31. March 2015 · Comments Off on Offers I Receive · Categories: (p)Reviews™, Books, Recommendations

I get emails from a variety of places. Some offer me free tickets to concerts so far away I write back and accept and ask if they provide the plane tickets. Yeah, I’m goofy sometimes! Others are for rap or heavy metal artists. I don’t usually reply to those, but sometimes I write back asking what caused them to ask me if I’m interested. I never receive responses. I’ve been invited to movie previews and a variety of other events. Most are in New York and they’ve never sent me plane tickets so I’ve never gone. Others are asking me to listen to a CD or read a book. I very rarely agree to do this any longer: I simply don’t have the time and I sure don’t need more stuff around the house! I tried for a time and I realized what WORK reviewing can be. Not my cup ‘o tea, really.

Recently, though, I was asked to take a look and listen to the book Sleep Softly; Classical Lullabies by Brahms, Schuber, Satie, Debussy … and I was intrigued enough to accept the book and CD. I’m currently listening to the music for the second time. This book will be available on May 1, 2015.

Sleep_Softly_Book

The group playing the music is L’Ensemble Agora. The music is sweetly arranged, and I enjoyed listening. The writing in the book seems geared more toward older readers rather than the little ones. The illustrations by Élodie Nouhen would appeal to children and adults alike. Most importantly … drum roll … you can hear oboe and English horn! 🙂

Solveig's_Song

Reading the info about the company that put this out I read “In 2014, The Secret Mountain, publisher of beautifully produced children’s books and music from around the world, released the Parents’ Choice Gold Award winning storybook-music CD Simply Fantastic: An Introduction to Classical Music. The first title from that collection, Listen to the Birds, also won national awards and acclaim the previous year.”

They have a variety of series: Lullabies and Nursery Rhymes from Around the World (five books), Dream Songs Night Songs from Around the World (three books), Sing Along Songs (six books), Lullabies (three books), and Stories and Songs (seven books), along with the Classical Music (three books) that includes the one in my possession.

If I had young children I am fairly sure I’d be buying more of these books. This one is charming.

To see more go to The Secret Mountain.

26. August 2013 · Comments Off on Might Be An Interesting Book! · Categories: Books, Read Online

High school students who plan to be music majors in college aren’t always prepared for what awaits them, says Rhode Island College music professor Robert Franzblau.

Giving those students, and their influencers, advice on making the right decision was the idea behind Franzblau’s recently published book, “So You Want to be a Music Major: A Guide for High School Students, Their Parents, Guidance Counselors, and Music Teachers,” published by Meredith Music Publications in July.

The book, which will also be available in an electronic format, addresses a wide range of concerns college music instructors have about their incoming students including technical skills, having the right attitude toward their work, and having a misconception about what a collegiate music program entails.

“Sometimes students want to choose music because they think it will be fun,” Franzblau said. “It’s supposed to be hard work, and it is hard work, like anything else.”

RTWT

16. November 2011 · Comments Off on Stay Tuned · Categories: Books

… I just received this:

“What Beethoven said in his late quartets might be the most important message to humanity ever expressed in music.”

— Fantasia for a String Quartet, by Jerzy Chwialkowski

This important classical music novel is available now at Amazon at www.amazon.com/Fantasia-String-Quartet-Jerzy-Chwialkowski/dp/1453879838/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1313768675&sr=1-1

________________
Jerzy Chwialkowski is the author of The Da Capo Catalog of Classical Music Compositions published by the Da Capo Press in 1996. The Catalog is out of print; however, a limited number of new signed copies of the Catalog can be ordered from the author at www.jchwialkowski.webs.com

I’m curious enough to have the author send me his self-published book for review. Just because.

21. June 2011 · 2 comments · Categories: Books

Um … I might have even be tempted, although the price is far too high, but when I read the description I had to laugh:

Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. Opera San José is the professional opera company in San Jose, California, United States, founded in 1984 by Irene Dalis. In 1988, it formed a resident company of principal artists, for which it has purchased fourteen apartment units to provide rent-free accommodation. Until 2004, the company performed in the Montgomery Theater in San Jose’s Civic Auditorium complex. One of the keys to the company’s success over the years has been its fiscal prudence. The company opened its 2004-2005 season in the 1,119 seat California Theatre, a former vaudeville and film theatre designed by Weeks and Day. On opening day in 1927, this 1,848 seat movie palace was said to be the finest theater in California. With its magnificent Jazz Age décor, it was part of a wave of ornate theaters built to define downtowns all over the country. For nearly 50 years the theatre showed films, until it’s closure in 1973.

REALLY! This is absolutely ridiculous! They put a book together by grabbing info off the internet and then they charge $49 for it?

Yeah, I’m sure it’ll be a best seller. After you read the copy you buy may I borrow it? (And if they took things from my website, I wanna know!)

I love reading “High Quality Content by WIKIPEDIA articles!” on the front.

Okay … if you really want to buy the book, you go right ahead. But don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

19. April 2011 · 1 comment · Categories: Books

In Davis-Gardner’s version, the Pinkertons return to America with 4-year-old “Benji,” who’s explained away as an orphan adopted from the streets of Nagasaki.

With his Japanese features atop blonde hair, Benji is fated never quite to fit in either of his two worlds.

Fatefully, they decide to settle on the Illinois prairie, where Pinkerton has inherited the family farm after his father’s sudden death.

RTWT

For some reason I can’t picture Pinkerton as a farmer!

12. April 2011 · Comments Off on What? Not “Oboe and Melancholy”? · Categories: Books

Oboe & Romance Book With CD (Sorry, I had a link to the book seller … you know … that big one, with the big name … but due to their issues with the state of California I have removed the link. You’ll need to find it elsewhere.)

These books feature 10 romantic originals for solo instrumentalists. The accompanying CD features solos with accompaniment, as well as accompaniment-only tracks for practice. Songs: Dreaming : Mood Romantic : Memory : A Song For You : Friends For Life : Nothing Has Changed : The Sound Of My Life : Teardrops : Everlasting Love : Livin’ Without You

I really think someone should put out some sort of book and CD that’s about feeling sad and morose … forget this romance stuff! 😉

30. October 2010 · Comments Off on Caruso & the Quake · Categories: Books

Mexican tenor Ignacio Jarquin recreates Caruso as his trunk is stolen, as he avoids the bayonets of soldiers evacuating the streets and takes refuge in a city of tents in Golden Gate Park.

I read the above here*.

Interesting to read this, as I’m currently reading a wonderful book called Earthquake Days; The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake & Fire. I was reading Caruso’s account of the quake the other day. In it are Caruso’s own words from The Theatre Mazazine in which he says

“I watch those that have already arrived, and presently some one comes and tries to take my trunks, saying they are his. I say, “No, they are mine”; but he does not go away. Then a soldier comes up to me; I tell him that this man wants to take my trunks and that I am Caruso, the artist who sang in “Carmen” the night before. He remembers me and makes the man who takes an interest in my baggage “skiddoo,” as the Americans say.”

(From page 51 of the book.)

I HIGHLY recommend Earthquake Days: The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake & Fire in 3-D to you. It’s excellent! It also just happens to be written by trumpeter David Burkhart, husband of a wonderful local oboist Deb Shidler. 🙂

*Link no longer working.

28. September 2010 · Comments Off on A Book I’ll Want · Categories: Books

My long-awaited second book, Boozehound, is now in stores. No, wait, mine is Listen to This. Today is the official release date, and I will celebrate, as is my long-standing custom, by placing a signed copy of the book in a little handmade boat in the shape of a swan and setting it loose in the waters of the Hudson River. Actually, I have never done any such thing, and am unlikely to do so now, but I like the image.

RTWT

Hmmm. Maybe his next book will be Boozehound?

I read Alex Ross’s first book and enjoyed it tremendously. Guess we’ll have to put this one on the list to pick up when money starts rolling in again!

Here are links, in case you want to go ahead and get the book(s) now:

Listen to This

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century

23. September 2010 · Comments Off on Reviewing · Categories: Books, Reviews, San Francisco Opera

Most readers know by now that I don’t like to actually do serious reviews; as much as I can be quite critical, I hesitate being open about it. But recently I’ve been given* recordings of a few things and some books, and I think that the companies who provided these are expecting me to review them. So I guess I’ll have to hop to it!

Here are the things I’ve started to listen to and read so far (yes, I have more):

  • Elina Garanca: Habanera
  • Boulez/Vienna Philharmonic/Tetzlaff: Song of the Night
  • Measha Brueggergosman: Night & Dreams
  • Nico Muhly: A Good Understanding
  • Nico Muhly: I Drink The Air Before Me
  • Hahn/Higdon/Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerti
    … and one book (although several have been sent)

  • Lotfi Mansouri: An Operatic Journey

I suppose these are the perks of running a blog. Truth is, though, that reviewing takes a lot of time, and it’s also a responsibility one shouldn’t take lightly. I can’t just say, “Don’t like it,” and feel good about things … or can I? Or perhaps, since I sign nothing saying I’m obligated and must review, I should only comment on the things I like. I do like to try and be kind and all that jazz.

It does make me admire the real reviewers out there. The amount of time it takes to truly listen and read — assuming they really do that! — is tremendous. I understand why one that I’ve read on occasion said, “I will not read things if you send them to me. Period.” He’s a big enough name that I’m sure it’s completely his choice about what he chooses to bash review.

At the moment I have Garanca on. But am I truly listening? No. I’m blogging! All I can say at the moment is I hear her and immediately think, “Why did you bag SF Opera for something else?” as we read all about last March. (Not that I was at ALL sorry with her wonderful replacement, Alice Coote!) And I think about the crazy video she has out promoting the recording, which made me not really want to hear it. Watch and see if you agree:

I don’t think I’m their target audience for that one!

I much prefer this video:

As to the Lotfi Mansouri book … heh … while we were at Marriage of Figaro on Tuesday night I wondered (but didn’t check) jokingly if we’d find his autobiography there. I would guess not. At the same time, everyone knows it’s out, and most know he dissed Runnicles, Willie Brown, Pamela Rosenberg, and so many more. So maybe it’s just better to go ahead and put it out there. Dunno. Maybe I’ll look when we attend the next opera. It won’t be this Friday, though; that’s the Opera in the Ballpark event. Oh … but maybe they’ll bring their store to the ballpark too? I’ll probably not get there, though; we’ll be searching for the garlic fries! (I’m guessing it’s more about the experience than the music …?

17. August 2010 · 1 comment · Categories: Books, Links

Many many thanks to Jillian … so visit her site. She gets all the credit!

“Patient as ever, Jamie listened carefully to the “A” of the fork, and sang again, producing a sound wedged somewhere in the crack between E-flat and D-sharp.”

–Diana Gabaldon, from “Dragonfly in Amber”

Oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear ….