Music Reviews

By Gilbert, David | Notes, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Music Reviews


Gilbert, David, Notes


Part of a review editor's job is to he invisible, with a role limited to ensuring honesty and integrity from the reviewer, while providing readers with clear prose that communicates the reviewer's point of view. Facts, as they say, are facts, but the promotion of one point of view over another, one book over another, one author over another, favoritism and cronyism have no place in the publication of a scholarly journal. Notes, published by the Music Library Association, would be doubly indicted if such sins were committed, since an ideal of libraries and librarians is to ensure all points of view are treated equally, leaving evaluation of the sources and material collected to scholars, researchers, and specialists. In academic libraries we depend on teachers and librarians to train students how to do this. The editor's personality does insert itself in the choice of material to be reviewed, and to a certain extent in choosing an appropriate reviewer, but the most ethical editor will attempt to keep a distance from the material and let the reviewer speak without regard to personal relationships, scholarly interest, or politics. In a small discipline like music this can be difficult, particularly on specialized or esoteric topics, but it is vital and necessary if the scholarly conversation in which we play our part is to be sustained and not degraded from within, as some attempt to degrade it from without.

So, why is your "Music Reviews" editor now speaking when he has just said he should be quiet? I--to drop the third-person-singular ruse of objectivity--wanted to communicate information about how this column works and, of greater interest to readers, provide an opportunity to expose them to material on my shelf that has not found its evaluator. Without going into the dull, bureaucratic details, it should be stated that in spite of my privilege of choosing what scores I want to review and the reviewers for them, the reviews that actually appear in print are subject to a fair number of random circumstances. The random factors include: the publisher supplying a copy for review, the identification of an appropriate reviewer, the reviewer agreeing to review, and finally, the submission by the reviewer of the review in a publishable form in something close to the agreed upon schedule. The review editor depends on the reviewer's honesty, integrity, and promptness just as the reader depends on that of the editor.

Stepping away from the role of review editor for this particular issue--for which, candidly, the honesty and integrity of some of the chosen reviewers did not rise to expectations--your "Music Reviews" editor will take the opportunity to comment on some items on his shelf that for various reasons did not find their way into the hands of a reviewer, but on which he does feel competent and able to comment. Notes has an important role as one of the few remaining music periodicals to continue to review a significant number of books and scores in a timely fashion. That role needs to be sustained.

WORKS BY SAMUEL BARBER

Samuel Barber. Complete Choral Music. Revised Edition. New York: G. Schirmer; Milwaukee, WI: Dist. by Hal Leonard Corp., 2011. [About this edition, p. 4; historical notes, p. 5-8; score, p. 10-295. ISBN 978-1-4234-7582-8; pub. nos. ED 4467 (Schirmer), HL50334620 (Hal Leonard). $24.95.]

Samuel Barber. Horizon. Full score. First Edition. Edited by David Flachs. New York: G. Schirmer; Milwaukee, WI: Dist. by Hal Leonard Corp., 2010. [Portrait, 1 p.; preface & instrumentation, 1 p.; score, p. 2-10. ISBN 978-1-4234-9980-0; pub. nos. ED 4463 (Schirmer), HL50490328 (Hal Leonard). $12.99.]

Samuel Barber. Commemorative March: Composed for Susie's (my sister's) Wedding in my New York Apartment. For violin, violoncello, and piano. Edited by David Flachs. New York: G. Schirmer; Milwaukee, WI: Dist. by Hal Leonard Corp., 2010. [Notes on the edition. 1 p.; score, p. …

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