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Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway
Razzle Dazzle: The Battle for Broadway
by Michael Riedel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.85
43 used & new from $13.45

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The messy and scandalous business of Broadway that is hidden behind the stage and the lights., October 6, 2015
Look, I am a Midwesterner. Broadway is only tangentially a part of my life through touring shows, shows made into movies, local productions of shows, and television used to show more excerpts from Broadway than it does today. I also grew up in a home that loved musicals and I listened to albums of the famous shows (until I discovered Classical music as an adolescent – and that was that for me). But I understand its impact on our culture. I went to London to see shows such as “Les Miserables”, “Tommy”, “Grease”, and a few others. Mostly because my daughter wanted to see everything but “Tommy”. I wanted to see “Tommy” because I grew up with the Who album. Can I admit that even though I think “Les Miserables” is really bad musically, it is still a very moving show and works quite well as an evening’s entertainment. Yes, in a few places, I was moved to tears despite my misgivings. And I have seen it several times. Twice in London and once in Detroit with my family. I saw “Rent” at the Fischer Theater in Detroit and hated it. I would much rather see and hear “La Boheme” that “Rent” rips off so badly. In fact, I have performed in the chorus in local productions of “La Boheme”, “La Traviata”, and “Don Giovanni”.

But that isn’t this book. This book begins with the 1960s scandal that revealed the corrupt book keeping, the skimming (called ICE in the trade – because the skimmed money melts away like ice and leaves not a trace), the payoffs, and the cheating of investors and the taxpayers. Shocking, huh? Anyone remember the James Garner lawsuit of Hollywood a decade later over his share of the profits of the most popular show in television that somehow did not show much or any profit because of the corrupt accounting of Hollywood? I do.

The book covers the rise of the Shubert brothers and their battle with “The Syndicate”, which were a gang of theater owners across the country who dominated the business for decades. But they were getting old and the Shuberts were young, brash, and ambitious. So, the Shuberts eventually won and became the dominant name in the business to this day. Two of the three brothers died young and that left J.J. to the throne. He was a miserable and mean person. The book tells the sad story of an employee who had worked for them for 40 years and was sick and had nothing. His social security would not really keep him going and he asked J.J. for any kind of help for his decades of service. J.J. said he had taken care of him for 40 years and now he had to find someone else to do it. Wow.

These brothers led messy, adulterous, and corrupt lives. You will have to read the book to sort it all out because I can’t cover it all. Let me just say that the brothers left no direct heirs. Lawrence Shubert Lawrence, Jr. the son of a Shubert brother’s nephew took over the role of running the trust that held the Shubert wealth and power, and he did that from the bar at Sardi’s (where he had phones installed at either end of the bar to take calls). Yeah, he was drunk all the time. So, the lawyers eventually took over – Shoenfeld and Jacobs. Not that it was that clear cut and simple. The business is too corrupt and the family too messy to be that straightforward. Again, you have to read the book.

Along the way, we learn the business aspects of Broadway. The legal fights, the flops, the hits (and the hits saved the whole industry from going under for the last time well more than a few times), and the relationships and personalities involved. Again, it is far messier, more corrupt, and petty than you can possibly guess. The real miracle of theater is that anything ever gets done. I guess it is just that when it works there is so much money that everyone can find a way to pull together just enough to push their way to the trough.

The book also covers the rise of the Nederlander family in Detroit (my hometown) and the move of the son, James, to New York and how he came to build his empire to challenge the Shubert organization. Towards the end of the book we learn about the rise of corporate theater like Disney and its industrial money making machines.

This is a very interesting book if this is a subject that interests you. No, you won’t get into the theory or art of theater. This is the business side, the money side, the personality side, the scandal side of the business.

Enjoy. I guess. But have access to a shower when you are done.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI

The Everyman's Guide to knowing which way to vote
The Everyman's Guide to knowing which way to vote
Price: $0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A handy guide to help you evaluate where you on on 50 issues of the day., September 29, 2015
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If you are unsure about whether or not you are a Conservative or a Progressive because you find yourself between the two positions, this guide should help you see where you are more clearly. The author looks at fifty different issues of our day and presents in a sentence or two, or a paragraph at most, the Progressive and the Conservative side (the Democrat and the Republican sides). Not that all Democrats are Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders Progressives or are all Republicans like Ted Cruz.

I would imagine the best way to go through this book (or pamphlet; really) is to see how much each of these issues matters to you and then which position seems the closest to your own views and then tally them up. Then you will know where you are a little more clearly.

For example, if an issue is very important to you, you might give your favored position a 1. If an issue is less important you might give your favored position .5 and so forth. Then sum the two columns and see the weighted totals for each position.

No matter where you are on the spectrum, I think this short book can be quite helpful in assisting you in clarifying where you are and then identifying the candidate(s) that most appeal to you.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 30, 2015 4:14 AM PDT

Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary
Unlikeable: The Problem with Hillary
by Edward Klein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.99
51 used & new from $12.90

197 of 209 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About half the general public likes the idea of Hillary, but when they see and hear her they find her generally UNLIKEABLE!, September 28, 2015
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The Clintons began their push into national politics and our lives when Bill Clinton gave his disastrous nominating speech for Michael Dukakis’s presidential run in 1988. It was too long and he was jeered at the end of the 33 minute speech when he said “in closing”. But he learned and, like sharks on the prowl, they kept going forward. Hillary became known to most folks when the Gennifer Flowers scandal broke and they had to lie their way out of that first Bimbo Eruption. Hillary got high marks from the public for standing by her man. And in every one of his scandals since, and there have been many, when she does her “pretty in pink” Hillary Clinton victim dance she gains in the public’s eyes. But whenever she does her more honest and more strident independent Hillary Rodham dance such as her 1992 gaffe, “I guess I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life”, she falls in popularity like a boulder off a mountain peak.

This is the third of Ed Klein’s books on the Clintons and their pursuit of regaining the White House using Hillary as the Presidential Candidate and taking control of the Democrat Party, the Executive Branch, and the nation once again. The story centers on why Hillary has had such a hard time grabbing that brass ring which she just knew was hers by divine right in 2008 and now in 2016 and why it continues to elude her grasp. He gives us his primary thesis in the title of the book; the public finds her “unlikeable”. Oh, the press and her political machine keep telling us how wonderful and life of the party fun she is in private. However, the public sees her wooden public persona, her strident hectoring of the nation about what we must do under her vision of our lives, the phony attempts at spontaneity such as her dancing on “Ellen”, her hideous slides into “I ain’t no ways tired” African American mimic. And all this on top of her endless scandals after lie after scandals after evasion after scandals after fake non-apology apology after scandals after dissembling after more scandals. The public is right to wonder how many shoes this woman has that she can keep dropping so many. The public seems to want to forgive Bill for being a kind of charming rogue. But Hillary gets none of that slack because she is never charming or self-deprecating.

The press has always been a key part of protecting the Clintons. When Reagan was running for President, the press was always critical of his age, but now Hillary is as old as Reagan was and there is no serious questioning of her age (or Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden for that matter). When Reagan ran, the press demanded his health records and, as President, they demanded to know the details of his every medical procedure and doctor visit. Anyone else remember learning more than we wanted to know about intestinal polyps back then? But when Bill ran, it was fine to just get a general doctor’s note saying he was fine to run without ANY medical history whatsoever. And the press was fine with it. Now Hillary is running and Klein tells us a lot about what is wrong with her. SERIOUSLY wrong with her and the press is content with her doctor’s note of health. Of course we know why this hypocrisy is considered just fine with her supporters, but why doesn’t the public demand to know more about her brain and heart related issues?

Look, I can’t predict if she will eventually win the Democrat nomination or not or eventually regain the White House with Bill. I never thought the public would be foolish enough to elect Bill the first time, and certainly not the second time. And while I was afraid the novelty of electing the first African American President (weren’t we told that was Bill for a while?) would get Obama in the White House the first time, I never dreamed he would be able to be re-elected. But he was. So, I have no idea if Hillary and the Clinton machine along with a booster press can pull off this magic trick. But I strongly hope it belly flops. I can see her corruption, can’t you? Why can't the rest of the world? Are they willfully blind because of self interest and ideology?

The book recounts Bill’s priapic escapades more openly than ever before. Klein opens the book with Bill advising Hillary to not try and have a meeting with Obama. As the author tells us in "Blood Feud" the Clintons and the Obamaites have less than zero use for each other. They have a shouting match and Hillary goes for the meeting anyway. She wants some alone time with Obama and he wants nothing to do with her. He finally relents but has Valerie Jarrett in the Oval Office. Hillary is taken aback and makes her case to have Obama stop the problems she is having over the email server. According to this book, not only was Obama aware of the server he had warned her to not use it so this problem was of her own making. Hillary screams at him that she wants him to call off his "F-ing Dogs" but actually shouting the f-word. Obama tells her he can't and won't. Not a fun day for Team Hillary.

Klein also tells us about charm training for Hillary at the hands of Steven Spielberg no less, and how badly that went. We get more of the ugly details of her treatment of her team and staff. So, yes, she is unlikeable. My question is, will the public gag reflex finally be triggered? You will have to tell me because I have never been under their spell. But tens of millions apparently are.

Please get and read and share this book. Of course, the pro-Hillary team will dismiss it as trash, but without specific criticisms. They will not refute anything with facts, just their usual general denials. Remember the Clinton system, 1) deny as long as possible, 2) when the evidence goes against you, attack the evidence givers, 3) when the evidence becomes undeniable, cite your previous denials as evidence there is nothing there, 4) when desperate claim that there is nothing to indict them on, and 5) when it comes up again, say it is old news. Don’t fall for it. Please. Don’t fall for the Clinton hyper spin. I can’t vouch for Ed Klein, but since NOTHING in his previous two books has been refuted, I suspect nothing will be proved wrong here either.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 11, 2015 9:52 PM PDT

Microplane Elite Box Grater 34009
Microplane Elite Box Grater 34009
Offered by Kitchen Kapers
Price: $39.95
2 used & new from $21.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully designed box grater with 5 ultra sharp Microplane blades in 1 sleek package, September 24, 2015
This review is from: Microplane Elite Box Grater 34009
I love the Microplane graters. They are SHARP; so be careful. They provide consistent and beautiful results. I had purchased the previous model of their box grater and while the blades were wonderful, the plastic deteriorated. Microplane stood behind their product, always good, and replaced them with some of their gourmet hand graters (which are each wonderful) and then just sent me the new AND MORE DURABLE model of their box grater.

They have made several nice improvements to this box grater, as well. Not only are the blades the ones we love and enjoy, the 1) fine, 2) coarse, 3) ribbon, 4) ultra-coarse, and 5) shaver blades, but we also get a removable tray. That is, there is a “bottom” platform in the grater to keep what you are grating inside the box and then you slide the bottom out (give it a good tug to remove) and your gratings will fall where you put them! There are also two windows so you can measure in cups and/or milliliters (up to 2.5 cups or 400 ml). The fine and coarse graters share the back side of the grater. The ultra-coarse gets the whole front angled panel. And the ribbon and shaver blades are on opposite faces on the sides of the box grater.

The blades come covered in a plastic film you will need to carefully remove to use the product. You will instantly realize how sharp the blades are. So, again, be careful. I have grated a finger or two when I got a bit careless over the years and it is not pleasant.

The top handle is solid and comfortable. The design of the product is nice, sleek, and as attractive as I can imagine a box grater being.



Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 8, 2015 2:20 PM PDT

How We Got the Book of Mormon
How We Got the Book of Mormon
by William W. Slaughter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $34.99
23 used & new from $7.44

5.0 out of 5 stars A useful quick read of the coming forth and printing history of "The Book of Mormon" with beautiful illustrations and photos, September 17, 2015
I purchased this book for my grandchildren to read when they become interested in how “The Book of Mormon” came to us. It is a short, easy to read, but very informative book for the general reader. It is not a children’s book, per se. But could be read and enjoyed by an adolescent or any adult with an interest in the subject. It is a thin, handsomely produced book in a slightly larger than normal format on very high quality paper. The photos, illustrations, and drawings are all beautifully produced.

The familiar historical background of how Joseph Smith received the plates from Moroni, and the process of translation is briefly but compellingly told in the first two chapters. We get a real feel for what was going on in personal life of Joseph and Emma and how Martin Harris, the Whitmers, and eventually, Oliver Cowdery, came into their lives. Chapter two ends with the experience of the Three Witnesses.

Chapters three through six tell us how the book was first printed in 1830 and then the subsequent editions that were done in 1837, 1840, and 1841. The history of the latter three editions are all important and are not told anywhere nearly as often as the story of the translation and first edition. Yet, they were done while Joseph was alive and he had a hand in them (although the 1841 edition was printed in Europe under the direction of Brigham Young).

Chapter 7 discusses how “The Book of Mormon” came to be put into verses in an 1852 European edition by Franklin D. Richards and then into smaller chapters and verses in 1879 by Orson Pratt. Both Richards and Pratt were members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. The first edition was printed in very long chapters with very large paragraphs. It read like a book rather than a “Bible”. Now in 1879, it seemed and could be used by the saints more easily to locate and quote key verses in “The Book of Mormon” just as they could the “Bible”.

The biggest changes to transform the format of “The Book of Mormon” to what we know today, with two column format, and the various helps came about in the 1920 edition. How the committee of Apostles was chosen and accomplished this vital work is covered in chapter eight.

For me, the 1981 edition still seems like yesterday, but it is now 34 years old! The three apostles involved in this immense work of bringing the publication of the scriptures, including the Bible, were Thomas S. Monson, who had a professional background in printing, Boyd K. Packer, and Bruce R. McConkie. Chapter nine covers all the format changes, added helps, and editorial changes that took place in this edition. The changes in the 2013 edition are not covered in this book because it was printed in 2011.

Chapter ten discusses the reality of Joseph Smith’s statement that “The Book of Mormon” is the keystone of our religion and the immense role it has played in the history and growth of the Church from 1830 to the present day.

As much as I admire this book and as strongly as I recommend it to those interested in the story of how this book of scripture came to be and evolved into the format we use today, I have a couple of nits to pick with the photos and illustrations.

1) On pages x and xv there are standard LDS illustrations representing Mormon and Moroni, but we of course have NO IDEA what they looked like or how they dressed. Yet the caption lists these illustrations as if they were photographs of these prophets. I understand, but still they are not the same as the painting of Emma Smith on page 5 are they.

2) To the left of page 1 is a beautiful old photograph of the Hill Cumorah. The caption says that the hill was where the “golden plates were found”. They were not found. The location was revealed to Joseph by Moroni through word and vision. Joseph went to the exact location described to and shown to him and had to return each year for four years until they were delivered to him.

3) On page 6 there is a beautiful photo that clearly says it is a modern replica of the golden plates. But the “sealed” portion is done with a band. This is a common way of presenting it but it is a modern invention and there are not contemporary witnesses mentioning them.

4) I would have liked the illustrations and paintings such as the one of Moroni giving Joseph the plates on page 2 to have a bit more info about the year, source, and artist who painted it. I know that copyright info is included for some of them in the copyright information, but many of the historical photos and paintings could provide a bit more helpful background of them. This would be helpful even for a general reader.

But these are not big deals. This is a very good and useful book and I recommend it to anyone interested in the coming forth and printing history of “The Book of Mormon”.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI

Bach’s "Well-Tempered Clavier": An Exploration of the 48 Preludes and Fugues
Bach’s "Well-Tempered Clavier": An Exploration of the 48 Preludes and Fugues
by Marjorie Wornell Engels
Edition: Paperback
Price: $39.95
37 used & new from $35.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The author shares her personal experiences and lifetime of connection with these works to help the general reader and student., September 17, 2015
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This book is full of the love of music, and especially Bach’s music. Marjorie Wornell Engels is a lifelong music teacher and has taught and the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. I could not find what her training was or what subjects she taught. Is she a keyboardist? A musicologist? A music historian? I don’t know. My guess is that she is likely a long experienced keyboard teacher (harpsichord? piano? organ? I don’t know.) and performer and taught at the Conservatory because of all she had accomplished during the first half of her career. But this is only a surmise on my part. I could not find anything on the web either. I am not saying the information is not there, but that I could not find it.

She is focused on Bach’s music and provides us with her views, thinking, study, and approach to this music. As I read the book, it seems a book more for the general reader and music student trying to get a handle on Bach’s music beyond becoming familiar with how it sounds. Her approach is very personal, but informed by her own long experience with it. This is not a book aimed at the music specialist or someone who already has an expert’s understanding of Bach and the music of this era. Not that there aren’t not gems to pick up, but that the ground covered will be very familiar and the issues that are of concern to experts are not covered here.

The author is intensely focused on things like Bach’s seeming obsession with numerology. She is convinced that numbers have religious symbolic meaning for Bach and she finds them everywhere and in everything. For me, I cannot figure out why the number of notes in a fugue theme should make me think of the apostles or of some other Christian topic, but she tells us that it was common to that era and mattered to Bach. She does not really demonstrate that Bach did anything more with the numerological symbols than their mere presence or combination into sums. Do we really hear that? I don’t. But if this matters deeply to you, this is a very valuable resource!

But numerology is hardly the main focus of the book. She focuses on finding the way the musical elements connect to other Bach works. She focuses on what the various keys seemed to mean to Bach. Of course, in the days when each key was tuned slightly differently (even in “Well-Temperment) this individual characteristic can really mean something. However, in our age of equal temperament, what tells us one key from another? Its tessitura? For the few that have perfect pitch, it could matter. But we know that different musicians and towns and locales tuned at different pitches, so what good would “perfect pitch” do?

She organizes the book just like the WTC itself. C Major, c minor, and then up by half-steps. The difference is that she covers both volumes of the WTC at each pitch. The musical examples are all hand drawn, I assume by the author. The calligraphy is clear if not as perfect as a professional engraver. I think it gives the book a wonderfully personal touch.

Unless you have already mastered these works, I think her brief instruction on each work will spark insights for you and invite you to deeper consideration of the elements she shows you in all of Bach’s music and in the music of other composers. Remember, Bach is an incredibly influential artist and the WTC is among his most important works.

This book is not intended as a compendium or a final word or magisterial treatment of the WTC. It is meant to help you think more about the music, to see more and hear more in the music, and to energize you in making your study of Bach and these works more thorough and thereby enrich your life.

This is NOT a theoretical book of analysis of the various subjects and counter subjects in the fugues or a detailed analysis of the contrapuntal and harmonic techniques of Bach. Not that she doesn’t elucidate on various subjects, countersubjects, or episodes, but that it is not systematic or complete. Nor is it an abstract work of keyboard performance practice in Bach’s era. This is a more emotional and practical guide.

While it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for when I bought it, that isn’t the author’s fault. And I am glad to have the book. So, if this book sounds interesting and useful to you, I am sure you will be pleased with it.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 17, 2015 8:05 AM PDT

Energizer ECR1616BP Lithium Battery
Energizer ECR1616BP Lithium Battery
Offered by National Deals
Price: $2.72
12 used & new from $2.72

5.0 out of 5 stars A very useful and dependable battery for my TI-89 calculator., September 5, 2015
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I bought this for my aging TI 89 calculator. It works just fine. Good price. Good delivery. Good product. Thanks.

Why We Work (TED Books)
Why We Work (TED Books)
by Barry Schwartz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $9.34
70 used & new from $5.23

29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you want your work to be your means of self actualization, this is for you. If not, it isn't., September 5, 2015
I was looking forward to reading this book. As an entrepreneur, I am interested in work because I do a lot of it. I have worked in many jobs over the decades of my life. At 16, my first job was sweeping and mopping floors at Roeder’s Jewelry. I also helped customers create their own tropical fish aquariums and taught them how to care for the fish. I worked on a Ford assembly line at their Sheldon Road plant and later the Michigan Truck Plant. I have cleaned offices, worked behind the counter of jobs, have had many jobs involving computer networks including my own companies, and managing projects for others as free-lance talent. I have also worked for companies as a manger of hundreds of employees who reported to several managers who reported to me. I have some idea of why and how people work.

Barry Schwartz is a professor of psychology and I don’t know his work background other than psychology and academia, but I know this book was a labor of love and represents a great deal of sincerity and serious thinking over several decades. So, I want to be sympathetic to what he says. I really do. And I do think he is right to urge people to seek work that enriches their life, not just their bank account. He is also good to urge employers to do all they can to create humane and positive workplaces with jobs that enable people to function and grow as people and not just as meat based machinery.

But I think the author has a far too simple a view of the relationship people have to work. If, however, he faced the fact that the 7 billion lives on this planet each have an almost unique relationship to the role work has in their lives, his reductive formula and call to collective action in society to remake work into a self-actualization and self-worthy providing process would fail. And I think it does fail despite the author’s passionate and obviously caring intentions. I think that his book long attack on Adam Smith and the pin factory fails because no one in America or Europe, at least, is forced to take a job let alone any specific job. We cannot be compelled to work in a pin factory if we don’t want to do it. So, why would people do work they don’t like if they are not forced into it?

Schwartz also has some rather fuzzy and confused ideas. On page 67 he says a very strange thing. He somehow thinks that bad ideas (idea technology) are much worse for people than bad things (thing technology). His idea seems to be that bad “things” are quickly removed from markets (like cigarettes?). What about things that are perfectly good but can be misused and harm people? What about things that are tried like experimental drugs or surgeries that end up going wrong and killing folks? Automobiles, even when used properly, end up killing tens of thousands per year and maiming many times that. Yes, bad ideas can linger. But what does, for example, believing that transporters exist do to harm people? Or what does believing passionately in your school’s football team (or any sports team) do to harm people (unless overdone)? Lots of things harm people and we can say that those need to be looked at.

If you ask me why people work, and I use this as a rhetorical device because no one has, I would say it is a complex and personal process based on the simple concept of opportunity costs. Humans that find themselves in a state of nature must scramble to just survive. They have a full time job finding clean food, water, and some kind of shelter (unless they live in a very favorable climate). Jobs allow a more reliable alternative than hunting and gathering, don’t they? Farming is also an advance, but it requires one to “own” land and to be able to protect it and your crops and animals. In present society, most folks work as employees and work for wages. These are the jobs that the author is talking about. He places moral responsibility on anyone who would be an employer to create an environment that helps employees achieve something we used to faddishly call “self-actualization”. But need that always come through work? My father was a journeyman “asbestos worker” and did that because it paid well even though the work was hard. He had no stress when he came home most nights. And his life had meaning because he could provide for his family and serve and donate to his church and help care for others in that way. For many of us, work is a means to other ends we find much more important. Our job is not our goal in life.

I have yet to meet a child who says his or her goal in life is to grow up and work in a water treatment plant. Yet, we must have people do those jobs to keep our society functioning. As for what people say they prefer and what they do prefer (the economic principle of revealed preference), I remember Ford giving UAW members the opportunity to give up overtime and keep more of their union brothers employed or keep overtime and lay off workers. UAW members overwhelmingly voted to lay off their brothers and keep their overtime coming.

My assessment of this book is that if you are interested in this topic, it is a perfectly fine book. Especially if you love collective societal action. I don’t and have very different views on work and life than this author, so it wasn’t really a book for me.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2015 8:01 AM PDT

Symphony No. 5 (Dover Miniature Music Scores)
Symphony No. 5 (Dover Miniature Music Scores)
by Ludwig van Beethoven
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.95
76 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars good, useful, durable edition - if not as crisply printed as it might have been., August 31, 2015
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I bought this score because the Chicago Symphony is coming to town at the end of October 2015 and will play this symphony as well as Mahler’s first. My twelve year old granddaughter has never been to a professional symphony concert before, so I wanted to take her and provide her with this experience. But before we go and she is overwhelmed, I want to gently help her become familiar with what she can expect, what she will hear, and what is going on during such a concert.

Most people seem to not realize that Beethoven, Mahler, and any other serious art music composer wrote every note that the musicians will be playing. There are a few exceptions (orchestral transcriptions, for example), but in a work such as this, it is all written out. Some suppose that this limits the musicians in ways that other types of improvisatory styles do not. Yes and no. The score is says a lot, but there is a lot about the music it does not say and conductors and orchestras make the works sound quite differently depending on their musical goals and choices. Some we love, others we accept, while others we reject. And that is quite fine. Of course, we as audiences are making choices, then aren’t we?

I like this smaller format for student work over the large format that dover provided decades back. It is handy and can be easily brought to class. The small print is probably easy for younger eyes than mine. For me, for example, the half-note quarter-note rhythm of the second movement is harder to see than to interpret. That is, since I know it is ¾ time, I know it has to be a half note and quarter note even though my eyes tend to want to see them both as quarter notes. The fault is in my older eyes, not the printing. If I get out my reading magnifier, it is fine. Or if I read it in a brighter light. I do not want to give the impression that the score is printed poorly or is too small of a format. No. It is just fine. I just want to alert others whose vision may not be crystal sharp that they might need to make some adjustments in how they read the score. I do think that some of the 16th notes and 32nd notes have the bars too blurry, but again, I know what they are by the number of note in the bar.

It is bound together well and should stand up to some serious use. But it is a glued rather than sewn binding. But that is why it is so inexpensive. The paper is nice and bright and white, so that helps the reading.

A good price for a useful, if not perfect, edition.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI

Interpreting Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier: A Performer`s Discourse of Method
Interpreting Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier: A Performer`s Discourse of Method
by Ralph Kirkpatrick
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.00
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful insight into Kirkpatrick's approach to performance. Idiosyncratic, but insightful and helpful., August 21, 2015
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I have recently been looking at “The Well-Tempered Clavier” again and was hoping someone had written a theoretical analysis of the fugues. That is, I wanted a shortcut to the subjects, answers, countersubjects, episodes, and so forth. If they offered a voice-leading analysis, all the better. I have not found that yet. Maybe because the market for that kind of technical material is just too small and those of us who are interested in it can do the analysis ourselves, but we just want to save time. Plus, the college kids who have to do that kind of analysis for class would use it to cheat. I don’t know why it isn’t available, it just isn’t. I saw one website that color codes the subjects and countersubjects but the score is small and running by as the piece is played so it is of much practical use.

I bought this book because I have a high regard for Ralph Kirkpatrick, as we all should, and figured anything he had to say on the WTC would be helpful. As I started reading the book I realized it was strangely familiar. Then it hit me. I had read this book when it was new and I was in music school decades back. I am sure that my reactions to it now are a bit different now than they were back then, but I remember reading the passages. And I believe I saw much the same overall strengths and weaknesses of the book then as I do now.

I studied music for a year a Michigan State University in 1972-1973 and then at the University of Michigan School of Music from 1978-1983. I graduated with a Bachelor of Music in music theory in 1981 and then did 57 graduate hours before I left music and switched to a career in computer networks. But I still keep up with music and enjoy playing my piano and studying music. These years were a hot time for the study of Early Music and its performance practices. I was fortunate to be able to participate in a ground breaking performance of Handel’s “Messiah” as part of a world-wide Handel conference here in Ann Arbor. Ars Musica was the orchestra. We had a choir of about 24 (six on a part, more or less – maybe a few more) and the soloists were Emma Kirkby, Renee Jacobs, Marius van Altena, and Max van Egmond. We were led my Edward Parmentier and he and Penelope Crawford provided the harpsichord continuo. Altogether, we did a complete performance with fewer than 50 performers. It was fun and both delighted and angered people.

I bring this up because this is exactly what Kirkpatrick was experiencing as he was, beginning decades earlier, trying to think about and teach an approach to early music that broke severely with 19th Century traditional musical practice and tried to recreate an approach that seemed to him (and other “original performance practice” revolutionaries) as more connected to the instrumentation and the musical language itself. And it was based, so far as is possible, upon the writings of musicians and composers of those times. And that is what Kirkpatrick is trying to provide in this book. The book is much more about performance and its practice than about theoretical ideas or analysis. Over and over and over again, Kirkpatrick focuses us on what we hear when we actually play the music. We are counselled to listen, to feel and to experiment and never to merely receive opinions from a teacher or critic or to play by rote.

The book consists of six chapters each consisting of an approach to music, with the WTC providing the basis of the musical examples for the book. However, these lessons can apply to all music of any period, even if they are meant to be especially apt for the music of Bach and his fellows from the Baroque and just after.

The first chapter elucidates what the author calls the “Historical Approach”. He wants us to seek after the reason for which the music was created, the meaning of the language of the pieces, such as the title “Well-Tempered Clavier”. He also wants to us become sophisticated about the scores of the music we play and to see past the encrustations added by editors to the actual work of the composer. We also have to be aware of musical fashions and fads. Finally, don’t be afraid to read the best scholarship about the music you want to learn and master.

The second chapter examines things like the works in the WTC, thinking about the implications of organization for performance (if any), the kind of instrument to be used and the sound of those instruments, and the opinions of a range of performers. Kirkpatrick calls this the aesthetic approach (he spells it esthetic).

The third chapter is on “The Melodic Approach”, which is not so much about counterpoint or the horizontal voice leading of Bach’s music, but of the importance of our singing with our own voices the music we are going to play. Kirkpatrick is correct when he says that passages we do not know well enough to sing clearly and accurately are going to betray us under the pressure of performance. That the exercise of actually singing the music, each line, each voice, will make the music clear in our minds and help us understand and retain the music. This includes not just the notes and rhythm, but the articulations and phrasing. Singing a multi-voice fugue with friends will help everyone learn the piece better. I also really like his encouragement to step or dance the melodies by stepping the interval sizes. That is, decide what the seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, sevenths, octaves would be and then step them off as you sing the melody. This really puts the sense of the music in your very body.

The next chapter is on the rhythmic approach to understanding the music. Kirkpatrick steps back from the definition of meter and rhythm in his Scarlatti book and then despairs of providing one. I think this is silly. Meter is simply the underlying pulse or heartbeat of a work and the nature of how those beats are subdivided (in twos or threes – simple or compound meter). Tempo is the rate of those beats (a fast or slow heart beat). Rhythm is the interplay of the music (the “motives”, the melody, the harmonic changes, the way the lines or “voices” of the music play against each other) against that pulse or heartbeat of the meter. The meter is regular and if and when it changes within a work it is a big thing in the work. Rhythm may or may not change against that pulse.

Rhythm is very important because it helps us connect to and remember a work. I could play “Yankee Doodle” with every note wrong, but if I play the rhythm of the work correctly, you will likely recognize it as “Yankee Doodle”. However, if I play the melodic notes correctly and get the rhythm off by enough, you won’t be able to tell what it is.

His chapter on “The Harmonic Approach” remains, for me, the least convincing. I think what he is railing against is the old school harmonic analysis that puts Roman numeral figures under every vertical structure because of what it looks like without regard to its musical function in a work. And that is a very good, if old fashioned, point. Just because notes are sounding simultaneously doesn’t make them a “chord”. Nor do all chords have equal structural, musical, or rhetorical importance. But to say that Bach is all about harmony and not very much about counterpoint is, to me, just silly. Of course Bach is a contrapuntalist of the first order. But, no, not in the simple way counterpoint used to be taught in music courses. I was fortunate to be taught about voice leading and the way music unfolds harmonies over time and happens at various levels and points of remove. Kirkpatrick is right that we must focus on what we hear and not on what we see on the page. But his, for example, “harmonic reduction” on page 97 (example 5.5) of the E flat minor prelude of book I seems pretty useless to me. I don’t understand its point at all. I must have missed something.

The final chapter provides the author’s approach to bringing all the preparatory work together into a compelling and personal “interpretation” of the work you are performing. He justly rails against mere typing the notes on the keyboard as if the instrument were going to turn the notes into music. He also rejects anyone unthinkingly copying another’s performance as if that would also be music. While he encourages us to bring ourselves to the music, he also does not want us to become indulgent or mistaking musical fashion for personal interpretation. We always, in the end, are reduced to that ineffable idea of what good taste is in performing, but we each think we know it when we hear it.

I gained from reading this book decades back and re-reading it last week. It wasn’t what I was seeking when I purchased it, but I gained from it after all; even without agreeing with some of what the author says. If an author can inspire a reader to become more clear in his thinking about his own views, even contrary views, I think the reader has gained a lot.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI
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