.July 1935



is always valuable. to get into people's heads the sound of a well-played violin. A good deal of damage is done by third-rate violin playing over the radio, and though there would be the usual howl from the average listener, I do wish that the B.B.C. would devote the ten minutes before the six o'clock news every afternoon to first-class gramophone records of our great violinists. We may feel fairly certain 'that more people are listening at five to six than at any t ime except during the actual reading of the news. And day in, day out the kliob is turned on to "release" the love-calls of some crooner, which grow more and more like the tom-cat's song. Insult has now been added to injury by the habit these egregious dance-band leaders have recently developed of apologising regretfully for having to cut short one of their tunes because i t is news time, instead of mews t ime! And they now say good-bye to their admirers every afternoon like sentimental schoolboys making goo-goo eyes at some spindle-shan ked miss on the other side of a suburban garden gate. It was bad enough when a film star had to believe herself the world's sweetheart, but when dance-band leaders have to be the world's sweethearts . . . printable language fails.


During the last few weeks there has been a passionate correspondence going on in World-Radio about the greatest singers, and, except for one or ' two old gentlemen able to claim that in youth they have heard certain singers who are but names to the rest of us, i t has been clear that the whole of the knowledge of these correspondents was based on their knowledge of gramophone records and not on personal performances. A few of the letters have been sensible, but most of them have been idiotic. I use the word idiotic advisedly. An idiot in its original sense meant a private person, and the current idiocy which floods correspondence in the Press, particularly in the wireless Press, is due to a completely unjustifiable prominence being accorded to 'private opinions. When a man like our dear and lamented Herman Klein uttered an opinion about singers that opinion was based on an immense experience, but all this t i t t le-tattle about personal likes and dislikes is of no more value to criticism than the cackling of a hen over her own egg. Listen to this: "Sir, I was greatly pleased to read Mr. --'s letter in your issue of - - . The voice of Gigli is one that haunts the memory and defies all criticism." We do not get idiotic letters like that from readers of THE GRAMOPHONE. We never did get them, but if we had received them and if we had printed them no doubt we should have had plenty. One must blame the editors for allowing these foolish creatures to see their opinions in print, though to call them opinions is to flatter them unduly. And listen again: "This means of airing such a diversity of opinion is definitely to the mutual benefit of most of your correspondents,

most of whom are obviously, like myself, music lovers. Similarity of voices is my particular interest at present. Have any of your readers noticed the distinct similarity in the tones of GaHi-Curci and Gracie Fields . . . or of Luisa Tetrazzini and Conchita Supervia ? " This is not an invention of mine. That letter was printed I

Herman Klein was always bewailing the artificial boosting up of voices by the microphone, and there is no doubt that the manner of vocal recording during the few years after electrical recording came in has, in combination with the unmusical use of wireless sets, done enormous harm to the public appreciation of good singing. I t is idle to pretend that the vocal records issued each month to-day bear any kind of comparison with those issued ten, fifteen, and twenty years ago. The position is symbolised by the comparative ease with which the singer gets the red seal from H.M.V. nowadays. In effect the celebrity list no longer exists. I do not believe, for instance, that a singer like Richard Crooks would have got beyond the black seal in old days. The talkies must accept a large share of the blame for the deterioration of singing, for let us be under no delusions: singing has deteriorated, and is deteriorating every year.

I had better take advantage of this topic to correct a mIstake I made in our Jubilee symposium when I wrote of " the H.M.V, record of Caruso and Ancona singing Solenne in quest' ora from La Forza del Destino." Mr. Harold C. Brainerd, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, writes to point out that Solenne in quest' ora was sung with Scotti in 1906, and that the Caruso-Ancona duet was Del tempio allimitar from Pescatori di Perle recorded in 1907. Actually both records were valued possessions, and I dovetailed them in a moment of aberration.

The Brahms Piano Concerto in D minor

I recovered lately the album of this lovely work, which had been out of reach for a couple of years , and I have had so much pleasure from having i t by me again that I should like to say a few words about it, particularly as i t can be linked emotionally with the three piano quartets of which I have been writing recently. Apparently this concerto was originally conceived as a symphony in the summer of 1854. Brahms was writing to Schumann about i t in the following year, and at the end of 1855 he wrote to Clara Schumann that he had been dreaming he had turned his symphony into a piano concerto, and was playing i t with a terribly difficult and grand scherzo for the finale. "I was quite carried away," he added. Dietrich in 1862 recalled that he had seen parts of the Dminor Concerto projected for use in a sonata for two pianos. I f that were so i t would account very neatly for the dream, for one might fairly call a piano concerto a cross between a symphony and a sonata. I t will be remembered that when Brahms was sketching out the C minor Piano Quartet he was trying to keep