Dec 17

Understanding the Land of the Bible—A Biblical-Theological Guide ????

This is a short, very easy to read text that describes the land of the Bible in order help one understand biblical history and teaching from a perspective of understanding the lay of the land. Robertson briefly describes the geography of Israel, followed by various topics such as the climate, vegetation, and various cities/populations over the epochs of biblical times. This book is an enjoyable read, as Robertson is able to include in a meaningful fashion how the geology and land of the Old and New Testaments affected the understanding of various historical events that occurred. It has some deficits. It is a little too brief, and one has a hard time grasping the actual terrain without actually being there. While reading the text, I spent about half of the time on Google Maps, trying to get a better grasp of the geography of the area. It could have used more illustrations other than just maps. A brief chapter on the geology of Israel would have been nice in order to understand such geological deformities as the Jordan Valley/Dead Sea. In the vegetation section, it describes various mideast plants, but leaves us wondering what those plants are, such as the Terebinth. A photo, if not a brief description, would have been quite helpful. Many locations are described, but one is left wondering where those locations fit on a modern map of Israel. Where is Shechem, Samaria, etc.? Why is Capernaum no longer in existence? What happened to it? Where does the city of David’s Jerusalem fit into modern Jersusalem? I could go on. The strongest chapter was the last, which describes five ways of viewing the land of Israel. Does the land of Israel belong to the Jews? Will they reoccupy the land some day? Were the crusaders correct in trying to re-conquer the Holy Lands for Christianity? Is it even proper to name the land of the Old and New Testament the “Holy Land”? All of these questions are answered in a most proper fashion. Through all the chapters, Robertson is able to add biblical insights that show how the land of Israel indeed was certainly created specifically as the stage for the appearance of  our Lord. This is a worthy book to read, yet I hope that perhaps a second edition will remedy the deficits mentioned above.

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Dec 17

Shostakovich Piano Trios #1 & 2, Seven Romances on verses by Alexander Blok ?????

I’ve been listening to the works of the Beaux Arts Trio, who perform a number of classical as well as modern composers, but have selected a few that are my favorites. Of the modern composers, Shostakovich has written the best piano trios. They are tuneful, easy to listen to, and conducive to many repeat listening sessions. There aren’t many piano trios that are wearisome to listen to, whether they are from Beethoven, Mozart, Chausson, Faure, Brahms, or whoever. Yet, the Shostakovich trios stand out as the best of the best. These are NOT Schubert quartets. They are far more soulful, heart-wrenching, agonizing. The trios are accompanied by seven romances that consist of the piano trio plus a solo soprano, also well done, but doesn’t totally fit with the two trios on this disc. For the 20th century classic music aficionado, these are piano trios of that genre at their best, and a must-have.

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Dec 17

Schubert Piano Trios, performed by the Beaux Arts Trio ?????

This is a most compelling set of piano trios and flawlessly performed by the Beaux Arts Trio. Schubert’s best knack is that of coming up with highly memorable tunes, developing them in complex fashions, and then delivering them in a most enjoyable fashion. These discs are very easy listening, and yet would not be identified as “elevator music” as creative genius exudes from each measure that is performed. Of all my music (of which there is much), this is one of my favorite sets for a relaxed encounter with the sublime.

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Dec 17

Haydn Piano Trios, performed by the Beaux Arts Trio ?????

I’ll be reviewing the Haydn piano trios here, and the following two reviews will go over the Schubert and Shostakovich trios by the same group. All of the performances are superbly done,with a delicacy and interpretive style that conveys a richness to the pieces that are hard to not notice. The Haydn piano trios are a “must hear” set. This is a lengthy set as one would expect with Haydn, but gives an opportunity to see the progression of composition style of Haydn. The first trios of a young Haydn are attractive but slightly pedantic, with a sense of predictability, but the later trios truly reflect the genius of Haydn. It is possible that the interaction with Mozart, especially with the novel compositional style of the Mozart Haydn quartets, triggered the most delightful and mature Haydn to compose as he did. With the superlative performances of the Beaux Arts trio, this is a set that should be in every classical collection.

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