Founded in 1923 by Sir Compton Mackenzie and Christopher Stone as ‘an organ of candid opinion for the numerous possessors of gramophones’


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Exploring the living legacy of recording history

This column often discusses the way technology has revolutionised both how music is recorded and how we listen to and buy it. The past decade has been one of profound change, such that it’s too early to understand fully its impact. But, then, perhaps it was ever thus? This month I was privileged to spend an afternoon at the EMI archive in Hayes, Middlesex. The original site of 150 acres, of which today’s archive occupies but a small corner, once welcomed 20,000 workers daily, employed in the many facets of the company’s business, from building wooden gramophone cabinets to pressing records. The archive stores a vast amount of irreplaceable recording media from classical to pop – masters, artwork, vinyls, 78s – in secure and climate-controlled conditions. Among them, we’re proud to say, is Gramophone’s old library of LPs and 78s, now named the Pollard Collection after the family so intrinsic to our own history as owners and editors across several generations.

Nestling inside all this is the EMI Group Archive Trust, an extensive collection of items that tell the tale of The Gramophone Company (EMI’s forerunner) from its foundation in 1897. Objects as diverse as the first recording made by British royalty (George V’s Empire message), gramophone cabinets charting changing trends in furniture design, the gramophone taken on Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic, Alan Blumlein’s stereo innovations and even several versions by Francis Barraud of his iconic painting of Nipper and the gramophone, ‘His Master’s Voice’. While it’s not open to the public, the collection is available for research purposes and for loan to museums and exhibitions, and the Trust is keen for the wider world to know about this significant resource: you can find out more at

Perhaps what the collection best embodies is the crucial contribution, the genius and the commitment, of all those on the other side of the microphone and far beyond it – the entrepreneurs and engineers, the acousticians and the accountants. Without them, we wouldn’t have the musical legacies that we celebrate month after month – something artists can themselves be the first to recognise. When I interviewed guitarist John Williams for this issue, his praise for his longstanding producer Paul Myers, who died last year, couldn’t have been more fulsome – a partnership which runs throughout the wonderful 59-disc set compiled by Sony Classical to celebrate the 75th birthday of this impressive musician. Even more monumental in ambition is the Yehudi Menuhin box released this month by Warner Classics to mark what would have been the great violinist’s centenary, and one which draws extensively on recordings, information and artefacts from the EMI archive at Hayes.

Talk of lifelong legacies brings us sadly on to Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who died on March 5 as we were preparing this issue for the printers. A pioneer of period-performance practice, something which also naturally informed his work with moderninstrument orchestras, he was a hugely influential and inspiring figure for both musicians and audiences. We will pay tribute next month.


‘The more complex an artist is, the harder he is to assess,’ says TULLY POTTER, the author of our cover story.

‘It’s hard to believe that a full 10 years have gone by since I irst talked to pianist Yevgeny Sudbin

‘Every time I write about Yehudi Menuhin, I ind it a challenge, but it involves much pleasure in revisiting my memories and measuring them against his recorded performances. I always ind that the more I know about him, the greater he seems.’

about his recording project,’ says GEOFFREY NORRIS, who spoke to Sudbin again for this month’s feature. ‘How astute BIS was to sign him up! Their partnership has yielded a decade of distinguished, delectable discs.’

‘My irst Otello was a wonderful Chelsea Opera Group concert conducted by the underrated Mario Bernardi,’

reminisces RICHARD LAWRENCE, author of this issue’s Collection. ‘Exploring the performances on disc has been a moving experience: memories of McCracken and Gobbi, and admiration for the range of so many other great interpretations.’

THE REVIEWERS Andrew Achenbach • Nalen Anthoni • Tim Ashley • Mike Ashman • Edward Breen • Philip Clark Alexandra Coghlan • Rob Cowan (consultant reviewer) • Jeremy Dibble • Peter Dickinson • Jed Distler Adrian Edwards • Richard Fairman • David Fallows • David Fanning • Iain Fenlon • Neil Fisher • Fabrice Fitch Jonathan Freeman-Attwood • Charlotte Gardner • Caroline Gill • David Gutman • Christian Hoskins • Lindsay Kemp Philip Kennicott • Richard Lawrence • Andrew Mellor • Kate Molleson • Ivan Moody • Bryce Morrison • Hannah Nepil Jeremy Nicholas • Christopher Nickol • Geo frey Norris • Richard Osborne • Stephen Plaistow • Mark Pullinger Peter Quantrill • Guy Rickards • Malcolm Riley • Marc Rochester • Patrick Rucker • Julie Anne Sadie Edward Seckerson • Hugo Shirley • Pwyll ap Siôn • Harriet Smith • David Patrick Stearns • David Threasher David Vickers • John Warrack • Richard Whitehouse • Arnold Whittall • Richard Wigmore • William Yeoman

Gramophone, which has been serving the classical music world since 1923, is irst and foremost a monthly review magazine, delivered today in both print and digital formats. It boasts an eminent and knowledgeable panel of experts, which reviews the full range of classical music recordings. Its reviews are completely independent. In addition to reviews, its interviews and features help readers to explore in greater depth the recordings that the magazine covers, as well as o fer insight into the work of composers and performers. It is the magazine for the classical record collector, as well as for the enthusiast starting a voyage of discovery.