Limelight review of ‘The Piano’

27th July 2022 | Musings | 0 comments

Limelight, Australia’s leading arts magazine, has reviewed my book The Piano – a History in 100 Pieces. The book came out a year ago, so I was surprised to learn about a new review.

You can only read the whole review online if you’re a subscriber, but here’s an excerpt:

‘From Bach, it’s on to Scarlatti, Haydn and Mozart before the likes of Beethoven, and  given Tomes’s personal prominence as a chamber player, many such works are discussed in lively and engaging detail – compositions both familiar and less so. The author, while dealing with more mainstream composers, refreshingly includes works by lesser-known women composers from the early 19th century to our time including the likes of Fanny Mendelssohn, Amy Beach, Sofia Gubaidulina and Judith Weir.

‘Given her fascination with the art of improvisation she also takes on jazz and examples of concert hall works which have been influenced by it such as Stravinsky’s Piano Rag Music and Gershwin’s popular Rhapsody in Blue.

‘Unique insights abound, not only for the professional pianist but with plenty to guide and delight the general reader in the penultimate section in the book, “The Jazz Influence”. This reaches from ragtime and the syncopated music of Scott Joplin and Billy Mayerl through the likes of Art Tatum, Monk and Bill Evans. Even more of a delight is the discussion “Women Jazz Pianists in a Man’s World” where she discusses the greatness of Lil Hardin Armstrong, Mary Lou Wiliams and Marian McPartland. Then it’s onto Minimalism and, more currently, works by the likes of Weir and Adès.

‘All in all, The Piano is a highly personal and thoroughly engaging guide to the musical history of the instrument. It’s a work which provides many insights and delights for all who are interested, be they practising musicians, listeners or enquiring students. It is a book which can be read as a personal history, or one to be dipped into at will.’

Reviewed for Limelight by Brett Allen-Bayes, 25 July 2022

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