The latest of many introductory books on Western classical music, Plotkin's is a fine addition to the genre, though some may prefer Robert Sherman and Philip Seldon's more traditionally organized Complete Idiot's Guide to Classical Music or Michael Walsh's hilarious and opinionated Who's Afraid of Classical Music? While most such books are at least partially chronological, Plotkin's revolves almost entirely around the orchestra's instruments and the listening experience. He presents material as coursework, and his strictures about really listening (as opposed to mere "hearing") are well taken and certainly apply to all kinds of music. A valuable feature are the interviews with classical musicians interspersed throughout. One weakness is that opera is not significantly treated, perhaps because Plotkin covered that ground in an earlier book, Opera 101: A Guide to Learning and Loving Opera. The discography is organized by chapter rather than composer (which makes it a bit awkward to use as a stand-alone source), but it is superior to the one in the Idiot's Guide. Recommended for libraries desiring an up-to-date and informative general introduction to classical music. Bruce R. Schueneman, Texas A&M Univ. Lib., KingsvilleCopyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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