Messiah: The Wordbook for the Oratorio

George Frederick Handel, Author W. Perlman Books $100 (1p) ISBN 978-0-06-021038-0
Like a richly decorated but inedible pastry, this overblown volume falls flat under the sheer weight of its own pomposity. Neither cream-stock pages nor elegant typefaces nor Moser's occasionally lovely, often bleak and largely obscure watercolors can lift this volume off the launching pad. Highly pedigreed conductor Christopher Hogwood's sturdy, scholarly introduction may find a rapt audience among music lovers, but few others--and certainly no child--will wade through the ponderous prose. Not particularly useful for sing-alongs (it contains only the libretto), the book may find a niche as a coffee-table curio, but marketing it as a children's book seems myopic. Indeed, some may believe that this particular publication (the dust-jacket blurb mentions the word ``gift'' not once but twice) contradicts the true spirit of Christmas that Handel's sublime music so movingly voices. Bah, humbug! All ages. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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