THE GRAMOPHONE- Incorporating VOX, THE RADIO CRITIC and BROADCAST REVIEW >::;' ,
London Office: lOA., Soho Square,
Edited by COMPTON MACKENZIE
TELEPHONE: Regent 7976,7977.
TELEQ,RAM,B : Pa.rmaxto, Rath, London.
My correspondence through March has raised -a number of interesting topics, and I take this diversity to be a sign that THE GRAMOPHONE is fulfilling better what readers expect of i t than perhaps i t was during last year. The most searching test of an Editor is -his correspondence. When he fails to get interesting letters he may feel that he has failed to interest his readers.
First of all for the question of "foreign" records. I put inverted commas round foreign, because many of these records are actually made at Hayes by H.M.V. artists and then announced in the Swiss H.M.V: lists before they appear, if they ever do appear, in the British lists. Most on the Columbia and Decca foreign recordings seem to be made in France, but I make that statement under correction. Then, of course, there are the genuine foreign records like Polydors. Now this particular correspondent's contention is "that in justice to the intelligent gramophile these recordings should be more widely known: (i) by reviewing them in THE GRAMOPHONE, and (ii) by urging H.M.V. not to hide i ts l ight under a bushel." I cannot agree altogether with my correspondent. The present system allows specialist dealers like Messrs. E.M.G. Gramophones, Imhof, Keith Prowse, and Rimington van Wyck to cater deliberately for a comparatively small section of the public, and, as I sincerely hope, gain through their enterprise and imagination some material advantage; i t also affords gramophiles an opportunity to reward those who deserve well of them. With regard to reviewing in THE GRAMOPHONE, I cannot but think we clearly have as much reviewing every month as our readers can digest, but of course if H.M.V. or Columbia or any other of the recording companies choose to send us these "foreign" records for review we shall review them. As I write these words I have been looking through the H.M.V. l ist for April, and I find that in the ordinary monthly supplement we are to have Elgar's First Symphony on six discs, Balakireff's Oriental Fantasy [slamey, and the finale of the second act of FledeTmaus, while in the April optional l ist we are to have twelve records of Gregorian chants by the Solesmes Abbey Choir (to which incidentally I am looking forward more than to anything for a long t ime), the Pathetic Sym-
phony conducted by Koussevitsky on five discs, the Waldstein Sonata played by Lamond, Stravinsky'~ Le SacTe du PTintemps on four discs conducted by Stokowski, Strauss's Le BouTgeois Gentilhomme suite on four discs, not to mention a lot of attractive singing and instrumental records. It seems to me that this optional l ist of H.M.V. really does what my correspondent wants without overloading the dealer, and this, let i t be remembered, is only the H.M.V. offering for April. I do not know yet what treats Columbia, Parlophone, and Decca have in store for us. I agree that i t is exasperating to read of some piece of music we particularly want being available abroad, but we can always get i t , 'which when I first started THE GRAMOPHONE often used to be an almost impossible task. I remember, when I wanted a couple of Toscanini discs hom the H.M.V. Italian list, i t was about six months before I could obtain them between the unwillingness of the H.M.V. people in those days to circulate records of their own made abroad and the obstructionist methods of the British Customs.
It. is sad that the public cannot absorb more good mUSIC every month, but shortage of currency is largely responsible for this, and once again I repeat that until the nation rouses itself to arrest the havoc which is being played with our national life by a system of banking admirable enough in the 18th century, but by now utterly out of date and quite incaI?abl~ of serving the contemporary world, the publIc WIll not be able to buy all the gramophone records i t would like to buy. There is room for "rationalisation" in the gramophone industry, but no amount of rationalisation, such as the removal of this insensate duplication of major works; will be of much avail until purchasing power is restored to the public. Over-Production
I have had some interesting letters from people who have started lending l ibraries of records in a small way. There is one at Cambridge which'sounds most efficient. I should not dre:;tm of trying to crab that kind of undertaking on a small scale but I should deplore with all my heart the state of affairs ~roug?t about in l i terature by the huge circulating hbrarIes. In the book world over-production has reached an intolerable point, and when critics who