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

Let us celebrate the many ways that we listen

It’s proving to be a passionate debate. Evidence and emotion play equal roles, and each side is convinced they are right. No, not the UK Referendum on the EU...but vinyl records. When I ponder it, it does seem quite extraordinary that, in 2016, we should be illustrating the front cover of Gramophone with an LP. For many of you, vinyl will of course have played a substantial role in your collecting lives. It’s quite possibly the format which best evokes those heady early days of discovery as you began exploring classical music. But it’s now so long since LPs were superseded by CDs that there will be many who might never actually have owned a turntable – and I count myself among that number.

But while I can’t therefore share the emotional connection to vinyl, I can share, and understand, the depth of relationship with recorded music that underpins the debate. In his fascinating feature, Andrew Mellor talks to a breadth of interviewees who reflect the many reasons why vinyl has once again grabbed the popular imagination: its distinctive sound qualities, the ritual, the artwork, the permanence, the business potential, the counter-cultural appeal… Whatever happens, whether it proves to be a trend or merely trendy, the renewed appeal of vinyl touches on so many issues about how we relate to recorded music, and is thus deserving of in-depth discussion.

to an end, not the end itself, and that extraordinary musical experiences can still be had when the sound, or method of playback, is less than optimal. After all, that’s something our reviews of historic recordings, some from the early 20th century (and however skillful the re-mastering) prove month after month.

I sometimes hear quite sniffy opinions expressed about people listening to music via smartphones whilst out and about. And, despite the very high quality streams now available, such listening conditions are of course far from ideal – but it might be the only listening time a person has. They might be a seasoned collector (they might even be you). Or they might be someone who, while commuting on a train, or out jogging, is choosing, or chancing upon, classical music for the very first time. It may be the beginning of their heady journey of discovery – the one so indelibly linked for many of you with memories of vinyl. And who’d want to do anything other than encourage that?

Likewise, I worry that discussion around new concert hall plans can occasionally give out unhelpful messages. While there is something extraordinary about a state-of-the art auditorium, we’ve all experienced brilliant concerts in less than perfect venues. To imply otherwise doesn’t send the most encouraging signal to new people to give a concert a try.

And it’s important we do discuss it. For as a magazine and readership which takes listening very seriously, we all know the impact the quality of sound, whether via LP, CD or digital file, can have. But we must never forget that it’s still the means

So while celebrating the sonic summit of high-end listening, vinyl or virtual, let us always remember that the climb there, even the foothills, can be full of lifechanging experiences. Let us celebrate and advocate all methods of listening. After all, it’s the music that matters.


‘As a child of the compact disc era, I ƒind almost everything about vinyl both troublesome and fascinating,’

‘Frederica von Stade’s career almost exactly encompasses my years as an opera-goer,’ says DAVID PATRICK

admits ANDREW MELLOR, who writes this month’s cover story on the resurgence of this older listening form. ‘Vinyl has proved itself more a phenomenon than a format – and it clearly isn’t going away.’

STEARNS , author of this month’s Icons. ‘Revisiting her early recordings with more seasoned ears revealed one of the most beautifully integrated voices out there. None have such a natural and distinctive personality.’

HARRIET SMITH has enjoyed listening to some ‘terriƒic’ CDs from Champs Hill in the past, so was keen to visit the venue where the recordings take place. ‘It was intriguing to meet the philanthropists behind it in preparation for my Gramophone feature,’ she says. ‘Their enthusiasm and determination to help young artists was truly inspiring.’

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 • Geoƒfrey 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.