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Design Review: Volume 5, Issue 2 (May-June 1953)

Gramophone Notes

page 47

Gramophone Notes

The latest news from England shows further progress on the part of the E.M.I. group towards building up their L.P. catalogue. A high proportion of the newest releases are re-issues of existing recordings, but among those not previously obtainable are Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, by the Philharmonia Orchestra under Karajen (Columbia 33CX 1035), Brahms' Third, by the Halle Orchestra under Barbirolli (H.M.V. BLP 1015), Mendelssohn's violin concerto, played by Gioconda de Vito with the London Symphony under Sargent (BLP 1008), and a coupling of Smetana's ‘Moldau’ and Schumann's overture to Byron's ‘Manfred’—Vienna Philharmonic under Furtwangler (BLP 1009). A major release from H.M.V. is of ‘Boris Godounov’ complete on four discs (ALP 1044–7). In this the Bulgarian bass, Boris Christoff, achieves the feat of singing all three bass roles—those of Boris, Perrien and Varlaam, an achievement which I believe (owing to the layout of the opera) is feasible in a stage performance, and so is permissible in a recording. The recording was made in Paris under the experienced direction of Issay Dobrouen, who also conducted Christoff's earlier London recordings of the main arias. Beethoven and Toscanini addicts will rejoice over the release of the maestro's long awaited version of the Ninth Symphony (ALP 1039–40, three sides, with Symphony No. 1, freshly recorded, like the ninth, with the N.B.C. Orchestra, occupying the fourth side).

Those who read and enjoyed ‘The Record Guide’, by Edward Sackville West and Desmond Shawe-Taylor, will need little more than a word to send them rushing to buy its supplement, ‘The Record Year’ (also published by Collins, price 22/6). In the new volume the authors deal with all recordings issued from roughly mid-1951 to mid-1952, as well as recapitulating their remarks about all previously issued LP recordings—thus the LP user will find ‘The Record Year’ a complete guide. You are aware, of course, that the writers confine themselves to records available to ordinary or special order in England, that they select what they consider to be the best available version of a given piece, and that their book is in no sense an encyclopedia. Readers familiar with the writings of this brilliant pair in the ‘Gramophone’, ‘New Statesman’ and the London ‘Observer’ know what to expect—those who have not previously sampled their style are to be envied the joy that will be theirs when they begin to read either ‘The Record Year’ or its predecessor. These authors can be both profound and amusing. They know their way round the gramophone world as you know your own house. There are many delicious moments—read their remarks about the efforts of trumpeter in a certain Brandenburg concertol—and one or two surprisingly naive ones—it is difficult to suppress a smile as the authors discover (at this late date) that the Boston Promenade Orchestra is known in its native surroundings by the less exalted title of ‘Boston Pops’, but they manage a sly dig even here. Long may their turntables revolve.

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