“A transcendent feeling of harmonious belonging”

Here are our latest classical music books and CDs — featuring the correspondance of Leonard Bernstein, as well as performances of works by composers Vaughan Williams and Richard Strauss, and — cornerstones of the Russian repertoire — Mussorgsky and Prokofiev. Plus, Stacy Horn traces the evolution of ensemble singing, from monks chanting in the Middle Ages and the blossoming of church music in the Renaissance, through to the golden age of the 19th century in her book, “Imperfect harmony : finding happiness singing with others“. We love how she puts the experience of ensemble singing: “a transcendent feeling of harmonious belonging” 🙂


Syndetics book coverThe birth of an opera : fifteen masterpieces from Poppea to Wozzeck / Michael Rose.
“Rose (Berlioz Remembered) draws from a series of BBC radio programs he co-created with Hanns Hammelmann, which aired from 1955 to 1971 and focused on the genesis of 15 operas from the 17th to the 20th centuries. He excerpts contemporary sources such as letters from composers to librettists, as well as the views of conductors, opera house managers, critics, and other luminaries, while filling in the historical context… Accompanying engravings and photographs are illuminating and the bibliography is a useful blend of historic and recent titles.” (Adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverThe Leonard Bernstein letters / edited by Nigel Simeone.
“This book boasts an impressive assortment of 650 letters to and from the maestro, spanning the years 1932, when Bernstein was a precocious teenager studying piano, and 1990, the year of his death…Bernstein was one of the most articulate and witty writers on the contemporary music scene, and his posthumous prose collection Findings contains ample evidence of his literary prowess. This talent is very much on display in this volume. Simeone has chosen letters that highlight Bernstein’s musical activities rather than strictly personal ones, and the list of correspondents forms a who’s who of musical, literary, artistic, and political luminaries in the second half of the 20th century.” (Adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverImperfect harmony : finding happiness singing with others / Stacy Horn.
“Horn (Cyberville), in her reflective memoir of her decades-long participation in the Choral Society of Grace Church in lower Manhattan, delves into works the choir and others like it have sung over the centuries… Horn eloquently traces the evolution of ensemble singing, from monks chanting in the Middle Ages and the blossoming of church music in the Renaissance through the golden age of the 19th century. She also discusses many of the works that endure today, such as those by Purcell, Handel, Bach, Haydn, and Mozart…She writes movingly about how singing about death and simply breathing together bring a transcendent feeling of harmonious belonging.” (Adapted from Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverHow to hear classical music / Davinia Caddy.
“Ever wondered why most classical music concerts are such stuffy affairs? Had to bluff your way through classical music conversations? Trying to get a handle on music by modern composers? Failed to convince teenagers of the merits of Beethoven or Bach? Or just want an absorbing read about music? This book is an illuminating guide that will be a hit with classical music lovers and those keen to discover more about the subject, written by an accomplished musician, historian, and music writer. Devoid of snobbery, with an engaging, informal feel, How to Hear Classical Music will open readers’ eyes—and ears!—to exciting new sensations.” (Summary courtesy of amazon.com)


musorgMusorgsky, Prokofiev (CD)
Steven Osborne has become one of the most valuable pianists recording today…Now he turns to further cornerstones of the Russian repertoire in this recording of Musorgsky’s ‘Pictures from an Exhibition’ (a work which has been in Osborne’s concert repertoire for many years), and two sets of Prokofiev’s miniatures. Musorgsky’s masterpiece is one of the most popular programmatic works of the 19th century. Yet it is also a great pianistic challenge, with the spectacular textures of the climactic movement ‘The Great Gate of Kiev’ requiring the highest technical accomplishments. (summary courtesy of amazon.co.uk)

vaughnwilliamsSymphony no. 5 ; Symphony no. 8 / Vaughan Williams. (CD)
“[This] release combines two highly contrasting works to provide a disc which is both moving and uplifting. Symphony No.5 is a generally tranquil work with music influenced by Ravel, with whom Vaughan Williams had studied, and is scored for very traditional forces. Symphony No.8 is dedicated to Sir John Barbirolli and was premiĂšred by the HallĂ© in 1956.” (Summary courtesy of amazon.co.uk)

alsosprachzarathustraAlso sprach Zarathustra / Richard Strauss. (CD)
“This masterful live recording of Strauss’s ‘Also sprach Zarathustra’ is sure to please. The Berlin Philharmonic, as always, play to an exceptionally high standard under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel (a young conductor proving he is growing exponentially in his abilities). This popular piece is moody, atmospheric, and rich – well worth a listen.” (Summary by Emily)

Classical Music Recent Picks

Syndetics book coverImperfect harmony : finding happiness singing with others / Stacy Horn.
“Horn is not a great singer. But the 30 years she has spent with the Choral Society of Grace Church in New York have been about greatness beyond self, the importance of community, and the joy of creating. Part memoir, part history, part case study, Imperfect Harmony is accessible and infectious. With the enthusiasm of a hobbyist and the discipline of a professional, Horn unfolds the history of choral music, the neurological science underpinning what happens in listeners’ and performers’ brains, and the effort it takes to put on a performance.”  (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

coloursinthedarkColours in the dark [sound recording] : the instrumental music of Alexander Agricola. “The Ensemble Leones deliver this early music album of Agricola’s instrumental works with aplomb and refinement. This album illustrates the darker side of Agricola’s compositions that his contemporaries in the late 1400s would have certainly considered odd. We can now appreciate them for their tight harmonies and masterful treatment of counterpoint. Listening to this album was affecting and did in fact invoke the colours in the dark that the album title suggests.” (Summary by Emily)

Syndetics book coverNeujahrskonzert 2012 [videorecording] = New Year’s concert 2012 / an ORF production in collaboration with the Wiener Philharmoniker ; directed by Karina Fibich. “While this DVD is of a New Year’s concert over a year ago (!) it is still an exciting concert with high energy and entertainment much like the New Zealand Air Force Band ‘Proms’. The music (like always) is of an exceptionally high standard performed by the Wiener Philharmoniker. Quite the spectacle.” (Summary by Emily)

Syndetics book coverBritten’s century : celebrating 100 years of Benjamin Britten / edited by Mark Bostridge ; introduced by Nicholas Kenyon. “This biography canvasses all aspects of Britten’s life and works. With a star-studed list of contributors ranging from Dame Janet Baker, to playwrite Alan Bennett, and musicologist/conductor Philip Brett (who had particular influence in LGBT musicology) this book provides fascinating insight into what was already a fascinating man and life.” (Summary by Emily)

Two new scores have come into the library comprising of two volumes of musical theatre hits for women! And with a new production of ‘Annie’ set for New Zealand stages mid-2014, maybe you’d like to brush up an audition piece…

Syndetics book coverThe singer’s musical theatre anthology. Soprano. Volume 1 / compiled and edited by Richard Walters.
“The most comprehensive collection of Broadway selections ever organized specifically for the singer. Each of the five volumes in the series contains important songs chosen because they are appropriate fpr each voice. All selections are in their authentic, original form, and taken from the original vocal score. The songs in The Singer’s Musical Theatre Anthology, written by such noted composers as Kurt Weill, Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Kern, are vocal masterpieces ideal for the auditioning, practicing or performing vocalists. Contents: Barbara Song; Bill; Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man; Climb Ev’ry Mountain; Come Home; Falling In Love With Love; Far From The Home I Love; Glad To Be Unhappy; Goodnight, My Someone; Green Finch And Linnet Bird; Hello, Young Lovers; I Could Have Danced All Night; I Loved You Once In Silence; If I Loved You; Love, Look Away; Many A New Day; Mister Snow; Much More; My Funny Valentine; My Lord And Master; My Ship; My White Knight; No Other Love; Not A Day Goes By; Old Maid; One More Kiss; Out Of My Dreams; Pirate Jenny; Show Me; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes; So In Love; Solomon Song; Somebody, Somewhere; Somehow I Never Could Believe; Something Wonderful; Summertime; Surabaya Johnny; Ten Minutes Ago; That’ll Show Him; The Golden Ram; The Saga Of Jenny; The Simple Joys Of Maidenhood; Till There Was You; Under The Tree; What Good Would The Moon Be?; What’s The Use Of Wond’rin’; Where Or When; You’ll Never Walk Alone.” (Amazon.co.uk summary)

Syndetics book coverThe singer’s musical theatre anthology. Mezzo-soprano/belter. Volume 2 / compiled and edited by Richard Walters.
“The selections are presented in their authentic settings, excerpted from the original vocal scores.” (Syndetics summary)

And while these next two books are from a series held in our Childrens’ collection, they are both entertaining, informative, and pretty to look at!

Syndetics book coverBeethoven for kids : his life and music : with 21 activities / Helen Bauer.
“Gr 6-8-This well-written text tells the story of Beethoven’s life and music from his birth in Bohn to his death in Vienna. The text winds above and around rather lengthy information boxes that describe places and people who influenced Beethoven. The material in them is interesting but reading it breaks up and slows down the main narrative. The book is handsomely formatted with decorative boarders and illustrated with black-and-white reproductions of archival artwork.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVerdi for kids : his life and music : with 21 activities / Helen Bauer ; foreword by Deborah Voigt.
“Giuseppe Verdi, one of the great composers of the nineteenth century, lived in a turbulent time in Italy. Bauer competently ties together Verdi’s life and the development of Italy into a unified country in a way that helps readers (both youth and adult) understand the complexity of each. Photographs and informational text boxes enhance the text. As with previous books in the series, 21 related creative activities are included. Back matter is highlighted by recommended recordings of Verdi’s operas. Of particular interest to budding musicians and music educators.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Classical Music Recent Picks

This months Classical Music Recent Picks are a mixed-bag of goodies. There is something here for everyone. If you’re looking for the Sublime – you’re in luck! Couperin’s ‘Trois leçons de ténèbres’ will hit the spot. Looking for something informative and entertaining? ‘The Show Must Go On’ ticks those boxes. Shostakovich’s ‘Leningrad’ Symphony no. 7 proves to be a deeply moving experience. Or, if you’re not really sure what you’re after, ‘The Enchanted Island’ might be just right – A fully staged work featuring music from Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and more! It’s all here waiting for you to discover it.

Syndetics book coverThe show must go on : on tour with the LSO in 1912 and 2012 / Gareth Davies. A memoir of the London Symphony Orchestra on tour in the U.S. and beyond, focusing on their historical first visit to America in 1912 when they were due to sail on the Titanic, and their most recent travels… Readers join Gareth [Davies] and his colleagues as they contend with airports, volcanoes, travel strikes, illness, and even life-and-death situations. As well as vivid descriptions of sitting center stage surrounded by music and working with Haitink, Gergiev, and Sir Colin Davis, readers get to glimpse into the backstage goings on and see inside the mind of a professional musician as never before. Written by someone at the center of the action, this book follows the travels of two musicians, a century apart in the same orchestra. (Summary courtesy of amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverReinventing Bach / Paul Elie.
“In this remarkable work, Elie (senior fellow, Berkley Ctr. for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs, Georgetown Univ.; The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage) makes a convincing case for the relevance of the music of J.S. Bach (1685-1750) in today’s multicultural, aesthetically diverse, and technology-driven world. The narrative ping-pongs between Bach’s life, related with unusual perception and vividness, and musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries who have used technology in imaginative ways to bring the composer’s music to a wider audience…-Larry A. Lipkis, Moravian Coll., Bethlehem, PA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.” (Library Journal) (Summary courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverUkulele exercises for dummies / by Brett McQueen.
This practice-based book focuses on the skills that entry-level ukulele players often find challenging and provides tips, tricks and plenty of cool exercises that will have you creating music in no time. An accompanying CD (or downloadable mp3 files) of the musical notation contained in the book, providing you with a self-contained practice package. (Summary courtesy of Syndetics)

enchantedislandThe Enchanted Island : a Baroque pastiche with music by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, and others [videorecording] / devised and written by Jeremy Sams, production, Phelim McDermott.
The Enchanted Island was inspired by both Shakespeare’s The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with music by George Frederic Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Andre Campra, Jean-Marie Leclair, Henry Purcell, Jean-Fery Rebel, and Giovanni Battista Ferrandini. It was devised and written by Jeremy Sams and was recorded as a live HD transmission on January 21, 2012. (Summary courtesy of Syndetics)

attilaAttila [videorecording] : dramma lirico in a prologue and three acts / Mariinsky Theatre ; Giuseppe Verdi ; libretto by Temistocle Solera.
As is the case with many of Verdi’s operas, his ninth opera Attila is imbued with the spirit of Risorgimento, the national liberation movement of the Italian people against foreign rule and for the unification of trampled Italy. The plot, which tells of the struggle of Aquileia, one of the last remaining strongholds of once eternal Rome, against the barbarian hordes of Attila, King of the Huns, received an enthusiastic reception from the audience present at the premiere at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice, and yet is rarely performed in today’s opera houses. Since the premiere in 2010, the Mariinsky has revived Gama’s production each season, most recently in January 2013. (Summary courtesy of Syndetics)

couperinTrois leçons de tĂ©nĂšbres / Couperin ; [with works by] Marais [and] Sainte-Colombe. Ravishing second release on The King’s Consort’s new classical label, VIVAT, features world-renowned British soprano Carolyn Sampson and outstanding Norwegian mezzo Marianne Beate Kielland in entrancingly evocative French Baroque music. (Summary courtesy of amazon.com)

shostakovicleningradSymphony no. 7 : “Leningrad” / Shostakovich.
Three weeks after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Shostakovich volunteered with the Home Guard in Leningrad. As the siege of the city intensified, he worked on his Seventh Symphony, completing three movements before being forced to leave Leningrad and travel east by train. The work was completed in December that year. Initially he gave each movement a programmatic title, but later withdrew them, leaving this epic work as an emblem of heroic defiance in the face of conflict and crisis: ‘I dedicate my Seventh Symphony to our struggle against fascism, to our coming victory over the enemy, to my native city, Leningrad.’ (Summary courtesy of amazon.com)

Classical music from around our world

This month’s Classical Music picks come from all corners of the globe: Leonard Bernstein from the USA, the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, favourites from the UK, plus two picks (“Tripping the World Fantastic” and “Classical Destinations”) which celebrate the global nature of music and how it is shared, received and understood.

Syndetics book coverDinner with Lenny : the last long interview with Leonard Bernstein / Jonathan Cott.
“Conductor, pianist, composer, writer, lecturer, celebrity, and above all, enthusiastic, irrepressible teacher, Leonard Bernstein (1918-90) was the presiding genius of classical music in America during the twentieth century. Baby boomers raptly learned about classical music from the 14 years’ worth of televised New York Philharmonic Young Peoples’ Concerts he hosted, and to read the long version of Cott’s 1989 Rolling Stone interview is to be excited with Bernstein all over again… Olson, Ray Copyright 2010 BooklistFrom Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.” (Booklist) (Summary courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverTripping the world fantastic : a journey through the music of our planet / by Glenn Dixon.
“Glenn Dixon’s whirlwind tour of 17 countries to explore the universal purpose of music, people’s love of it, and its relationship to evolutionary psychology, brain physiology, genetics and culture is a stimulating adventure. Dixon (Pilgrim in the Palace of Words) writes in a friendly, humorous, and inclusive way that invites readers to join his travel expedition, investigating how and why people have always had a deep need to express themselves through music and to come together to create and celebrate it…” (Publisher Weekly) (Summary courtesy of Syndetics)

fromacitywindowFrom a city window / songs by Hubert Parry.
“…Iain Burnside and his singers rediscover what has been forgotten by historical accident. Combining an innately English sensibility with a technical fastidiousness that owes much to the lieder of Brahms, Schumann, and Wolf, every one of these songs demonstrates Parry s fundamental concern for sincerity and proper declamation of the words. Hubert Parry is undergoing something of a revival, and these performances return his songs to the heart of his output, where the composer always felt they belonged.” (Courtesy of amazon.com)

londonsymphonyBest London symphony orchestra 50 [sound recording].
“This 3 CD set contains 50 tracks from the catalogs of EMI Records, EMI Classics and Virgin Classics of recordings by the London Symphony Orchestra under some of the world’s greatest conductors and with a number of famous soloists. The program focuses mainly on orchestral pieces, but there are extracts from other genres featuring famous instrumental soloists such as the cellist Steven Isserlis, the violinists Ida Haendel and Dmitry Sitkovetsky, the pianist Michel Beroff and the harpsichordist Simon Preston.” (Courtesy of amazon.com)

d'indyOrchestral works. 5 [sound recording] / Vincent d’Indy. “This is Volume 5 in our series dedicated to the orchestral works of Vincent d’Indy, nicknamed ‘The Samson of Music’ by FaurĂ©, for his work as a composer, conductor, and teacher. His style was essentially eclectic, strongly influenced by Beethoven and Wagner, into which he frequently incorporated folk melodies…This recording is the first ever made at Harpa, the new concert hall in Reykjavik, which opened its doors to the public in May 2011, and was subsequently named by Gramophone one of the greatest concert halls of the new millennium.” (Courtesy of amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverClassical destinations. III, Aled Jones’ ultimate travel guide to classical music / Destinations Media Ltd ; producer & director, Peter Beveridge.
“Well-known BBC personality Aled Jones take us on an unforgettable journey in the new series of Classical Destinations. Having performed as a singer from a young age, he brings passion, enthusiasm and an understanding of classical music as host. Aled explores the dreams, dramas and musical triumphs of some of the world’s greatest composers through some breathtaking cities and towns in Europe, the UK and Australia”–Container. (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Classical Music Recent Picks Whittle Away the Winter

As the weather gets colder and wetter, we don’t need anymore of an excuse to rug up and stay indoors. But I have a few more excuses, just in case you needed pursuading. We have the insipring picks – the Doco ‘Wagner’s Dream’ (which will keep you occupied for hours, if not for the love of Wagner, then for the awe inspiring effort that is involved with staging such a humongous opera!) and then the ‘Kinshasa Symphony’ also inspiring but for totally different reasons. But perhaps you feel melancholic, so instead whittle away the time with the emotional rollercoaster that is presented in both the French ‘
 pour passer la mĂ©lancholie.’ and the Russian ‘In this Moonlit Night’. Enjoy.

Syndetics book coverWotan’s daughter : the life of Marjorie Lawrence / Richard Davis.
“This title recounts the turbulent life and career of Marjorie Lawrence, one of Australia’s most renowned opera stars. From humble beginnings in rural Victoria, Lawrence rose to become one of the pre-eminent Wagner singers of her generation, acclaimed and honoured in Europe and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York where she shared roles with the legendary Kirsten Flagstad. Stricken by polio at the height of her career, Lawrence fought back courageously against physical disability and prejudice to rebuild her shattered life and return to the stage. This is a book for all music lovers and those who value an inspiring story of triumph over adversity.” (summary courtesy of amazon.com)

kinshasaKinshasa Symphony [videorecording] / a film by Claus Wischmann and Martin Baer ; [presented by] Sounding Images ; in koproduktion mit WDR und RBB ; script, Claus Wischmann.
“People living in one of the most chaotic cities in the world manage to forge one of the most complex systems of human cooperation ever invented– a symphony orchestra. A film about the Congo, the people in Kinshasa and the power of music.” (Summary courtesy of Syndetics)

wagnersdreamWagner’s dream [videorecording] : [the making of the Metropolitan Opera’s new Der Ring des Nibelungen] / a Bob Eisenhardt & Susan Froemke film.
“Takes you deep into the artistic and musical challenges of the epic Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner. Visionary director Robert Lepage begins a five-year journey to create the most ambitious staging in Metropolitan Opera history, featuring a 90,000 pound set (“The Machine”) conceived to meet Wagner’s immense theatrical demands. The film follows heroic singers from rehearsals to performance as they take on many of the most daunting roles in opera”–Container. (Summary courtesy of Syndetics)

pourpasse… pour passer la mĂ©lancholie.
“Keyboard virtuoso Andreas Staier presents Pour passer la melancolie (to pass the melancholy), a unique program of French Baroque harpsichord music. The works presented here are not simply compositions in deeply sorrowful or expressive registers, but also discourses in sound on vanity, art and music itself. Whether the composer luxuriates in melancholic disorder or attempts to remedy it, there is but a fine line here between the vanity of the world and the artist’s glory. In his readings of Froberger, Fischer and Clerambault, Staier distils the fruits of this sophisticated aesthetic blend.” (Summary Courtesy of amazon.com)

vernondukeConcertos [sound recording] / Vernon Duke.
“The Russian-born composer Vernon Duke produced a distinguished body of concert music. His Piano Concerto was written for Arthur Rubinstein, who had requested a ‘one-movement piano concerto, pianistically grateful and not too cerebral’…” (summary courtesy of amazon.com)

hvorostovskyIn this moonlit night [sound recording] : lieder /
“This album contains a thoughtful, and considered programme of less well-known lied from well known Russian composers (Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, and Taneev.) Horostovsky (baritone) sings with a sensitivity that seems to come naturally to him and embodies the high emotional intensity that tends to permeate Russian lied. The artistic choices in orchestration (or lack thereof) are educated, and not disappointing – in fact quite the opposite. Highly recommended.” (Summary courtesy of E. Simcox)

Classical Music Recent picks June

Welcome to the Classical Music Recent Picks for June. This month we look at a varied collection of new material. Three albums that appeal across all genres (Solo piano and Rachmaninov, Symphony and Suks, Lied and Mahler). And we have a couple of reads that are sure to give you food for thought – A man who made choirs cool again without the help of Glee; a broad overview of Opera and it’s history; and a biography of a not-quite classical singer, Julie Garland, who is a fascinating woman nevertheless. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverA history of opera / Carolyn Abbate and Roger Parker.
“Abbate (In Search of Opera) and Parker (music, Kings College London; coeditor, Cambridge Opera Journal) are both distinguished musicologists who have made important contributions in the field of opera studies, so it is not surprising that this impressive volume contains profound insights at every turn. The writing, which is lively, witty, and accessible throughout, is deliberately pitched to the broader opera-loving public; there are no illustrative musical examples or passages rife with technical jargon. (Library Journal) (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverJudy Garland : a biography / Anne Edwards. Praised as “undoubtedly the best of the many books on Judy Garland” by no less a critic than John Lahr (the son of Bert Lahr, the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz), Anne Edwards’s biography attempts to present a complete picture of the late actress, and not just the boozing, drug-addicted caricature of a woman that is central to lesser biographies. From Edwards’s account we learn, for example, that Garland saw it as her duty to provide for her family financially, a generosity that her mother Ethel exploited with disastrous results. A student of great poets—Shelley, Keats, and Browning in particular—she often tried her own hand at verse; surviving poems are reproduced here. Above all Judy Garland sought to please, whether it was an audience or a studio head, and therein lies her powerful and heartbreaking story. (courtesy of Amazon.com)

summerstalepragueA summer’s tale [sound recording] ; Prague / Josef Suk. Super Audio CD in surround sound. Two symphonic poems by Suk are performed here by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Jiri Belohlavek, who also brought us the highly acclaimed recording of the composers First Symphony and Ripening, which was Disc of the Month in BBC Music Magazine. A Summers Tale is a highly personal work, rich and imaginative, not to mention brilliantly orchestrated in late romantic style. The work followed the heartfelt and sorrowful outpouring of the Asrael Symphony of 1905 06, composed in memory of his father-in-law, Antonin Dvorak, and wife, Otilka. In the words of the composer: After wild fleeing I find consolation in nature. (Summary courtesy of Amazon.co.uk)

mahlerdasklagendeDas klagende Lied [sound recording] / Mahler. Lulu-Suite / Berg. Pierre Boulez is an icon of today’s classical scene and closely-associated with the works of Mahler. Featuring the acclaimed Vienna Philharmonic and the chorus of the Vienna State Opera, historically connected to Mahler, Berg and Boulez, these performances are released to coincide with Boulez’s 88th birthday.
The performances were recorded live at the opening concert of the prestigious Salzburg Festival in 2011 and conceived as a tribute to Gustav Mahler. Mahler’s 2-act Das Klagende Lied is a mythical tale of fratricide, guilt and retribution, based on stories by the Grimm brothers and Ludwig Bechstein. (Summary from Amazon.co.uk)

rachmaninovRachmaninov rarities [sound recording]. This album was recorded in celebration of the pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy’s 50 years of recording. This album introduces listeners to a long list of Rachmaninov’s lesser known solo piano pieces. Sometimes challenging, but always rewarding, ‘Rarities’ is a CD that all Rachmaninov fans should listen to. The Russian pianist plays with great depth of understanding and sincerity, quite clearly a fan of Rachmaninov’s himself. (Summary by E Simcox.)

Syndetics book coverChoir / Gareth Malone.
“The personal stories behind the phenomenon that got Britain’s schools, towns and workplaces singing again.”–Cover. (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Classical music recent picks for May

Welcome to May and our recent picks for Classical Music! This month features cross-genre books, with how music can help change your life, to how music is found in nature, a lovely new score with Karakia and Maori round-songs, and the skill of singing in choirs. I hope you enjoy the selection!

Syndetics book coverYour playlist can change your life : 10 proven ways your favorite music can revolutionize your health, memory, organization, alertness, and more / Galina Mindlin, Don DuRousseau, Joseph Cardillo.Your Playlist Can Change Your Life
“This distinctive book comes from the coordinated efforts of Mindlin (psychiatry, Columbia Univ.), Don DuRousseau (executive director, PEAK Neurotraining Solutions), and Joseph Cardillo (Be Like Water: Practical Wisdom from the Martial Arts), who propose that readers can use music to relieve anxiety, increase alertness, feel happier, and sharpen memory.  (Library Journal) (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverPorowhita = Circle songs : two new karakia and twelve new round songs in Māori and English for classrooms, choirs and communities / Sean O’Connor.
“These fourteen new compositions offer classrooms, choirs and communities a chance to rediscover ’round’ singing and its unique musical and social dynamic. Round singing invites equal participation, a balance of following and leading, and a development of heightened musical and social awareness through interwoven melody and rhythm, creating harmony. Weaving together Te reo and English with voices and movement, standing in the circle, singing of the circle of the year, and of proverbs, awakenings and karakia that carry simple but beautiful wisdom.”–Book cover. (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverSing with the choir for dummies / performance notes by Adam Perlmutter.
Want to sing along with the choir? Then this is the right book for you! This book/CD pack features 15 songs, fully arranged for soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, and a professionally recorded choir on the CD. Pick your part and sing along! (Book cover) (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe great animal orchestra : finding the origins of music in the world’s wild places / Bernie Krause.
“This memoir of sonic investigation highlights the lessons learned from 40 years of listening to the world’s biophonies-the sounds of living organisms. Musician and naturalist Krause (Wild Soundscapes: Discovering the Voice of the Natural World) uses the language of music to understand everything from birdsong, to ocean waves, to decimated habitats… Krause’s musical expertise allows him to hear the orchestral layering of different species in each biophony, an insight that explains group vocalization as an evolutionary survival mechanism rather than a purposeful chorus of noise. (Publisher Weekly) (Courtesy of Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverChanging lives : Gustavo Dudamel, El Sistema, and the transformative power of music / Tricia Tunstall.“Gustavo Dudamel, the young and exuberant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, is the most famous graduate of El Sistema, the remarkable music education program in Venezuela, whose laudable purpose is to use the experience of orchestral playing as a means of giving new meaning to the lives of impoverished children. The twin goals of equal access and artistic excellence have resulted in dozens of outstanding youth orchestras that have captivated audiences and won international prizes. (Library Journal) (Courtesy of Syndetics)

And if you’d like to learn more about some of the shows on in May – Here’s a great place to start!

Madame Butterfly

Syndetics book coverMadame Butterfly [videorecording].
Story of a beautiful young geisha who sacrifices her family, her religion and, ultimately, her life for her American naval officer husband. (Courtesy of Syndetics)

And with Bryn Terfel’s concert that was on the 3rd of May, I offer this. We all know he’s the bad boy of Opera.

brynterfelBad boys [sound recording].
Bad Boys is a line up of some of the most unscrupulous, cynical, devious, roguish musical villains of the opera stage. Bryn Terfel calls them the “demonic misfits and malcontents of this wonderful music.” Internationally acclaimed star Bryn Terfel, a gentle man in real life, recruits a gang of “bad boy” characters from opera and musicals to electrify us with tunes from the sinister side of the bass clef. (amazon.com)


April Classical Music Recent Picks

Hi Folks, This month’s Classical finds seem to have a bit of a biographical theme running through them. I hope you enjoy rediscovering a familiar topic, or being enthralled by a new one.

Syndetics book coverBenjamin Britten : a life in the twentieth century / Paul Kildea.
“In the eyes of many, Benjamin Britten was our finest composer since Purcell (a figure who often inspired him) three hundred years earlier. He broke decisively with the romantic, nationalist school of figures such as Parry, Elgar and Vaughan Williams and recreated English music in a fresh, modern, European form. With Peter Grimes (1945), Billy Budd (1951) and The Turn of the Screw (1954), he arguably composed the last operas – from any composer in any country – which have entered both the popular consciousness and the musical canon”. (amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverMusic in 1853 : the biography of a year / Hugh MacDonald.
“This is a fascinating book that features very fine archival research about the major musical events and personalities that dominated the musical scene in Europe in 1853. The book’s chief virtue is in showing the intricate interplay among the major composers and performers of the period, relationships that are not always apparent in single biographies of composers”. (CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverRichard Wagner : the sorcerer of Bayreuth / Barry Millington.
“Richard Wagner (1813-1883) is one of the most influential – and also one of the most controversial – composers in the history of music. Over the course of his long career, he produced a stream of spellbinding works that challenged musical convention through their richness and tonal experimentation, ultimately paving the way for modernism. This book presents an in-depth but easy-to-read overview of Wagner’s life, work and times”. (amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverGreat operas : a guide to 25 of the world’s finest musical experiences / Michael Steen.
“From Great Composers author Michael Steen, a unique multi-platform project offering a royal box view into one of mankind’s greatest art forms. From the soaring heights of Wagner’s epic Ring cycle to the tear-jerking emotion of Mozart’s breathtakingly beautiful Don Giovanni, opera is one of the most powerful artistic forms mankind has ever created. It should also be the most enjoyable! Michael Steen’s The Lives and Times of the Great Composers was described as ‘hugely informative and deliciously gossipy’ by the Spectator. Great Operas is his accessible and entertaining user’s manual to making the best of an opera – whether at home or at a live performance, interspersing the key facts with erudite commentary from a man for whom opera is a lifetime’s passion”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMozart at the gateway to his fortune : serving the Emperor, 1788-1791 / Christoph Wolff.
“This book examines the final years of Mozart’s life from a fresh perspective. The working premises are that Mozart’s appointment to the imperial court in 1787 affected a profound change in his musical plans; that there is no reason to view Mozart’s last compositions as imbued with the specter of his imminent death; and that one ought instead view the last compositions as products of an outlook determined in part by the imperial appointment. The sheer common sense of these premises is so striking that one wonders how any alternative view could be considered”. (CHOICE)

fernegeliebteFerne Geliebte [sound recording].
“”Ferne Geliebte” (Distant Beloved) juxtaposes compositions from the two great Vienna schools, Viennese classicism on the one hand represented by Haydn and Beethoven, the second Viennese school with Schoenberg and Berg on the other. The common ground trodden by these very different composers in Christian Gerhaher’srecital is their preoccupation with lonliness, longing and hopeless love. Christian Gerhaher – Baritone, Gerold Humer – Piano”. (Cover notes)

henryeighthAll goodly sports [sound recording] : the complete music of Henry VIII.
“Among his many hobbies, Henry VIII also turned out to be a bit of a musician – and quite a good one at that. ‘Sirinu’ brings together some of his better known pieces, and presents them as a lovely Renaissance album, which contradicts the conniving nature of the King Henry VIII that we all learned about in school. A valuable addition to any early music collection – or maybe just for the novelty factor (who knows, it might pop up in a pub quiz)”. (staff member)

Lastly for this month, we’ve found ourselves a selection of orchestral and vocal scores by New Zealand composers to add to our collection!

From garden to grave : soprano and piano / Jenny McLeod ; [poems by Janet Frame].

Peaks of cloud : tenor and piano / [poems by Janet Frame] ; [music by] Jenny McLeod.
“Commissioned by the tenor Keith Lewis and first performed by Keith Lewis and pianist Michael Houstoun at the 2010 New Zealand International Arts Festival” (Syndetics summary).

Meditation (2008) / Anthony Ritchie.

Three poems of the sea : narrator and strings / Douglas Lilburn.
“This work was premiered in 1958 by the Alex Lindsay String Orchestra, with narrator Maria Dronke”. (Syndetics summary)

March Recent Picks Classical Music

Welcome to March!

All New! Plus a spoiler alert!

Syndetics book coverThe story of music / Howard Goodall.
Music is an intrinsic part of everyday life, and yet the history of its development from single notes to multi-layered orchestration can seem bewilderingly specialised and complex. In his dynamic tour through 40,000 years of music, from prehistoric instruments to modern-day pop, Howard Goodall does away with stuffy biographies, unhelpful labels and tired terminology. Instead he leads us through the story of music as it happened, idea by idea, so that each musical innovation – harmony, notation, sung theatre, the orchestra, dance music, recording, broadcasting – strikes us with its original force. (Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverPierre Cochereau : organist of Notre-Dame / Anthony Hammond.
“Described by his teacher Marcel DuprĂ© as “a phenomenon without equal in the history of the contemporary organ,” Pierre Cochereau is considered one of the twentieth century’s greatest French organists.This book tells, for the first time, the full story of of his extraordinary life and glittering, worldwide career. In 1955 Cochereau was appointed Organiste Titulaire at Notre-Dame de Paris, where he restored the cathedral’s musical glory and oversaw a far-reaching and controversial transformation of its organ”.  (amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverAvant garde : an American odyssey from Gertrude Stein to Pierre Boulez / Robin Maconie.
“Maconie, a New Zealand-based writer and composer, covers a great deal of ground in this collection of 16 essays… Maconie discusses Stockhausen’s music alongside that of Pierre Boulez, John Cage, Milton Babbitt, and others. He pays particular attention to connections between music and language, especially as regards electronic music and the manipulation of recordings of the human voice”. (CHOICE)

Syndetics book coverThe violin : a social history of the world’s most versatile instrument / David Schoenbaum.
“A fragile music-box conquers the world in this entertaining if overstuffed history. Historian Schoenbaum (Hitler’s Social Revolution) focuses on the violin’s socioeconomics… There’s not much music in the book; the author never tries to explain exactly why the violin’s sound captivated the world’s ears, and instead emphasizes the evolving practicalities and logistics that underpinned its spread. Photos. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved” (Publisher Weekly)

cover_imageszymanoskiSymphony no. 2 [sound recording] ; Symphony no. 4 ‘Symphonie concertante’ ; Concert overture / Szymanowski.
“Piano – Louis Lortie. Lortie has recorded over 30 recordings with Chandos and currently resides in Berlin. Conductor – Edward Gardner. Gardner was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2012. This CD makes volume five of the ‘Muzyka polska’ series”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVoice from Assisi [sound recording].
“Decca Records/Universal Music announces the global signing of Franciscan Friar, Alessandro Brustenghi, from the original friary founded by Saint Francis of Assisi: the Porziuncola in Assisi. Alessandro is the first Friar in the history of music to land a major record deal.Having taken a personal vow of poverty, Friar Alessandro will not accept any money from sales of the album and his day to day life will not change. Proceeds will go directly to Friar Alessandros religious order. Although music was always his passion, Alessandro received his calling as a teenager, and at the age of 21 he decided to become a friar…Alessandro grew up listening to Michael Jackson and Bach, loves electronic music, and his latest musical interest is Bjork”. (amazon.com)

tandun_2013The martial arts trilogy [sound recording] : music from the original motion picture soundtracks / Tan Dun. “Not a new CD, but new to our collection (and as a nod to the recent concert held in February) – The Martial Arts Trilogy features music from three martial arts film soundtracks composed by Tan Dun. Soloists are the celebrated Lang Lang (The Banquet), Yo-Yo Ma (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and Itzhak Perlman (Hero). This compilation encompasses the music from all three soundtracks where the soloists have been featured”. (amazon.com)

Here is a sneak peek into our latest purchases that haven’t even made it to the library yet.

Keep your eyes on the catalogue to reserve these items once they come in.



Classical Music Recent Picks February

    2013 is in Full Swing!

The festive season is over, work and school have gone back for another year and its time to put your nose to the grindstone. What better time to take a moment to get inspired and motivated by music! Here are a few selections to help you on your way to musical enlightenment.

Syndetics book coverHow to read music / [James Sleigh & Mike Sheppard].
“If you want to learn how to read and write music, this is the book you have been waiting for! Written in plain English and using a minimum of jargon, it’s supplemented by audio material and other extras all available at www.hybridpublications.com This means that you get lots of examples of how things should sound plus many other online bonuses, all clearly flagged on the relevant page in the book”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverConducting business : unveiling the mystery behind the maestro / Leonard Slatkin.
“Conducting an orchestra is something that is seen as well as heard, but it is quite misunderstood. People may wonder, “What does this person actually do for a living?” This most mysterious of jobs is brought to life in this book. Drawing on his own experiences on and off the podium, Leonard Slatkin tells tales of some of the most fascinating people in the musical world, including Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein, and John Williams. He takes the reader to soundstages in Hollywood as well as great concert halls and opera pits around the globe. Slatkin recounts his controversial appearance at the Metropolitan Opera, his creation and direction of summer music festivals, and a shattering concert experience that took place four days after 9/11. Discussions of work in the recording studio and life on the road as well as health issues confronting the conductor provide an insider’s glimpse into this private world.–From publisher description”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEverything you ever wanted to know about classical music but were too afraid to ask / [Darren Henley and Sam Jackson].
“This is a richly informative, light-hearted guide to the ins and outs of classical music. The book dives underneath the sheet music to bring the world of classical music to life. Henley offers insights into the composition of an orchestra, the workings of its instruments, and the lives of its composers”. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe first four notes : Beethoven’s fifth and the human imagination / Matthew Guerrieri.
“Music critic Matthew Guerrieri reaches back before Beethoven’s time to examine what might have influenced him in writing his Fifth Symphony, and forward into our own time to describe the ways in which the Fifth has, in turn, asserted its influence.”– Publisher’s description. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA parent’s survival guide to music lessons : help your child succeed in music / Elisabeth Lawrence.
“Perhaps you are looking for a way to keep your youngsters occupied during the holidays, or maybe a new violin for Christmas means you need to get them some lessons QUICK! In any case, learning about the ins and outs of music lessons is a good place to start.” (Syndetics summary)

nuinuiTranscriptions [sound recording] / Liszt.
“An album framed around Liszt’s Paraphrases and Transcriptions – this is an impressive and delightful programme which presents Niu Niu as a serious and gifted pianist”. (amazon.co.uk)

brittencarolsA ceremony of carols [sound recording] : op. 28 ; Saint Nicolas : op. 42 / Britten.
“Stephen Layton leads the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge and the Holst Singers in two of Benjamin Britten’s most popular choral works for Christmastide. The cantata Saint Nicolas tells the story of the original Santa Claus, a fourth-century saint whose altruistic acts led to his canonization as patron saint of children and sailors. Britten’s lively setting is distinctly operatic, full of atmosphere and color – with the story brought ‘home’ through the use of congregational hymns.” (Amazon.com Review)

starlight expressThe Starlight Express [sound recording] / Edward Elgar.
“This fairytale melodrama was adapted from a book by Algernon Blackwood A Prisoner in Fairyland for a West End theatre production staged during World War 1 with music by Elgar. Based on a new score which has been adapted by Sir Andrew Davis who also here conducts the Scottish Chamber Orchestra this is the most comprehensive recorded version to date. The two-disc set includes the incidental music with narrative by Simon Callow and an extended suite of freestanding orchestral movements and songs”. (amazon.com)

coverimage13_1The Piano Guys [sound recording].
“Rather self explanatory, but a wonderful series of pieces that cross genres and bring out the best in this modern ensemble. ‘The Piano Guys’ bring modern works to the table and reinvent them. Anybody else interested to see how they interpret ‘Rolling in the Deep’ and ‘What makes you beautiful’?” (Syndetics summary)