Naxos Books launches the new Discover series
This exciting new compact series from Naxos Books is launched with two titles which form the beginning of a set of five covering periods in western classical music history.
|DISCOVER EARLY MUSIC
||DISCOVER MUSIC OF THE ROMANTIC ERA
|BOOK + WEBSITE
||BOOK + WEBSITE
The series opens the door to key areas of classical music, each book containing a detailed and absorbing essay, supplementary sections, and access to a free, dedicated website with carefully chosen music.
These approachable books are as engaging as they are visually arresting, and each is richly filled with musical and historical information to create a balanced picture of the era, its composers, and their music.
Naxos Books is uniquely placed to provide this kind of ‘multimedia’-injected publishing, and this beautiful series shows how neatly old and new media may complement each other.
Discover Early Music takes us through the Medieval and Renaissance eras, from the plainchant of the Middle Ages to the complex polyphony that developed in the sixteenth century. The author, Lucien Jenkins, rises to the challenge of communicating effortlessly this long and multifaceted period in music, ensuring that whoever stops to read and listen will be considerably the wiser at the end. As he says, ‘Buildings and statues endure, but how can we ever really know about early music and what the Medieval and Renaissance world sounded like?’ We can certainly make a few inroads by starting with his thoughtfully compiled text and selection of pieces.
Includes music by Josquin, Dufay, Landini, Taverner, Tallis, Obrecht, Victoria, Palestrina and others.
Discover Music of the Romantic Era is charged with the passion of the nineteenth-century’s greatest composers. David McCleery moves smoothly through this era’s pivotal musical moments in an inviting style, showing how scandalous biographical detail, monumental changes in history and exceptional creative talent combined to produce some of the best-loved pieces of music. As with Discover Early Music, all composers with music examples on the website are covered, as are many more, and each track is woven neatly into the narrative to form a chronological part of the Romantic Era’s story. The passages concerning the music often include an illuminating listening guide, as shown by this passage on Berlioz’s ‘March to the Scaffold’ from his Symphonie fantastique:
You can hear the atmosphere of the march building to a frenzy as the music rises up and up at 2’52”, and as the insistent driving rhythm is hammered out at 3’32”. Suddenly, at 4’09”, there is a brief reprieve as the artist’s last thoughts are of his love, and we hear the idée fixe played ethereally on the clarinet. But his fate is sealed and, as he is beheaded, the pizzicato (or plucked) strings depict the head falling into the bucket (4’18”), followed by the triumphal brass chords representing the jubilant crowd, delighted at their afternoon’s entertainment.
And it’s not just the music that is revealing – we read this, of Brahms:
Yet beneath the tough exterior of this old curmudgeon lay a deeply sensitive, innocent and generous soul, who, right up until his death of liver cancer in 1897, loved walking in the countryside, laughing and playing with children, and collecting toy soldiers.
Both books are peppered throughout with illustrations and quotations, and contain in addition a timeline showing events in music, art, literature and history; a map showing composers’ birthplaces; and a helpful glossary of terms. There’s a lot to Discover!