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CLASSICAL  January 2005

CLASSICAL January 2005

Subject:

Re: Gramophone

From:

James Tobin <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 26 Jan 2005 14:02:09 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (57 lines)

Karl Miller:

>I was, in my original post, talking LOW cost...no editing...no designer,
>no layout person, etc.

That means online, it seems to me.

>All of which makes me wonder what the rest of you want from a record
>review journal...and why you might prefer a magazine over an online
>source.

I want current awareness and thoroughness of treatment when I can get
it.  I am close to being a charter subscriber to Fanfare and have been
getting Gramophone for about a year and a half.  International Record
Review, recently mentioned by Karl I am sorry to say I don't even know.
For a couple of relatively brief periods, going back a few decades, I
subscribed to American Record Guide.

I read most of the online reviews Steve Schwartz posts here, and some
of Don Satz', when the composer/piece is of interest to me.  I find the
reviews at classical.net an invaluable archive, though I do not make a
point of reading, or even skimming, all the new reviews.  In both cases
I generally print out the reviews I want to read; I spend enough hours
at a terminal to want to be able to sit back and read with closer attention
than I seem to be able to give to a screen.  With print journals, you
can mark your place and spend days or weeks going through the latest
issue (and sometimes a lot longer, to tell the truth.)

Fanfare has the merit of having a LOT of reviews and the reviewers
often try to make detailed comparisons with alternative recordings.
Even there, some reviewers may say that they prefer x to y--or worse,
that x is better than y, without enough reasons, and you need to know
their preferences overall to relate that to your own tastes.  I like
their end of year "wish lists" because some pieces come up repeatedly
and represent strong reactions on the part of multiple reviewer--who
reveal their general interests in their other selections.

ARG I always found too selective (and more weighted in the direction of
opera) than I cared for.  It has been a while since I have seen it, so
I will not comment further.

Gramophone I read to keep current on British music, especially, but they
publish some wonderfully comprehensive historical comparisons of recordings
of particular works, like Janacek's Sinfonietta or Chopin's Nocturnes,
in recent examples.  They tend to fill their pages with a preponderance
of feature articles over reviews.  I will confess that I enjoy much of
this and appreciate all the news and illustrations, and not only out of
laziness.  They just sent out a long questionnaire for readers of the
North American Edition and, in response to one question, I told them
that their new cover layout puts them in a class with supermarket
magazines, however.  And Richard Pennycuick correctly noted that they
do not answer the questions they pose on the cover of the latest issue.
If I had been a long time subscriber I suspect I would be distressed at
the direction they seem to be taken, but I am relieved that at least
they are asking for reactions.

Jim Tobin

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