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Book Review: Franz Schubert, The Complete Songs, by Graham Johnson

Among the large bodies of work in the classical music repertoire, Franz Schuberts songs, or lieder, is one that stands out not only by its scale – some 729 songs, written before the composer’s death at age 31 – bit also by its quality. Sure, there are some songs that aren’t masterpieces, notably from his […]

Book Review: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel – Pandemic, Shakespeare and the Birth of a New Civilization

On a stage in Toronto, Arthur Leander is playing King Lear. At 51, it’s finally the right time for him to play this demanding role. However, it will be his last. In the first scene of this novel, he dies on stage from a heart attack. That night, it’s clear that a pandemic is spreading […]

Graham Johnson’s Monumental Work on Schubert’s Lieder to Be Released Soon

Update: I first posted this in June, and the publication date has slipped back several times. Right now, it shows a release date of September 15, or tomorrow, so maybe we’ll see this set next week. Graham Johnson, the pianist behind Hyperion Record’s monumental series of Schubert’s complete lieder, is known for having a lot […]

The perils of a book critic

“What do we look for when we want to read? What should we be looking for? I look for wit, authenticity, soul, a strong narrative, good prose; you might not be interested in any of those things. The point is that reading is too important, too time-consuming and too demanding to drift into. Choose literary friends whose taste you trust and who know you well and critics you respect. And watch what’s lasting, too — in the end, the canon chooses itself.”

Novelist Nick Hornby has been reviewing books for a literary magazine called The Believer for about ten years. He writes about books he’s read, without paying attention to new releases. The article has some interesting thoughts about what it’s like to review books, and how he chooses the books he reads.

via The perils of a book critic | The Sunday Times.

App Review: Shakespeare Pro

If you’re a Shakespeare buff like I am, you probably like having all of the Bard of Stratford’s works on your iPad or iPhone. It’s great to be able to dip into a play or poem when you have some down time, or when you’re waiting for an appointment. You can download free or paid […]

Discover your “Hidden” Kindle Books Page

If you’re a Kindle user, you know that you can manage your Kindle library on your Amazon account page. There’s a link that says Manage Your Kindle: This takes you to a page where you can see your content and your devices, and alter some settings related to your Kindle account page. From the Your […]

Review: The Complete Arkangel Shakespeare on CD

Buy from Amazon.com | Amazon UK | Amazon FR

“We might be better off with public readings of Shakespeare,” says Harold Bloom in Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human. “Ideally, of course, Shakespeare should be acted, but since he is now almost invariably poorly directed and inadequately played, it might be better to hear him well than see him badly.” Not being able to judge the quality of current Shakespearean performances as the erudite Bloom, I suffer more from a dearth of Shakespeare here in the French countryside.

While we cannot always find such public readings, we can listen to recorded, dramatized versions of the plays, as with this set of Shakespeare’s 38 plays. With a cast of hundreds, most actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, these works come alive through a skillful combination of reading, sound effects and music. As radio used to do when dramatizing works, the Arkangel set gives you the acting and the atmosphere. While one may be a bit irked by the “original” music, a sort of Coltrane-inspired Elizabethan music–why didn’t they use actual music of the period, including that composed for Shakespeare’s plays?–the overall production quality is about as good as it gets.

Save 50% on All Take Control Books in Back to School Sale

It’s time for Take Control Books’ 50% off back to school sale. Buy now to expand your ebook library at half off; it’s the perfect opportunity to polish your tech skills, and start working more efficiently. Grab my Take Control of iTunes 11: The FAQ, Take Control of Scrivener 2, or Take Control of LaunchBar […]

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