Carolyn PhelanEssentially an illustrated libretto for Handel's "Messiah", this begins with an erudite and readable history of the text, which was culled from the King James Version of the Bible. Though the jacket-flap copy calls the book "perfect for family sing-alongs at home or at the concert hall," the lack of musical notation or phrase repetition will limit its usefulness for that purpose, even among exemplary families. Moser's paintings include many rather abstract scenes incorporating Christian symbolism (explained in appended notes) as well as several nontraditional portraits of Christ, including a powerful view of his lashed back. Overall, however, the words and illustrations only underscore that the glory of Handel's "Messiah" is the music itself, the one element lacking from this volume. A handsome piece of bookmaking with a small potential audience, this should be considered for purchase by large libraries or those in religious institutions.
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