Saturday 13 December 2014

Erudition continue their impressive series of eBooks, entitled Masterpieces of Music, with Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.1in D minor, Op. 15

Erudition’s first two eBooks in their series are entitled Masterpieces of Music featured Bach's Mass in B minor and Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 Eroica. (reviewed September 2014:

These eBook guides are produced in partnership with the record company Harmonia Mundi and combine the latest scholarship with multimedia content and interactive functionality in a way that will enhance the listener’s appreciation and understanding of some of the world greatest pieces of classical music.

The publications are available in a range of formats suitable for viewing via different devices and platforms i.e. a web-based version for laptops and tablets, Apple iBooks and Amazon Kindle. 

Their latest publication in this series features Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor, Op. 15. Again authored by the writer, editor and critic Matthew Rye, this new eBook will enable readers to uncover the inner workings of and troubled history behind Brahms’s great masterpiece.
File Size: 4191kb
Publisher: Erudition 27 Oct 2014
Language: English
The layout of these eBooks is, usefully, the same for each publication with a facsimile colour front cover followed by an Introduction to the series, Information about the author, and a Table of Contents that enables one to easily access a particular section of the book. This is followed by a User’s guide including an online helpline. The publishers have gone to great lengths to make this eBook intuitive but, as an additional guide, there is a section explaining the Features of the publication including audio playback, links to supplementary articles, enhanced timelines and walkthrough features as well as an interactive extracts from the score.

In his background information Matthew Rye places Brahms and his concerto in a historical context quoting Donald Tovey on an unexpected chord in the first movement ‘One of the grandest surprises in music since Beethoven.’ As with the previous eBooks in this series there are numerous illustrations.

There is a timeline of Brahms’ life, together with an interactive enhanced version as well as a separate section on Brahms and the Schumanns. The Story Behind Brahms’ first piano concerto covers the work’s tortuous compositional history culminating in a section The concerto finds its true form and Performance and reception. Further sections include Brahms and the piano and A piano concerto apart – what makes it different that also places Brahms’ concerto within a chronological list of other 19th century concertos from Beethoven’s third (1800) to Rachmaninov’s first (1891). There is a work timeline that goes into some depth placing the concerto in its historical context.

Walk Through takes us straight into a detailed analysis of Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.1in D minor with piano and fully orchestrated excerpts to accompany single stave or short score musical examples. Divided into each of the three movements the analysis includes diagrams of the musical structure.

There are numerous links throughout to the glossary of musical terms. Nowhere is Matthew Rye’s musical analysis dry, always holding the listener’s attention using headings such as An elemental beginning, Spinning the yarn and A subtle arrival to draw the reader into explanations of the various aspects of Brahms’ musical construction.

Resources include Supplementary Articles that contain two articles, Brahms’ melodies and a Thematic table both of which continue the use of musical examples together with musical extracts. Further listening gives selected recordings which, again, can be bought on line by clicking a link and there are details of Further reading and Web Resources.

There is the full Glossary of musical terms that can be accessed specifically throughout the book. There are so many little features that can be accessed that it is quite possible that I may have missed some in this review.

The fully orchestrated excerpts used throughout this book are from Harmonia Mundi’s recording featuring pianist Cédric Tiberghien with the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Jiří Bĕlohlávek

As the Masterpieces of Music series of eBooks progresses I continue to be very impressed. As I have stated in my previous review these books are suitable for the ordinary music lover as well as music students and, indeed, anyone who wishes to gain an extra depth of knowledge of these works of genius. Above all they are a joy to use and bring great fun to learning more about these wonderful works.

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