November 22, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” on the iPad | Touch and Go

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Earlier this year Touchpress and the Juilliard School partnered to create the app Julliard Open Studios, which allows subscribers access to an expanding “library of interactive episodes” offering” insight into the artistic process” and the opportunity to “witness leading professionals working with the next generation of outstanding performers.” Their latest app, on Franz Schubert’s Death and the Maiden, comes with the subscription, but can be purchased on its own. Pam Schembri reviews it below. Please note that the app, regularly priced $13.99, is $2.99 for a limited time.

IMG_0728When considering a musical masterpiece, discussion centers on the composition, composer, and historical significance of the work. As usual, Touchpress does an extraordinary job covering all of these elements in its latest production, Juilliard String Quartet–An Exploration of Schubert’s Death and the Maiden (iOS, $13.99; Gr 10 Up). The text was written by Lisa B. Robinson, but the production goes deeper, exploring the relationship between the members of the Julliard String Quartet as they share insights from their performance of the piece.

Users will be privy to the intimacies evoked as the members of the quartet (Joseph Lin, Ronald Copes, Roger Tapping, Joel Krosnick) provide commentary highlighting their “ongoing discussions with regard to theme.” The depth of their understanding is what makes this app so strong. Sometimes they share what listeners should be attuned to (perhaps the cello and first violin carrying the theme), though often they focus on the emotional pull of the motives (“the terror!” one might exclaim, or, “the seducer!”).

The honesty and intimacy of these conversations will allow untrained listeners to develop an eye and an ear for the genius of Schubert. Professionals may delight in hearing the performers share process, inner fears, and compliments. The musicians reference many relevant works throughout their commentary, and the section, “About the Piece,” covers Schubert’s life, the song (performed separately by Avery Amereau and Brian Zeger) the Quartet in D minor, and each of the performers. It is an extensive analysis, with video remarks sprinkled throughout. Listeners can expect to sit with this app for many enjoyable days in order to appreciate its full content. As typical with this developer’s productions, the piece can be accessed with or without the synchronized score, beat map, group performance video, individual performer video, and subtitles. A treasure for professionals, students of music, and musical dabblers. Available in English, simplified Chinese, and traditional Chinese.—Pamela Schembri, Newburgh Enlarged City Schools, Newburgh, NY

For additional reviews of apps by Touchpress, see “A Virtuoso Performance: ‘Vivaldi’s Four Seasons‘”; “Touch Press Adds Liszt to Their List“; and “Dust Off Your Headphones: It’s ‘Beethoven’s 9th for the iPad.

For more app reviews, visit our dedicated app webpage.

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Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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  1. For more app reviews, visit our dedicated app webpage”
    I don’t agree. Read