They dominated the record catalogues of the 1950s and 1960s. Orchestras trembled at their every irate, intemperate word and record company executives scuttled to do their bidding. When the CD arrived, their recordings were again released in swathes. And then, like the dinosaurs, they suddenly disappeared.
In 1906 John Ireland (1879-1962) picked up a book by the Welsh writer Arthur Machen on Penrith station – it was a defining moment. Machen (1863-1947) came to the fore with his supernatural fantasy and horror stories that began to appear at the time of the decadent movement in the 1890s. His work has been periodically republished, admired by other writers, and there is now a Friends of Arthur Machen society.
Like all the best musician-pianists, Richard Goode appears to run and run. Every time we hear him, he impresses us as better than we remembered, surprising us, surpassing our expectations and communicating perceptions that stay in the mind. ‘He was in fine form, wasn’t he?’ said a friend after Goode’s Royal Festival Hall recital a few weeks back; yes, but so were Schumann and Chopin – better still.
In his opening number, the eponymous Mikado in Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta sings of the music-hall singer who attends a series of ‘masses and fugues and ’ops / By Bach, interwoven / With Spohr and Beethoven, / At classical Monday Pops.’ Yes, Ludwig (or Louis as he called himself in his autobiography) Spohr was a familiar enough name to be cited alongside Beethoven and Bach. True, Gilbert needed a composer with a single-syllable name to fit his verse scansion, but neither Gluck, Grieg, Liszt, Raff nor even Johann Strauss conveyed the desired effect quite as effectively as Spohr.
For nearly 90 years, Gramophone has been the leading authority on classical music recording, but it has also, in the margins of its reviews, interviews and features, reported on some of the most important events in world history. And no historical event was more tumultuous for the readers and writers of Gramophone than the Second World War. To trace the evolving drama of the conflict through the volumes dating from the 1930s and '40s is fascinating.
Few singers had such an intense relationship with a piece of music, both in the concert-hall and on record, as the German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau had with Schubert’s song-cycle Winterreise . Commercially, he recorded the work seven times: in 1955 with Gerald Moore for HMV, then in 1963 they returned to the studio for same label. In 1966 he and Jörg Demus recorded it for DG. In 1972, he was re-joined by Gerald Moore , again for DG.
May 18 marks the 101st anniversary of Gustav Mahler’s death (1911); he was born in 1860. Few composers attract more heated debate over interpretation than Mahler, so here, at the risk of opening various cans of worms, are a trio of suggested Mahler symphony cycles comprised of recordings we've reviewed enthusiastically down the years (and we've linked them to reviews from some of Gramophone 's most respected Mahlerians, writers like Deryck Cooke, Alec Robertson, Richard Osborne, Edward Seckerson and David Gutman). Modern Mahler cycle
Oxford University's Bodleian Libraries have recently acquired the archive of English composer and pianist Edmund Rubbra - including personal letters, programmes, signed presentation copies of...