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Chamber Orchestra & Ensemble Repertoire: A Catalog of Modern Music.

Chamber Orchestra & Ensemble Repertoire: A Catalog of Modern Music. By Dirk Meyer. (Music Finders.) Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011. [xiv, 427 p. ISBN 9780810877313. $75.] Appendix.

Dirk Meyer's hook Chamber Orchestra & Ensemble Repertoire: A Catalog of Modern Music will prove to be an invaluable resource for conductors, librarians of chamber orchestras and anyone interested in learning about possible repertoire for the chamber orchestra. In the preface, the author justifies the need for this book, which is a listing of chamber orchestra music written since 1900, by citing that there is no comprehensive text that covers the music and time period of chamber orchestra literature in this manner. Meyer refers to the format used in David Daniels's Orchestral Music: A Handbook (LIth ed. [Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2005]) as being the benchmark for how this text is organized. The author then defines the criteria by which works were considered for inclusion in the book and explains how the pieces are coded to indicate instrumentation, again based on Daniels's text. Next, the author includes a listing of all abbreviations that are used throughout the book for reference.

The next section lists all of the works in alphabetical order by composer. Each entry includes the composer's name and dates, followed by the title, instrumentation, timing, and publisher of the work. This information is invaluable to anyone interested in programming works for chamber orchestra, as it allows all of the relevant information to be at the disposal of the conductor or librarian.

This is followed by an extensive appendix that cross-lists the repertoire from the previous section by performing forces: works including solo voices (pp. 229-33), works including solo instruments (pp. 234-43), works for string orchestra (pp. 244-47), works for string orchestra with percussion and/or harp and/or piano (p. 248), works for ensemble with a maximum string count of [] (pp. 250-60), works for ensemble with a maximum string count of [] (pp. 261-63), works for chamber orchestra with listings by instrumentation (pp. 265-88), compositions that use no percussion (pp. 290-98), compositions that use no harp or piano (pp. 299-312), compositions that use saxophone(s) (pp. 313-14), and compositions that use electronics (tape, CD, live electronics) (p. 315). Needless to say, there is considerable and welcome overlap between the sections.

Additionally, Meyer provides a cross-listing of all twenty-first-century repertoire (pp. 316-19), and a final subdivision of all the listed works according to duration (pp. 320-54; in 5-minute increments up to 30 minutes, then 31-40 minutes and works over 40 minutes) and a complete index of all works by title (pp. 355-97).

After the appendix is a section dedicated to arrangements made by Arnold Schoenberg and others for the Verein fur musikalische Privatauffuhrungen from 1918 through 1921. The works are listed following the same format used in the section listing the works in 'alphabetical order by composer. However, they are not cross-listed in any of the sections of the preceding appendix.

The next section lists the publishers of all works compiled in the book along with the contact information for the various publishing houses. This is followed by a listing of resources used in compiling this work, as well as references for other orchestral works.

Well-organized as this work is, there are some concerns as to how complete this volume is: how much the literature Meyer has chosen actually corresponds to his stated inclusion criteria. Meyer claims in his preface to include works featuring seven players or more; however, chamber works seem to be relatively underrepresented. For instance, there are only three septets, five octets and eight nonets listed within the catalogue. There are also other works that should be included, such as Aaron Copland's Nonet for Strings, Iannis Xenakis's Analogique A and B. Pierre Boulez's Sur incises, and Elliott Carter's Mosaic. In addition to this, Meyer also does not clearly define why he chooses to include or exclude works that are listed in the fourth edition of David Daniels's Orchestral Music: A Handbook. He states that there may be duplicates between his book and Daniels, but unfortunately, that makes his work less user-friendly by not including other works that overlap between the two.

Though there are some problems with this book, overall, Dirk Meyer's Chamber Orchestra & Ensemble Repertoire: A Catalog of Modern Music will clearly be of significant help to programmers of twentieth and twenty-first century chamber orchestra literature.


Winston-Salem State University

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Author:Placilla, Christina
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2012
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