The Music Pack

Ron Van Der Meer, Author, Michael Berkeley, With Knopf Publishing Group $50 (0p) ISBN 978-0-679-43098-8
Nothing spurs sequels like success, and the unexpected hit two years ago of Knopf's The Art Pack, which sold nearly 150,000 copies, rendered another such book inevitable. This one, put together by the same English paper engineer and designer, working with composer and broadcaster Berkeley, is an attempt to do for music what its predecessor did for the visual arts. The real problem, of course, is that music is not visual, and though a great deal of ingenuity has gone into creating pop-up and movable instruments, scales, time signatures, piano interiors, orchestra layouts and the like, the effect is gimmicky rather than inevitable (there are even tiny drumsticks to beat on pop-up drums). The real plus in educating readers about serious music is, paradoxically, the least visual: a 75-minute, well-annotated CD that includes a surprisingly eclectic selection of ``Twenty Masterpieces'' with only one real chestnut-the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah-and such august choices as pieces by Josquin, Palestrina and Monteverdi, as well as unhackneyed moments from Bach, Mozart, Debussy, Wagner, Verdi, even Janacek. Plenty of novelty value, a fun gift, but don't expect the impact of Art Pack. 100,000 printing; BOMC alternate. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Genre: Nonfiction
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