Profile for Gerald Parker > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Gerald Parker
Top Reviewer Ranking: 153
Helpful Votes: 148

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
Gerald Parker "Gerald Parker" (Rouyn-Noranda, QC., Dominion of Canada)
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Page: 1-10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21-30
pixel
Music Lovers' Encyclopedia
Music Lovers' Encyclopedia
by Rupert Hughes
Edition: Hardcover
9 used & new from CDN$ 14.92

4.0 out of 5 stars An Hoary Old Home Companion to Classical Music That Retains Some Interest Even Today, Feb. 17 2013
The main reason that any practising musician or other music professional of any real sophistication would continue to use this venerable old handbook and dictionary, frequently reissued over the last (20th) century, is for the sake of its biographical section. An edition of this enchiridion from the early 1950s is the one which I used as a young music student from early adolescence onwards; later in life I acquired also an earlier edition or printing (dated 1912 with "Cyclopedia" as the third word in the title proper). There are numerous other such seemingly superannuated music dictionaries (especially in German and in English), and this one is not even among the very best of suchlike (if one were to make comparisons of it, for example, with similar works, such items as, among them, "Baltzell's Dictionary of Musicians" or back editions of "Kürschners Deutscher Musiker-Kalender"), but it remains useful, as others of the kind do for much the same reasons, and, unlike many such others which are even more desirable to track down for purchase than Rupert Hughes' compendium happens to be, his work is relatively easy to find for sale, usually inexpensively, in used book stores in the Dominion of Canada and in the U. S. of A.

The entries in the biographical section (which endures as the portion of Rupert Hughes' handbook the most abidingly of interest) are rather perfunctory, succinct, and usually accurate, but that part of the guide, happily, includes the names of many minor composers, musical editors, performers, once widely respected (but now largely forgotten) pedagogues, and others, especially of the 18th and 19th centureis, for whom one seldom encounters entries in later music biographical or general music dictionaries and cyclopaedias. For tracking down such musical "lesser luminaries", even if one might wish that more more ample information about them were included, at least what the modest entries provide makes for a good departure point for learning, at the very least, the "bare essentials" (dates and so forth) about these figures, and often a bit more as well.

As for musical terminology, which is in another alphabetically arranged section of Rupert Hughes' handbook, one really should acquire a later, more scholarly work, such as any edition of the Harvard Dictionary of Music; even a concise (abridged) paperback edition of that work will suffice a student, most of the time, up to and through the first two years of college, university, or conservatory studies. For his part, Hughes, at least, does not get things so wrong as similar works by many popularisers of his kind, then or now, sometimes do. The miscellaneous articles that make up the balance of the volume, even if of lesser significance, are welcome, in some cases even of lasting value. The various editions across the years of this humble book, all of it or of the separately published parts of it, continue to be worth having at hand.

Music Lovers' Encyclopedia
Music Lovers' Encyclopedia
by Rupert Hughes
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars This Is One of Those Venerably Old Music Lexicography Tools That Retains Some Usefulness, Feb. 16 2013
The main reason that any practising musician or other music professional of any real sophistication would continue to use this venerable old handbook and dictionary, frequently reissued over the last (20th) century, is for the sake of its biographical section. An edition of this enchiridion from the early 1950s is the one which I used as a young music student from early adolescence onwards; later in life I acquired also one of the earlier editions or printings (dated 1912 with "Cyclopedia" as the third word in the title proper). There are numerous other such seemingly superannuated music dictionaries (especially in German and in English), and this one is not even among the very best of suchlike (if one were to make comparisons of it, for example, with similar works, such items as, among them, "Baltzell's Dictionary of Musicians" or back editions of "Kürschners Deutscher Musiker-Kalender"), but it remains useful, as others of the kind do for much the same reasons, and, unlike many such others which are even more desirable to track down for purchase than Rupert Hughes' compendium happens to be, his work is relatively easy to find for sale, usually inexpensively, in used book stores in the Dominion of Canada and in the U. S. of A.

The entries in the biographical section (which endures as the portion of Rupert Hughes' handbook the most abidingly of interest) are rather perfunctory, succinct, and usually accurate, but that part of the guide, happily, includes the names of many minor composers, musical editors, performers, once widely respected (but now largely forgotten) pedagogues, and others, especially of the 18th and 19th centureis, for whom one seldom encounters entries in later music biographical or general music dictionaries and cyclopaedias. For tracking down such musical "lesser luminaries", even if one might wish that more more ample information about them were included, at least what the modest entries provide makes for a good departure point for learning, at the very least, the "bare essentials" (dates and so forth) about these figures, and often a bit more as well.

As for musical terminology, which is in another alphabetically arranged section of Rupert Hughes' handbook, one really should acquire a later, more scholarly work, such as any edition of the Harvard Dictionary of Music; even a concise (abridged) paperback edition of that work will suffice a student, most of the time, up to and through the first two years of college, university, or conservatory studies. For his part, Hughes, at least, does not get things so wrong as similar works by many popularisers of his kind, then or now, sometimes do. The miscellaneous articles that make up the balance of the volume, even if of lesser significance, are welcome, in some cases even of lasting value. The various editions across the years of this humble book, all of it or of the separately published parts of it, continue to be worth having at hand.

Boy & His Dog [Import]
Boy & His Dog [Import]
DVD ~ Don Johnson
Offered by moviemars-canada
Price: CDN$ 11.15
10 used & new from CDN$ 11.15

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Lad Will Do and Will Provide ANYTHING That His Dawg Desires, Requires, Demands, Asks!, Feb. 3 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Boy & His Dog [Import] (DVD)
This film is wonderfully goofy, strange, and sexy; the DVVD edition that I have is on the Slingshot label (release number SDVD-9818, as available in the Dominion of Canada and in the U. S. of A.). As in all of Don Johnson's earliest films (his more frequently buttocks- and bollocks-baring "The Magic Garden of Stanley Sweetheart" and "The Harrad Experiment", especially), this actor, in appearance and personality, was winsomely, alluringly cute, and enticingly sensuous in bearing. Johnson's occasional nudity, or, more frequently, his near- or partial-nakedness in this film, amply show off such elegantly youthful assets, as then usual in his burgeoning cinematic career. Johnson's spunky manner was delightfully insouciant and irresistably, potently sexy. He really has been the main reason, over the years, for continuing to want to see and to treasure this peculiar movie.

The film gets rather grim at some points, but the surrealism of it all makes the viewer laugh as well as squirm a bit. Don Johnson did not flinch at anything that his scripts might demand at this early stage of his life in film; it helped that one of his assets was being so naturally exhibitionistic and playful by nature, revelling in his own boyish beauty and lithe atheleticism.

As for young Vic's canine companion and tutor, named Blood, whose pet-human, hunting boy, and pupil Vic happens to be, that wily and domineering animal is shaggy and, not surprisingly, his dawggy lips don't move with his dialogue. Not to worry. It's a telephathic kind of thing!

Jason Robards is weird and theatening, just the right guy for one of the villains in the film's post-nuclear underworld.

As science-fiction films go, this one is very original and offbeat! I cannot see this film often enough, and you might find that viewing it becomes addictive, too!

Funk & Wagnalls Canadian college dictionary
Funk & Wagnalls Canadian college dictionary
by Avis W S
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from CDN$ 136.91

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Choice among University-Level Dictionaries, but Not One That Has Much Specifically Canadian To Recommend It, Jan. 29 2013
Those seeking a dictionary of Canadian English should look elsewhere, even if, at one time, this one had served as the standard for writing at such a great institution as the University of Western Ontario. The grand old, even if somewhat dowdy, Funk and Wagnalls dictionaries are quite conservative about American usage, and admirably comprehensive, too, in vocabulary covered, apart from slang and informal usage (some of which has been present, but in too little quantity and insufficiently up-to-date), but in its supposedly Canadian dressing, this dictionary is too weak and inconsistent about Canadian spelling, usage, and pronunciation to live up to its title's pretensions. Neither in 1978, nor in printings or editions of the 1980s and since then, is what one finds on the pages between this good, but not very specifically "Canadian" dictionary's outer covers, really very Canadian. That is not to say, however, that it is a poor dictionary; it just is not very Canadian!

Those seeking a truly and more thoroughly Canadian dictionary, for usage, unusual (for Americans) words, pronunciations, and so forth, ought to try one of the various editions of the "Gage Canadian Dictionary", or perhaps "The Canadian Oxford Dictionary", in the full or the compacted form of either of the complete dictionary's first and second editions, which the Oxford University Press publishes; it is Gage's Canadian dictionary which is the one that I prefer; Gage Publishing itself is an affiliate of the Oxford University Press Canada. An admirable Canadian usage dictionary, despite a few of its own shortcomings, is the under-appreciated "The Penguin Canadian Dictionary", which Thomas Manuel Paikeday, the distinguished India-born lexicographer, edited marvellously well, as Paikeday earlier had undertaken expertly his modestly produced 1970 paperback (copyrighted again in 1976) "Compact Dictionary of Canadian English" (published by Holt, Rinehard, and Winston of Canada), which Paikeday adapted from his pathbreaking "Winston Dictionary of Canadian English" of 1969. All three of these dictionaries by Paikeday, however, have too little vocabulary seriously to rival the other two dictionaries mentioned here for general use while reading at a sophisticated level, but Paikeday's works are excellent for determining what truly is specifically Canadian usage and they feature some refreshingly new devices and helpful approaches which have made Paikeday's dictionaries very "user-friendly". Between them, these five dictionaries cited here are among those which best have rethought what constitutes Canadian English, unlike so many other putatively Canadian editions of dictionaries adapted, but much too superficially, from those current in the U. S. of A. or in the U.K.

Funk & Wagnalls Canadian college dictionary
Funk & Wagnalls Canadian college dictionary
by Walter Avis
Edition: Hardcover
2 used & new from CDN$ 84.94

4.0 out of 5 stars A Good and Useful University-Level Dictionary, but There Is Really Rather Little That Is Specifically Canadian about It, Jan. 29 2013
Those seeking a dictionary of Canadian English should look elsewhere, even if, at one time, this one had served as the standard for writing at such a great institution as the University of Western Ontario. The grand old, even if somewhat dowdy, Funk and Wagnalls dictionaries are quite conservative about American usage, and admirably comprehensive, too, in vocabulary covered, apart from slang and informal usage (some of which has been present, but in too little quantity and insufficiently up-to-date), but in its supposedly Canadian dressing, this dictionary is too weak and inconsistent about Canadian spelling, usage, and pronunciation to live up to its title's pretensions. Neither in 1978, nor in printings or editions of the 1980s and since then, is what one finds on the pages between this good, but not very specifically "Canadian" dictionary's outer covers, really very Canadian. That is not to say, however, that it is a poor dictionary; it just is not very Canadian!

Those seeking a truly and more thoroughly Canadian dictionary, for usage, unusual (for Americans) words, pronunciations, and so forth, ought to try one of the various editions of the "Gage Canadian Dictionary", or perhaps "The Canadian Oxford Dictionary", in the full or the compacted form of either of the complete dictionary's first and second editions, which the Oxford University Press publishes; it is Gage's Canadian dictionary which is the one that I prefer; Gage Publishing itself is an affiliate of the Oxford University Press Canada. An admirable Canadian usage dictionary, despite a few of its own shortcomings, is the under-appreciated "The Penguin Canadian Dictionary", which Thomas Manuel Paikeday, the distinguished India-born lexicographer, edited marvellously well, as Paikeday earlier had undertaken expertly his modestly produced 1970 paperback (copyrighted again in 1976) "Compact Dictionary of Canadian English" (published by Holt, Rinehard, and Winston of Canada), which Paikeday adapted from his pathbreaking "Winston Dictionary of Canadian English" of 1969. All three of these dictionaries by Paikeday, however, have too little vocabulary seriously to rival the other two dictionaries mentioned here for general use while reading at a sophisticated level, but Paikeday's works are excellent for determining what truly is specifically Canadian usage and they feature some refreshingly new devices and helpful approaches which have made Paikeday's dictionaries very "user-friendly". Between them, these five dictionaries cited here are among those which best have rethought what constitutes Canadian English, unlike so many other putatively Canadian editions of dictionaries adapted, but much too superficially, from those current in the U. S. of A. or in the U.K.

Funk And Wagnalls Standard Dictionary
Funk And Wagnalls Standard Dictionary
by And Funk
Edition: Paperback
4 used & new from CDN$ 4.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Compact, Well Edited, & Large Vocabulary Handled, This Paperback Dictionary Wins 1st Place for Usefulness & Comprehensiveness!, Jan. 27 2013
I have used various editions of Funk and Wagnalls' hardback and paperback dictionaries for many, many years, indeed, for most of, firstly, my adolescence, and, then, my adult life (my present age getting close to 70 years long now!). However, I have made resort to the large Standard and College editions in hardback binding of this trusty dictionary less and less frequently in recent decades; Funk and Wagnalls, while of sterling reliability due to its conservative (so far, I think, I hope, to the present!) approach to lexicography, can be just a tad too stodgy for primary reference: too little slang, just a bit too unbending in some ways. Since the 1980s or so, my preference for the Webster's "New World" college editions in a single hardback volume (always my favourite, anyway, in each and every one of its four major editions thus far), and, to a lesser extent, the American Heritage full and college editions in hardback, finally have usurped the place that Funk and Wagnalls once had for me.

Of course, living in Québec, within the Canadian context, I also use the Chambers, Cassells, and Gage dictionaries of English quite extensively, since American spelling and pronunciation (which, of course, prevail in the dictionaries of Funk and Wagnall, American Heritage, and in any Webster) are not sufficiently close to Commonwealth and Canadian usage. However, I utilise these British and Canadian dictionaries, in fact, mostly for just that, spelling (especially Chambers) and pronunciation (Gage above all), as well, of course, for words and uses that American English does not represent, while I nonetheless prefer the Webster "New World" and American Heritage hardback editions for definitions, usage levels, and etymology. I only add that I am an avid user of dictionaries and make resort to a very wide variety of other dictionaries besides those which I discuss here!

What makes the case different in evaluating single volume paperback dictionaries is that Funk and Wagnalls simply packs the most vocabulary into a compact volume (fatter than most paperback books, dictionaries or otherwise, but still very portable and economical of space needed to keep it at hand and also reasonably legible without undue eye strain) than any other widely published and distributed softcover dictionary. The paperback dictionary editions deriving from the Webster's "New World" and American Heritage Dictionaries are yet more beautifully edited in their compact paperback formats as, of course, they are in hardback editions, but they just do not include a wide enough vocabulary base to suffice verification needs when reading fairly sophisticated book and periodical literature. (This is so despite the fact that their hardback sister editions, of course, are magnificent in those regards!) Another widely-found and very comprehensive paperback dictionary is Scribner-Bantam's (which comes in single volume and in two-volume alternatives, both compact), but the Scribner-Bantam's paperback dictionary sacrifices some features of a full dictionary which Funk and Wagnalls paperback editions manage to retain, so, due to that, Scribner-Bantam's just does not quite measure up to the same standard that Funk and Wagnalls sets.

When I read in a room in which I seldom or never would study, or "on the hoof" from one place to another, it will remain the Funk and Wagnalls paperback dictionary that has my user allegiance!

The Scribner-Bantam English Dictionary
The Scribner-Bantam English Dictionary

5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the Alternatives to the Even Better Funk & Wagnalls Paperback Dictionary Alike for Comprehensiveness & Editorial Quality, Jan. 22 2013
This is one paperback dictionary of American English that I actually do use regularly. I prefer the comparable Funk and Wagnalls Standard dictionary in paperback to this one, of basically the same size and heft, but the Scribner-Bantam dictionary in softcover edition usually meets my requirements about as well. Both of these mass-marketed paperbacks provide a maximum of vocabulary coverage compatible with such a compact format as well as good definitions and U.S. pronunciations. What the Funk & Wagnalls Standard paperback dictionary (see my review of it for more detail) has over Scribner-Bantam is the presence, to a greater extent and more consistently, in the former, of etymologies and other, further developed ancillary functions that one usually finds only in hardback dictionaries. I use the Bantam-Scribner's all the more in that I do not have enough copies of the Funk & Wagnalls paperback to keep at hand in rooms where I occasionally read. Of course, near my computer, desk, and dining table I keep my favourite hardback dictionaries of greater scope, i.e. Webster's New World Dictionary (College Edition), American Heritage Dictionary (complete and college editions), and various editions of Chambers' Dictionary (for Commonwealth spelling and usage) and Gage Canadian Dictionary (for our Québec and Canadian English usage, especially for pronunciations).

Anyone who needs more than the good but less extensive paperback editions which derive from the best of the college and desk-reference dictionaries, which are more beautifully edited in some cases (e.g., American Heritage dictionary in paperback) but which simply are lacking in sufficiently broad vocabulary coverage, should consider acquiring either the Funk & Wagnalls or Scribner-Bantam paperback dictionaries for use when such a portable dictionary as either of these is more practical (as when travelling) than a full-length college or desk reference edition, too cumbersome, would be to keep at hand. This Scribner-Bantam thus edited, incidentally, comes in single volume and two-volume alternatives.

Scribner-Bantam English Dictionary
Scribner-Bantam English Dictionary
by Edwin B. Williams
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
28 used & new from CDN$ 0.17

5.0 out of 5 stars Next-Best Paperback Dictionary of American English, a Viable Alternative to Funk & Wagnalls' Equally Compact & Comprehensive One, Jan. 22 2013
This is one paperback dictionary of American English that I actually do use regularly. I prefer the comparable Funk and Wagnalls Standard dictionary in paperback to this one, of basically the same size and heft, but the Scribner-Bantam dictionary in softcover edition usually meets my requirements about as well. Both of these mass-marketed paperbacks provide a maximum of vocabulary coverage compatible with such a compact format as well as good definitions and U.S. pronunciations. What the Funk & Wagnalls Standard paperback dictionary (see my review of it for more detail) has over Scribner-Bantam is the presence, to a greater extent and more consistently, in the former, of etymologies and other, further developed ancillary functions that one usually finds only in hardback dictionaries. I use the Bantam-Scribner's all the more in that I do not have enough copies of the Funk & Wagnalls paperback to keep at hand in rooms where I occasionally read. Of course, near my computer, desk, and dining table I keep my favourite hardback dictionaries of greater scope, i.e. Webster's New World Dictionary (College Edition), American Heritage Dictionary (complete and college editions), and various editions of Chambers' Dictionary (for Commonwealth spelling and usage) and Gage Canadian Dictionary (for our Québec and Canadian English usage, especially for pronunciations).

Anyone who needs more than the good but less extensive paperback editions which derive from the best of the college and desk-reference dictionaries, which are more beautifully edited in some cases (e.g., American Heritage dictionary in paperback) but which simply are lacking in sufficiently broad vocabulary coverage, should consider acquiring either the Funk & Wagnalls or Scribner-Bantam paperback dictionaries for use when such a portable dictionary as either of these is more practical (as when travelling) than a full-length college or desk reference edition, too cumbersome, would be to keep at hand. This Scribner-Bantam thus edited, incidentally, comes in single volume and two-volume alternatives.

Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary: Revised and Updated
Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary: Revised and Updated
by Peter Funk
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The F&W Paperback Dictionary Remains the Most Comprehensive of Well Edited Compact Dictionaries of American-Usage English, Jan. 22 2013
I have used various editions of Funk and Wagnalls' hardback and paperback dictionaries for many, many years, indeed, for most of, firstly, my adolescence, and, then, my adult life (my present age getting close to 70 years long now!). However, I have made resort to the large Standard and College editions in hardback binding of this trusty dictionary less and less frequently in recent decades; Funk and Wagnalls, while of sterling reliability due to its conservative (so far, I think, I hope, to the present!) approach to lexicography, can be just a tad too stodgy for primary reference: too little slang, just a bit too unbending in some ways. Since the 1980s or so, my preference for the Webster's "New World" college editions in a single hardback volume (always my favourite, anyway, in each and every one of its four major editions thus far), and, to a lesser extent, the American Heritage full and college editions in hardback, finally have usurped the place that Funk and Wagnalls once had for me.

Of course, living in Québec, within the Canadian context, I also use the Chambers, Cassells, and Gage dictionaries of English quite extensively, since American spelling and pronunciation (which, of course, prevail in the dictionaries of Funk and Wagnall, American Heritage, and in any Webster) are not sufficiently close to Commonwealth and Canadian usage. However, I utilise these British and Canadian dictionaries, in fact, mostly for just that, spelling (especially Chambers) and pronunciation (Gage above all), as well, of course, for words and uses that American English does not represent, while I nonetheless prefer the Webster "New World" and American Heritage hardback editions for definitions, usage levels, and etymology. I only add that I am an avid user of dictionaries and make resort to a very wide variety of other dictionaries besides those which I discuss here!

What makes the case different in evaluating single volume paperback dictionaries is that Funk and Wagnalls simply packs the most vocabulary into a compact volume (fatter than most paperback books, dictionaries or otherwise, but still very portable and economical of space needed to keep it at hand and also reasonably legible without undue eye strain) than any other widely published and distributed softcover dictionary. The paperback dictionary editions deriving from the Webster's "New World" and American Heritage Dictionaries are yet more beautifully edited in their compact paperback formats as, of course, they are in hardback editions, but they just do not include a wide enough vocabulary base to suffice verification needs when reading fairly sophisticated book and periodical literature. (This is so despite the fact that their hardback sister editions, of course, are magnificent in those regards!) Another widely-found and very comprehensive paperback dictionary is Scribner-Bantam's (which comes in single volume and in two-volume alternatives, both compact), but the Scribner-Bantam's paperback dictionary sacrifices some features of a full dictionary which Funk and Wagnalls paperback editions manage to retain, so, due to that, Scribner-Bantam's just does not quite measure up to the same standard that Funk and Wagnalls sets.

When I read in a room in which I seldom or never would study, or "on the hoof" from one place to another, it will remain the Funk and Wagnalls paperback dictionary that has my user allegiance!

Handel's Messiah
Handel's Messiah
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 78.95
2 used & new from CDN$ 78.95

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Economy Edition for the Madacy Label, but a Fine and Sophisticated Recording of Handel's great oratorio!, Jan. 10 2013
This review is from: Handel's Messiah (Audio CD)
I came across this recording of Handel's great oratorio, "Messiah", when browsing among some inexpensively priced audiocassettes, the recording having been available on that format (Madacy TPX-4-12, on two boxed tapes), too, as well as on CD. I have sung (bass in the choir) and played (variously violoncello and double bass) in numerous performances of "Messiah" over the years, which has provided me with the opportunities to witness, as a participant, which approaches work better than others; along the way I have had experience, as well, of performing from various editions that practical musicians and musicologists alike have prepared of the work. Thus, wondering, with curiosity and ruefulness, how a recorded performance from a place like Orlando, Florida, would sound, I picked up this set. (This edition of the recording, incidentally, ascribes the work of the chamber orchestra to the "Orlando Pops Orchestra", but another edition, also on the Madacy label, names the instrumental forces as the "Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra"; which is right, if either of them really is, I know not, but the full-size symphonic orchestra in Orlando, Florida, indeed is named Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and, yes, it does have a series of "pops concerts", so perhaps both names are appropriate, the chamber orchestra being a smaller formation of players from the larger ensemble that goes by either or by both names, at least as convoked in reduced size for studio purposes for the Madacy Music Group's sound recording.) The results, after hearing this elegant budget recording, are in: this is an exceptionally satisfying account of the great work.

What particularly distinguishes this one, among the all-too-numerous recordings of "Messiah", is its energetic, yet serious, approach to the work; while the now-standard (but really, nonetheless, rather dubious) new norms of performing Baroque choral works, even of such large scale as this tremendous oratorio, are observed, the approach is sanely moderate and always musical, something that cannot always be said of many extremist "H.I.P."-oriented recordings which follow all the latest fads in "Earlye Musicke" performance practice that supposedly would result in "authenticity". There is more ornamentation here than one usually finds in moderate or older-style performances of "Messiah", but the vocalists, especially the soprano soloist, embellish their lines with taste (and such ornamentation really is a matter of precedent more historically assured than a lot of the baggage of the Early Music Movement tends to be); the performers do this with the same level of skill that makes of their respective contributions some of most enjoyable aspects of this recorded performance.

Conductor Andrew Lane is to be commended for his success, while using such relatively small choral and orchestral forces, in yet drawing vocal and instrumental sound from them of amplitude and beauty; too often in such small-scale renditions one finds both aesthetic beauty and expression sacrificed to the tiresome fads to which putative specialists in this repertory subject this work. Lane`s moderate and stylish approach to conducting Handel's "Messiah" is akin to the approach of such a noted conductor as Jack Ergo, of Graceland University`s Music Department (who has been a major figure in the musical life of the Community of Christ, formerly named Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in Lamoni, Iowa and Independence, Missouri). Ergo has been among those who have been among the conductors who taken turns at conducting annual performances of the work with the Messiah Choir, in Independence, Missouri; Ergo's recording is the kind of model performance that Andrew Lane may have had in mind when conceiving his own way with the music. A problem with using reduced choral and orchestral forces, however, is that it becomes difficult or downright impossible to rise to the challenge that the tremendous sonorous climaxes in Handel`s work impose. In their repective recordings, Lane and Ergo both fall short of the grandeur that an audience, or the listener to a recording at home, rightly expects and which only a misinformed pedant would belittle. Lane, his singers, and his players manage some of those moments quite well; at other times such exalted moments fail to stand out, as the pivotal points which they should be, from the music preceding and following them.

Three of the vocal soloists provide deeply satisfying contributions, in delivering the music of the work, and its text, too, enunciating the words very clearly. The two male soloists, William Adams (tenor) and Justin White (bass) are truly wonderful. It is unusual to hear a voice as fresh and "airy" sounding as Adams' exquisite tenor in this music, which also has adequate body and gleam to ride the music's crest so well as he does so with such natural, unforced tone. (Adams is no "tenorino", but a lyric tenor capable of rising to the challenges of the music when it requires some extra vocal voltage.) I never would be one to forgo the power-vocalism of the best dramatic (or lirico-spino) tenors who have recorded this music and other tenor parts in Handel's various oratorios, e.g. Richard Lewis (the greatest of them all in this work), Alexander Young, John Vickers, or, extending back to the early 20th century, the sublime Evan Williams, but there always is room for a less stentorian approach, such as that of Heddle Nash in the past, or of William Adams more recently, so long as they do such justice to the tough fiber of Handel's vocal writing. As for the bass part, however, vocal fortitude seems to be an inevitable requirement and, happily, the bass vocal soloist, Justin White, for Lane's recording, is a marvel! White may be the best bass soloist whose singing I ever have heard in this music! His voice has a lustrous hue, richly resonant in tone (not just rough and burly as too many other basses merely, and so irritatingly, tend to be on recordings of "Messiah"), but White's voice also is wonderfully flexible, the technic flawless (and that, friends, is a virtue even less common among bass soloists in recordings of Handel's great work). White does not resort to the huff-and-puff, disconnected kind of belly-shaking bravado to get through the part's difficult, rapid passage work. Not at all! His coloratura is even, both seemlessly legato and seemingly effortless, something that requires the "art that conceals art" in singing this arduous music. That White's tone is so lovely in timbre, too, is almost as if all of the singer's other virtues were not sufficient! The man's talent is boundless! Indeed, other basses should be required to hear White's contribution to this recording when attempting to master the part's difficulties, for White's accomplishment provides a veritable lesson in fine singing.

The contralto, Marguerite Krull, is not on the level, vocally or expressively, of the two male soloists or of the very interesting soprano soloist, but her singing is pleasingly musical; also, one breathes a sigh of relief that Andrew Lane did not make resort to one of the many male falsettists who lay bogus claim to such music and whose insufferable hooting so mars many otherwise good live performances and recordings. The sound of Krull's voice initially is rather hollow and lacking in colour, but a more agreeable and womanly tone asserts itself as the oratorio unfolds. The soprano soloist, Heidi Holcombe, whose coloratura singing I already have praised, though not heretofore by name, is a real asset. Although the sound of Holcombe's voice is quite girlish in timbre, it has the brilliance needed to assert her presence, and she has, as well, as that ease, already mentioned, in handling her embellishments of the vocal line; thus, Holcombe's singing is among the most considerable assets of this recorded performance.

I am not one ever to abandon more "traditional" performances of Handel`s "Messiah"; indeed, when they are good, I prefer such accounts of the score. However, mere fustion, bloat, and bluster in rendering this music are no longer acceptable, but, on the other hand, neither is the excessive delicacy and shallow preciosity of too many live and recorded performances by those who consider themselves, presumptuously, as "Baroque specialists". The recordings of "Messiah" that I most cherish have the force and expressive range of the music of Beethoven, whom Handel so strongly influenced. Among such accounts are the vigourous and imposing ones of Sir Malcolm Sargent (who made several studio recordings of the score, most of them with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the glorious Huddersfield Choral Society among the performance forces, which Sargent made over several decades) and the almost equally stalwart performances which Eugene Ormandy led (with the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir and an astonishingly superb line-up of vocal soloists). An early example of a "moderate" performance, one that uses a reasonably "critical" edition of the music, but with a chorus of size sufficient to assure ruggedly impressive results, is the second recording (the one in stereo) which the English conductor, Sir Adrian Boult, directed, especially worth having for the sake of Joan Sutherland, Grace Bumbry, and Kenneth McKellar, who are among the vocal soloists; Boult's earlier mono recording is at least as cherishable, including among the soloists (otherwise less stellar than those of the stereo recording) the very belovèd, highly artistic soprano, Jennifer Vyvian (also among the exceptionally fine soloists on Beecham's last recording of the work), but it is difficult to procure on CD except in Britain, where, however, Amazon-U.K. makes it available, best had on the Belart label, a complete recording and digitisation of the work (reissued, as remastered, on 3 CDs, the release number of Belart's elusive set being 401-629-2), despite Amazon-U.K.'s misleading way of listing it. Mentioning completeness of recording should remind the buyer that it is only Boult's two recordings, of all those mentioned in this review (Lane's own account, too, having some truncations) which provide truly complete accounts of the score, without the usual standard cuts, which is a good reason, for the most earnestly serious collector, to have one of Boult's recordings, too, even if one owns Lane's or any of these others.

For those who would like to own only a single exceptionally fine recording of "Messiah" that takes a "traditional" approach (but without the stodginess that can afflict the work if a conductor be lax), one could recommend most enthusiastically either of two recordings with particularly good choruses and evenly cast line-ups of really fine vocal soloists. One of them is what I believe to be the last of Sir Malcolm Sargent's recordings, this time with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Royal Choral Society (which has been released on several labels, including the CD edition on Chesky Records), with, as vocal soloists, Elizabeth Harwood (soprano), Norma Proctor (contralto), Alexander Young (tenor, a thrilling singer!), and John Shirley-Quirk (bass-baritone). Then there is Eugene Ormandy's gorgeous 1959 recording, already singled out for mention; if conducting just a bit less dynamically than Sargent does, Ormandy nevertheless offers an exciting performance, with the best possible instrumental support, i.e. of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the vocally mature, solid-sounding Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and an array of solo vocalists which includes William Warfield (baritone, who far exceeded for Ormandy in the same music that he sang less well as baritone soloist for Leonard Bernstein's recording, too) and, at his side, the never-surpassed and utterly magnificent Eileen Farrell (soprano), as well as (more modestly but solidly satisfying) Martha Lipton (contralto) and Davis Cunningham (tenor). The economy-minded collector, however, will not go wrong if he opts for one of the editions of the recorded performance of "Messiah" on the Madacy label, the more so if he actually prefers a more "intimate" approach to Handel`s oratorio.

Page: 1-10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21-30