________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 18. . . .January 20, 2017


Amazing Water: An Introduction to Classical Music.

Music selection and explanatory notes by Ana Gerhard. Illustrated by Margarita Sada.
Montreal, QC: The Secret Mountain (www.thesecretmountain.com), 2016.
68 pp., hardcover (includes CD, approx. 42 min.), $22.95.
ISBN 978-2-924217-69-6.

Grades 2 and up / Ages 7 and up.

Review by Valerie Nielsen.

***˝ /4



In her preface to Amazing Water: An Introduction to Classical Music, Ana Gerhard writes:

As with any symbol that has been vital to humankind, water has been a rich source of inspiration for artistic creativity. Music...seems to have special water like qualities. Perhaps this is why so many composers have employed the fluidity, dynamic potential and rhythmic diversity of water to imitate or suggest a bubbling spring, meandering stream or crashing thunderstorm.

internal art     Amazing Water: An Introduction to Classical Music is the most recent storybook and music CD published by The Secret Mountain. Focussing on introducing different sorts of music to young listeners, the company has brought out several titles in this form, including Songs from the Baobobob (African Lullabies), Dreams are Made For Children (Classical Jazz Lullabies), and Sleep Softly (classical lullabies).

internal art     This lavishly illustrated, little hard covered gem is truly a goldmine of information on the pieces and the composers featured in the 20 selections Gerhard has chosen for her book. The accompanying CD has 20 excerpts from various recordings numbered on the disc in accordance with the pages of the book. Excerpts from well-known favourites, such Handel's "Water Music", Hoffmann's "Barcarolle" , Rimsky Korsakov's "Sheherazade", Schubert's "The Trout", and Debussey"s " La Mer", are interspersed with excerpts from lesser known composers, like Fernando Sor's "Drop of Water Etude", Mario Lavista's "Clepsidra" (Waterclock), and a percussion trio by Toru Takemitsu called "Rain Tree".

     Each piece, beginning with Smetana's “The Moldau” and ending with part of the fourth movement from Beethoven's “Pastoral Symphony #6", which Gerhard Calls "The Storm", is explained in a listening guide appended to the 20 double spread pages which constitute Amazing Water: An Introduction to Classical Music. These short pieces of text help the reader to listen closely to the music and to identify different themes and instruments as they occur in each excerpt. The author has wisely included a “Glossary of Musical Terms” at the end of the book explaining the meaning of words used in the listening guides. This feature is definitely a help to those of us whose knowledge of music is not up to a professional level! A timeline and biographies on each composer are included in the book, making it a fine resource for teachers and students.

     Magarita Sada's brightly coloured illustrations have a childlike simplicity which perfectly depicts the connection each piece has with the "amazing water" of this collection's title. The artist, who has studied graphic design and holds a master's degree in Visual Arts from the University of Mexico, has developed her work between painting and illustration, both of which, she claims, allow her liberate her imagination. She enjoys the guidelines that a text gives her, as well as the freedom to create paintings while illustrating a book such as Amazing Water: An Introduction to Classical Music.

     It is no surprise to learn that Ana Gerhard studied as a concert pianist at the Mexican National Conservatory, taught piano for several years and hosted radio programs promoting classical music. Her writing displays a depth and breadth of musical understanding along with an ability to create detailed, yet succinct, commentaries which will be appreciated by readers of all ages.

     It is a little difficult to give an age and grade range for Amazing Water: An Introduction to Classical Music. The musical excerpts are short enough for primary age students to listen to and enjoy, particularly if they have been introduced in the manner Gerhard provides. As a resource for primary, middle and junior high school music teachers, it could be immensely useful. For parents or grandparents with a desire (and a good supply of patience) to help their young listeners develop a love of classical music, Amazing Water: An Introduction to Classical Music should definitely prove a worthwhile purchase.

Highly Recommended.

Valerie Nielsen, a retired teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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