8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 November 1998
I have had this book for six years now, and still refer to it on a regular basis when learning new French Songs. As a performer it is extremely useful to have this insight into the detailed thoughts of one of the great song singers of this century. Bernac spent many years working with English singers so he was well equiped to address them in this book, and many of the comments deal with issues peculiar to anglophones, although I have several French colleagues who also look to the book for guidance. Winifred Radford's translations are accurate and usually capture the atmosphere of the poetry, although this is hard when dealing with poets such as Eluard whose implications are welded to the French language. These translations are printed in parallel with the original texts on which Bernac offers suggested breaths and helpful guides to unexpected pronunciations and the sometimes contentious issues of elision. I would recommend this book to anyone who has a serious interest in French Song, as a performer, coach or listener, although most of them will probably know of this text. It must be the next best thing to a masterclass with the great man.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2008
In the Foreword Bernac modestly says that the book "does not claim to be anything more than a guide for English-speaking singers who wish to study a repertoire which may not be very familiar to them". It is in fact far more than that, and French-speaking singers will find his suggestions for interpretation, tempo, expression and dynamics to be invaluable. He has an unerring instinct for when a song merits a few general comments for its interpretation and when it calls for a detailed phrase-by-phrase analysis. His choice of repertoire for inclusion in this relatively compact book is surprisingly comprehensive. Particularly useful are his suggestions for when to use the liaison (final consonants being sounded before a word that begins with a vowel, which happens more frequently in poetic language than in normal speech) and when not to. Liaisons are not always intuitive or obvious, even to those who were born and brought up in French.
on 8 November 2010
While this book is recommended to any singing student wanting to take chanson further, and highly revered by most accompanists, the actual book quality is poor.
This is a standard for advanced singing students who expect to be dipping in and out of it on a regular basis, It should therefore be hardback only, or at least have a much sturdier cover. this edition is RUBBISH - very flimsy cover , very thin pages and the type is tiny, I've seen better Mills & Boon.
If you have to get it as part of your reading list for uni, then this is reasonably-priced, but you'll thank the day you get yourself a better / hardback (possibly 2nd-hand) copy...but I had a shock when I found the decent copy online - £43+ quid from the States. Ah well. Of course, this is NO reflection on the content, but there's no point buying an important reference book if it shreds like a paper hanky in a handbag.
At least "Lieder Line By Line" is built to last. Will avoid any obvious comments about German engineering.