Sunday 14 August 2016

The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame: The Greatest Classical Music of All Time - Darren Henley, Tim Lihoreau, Sam Jackson

The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame celebrates classical music's unique ability to stir the emotions of a listener - whether it's the haunting melodies of Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs or Purcell'sDido and Aeneas; the passionately charged opening bars of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5; dramatic operas such as Puccini's La boheme; the moving sounds of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2 and Mozart's Clarinet Concerto; beautiful ballet scores from Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky; or blockbuster film soundtracks composed by John Williams and Howard Shore.

This new edition of the Sunday Times bestseller celebrates the twentieth anniversary of the Classic FM Hall of Fame. With a fully updated chart of the nation's 300 favourite works, based on votes cast by millions of listeners over the past twenty years, a revised introduction and beautiful new illustrations, this definitive collection encompasses a rich variety of classical greats, contemporary masters, lesser-known treasures and outstanding British composers to provide a fascinating insight into our relationship with the music we love.

Darren Henley, Sam Jackson and Tim Lihoreau guide us through the world of classical music and the people responsible for creating and performing it. Combining fascinating histories and biographies, recommended recordings and the ranking of the 300 pieces themselves, this book is as relevant to a new listener discovering the joys of classical music as it is to long-time lovers of the genre. The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame is a beautifully illustrated testament to the enduring power of classical music to inspire, entertain, relax and invigorate us.

What did I think?

I admit it took me quite a while to read this cover to cover, but once I did I found that it will be a book I refer to time and time again.  It's almost like an encyclopedia of composers' best works - I just have to think of a composer and I can turn to their entry in the Hall of Fame to find out all about them.  To accompany the entries, there are some absolutely beautiful artistic depictions of some of the most well-known pieces of music.

Each piece of music has a little narrative describing it and its inspiration, along with where you might have heard it (such as Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights from Romeo and Juliet being the theme tune of The Apprentice and also the music that Sunderland, my football team, play when they run on to the pitch during home games).  The recommended recording to fully appreciate each piece is also stated along with the chart position.

There are so many interesting facts to learn in The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame - all of the best known classical composers have a dedicated page with their own mini biography and a 'Did You Know?' fact.  The most jaw-dropping moment for me was discovering that George Frideric Handel, of Messiah and Water Music fame, was a British citizen.

The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of Fame is a stunning companion to the Easter weekend top 300 chart and a book to refer to again and again.  It has reawakened my love for classical music as I remembered long forgotten pieces and found some new favourites.  Thanks to The Ultimate Classic FM Hall of FameI now tune in to Classic FM for my daily commute.

I received this book from the publisher, Elliott & Thompson, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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