Gramophone may be a magazine of recorded music but I hope you’ll excuse and enjoy our celebration of concert halls in this issue. Aside from the fact that many, or most, collectors of classical music recordings will also be regular concert-goers, the auditorium is where orchestras develop a rapport with their music director, with each other and with audiences. It’s also where an increasing proportion of today’s new releases, captured during live performances, originate. And as buildings, they can impress and inspire aesthetically and make a bold public statement about the role of music in society today – whether taking pride of place in a prestigious city-centre location or as the public beacon of an urban renewal project. Not all halls built in the past century were considered great successes but many of those from the past decade have been rightly acclaimed, capturing the imagination. In the best examples, architects, acousticians and musicians have thought hard about what a concert hall should look like, sound like, and how it should relate to the community around it. We celebrate 10 of the most inspiring and dramatic examples.
Most of us can recall, at some point in our lives, unexpectedly encountering a particular composer’s music and finding it resonating with us profoundly. For Rob Cowan, as a 14-year-old, it was Bartók: he was gripped, challenged, enthralled by the Hungarian master’s dark and innovative music and it has continued to prove a lifelong journey, the milestones of which he shares with us in this month’s cover story. Meanwhile, in The Gramophone Collection, David Patrick Stearns explores the recordings of Bartók’s sole opera, Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, completed a century ago, and recommends his favourites.
Finally, it is a joy to welcome you to Gramophone for the first time in my new role as editor, after a decade in various posts with the magazine. To hold such a position – proud as I am of both the title’s great heritage and of its committed, expert writers today – is a great privilege. My thanks to my predecessor James Inverne; and as the months progress, I hope many of you will contact me with feedback and ideas.