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Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Art of the Piano

by David Dubal, into its third Edition. What can I say? I have a much mangled 2nd edition of this work, and it has been a trusty friend over the years. I've just had a chance to spend the afternoon with this update, and I can't say there's been a massive reworking. It's more like a version 2.1, a ten year refinement, adding a couple of the star pianists that have emerged, keeping it current. Speaking of stars, Lang Lang doesn't get much of a report card, Mr Dubal is rather downbeat on the guy, and especially ripping into the "uninformed" audiences that fill Lang Lang's shows.

Still the work is absolutely comprehensive - the first half covers the pianists, all those worthy of a mention going back to finger-running Mozart of the 1760's, through the lush Romantic era of the Thalbergs and the Tausigs, and through the Golden Age of Rack, down to the Modern boring, era of today. These biographical entries are alphabetically ordered, and this is a reference work.

Second half is the Composers section, and is structured the same way as the front half. The piano works are given individually treatment, so for example, under Bach, you get short descriptions of each of the 6 English Suites, and one improvement in this edition is the Well-Tempered gets a through breakdown, each Prelude and Fugue scoring at least a paragraph.

The writing is easy and spritely, not a treatise, but a basket of endless treats.