Changes to Gramophone

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Changes to Gramophone

Dear readers,

Regular readers of Gramphone will hopefully have noticed some quite significant changes to the magazine as we stepped into 2014. A number of the changes - more and longer reviews, greater coverage of reissues in a new special section devoted to them, the addition of a new feature exploring a catalogue benchmark, the expansion of other pieces including Contemporary Composers - took place in the January issue. The February issue, out now, brings those changes to completion (as much as any magazine rethink should ever feel 'complete', that is). I discussed the background to the changes a little in my editorial last month, which will explain a little more why I have taken the steps I have. 

The response from correspondence with readers has been very positive I'm delighted to say, but I also wanted to open up a thread in this forum in which to invite comments here. Please do let me know what you think, what has worked well and where you'd still like to see more change. If there's space, we may publish some of the responses in the letters page of the next issue.

Best wishes

Martin

 

 

 

Editor and Publisher, Gramophone

RE: Changes to Gramophone

Martin,

One of the things I noticed in the past was that not all new releases were reviewed. This surprised me given the relative dearth of new classical releases every month and the number of reviewers you have on staff.

The releases I had in mind were the complete Shostakovich Quartets performed by the Pacifica Quartet on the Cedille label. This is not an insignificant release. We saw them perform the last quartets at the Wigmore Hall to a full hall including your Tully Potter. The concert was very well reviewed, but I haven't seen hide nor hair of a review of the last two sets in Gramophone.

However, I welcome the changes and look forward to a very interesting 2014!

Dick

RE: Changes to Gramophone

Martin,

One more thing - can you PLEASE put the index to reviews in the front of the magazine where it used to be!

Thanks,

Dick

RE: Changes to Gramophone

Martin, firstly congratulations on the changes which are all positive. More detailed reviews are welcome.  Fewer large pictures of artists please - they take up more space than necessary and so leave less space for content.  I would welcome a return of the "Sounds in Retrospect" column which used to appear some years ago (I think that is what it was called) and was always interesting.  Also, it would be good to have a larger audio section.  Otherwise keep up the good work,

RE: Changes to Gramophone

Martin, the changes are all for the best in my opinion. It is great to have more reviews and particularly longer more in-depth reviews of releases of particular significance. Please keep an eye on them so as to avoid the non-reviews we have discussed on the forum where no review of the actual performance or recording in question takes place, or they are only briefly alluded to.

I also appreciate the space given to re-issues as being a younger reader it's a great way of discovering some worthwhile older recordings, and by older I mean the 60's, 70's and 80's as opposed to way back.

I think it's also vital to discuss and review a fair share of contemporary music as it's important for the reader to be informed what type of listening experience they could expect and how the artists succeed or fail in bringing it to the listener. As the established repertoire is recorded over and over by almost every orchestra and musicians on the planet, there has to be a law of diminishing returns/sales at stake, so fresh repertoire must be uncovered.

The old Gramophone was really good and I hope it gets even better.

Kind regards,

Graham

RE: Changes to Gramophone

Hi Martin. I welcome all the updates and the longer/detailed reviews which some include comparison recordings. Love the larger cd review thumbnails. 

James Jolly used to regularly write a download section. This would be a welcome return as downloading ain't going away. 

I have always enjoyed Andrew's hifi section more of would be great especially regarding less expensive equipment. 

Keep up the good work. 

Thanks

 

Pause for thought.

RE: Changes to Gramophone

Hi Hewett_dick,

You'll be pleased to know that we reviewed the three Pacifica/Shostakovich recordings when they were first released. Vol 1 was reviewed in December 2011, Vol 2 in August 2012, and Vol 3 in August 2013.

 

James McCarthy, Online Content Editor for Gramophone, Songlines and Jazzwise

RE: Changes to Gramophone

James - Thank you. I will look at them. I also look forward to your review of Volume 4.

RE: Changes to Gramophone

Hewett_dick is right about his request for reviewing the Pacifica's Shostakovich cycle, as long as Cedille is ditributed in U.K. Thus, the relevant CDs are available and accessible for review.

I wonder whether labels who are not distributed in U.K. can be reviewed, in one or the other way, provided that some new releases might be quite interesting to the readers beyond the homeland, since the esteemed magazine is practically accessible and in demand almost worldwide.

I guess some of the Piano fans would love to know that there is a very fine disc, both on the performance and recording levels, of Schubert Sonatas (D.784 and 958) with the (quite unknown outside Francophone countries) Philippe Guilhon-Herbert, on the very marginal and obscure label of Artalina. In the same vein, a unique new edition of one of the monumental works of baroque music, i.e. Les Sonates de Rosaire by Biber, in a fascinating release of 4CDs (plus an informative DVD) with the Sonates performed, in a very exciting way by Florence Malgoire and the group Les Dominos, with and without the relevant texts (2 and 2 CDs respectively). It has been released on the very marginal label of Psalmus, at the price of a single high-priced CD.

Nowadays, where one can have access to practical anything worldwide and purchasing CDs can be done mostly, if not exclusively, through the net, I trust it is not such a bad idea to "expand" the usual territory of reviewing only the easily accessible new releases (and re-editions).

Anyhow, if the magazine does not deem it necessary, I won't be surprised, since most, if not all, of the magazines rely on the products, available in the country of the origin of the publication. However, a good noticeable difference might be more than welcome...worldwide (and perhaps even in U.K.).

Parla

RE: Changes to Gramophone

James McCarthy wrote:

Hi Hewett_dick,

You'll be pleased to know that we reviewed the three Pacifica/Shostakovich recordings when they were first released. Vol 1 was reviewed in December 2011, Vol 2 in August 2012, and Vol 3 in August 2013.

 

James

To what extent would you consider what IM wrote in August 2013 to constitute a review of the release?

Regards

Paul

RE: Changes to Gramophone

Paul

Just read the August 2013 review......

You are quite right to question it. I counted a total of TWO evaluative sentences altogether - both of which are pretty bland and generic ("first class ensemble", "the recording is vivid and well balanced"). The rest of it is a descriptive summary of the music being played: the kind of thing you get in the attached notes to most recordings. It does make you wonder whether the reviewer actually listened to it, or had the inclination to produce anything more substantial.

Not a bad job, if you can get it. Here's my three hundred words. Now, where's my cheque?

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