July 1935

other hand, I thought that Toscanini's interpretation of the Brahms Fourth Symphony was a revelation, and superficially i t is difficult to perceive any peculiar affinity between Toscanini and Brahms. We may feel fairly safe, therefore, in assuming that Toscanini is a genuinely great conductor when the material, as i t was in the case of the Braluns Symphony, is of the first magnitude, or when, as i t was in the case of the Rossini overture, i t demands the control of a virtuoso to render i t full justice.

For some years now r have had at the back of my mind a novel which I have never mustered up the courage to begin, and which I shall probably never muster up the courage to begin. But here is the theme of it. The first part would display the personal problems haunting the thoughts of every individual member of an orchestra while that orchestra was playing one of the great symphonies under a familiar conductor. The second part would display the solution of those problems in the minds of the same orchestra playing the same symphony under a new conductor of genius. The whole narrative would be constructed exactly as the symphony was constructed, and the emotions and thoughts of the various instrumentalists would appear and disappear as they played and ceased to play.

I t is the clarifying influence of a great coild uctor which to my mind is his most distinguishing characteristic, and i t is this clarifying influence which puts his orchestra in the right mood. No amount of technical accomplishment in the matter of perfect control will call forth a great performance of a major work unless the conductor is able to make every individual performer play with as much emotion and nervous tension as if he were playing his part in this particular work for the first time.

r am curious to know to whom the deplorable fiasco, one could almost call it, of the Covent Garden performance of Carmen on June 7th was due. The second act was relayed in the Regional programme of the B.B.C. As Carmen herself, Conchita Supervia must be absolved from all blame. The rest of the cast gave a performance on the level of a second-rate touring company. It would not be fair after hearing no more than a relay by wireless of one act to blame Sir Thomas Beecham's conducting, but the impression made on me was that I had never heard in the many performances of Carmen I have heard all over the world quite such an almost insolent contempt for an operatic performance. There were moments when I felt i t was a pity Sir Thomas Beecham was not himself playing the part of Carmen, and allowing Madame Conchita Supervia to take his baton, for he seemed to be making a Don Jose of his orchestra. The performance of the third act on June 10th, though equally bad as far as singers were concerned, was not quite so bad from the orchestra. It was bad enough, however. I should have blamed the wireless if on

June 8th there had not been such an admirable relay of the third act of Boheme when the conductor was Vincenzo Bellezza, but the producer Dr. Otto Earhardt and the chorus master Robert Ainsworth, the same as for Carmen. It is to be understood that this criticism of Sir Thomas Beecham's conducting is made with reservations, and i t will be interesting to hear from any reader who was actually present at a performance of Carmen whether my impression of his culpability is mere moonshine, and whether all the blame should be laid on bad singing and bad acting.

Our Great Violinists

Whatever else may be urged against the present in the world of music, no shortage of great violinists can be imputed to it. I f we leave out Kreisler, Mischa Elman, and others who had already become famous before the War, but who are still playing, what a marvellous trio we have in Heifetz, Szigeti and Yehudi Menuhin! The month of May brought us two outstanding violin recordings. The first was of Szigeti and the London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Sir Thom.as Beecham in Mozart's Concerto No.4 on three light-blue Columbia discs, and whatever insolence Sir Thomas Beecham may have shown to Bizet's Carmen, he shows here nothing but the most exquisite courtesy to Mozart. Szigeti is really a bewitching player, and W. R.A. 's phrase "silky texture" is the very one for his playing. Here now is a work which is repeatedly performed by the Continental wireless studio orchestras, and i t is by listening to such performances that we shall appreciate the perfection of a performance like this. The other violin recording was that of Heifetz and the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Barbirolli playing Vieuxtemps' Concerto in D minor on three red H.M.V. discs. This is essentially the music of a virtuoso without more than charm and a good deal of pleasant, easy sentiment, but when i t is played by Heifetz as i t is played in this recording i t ",rill bear as many repetitions as you like to give it. I should say that merely as a piece of violin recording these discs have never been surpassed and rarely equalled. I wonder who was the maker of the instrument Heifetz uses. The depth of tone is astounding, and the quality of his high notes must be heard to be believed. I commend this recording to Mr. Davey and Mr. Ginn ~or showing off their acoustical instruments. And i t would have to be an exceptional electrical reproduction that could equal them. There must be many readers who would like to know of a recording with which they could be certain of astonishing and delighting those friends who, disclaiming any knowledge of music, nevertheless thoroughly enjoy what they call a good gramophone. Let them acquire this Vieuxtemps Concerto played by Heifetz. The most inexperienced listener will not fail to realise that this is consummate playing, and though musical acrobatics may not be the highest form of music, i t