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Thanks, Jane. The problem is that IM is quite clearly not very familiar with the music, and is not equipped to compare the Pacifica with any of the other versions (which he hasn't heard). The odd thing is that DJF (who is absolutely equipped to review Shostakovitch quartets) didn't much like the previous volume of these generally very well received releases (notwithstanding the fact that he wrote the sleeve notes for one of the volumes!), so I'm guessing they didn't want to send him the next. It seems that dear old IM has to be given something to review each month, and somebody made a call which I guess I've helped him to regret ever since! I should say I often defend Gramophone against its critics here, but this was definitely not its finest hour.
I agree with the response to the changes to Gramophone (ie generally positive). There is no doubt that longer more detailed reviews will please regular readers of the magazine. The current trend to dumb-down and be apologetic for making any kind of demands on a classical music audience, supposedly to attract support, is regrettable. The oft-commented on attendance of increasing numbers of younger people to classical concerts is an expression of a desire for something more stimulating than A Rieu or K Jenkins (Karl or Katherine, take your pick). That Gramophone is finally starting to acknowledge this is a relief to be sure.
I agree with the comment that a regular review section on downloads would also be a welcome return. Also, whatever happened to the quarterly review?
So many possibilities Gramophone, so many.
I'd like to support others calling for the return of quarterly retrospects. These gave a useful opportunity for a second opinion on significant new issues, perhaps from a different perspective. I'd suggest RO would be the obvious successor to RL as author of the main one (though PC would be an interesting more 'edgy' choice). And, accepting there might be logistical difficulties, a return of 'Sounds in Retrospect' would be very welcome.
I've been away for a few days so apologies for the slow response.
I've seen the January and February issues of Gramophone now and am most encouraged by the immediate improvements, as well as the promise already announced. Longer reviews and more comparisons are both noticeable and the more restrained style is a big bonus, in my view. Excellent - so far!
Suggestions? Well. like some others I would like to see a few double reviews, or else something like those several quarterly discussions (Gramophone and the Voice, Quarterly retrospect, etc) that used to be a feature. One place where second reviews might be particularly valuable is in the case of unusual repertoire, old, new or out of the normal mainstream. Rightly, the Gramophone generally uses experts in these fields so as to have fully informed reviews. A good example is Philip Clark's enthusiastic review of music by Hagen in the January issue. One needs an informed review such as this, but there is the risk that the more general reader might respond something like "well, he would say that wouldn't he?" Cue, a second review from a more mainstream viewpoint? It could be interesting, and of course does not only apply to contemporary music.
A more trivial matter, but I think you are right too to return to publishing the magazine on a date related to its cover date! Both 2014 issues so far have appeared at the beginning of their 'official' months. Thank goodness for that. Just one caveat: if that's going to be the normal state of affairs, perhaps you have to consider whether your 'Unmissable Events' section needs to be pushed a little more into the future.
Keep up ther good work!
I think you may be out of luck re issue dates. It all relates to the need to squeeze 13 issues (remember Awards) into 12 months. At some times of year, issue dates make sense, but at others they seem a bit daft.
Well, I respect what Gramophone has done in terms of its existing readership but I am one of those who would like much more on modern and recent music. You can't please everyone, but I feel that the magazine serves collectors and, very often, people who mistake repeated listening to 'classics' for a knowledge of music as such.
Can I post something in this section that I posted under the Audio section as I think it is relevant here.
More and more people are accessing their music by downloading, particularly younger people.
There have been several comments in the forum and articles about the increasing availability of hi-res downloads and what this meansfor the classical music market. Now it seems, from Andrew Everard'srecent article, that a mainstream company is getting involved, so Iwonder if it's time for Gramophone to devote more space to this topicon a regular basis.
Perhaps a section of a page or two devoted to downloads - forthcomingdevelopments, new equipment, download sources and formats, andanything else that comes up. I know some things have been alreadydiscussed separately, but I think it would be more informative tobring these topics together in a focused section. Andrew Everardcould even put out an idiots guide to downloading for simple mindedpeople like me.
You could also include negatives, such as the recent move by DG,who after offering CD quality hi-res FLAC downloads from their ownwebsite, moved all downloads to iTunes and made them available onlyin compressed (MP4/AAC) format.
In addition, expand recording source information in reviews toinclude the primary download source and formats, with comparativecomments on the respective sound quality, in much the same way asreviewers did in the past with LP, CD and cassette tape.
The recent Pacifica Quartet Shostakovich cycle is a case in point. There was discussion above about availability of the CDs but no-one mentioned that they are all available for download in 24 bit format at a cheaper price than the equivalent CDs!
I think there is potential for such a section. It would helpGramophone and provide much needed information. It might even behelpful to the record companies...
What does everyone else think?
Dear Martin et al
I know this thread is about the publication, but would now be a good time to consider some improvements to the forum?
I don't want to get censored or banned from the forum for criticising it (something that appears to happen from time to time), but don't you think it could do with a bit of an overhaul? Functionality remains somewhat rudimentary and automated moderation has clearly caused a lot of trouble for some members.
In addition, it can't have escaped your notice that the forum is less popular now than it was, say, a year or so ago. Less members, slower turnover of posts and so on. A substantial number of members, as you are probably aware, migrated to rival sites because of certain problems on this one........
This forum should be absolutely humming with activity. Given the worldwide reputation and reach of the publication itself, it should be far, far busier than it is. What I am suggesting - again, please don't terminate my account - is that it seems as if Gramopone management may be a little lacking in ambition as far as this forum is concerned. Sites run by individual, unpaid amateurs attract more posts than this. Shouldn't Gramophone be leading the way here, instead of lagging behind?
Most impressed with the new versions. I haven't subscribed for years, just picked up the occasional issue, but will probably subscribe again now.
Having just read the January issue (I'm only two weeks behind this year so far!) thanks to Ivan Moody for a comprehensive overview of John Tavener's oeuvre, which hooks you in right at the start. Also Philip Clarke's absorbing piece on Jazz is a must read, as well as the piece on experimental organ works. Plenty of interest in the orchestral reviews - but top choice for me is 'Bach Inspirations' reviewed by Jeremy Nicholas, Hannes Minnar pf. To quote the reviewer 'early contender for Gramophone instrumental record of the year'. That one will be in the shopping basket soon then, what with current interest in Bach on piano.
(PS Fasolt you are quite right about disappointing level of traffic at times on the forum. When Tavener died recently I posted a thread inviting any reflections or comments and only received a couple of responses...)
Fraz Jo - disapntd. Bn ringin this grl al week. No ansr...looks lke she changed her mnd. O well...Ldwg...
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