Soler - Six Concertos for Two Organs (Alain, Taglianini)
Sorabji - A Legend in His Own Time (Habermann - recommended)
Stainer - The Crucifixion (Bardgett)
K Stamitz - Viola Concerto; Sinfonia Concertante for violin and viola (Wallfisch)
Stockhausen - Momente (Stockhausen - I really hated this through the first side but it grew on me. I might actually listen to it a second time)
J Strauss - Vienna (Reiner)
J Strauss - Transcriptions by Schoenberg, Berg, Webern (Boston Symphony Chamber Players)
J Strauss - Music from 1953 New Year's Concert (Krauss)
J Strauss - A Strauss Concert (Eduard Strauss II)
J Strauss - Waltzes, Overtures (Walter)
J Strauss, Lanner - Music from Old Vienna (Alexander Schneider Quintet)
R Strauss - Salome (Krauss)
R Strauss - Elektra (Solti)
R Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier (Erich Kleiber)
R Strauss - Ariadne auf Naxos (Karajan)
R Strauss - Arabella (Sawallisch)
R Strauss - Ein Alpensinfonie (Mehta)
Now that I'm done with the Strauss operas, and since the rush of getting the new phono setup is through, I can obsess over the Olympics now.
The Oxford Book of Ghost Stories: As I said, these become more formulaic towards the end and you can usually tell where a story is going to end up by reading the beginning. Also the stories get shorter as they go along. My favorite, though, is Robert Aickman's "The Cicerones", which is short but which is pretty unpredictable. The first time through it made little impact -- "that's it?" one might ask after reading -- but really it's one of the creepier stories, and once it got under my skin I read it a few more times. I'll definitely be buying an Aickman collection once I get done with the Le Fanu I bought. It's useless to shill this story since it's under copyright and unavailable on the internet, so let's move on.
M.R. James - Collected Ghost Stories: I've read these many times and they remain my favorites, not just of ghost stories but perhaps my favorites of any short stories period. I agree with a testimonial on the back: sometimes I wish I hadn't read them for the joy of reading them for the first time. I'm most of the way through; after this I'll read
J.S. Le Fanu - Ghost Stories and Tales of Mystery: Actually four longer stories (~50pp? each, more or less). I like what I've read of his and they're recommended to James fans.
Lysias - On the Murder of Eratosthenes: Slowly working through it -- only a few pages left. The practice of memorizing all unfamiliar vocabulary is already starting to pay off (I can read passages more fluently without constantly having to look up words), even if it's tedious as hell and I'd rather not do it. Vocabulary, unfortunately, is the hardest part of learning any language and you've got to do it.
Hans Řrberg - Roma Ćterna: After the easy (yet dull as dishwater) Eutropius and Marcus Gellius we go back to Livy, who is harder but much more fun. I've reached a good stopping point with this one and will set it aside to finish the Lysias, after which I really need to review Mastronarde's Introduction to Attic Greek, having found myself running into some grammatical difficulties.