Thursday, December 30, 2010

Book Review: Handel's Messiah Comfort for God's People by Calvin Stapert

Handel's MessiahHandel's Messiah by Calvin Stapert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really wanted to love this book.  And I did love parts.  And it is one I would recommend, particularly to someone very familiar with The Messiah.  It just felt like something was missing.

I know it was about The Messiah, but if you're going to include a section on Handel's musical influence, I really felt the lack of information regarding the influence of his faith.  The other sections on the History of Oratorio and The Messiah itself were quite good, helpful, and interesting to this beginner.

The section of the Purpose of The Messiah was brilliant.  Clear, crisp writing explaining why The Messiah was written the way it was, to who, and what it was combating (the deism of the day).  I particularly appreciated the explanation of "entertainment" as opposed to "amusement" or "diversion."

I think the commentary on The Messiah, itself, is probably very good.  There are gems of information to be mined here, not just about the music, but also about devotional thought and how that can be heard in the music.  I think it would behoove me to listen to each piece individually, read the section on it, and listen again to it.  My lack of music theory or knowledge of musical terms was a hindrance to my understanding and enjoyment of this section.

My final criticism is that there is no real concluding chapter to the book, although what Stapert could have said at this point is unclear to me.

Overall, a worthwhile read, I'm glad I read it, but I can't rate it higher than a 3 for my reading.

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