No CD reviews were included in the March issue of CMQ.
HIGH PERFORMANCE SINGING
THE CHORISTER AND
THE RACING CAR
Whole Self Singer: P/B 37pp.
978-1-5272-1291 -6 £5.00
Also available for Kindle
Subtitled ‘A guide to high performance singing’, this is a book on vocal health and performance written for children. Readers can gain a good idea of Anita Morrison’s approach from her article on page 11 of this CMQ, It is a book to give to children. written with a sense of fun and wittily illustrated by Karen Fardell -although the illustrations are all of boys.
There are three sections: Under the bonnet (how your voice works). General maintenance (vocal health) and Ready, steady go! (Warm up, rehearse, perform). The racing car analogy -either maintaining it or driving it – continues throughout. So, for example, an illustration of a car with flat tyres, kinked hoses and ruined suspension introduces a section on physical alignment (including paragraphs headed ‘Make friends with gravity’). Activity is encouraged with sections starting ‘Try this experiment .. .’. Beneath the light-hearted approach lies the author’s knowledge and experience so that the book is rooted in solid technique. Very highly recommended.
ORGANS AND ORGANISTS: THEIR INSIDE STORIES
Dr J Butz: H/B 416pp.
As one of many hoping that Jeremy Setchell would follow up her Organisms: Anecdotes from the World of the King of Instruments published in 2008, I was delighted to receive Organs and Organists: Their Inside Stories, subtitled All You Ever Wanted to Know. A composting of organic material. The long wait for this terrific sequel has been amply rewarded. Material from organists worldwide has been collated into a book that can be appreciated and enjoyed by organists and non-musicians alike. Apart from the engaging humorous content, what confirms this book as five-star is the quality of production-hundreds of stunning photographs by the author (a professional photographer) and exemplary high-quality production values. This is both a book to treasure and also one to lend to friends -a worthy ambassador for the world of the organ. Organists will wryly recognize and sympathize with many of the bizarre situations described and non-organists will, I hope, begin to understand and be amazed by tales of a world they have probably never thought existed. This is achieved not only by reading the anecdotes, but also through the clever way the organ mechanism, from pipes to cases, is described and illustrated with photographs – and wonderful cartoons by Al Nisbet.
I am not given to outbursts of visceral laughter, but my wife tells me I laughed out loud more times while reading this book than she can ever recall before. A pity that this copy arrived too late for the December CMQ for this would make an ideal Christmas present idea. Do remember it throughout 2018; there are many other present opportunities!
MORE THAN A TUNE A DAY
YEAR OF WONDER: CLASSICAL MUSIC FOR EVERY DAY
Headline Publishing: P/B 442pp. 978·1-4722-5230·2 £1499
Also available in hardback and for Kindle
For many years consumers have been targeted by sellers of books containing’a menu a day’, ‘a cartoon a day’, ‘a prayer a day·. etc., each containing 365 personal choices. Like Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, how often does the reader follow through to the end of these? Rarely, of course, but here we have a book that might stay the course a little longer than many. Burton-Hill, well known as a television and radio presenter. has compiled her own eclectic list of one-per-page music choices with a brief yet informative paragraph about the composer and music. A pleasant surprise to find that Messiah, Albinoni’s Adagio, the Toccata and Fugue in D minor and a mass of popular classics arc not included. There is a good representation of 20-century music, of choral music, classical song and instrumental music of many kinds.
After 60 years of listening to classical music I consider myself pretty ‘well-listened’ to most genres of classical music. but I have discovered many new treasures within these pages. Some online commentators dismiss the book as aimed at a musically ignorant target audience. This may be partly correct, but I would regard it not just as a coffee table book but as one with educational value. For those into Apple devices, there is an on line playlist of all 365 pieces at applcmusic.com for easy access. Those not Apple-literate can easily find the music on line using the search engine of your choice and these are usually free.
THE WHOLE CHURCH SINGS
Robin A Leaver
W.B. Eerdmans: P/B 220pp.
Very little is known about congregational singing during worship through the 16th and 17th centuries. Professor Leaver presents the thesis that the participation of the congregation in Lutheran services was known at least as early as 1526, with the publishing in Wittenberg of a hymnal specifically for congregational use. The title itself ‘The whole church sings’ is taken from Luther’s own writings – it was his ardent desire that in worship all should sing to God and not just the clergy and choirs. The book focuses entirely on the first two decades ofLutheran/ Protestant hymnody. It will be of great interest to scholars of this era but is perhaps not for the general reader. When mentioning contemporary hymnals it only refers to American hymn books.