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Steinberg, program annotator for the San Francisco, Boston, and New York Philharmonic orchestras, describes some 50 works for accompanied chorus. For each, he begins with the composer's statistics, continues to the voices and instruments in the piece, sketches its genesis and first performances and how it fits into its creator's compositional history, and leads the reader through its sections, noting what to listen for. The big boys--Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Haydn, and Stravinsky--are represented by their major works, but the less-well-known likes of John Adams' Harmonium, based on poems by Donne and Dickinson; Luigi Dallapicola's Canti di prigionia, settings of writings from prison by Mary Queen of Scots, Boethius, and Savonarola; and Arthur Honegger's Le Roi David, the story of David and Saul, also appear. Steinberg's most personal essay is on Sir Michael Tippett's oratorio A Child of Our Time, whose genesis lies in the infamous Kristallnacht of 1938, and whose structure is based on Handel's Messiah. Well-written, concise introductions that record collectors, concertgoers, and chorus members alike should enjoy. Alan Hirsch
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"What sets Steinberg's writing apart is its appealing mixture of impregnable authority (he knows this music) and purely personal asides (by the end of the book, we know this man). Choral Masterworks can be read by anybody, from a professional musician to any young listener newly braced by the stoic pessimism of the Brahms 'German Requiem.'" --Washington Post Book WorldSee all Editorial Reviews