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AudioFile, December 2003

"Originally intended as a single CD, this brilliant, insightful, and frequently humorous study of the orchestra eventually turned into a massive seven-CD set with a 200-page booklet. Writer and narrator Jeremy Siepmann spent a year finding the best musical excerpts to illustrate his richly informative text. The first CD concentrates on the violin alone, building up a compelling portrait by showing it in every conceivable situation, style, and tone. And Siepmann doesn't use classical music alone for his illustrations; he also dips into folk music, popular music, and gypsy music to show each instrument's scope - so each has its own biography. A constant delight for the ears, this should surely be a fixture in every musically curious household."

Keith Hewson
Music Teacher International, July 2003

The Instruments of the Orchestra is a superb teaching guide and an absolute necessity for all music departments. Teachers will find it an invaluable support that enhances listening, performing and composing at all key stages. The pack consists of seven CDs and an accompanying booklet.

The booklet provides a wealth of valuable information for the teacher and I agree with the author of the booklet when he says 'this is a far from conventional approach to a standard subject.'. It is not a guided tour of the standard instruments of the orchestra but instead is a series of portraits of the instruments in their totality. Expect to hear the unexpected, such as kazoos, chains, coconuts, Parisian typists, taxi horns and a flick of migrating swans. Chapter 2 guides the teacher through historical profiles of the major instruments and chapter 3 gives a brief history of various instrument makers. Many of us are guilty of typecasting instruments, for example the clarinet is usually described as darkly lyrical, richly coloured, agile, and so on. However chapter 4 directs us to works by composers such as Bernard Herrmann and Stravinsky that show the raucous, shrill and plaintive side of the clarinet. Chapters 5 to 10 cover orchestration, evolution of instruments, seating plans, guides to further listening and recommended reading. The final chapter is a transcription of Jeremy Siepmann's well-researched text and narration. I found the whole experience as exciting and informative tour of the fascinating world of sound.

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