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CLASSICAL  March 2001

CLASSICAL March 2001

Subject:

Re: Mahler 6th Survey

From:

Tony Duggan <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 7 Mar 2001 18:01:19 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (96 lines)

Albie Cabrera wrote:

>Well, as I've already mentioned, my primary reference for classical
>recordings has been the Penguin Guide, and I've generally been satisfied
>with their recommendations...  However (in addition to my dislike for Solti
>recordings), a certain type of recommendation of theirs has lost
>credibility with me.
>
>I refer to their advocacy of recordings by and of British artists.
>(Please, to all the English people on the list, do not take offense.)

The people to take offence are the editors of the Penguin Guide at what
amounts to a professional slander.  Are you saying that they should be
barred from praising British artists? In that case shall we have a bar for
French critics praising French artists, German critics for German artists,
American critics for American artists? Or is it only British critics who
are singled out.  Why?

>Both the Penguin guide, and Gramophone, seem to really push for recordings
>by Barbirolli, Beecham, and in more modern times, Gardiner, as well as
>other British musicians.

And why not? So do many other publications? Barbirolli and Beecham were
great conductors.  They also push recordings by Karajan and Solti, Szell
and Klemperer, Bernstein and Abaddo.  How do you explain that? Perhaps they
are just biased in favour of what they consider to be excellent.

>They also seem to push hard for works of British composers...  giving, I'm
>almost certain, a slightly skewed view of their musical interest or their
>overall importance in music history.

In fact it would be hard to overestimate the contribution of British
composers to 20th century music.  It far outweighs that of some countries
I could mention.

>As they are English publications, I'm certain it's because they must be
>pushing their own national musical heritage and bias.

Look at all their three stars and rosettes for Karajan, Solti, Szell,
Klemperer, Bernstein, Abaddo, Haitink, Tennstedt.....etc.  I often disagree
with their recomendations and their editorial style but you could just as
easily accuse them of pro-German bias if you wanted to be so obtuse.  Or
pro Hungaraian, or American.  They praise a British artist and you call
that bias.  They praise artists of other nationalities and you choose to
ignore that.

>All I know is, after at first blindly trusting the guide and purchasing
>several such recommended discs, I now view such recommendations with
>*extreme* skepticism.

View all critics with extreme scepticism and pay most attention to the ones
that you find you agree with most of the time.  That's all you can do.
What ever their nationality.

>I've yet to be completely satisfied with any of my purchases of recordings
>by Gardiner, Beecham, or Barbirolli, despite the glowing reviews.

Such is life.

>And performances of works by composers such as Walton and Elgar just don't
>hold my interest the way the guides had me expecting.

We can't all like the same thing.  But their their nationaliity is
completely irrelevant.

>So, unfortunately, I've come to almost ignore and avoid any recordings
>by the 3 above-named conductors.  I'll try to give the Barbirolli M6 a
>chance...  I've got a copy on hold for me at my local library as I write
>this...  but honestly, I'm already going into it with a somewhat biased
>ear...  I'll try my best to give it a good chance, however.

I wouldn't bother with that attitude.

>(That being said, I very much like most of the work of Colin Davis and
>Simon Rattle, Vernon Handley [I certainly enjoyed his Delius more than the
>Beecham that I ultimately ended up buying, on Penguin's recommendation.]
>and Richard Hickox...  and many of the works of Benjamin Britten,
>particularly opera and vocal, are among my most favorite of all...
>as I think my 4-version collection of Peter Grimes would attest!)

What's this?  Pro-British bias?  Dear dear.

>Honestly, I think I've come to find that 2 of the most important factors
>that weigh in on my liking a particular recording are, in fact, the
>virtuosity of the orchestra, and the quality of the recording...  basically
>the "dazzle-factor."

Oh dear, oh dear.  That really tells me all I needed to know.

If you _really_ want to be dazzled go out and look straight into the sun.
The problem with doing that is that you're likely to be blinded as well.
Think about it.

Tony Duggan,
England

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