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Norman Chalmers The List‘s Folk editor with books that have struck a chord this year.
A labour of love by singer Alison McMorland has produced a necessary book for anyone who cares about Scottish tnusic. Willie Scott-Border Shepherd (School Of Scottish Studies. £6.45) handsomely filled with photographs of Border fartn life through this century from Willie's own collection. reveals the riches of about 6() of his songs. transcribed from recordings. like Keilder l iunt. or the Dowie Dens ()' Yarrow. The book is also rich in anecdote and story. for Willie was born in Langholm. near a certain poet. in 1897. and leads an active life. Last year 1 met him at Newcastlcton Festival. where he was annoyed at getting down the street from one competition to find that the ballad competition had started early. they had awarded the prize. and he wouldn‘t be able to sing.
Ceol Na Fidhle ('l‘ztigh Na 'l‘ettd (Harpstring l louse). Limepark.
B roadford. Skye. £4.95) is book three ofChristine Martin‘s collection of Highland tunes for the fiddle. or any other instrument for that matter. tin whistle. flute. concertina. accordion etc. The tasteful collection mixes about 81) marches. airs. strathspeys. reels and jigs with an admirable ear for current style and distinctive melody.
‘The Battlefield Band‘. naffly subtitled Forward With Scotland’s Past‘ (Kinmor Music. Shillinghill. Temple. Midiothian. £7.95) is the group’s collection of tunes and songs. and runs to about 91) of the former and 4(lofthe latter. it includes a number ofsongs written by Brian MacNeil. and tunes by band members among the mainly Scottish traditional. There is some fine music between the covers. and only a few ﬂaws.
A [I the abovefolk music books can be found at Iona Records. Briggair.
Glasgow; and ( 'anongate Folk Shop.
Blat'kfriars Street. Edinburgh.
Carol Main on a handtul of good and usetul classical music books that came outthis year.
in the Classical Music field it's sometimes difficult to find a book that you can just sit down with and read right through. But when a composer led such a varied life as Prokofiev‘s. a book about him starts with an advantage. David (iutman‘s new biography Prokofiev (Alderman Press £12.95) traces his life from his indulgent upbringing on the Russian Steppes to the St Petersburg conservatory. and his disinterest in the political upheaval of Russia in the early years ofthis century. much of the information coming from Prokofiev's own journals. interestingly too. the author is quick to address the question of Prokofiev‘s reputation. widely popular as a 2(1th-century composer. but not regarded as one of music's giants.
From the ‘dipping in' category. the New Penguin Guide to Compact Discs and Cassettes (Penguin £12.95) is 21 welcome sight for music lovers. With clearly laid out material by Edward Greenfield. Robert Layton and [van March. it covers a remarkable range of music on compact disc in almost 1400 pages. the composer list being particularly useful as LPs wend their not so merry way to obsolescence. And another invaluable reference book this year is the new Groves Concise Dictionary at Music. edited by Stanley Sadie (Macmillan £19.95). For everyone from total novices and Classical Music listings editors. to students and academics. its 2000 contributors give a complex guide to everything from the (‘ha-(‘ha-(‘ha to Pythagorean intonation. And it doesn't really matter that the pre-launch advertising described it as ‘indispensahle’ — it‘s not that kind ofdictionary.
‘NORWEGIAN ARCHITECTURE 1975-1985’
Organised by the Norwegian Museum of Architecture
and sponsored by The Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Department of Architecture, Edinburgh University 20 Chambers Street, Edinburgh
The Exhibition is open from 22nd November to 16!}: December I 988 Weekdays 9. I 5 am—8 .45 pm; Weekends 10.15am—2.45pm
SHADES or '
Our Man at the Match, Stuart Bathgate, kicks sport books oil the pitch.
Hugh Mcllvanncy didn‘t publish anything this year. so most sports books were iii the category ‘isn't tennis sttper‘.’ aren't ('eltic the best teant in l‘tlstot‘y'.’ isn‘t tratnpolining really fascinating." The best book i read. right at the beginning ofthe year. was an anthology of a magazine which folded over a decade ago.
Foul: Best of Football‘s Alternative Paper. ed. Mike '1‘icber(Simon and I Schuster Sportspages £5.95). proved | itispossibletowriteinanintelligent l
and cliche-free fashion about football.
Later in the year. Adrianne Blue‘s Faster, Higher. Further ( Virago £7.95) was a useful account of women's struggle for Olympic recognition. marred by a lack of understanding that perhaps there is no point in fighting for sporting ‘equality' if all that means is having as tnttch right as men to wreck your body by over-training.
In general. the best sporting prose is that which captures the immediacy of the event. In other words. it is usually found in newspapers and magazines rather than itt books. where the temptation to exaggerate the importance ofone‘s subject is usually too great for most authors.
Sarah Hemming, List editor cast an eye over some at the theatre books that have come out this year.
This was the year of the hefty biography. when luminaries of the page assessed luminaries of the stage and other luminaries of the page assessed their assessment. Anthony Holden searched for the real man behind the mask in Olivier (Weidenfeid ck Nicholson. £16). and debate raged as to whether anyone has ever penetrated the great Sir Larry’s acting armour. while Richard Ellman‘s definitive Wilde (Hamish Hamilton. £16.95) moved into paperback (Penguin. £6.99).
Meanwhile Part One of Michael Holroyd‘s long-awaited biography of (3133. Bernard Shaw. One: The Search lorLove ((‘hatto and Windus. £16) unleashed a torrent of vast. knowledgeable pieces about ‘Shaw the Man‘ etc. in the press. but was generally applauded as a (iood Thing. Michael l-lolroyd. having been confronted with the proof that there is nothing like documentation of an irascible old sage to encourage other self-styled sages into prolixity. is now presumably tnopping his brow and foraging among his index cards for the further Parts.
For the really serious theatre person there was Stanislavski. Jean Benedetti‘s weighty. but very readable volume about the revolutionary director — which for my money scores points simply by including a photo of the great man as Nanki Pu (method acting'.’)~ while for those in search of a little more of the common touch. there was Melvyn Bragg‘s biog of Burton. Rich. (‘urate‘s-eggish. over-detailed perhaps. Rich nonetheless revealed Burton to be a man of both great intellect and great tenderness. tremendously well-read and a writer manque (Hodder and Stoughton. £15). Michael Billington‘s much praised biography ofone of our
greatest actresses emerged. Peggy
Ashcroft (John Murray. £15.95). a happy combination of a fine subject and an appreciative but immensely informed writer. as did Kathleen 'I‘ynan‘s wonderfully readable. funny and moving biography of her husband Kenneth. next to Shaw one of the most influential and important theatre critics the profession has ever seen. Kenneth Tynan (Methuen. £5.95).
Methuen. apart from continuing the laudable battle to get as many plays into print as possible. also brought out Peter Brook‘s The Shining Point (Methuen. £14.95). a fascinating insight into the seminal director‘s open-minded search for theatre of integrity. written with the same unpretentious enthusiasm that characterises his work. and Joyce McMillan's The Traverse Theatre Story (Methuen £5.95). an indispensible history of that theatre's development. making her the second Guardian critic to bring out a fine. informed book this year ( Michael Billington being the other).
Finally Anthony Sher continued the growing tendency for actors to escape their pigeon holes and prove themselves equally adept in other fields. Having already proved himselfwith his Year ofrhe King. this year he moved into ficion with the largely autobiographical novel. Middlepost. ((‘hatto and Windus. £1 1 .95) to largely appreciative reaction with a few reservations.
£1200 or OOKS
TO BE WON!
The List 25 Nov -- 8 Dec 1988 67