Oxford's highly successful listener's guides-The Symphony, The Concerto, and Choral Masterworks-have been widely praised for their blend of captivating biography, crystal clear musical analysis, and delightful humor. Now James Keller follows these greatly admired volumes with Chamber Music. Approaching the tradition of chamber music with knowledge and passion, Keller here serves as the often-opinionated but always genial guide to 192 essential works by 56 composers, providing illuminating essays on what makes each piece distinctive and admirable. Keller spans the history of this intimate genre of music, from key works of the Baroque through the emotionally stirring "golden age" of the Classical and Romantic composers, to modern masterpieces rich in political, psychological, and sometimes comical overtones. For each piece, from Bach through to contemporary figures like George Crumb and Steve Reich, the author includes an astute musical analysis that casual music lovers can easily appreciate yet that more experienced listeners will find enriching.
Keller shares the colorful, often surprising stories behind the compositions while revealing the delights of an art form once described by Goethe as the musical equivalent of "thoughtful people conversing."