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The Baroque Piano: The Influence of Society, Style, and Musical Trends on the Great Composers, w/CD.

The Baroque Piano: The Influence of Society, Style, and Musical Trends on the Great Composers, w/CD, selected, edited and annotated by Nancy Bachus. CD recordings by Daniel Glover. Alfred Publishing Co., Inc. (16320 Roscoe Blvd., PO. Box 10003, Van Nuys, CA 91410), 2006. 128 pp. $24.95. Intermediate.

The title of this fine anthology indicates a collection that would most likely have been written for harpsichord, with some pieces appropriated even in the 18th century for the early pianos. The title of the volume is in keeping with the series that Alfred has published as A History of Piano Masterworks, in which there are four volumes, The Baroque Piano, The Classical Piano, The Romantic Piano and The Modern Piano.

This collection of 45 keyboard pieces by 25 composers is divided into two parts. "Part I: The Influence of Baroque Society, Style, and Musical Trends," includes 21 pieces that illustrate the many facets of the baroque style in outline form, along with com poser biographies. "Part II: The Influence of 16 Great Baroque Composers" includes 24 pieces along with composer biographies, some of which overlap those of Part I. The pieces are not graded, some are familiar, others are little jewels by lesser known composers.

The collection falls into the intermediate level regarding note reading, however, a higher level of musical sophistication is required to play the music with appropriate articulation, dynamics and ornamentation. The two CDs include tastefully nuanced recordings reflecting the historically grounded and meticulous editing of the pieces. Fingerings, dynamics, tempo indications, ornaments explicated in small incipits above the staff, and general instructions assist the performer in developing authentic baroque keyboard performance practice.

The unique value of the collection is its focus on the historic context and social milieu in which the music was written. The cover art and historic illustrations greatly enhance the volume.

There is a world of good information in the volume, written in an easily understood outline style making it valuable for younger as well as busier students. It could have been organized better in the overall layout to reduce duplication of information. Nonetheless, the information needed to play in a stylistically appropriate manner is present. Reviewed by Ruth Jane Holmes, NCTM, Lubbock, Texas
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Author:Holmes, Ruth Jane
Publication:American Music Teacher
Date:Feb 1, 2007
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