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Culture Watch: What's new in music, DVDs and books

December 15, 2010 |  5:00 am

Zeffirelli Books: “Franco Zeffirelli: Complete Works” (Abrams). Only a gorgeous, massive, 10-pound book well over a foot long would do for the Italian master of gargantuan opera productions. It’s all here: the early, realistic films and the later, over-the-top ones, the theater productions and, especially, the operas and the stars, particularly Maria Callas. A hokey DVD finishes the job. The lavish price tag of $150 is still a lot less than the price for a good seat to the Zeffirelli “Turandot” at the Met.

— Mark Swed

“Philip Guston: Collected Writings, Lectures and Conversations” (UC Press). This hefty volume is 344 pages of smart art takes (Clark Coolidge, ed.) by the largely self-taught painter who, with pal Jackson Pollock, got expelled from L.A.’s Manual Arts High School in 1929.

— Christopher Knight

CDs: “Xuefei Yang” (EMI Classics). When the Chinese guitarist made her debut in Madrid in 1991, the then-89-year-old Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo was on hand and reportedly was dazzled. For Fei’s EMI debut, she returns the favor with a luminous account of Rodrigo’s famous “Concierto de Aranjuez,” sensitively backed by the Orquestra Simfònica de Barcelona under Japanese conductor Eiji Oue.

— Mark Swed

DVDs: “Margaret Leng Tan: She Herself Alone” (Mode). Christmas is toy time, and Tan happens to be the penetrating, passionate toy pianist of the avant-garde. Here she mixes in regular piano, prepared piano and other toys for an artful, entertaining, original, illuminating and downright wondrous tour of modern music (Cage, Crumb and others), exquisitely filmed.

— Mark Swed

Credit: Abrams Books.