London Office 10a Soho Square
TH·E G 'RAMOPHONE Incorporating VOX, THE RADIO CRITIC and BROADCAST REV I EW
COMPTON MACKENZIE and CHRISTOPHER STONE
Telophone Gerrard '2136, 2137 .
Tel4crams Parmaxto, Rath, London
The letter from a Spanish correspondent in our May number must have expressed the views of many other readers round the world. Ho,vever, perhaps the recording companies are preparing a pleasant surprise for lovers of Wagner. There must be a number of readers like myself who can recall the excitement with which we welcomed that first set of Wagner records issued by H.M.V. during the first OT" second year of the GRAMOPHONE'S existence, some of which have never been re-recorded electrically. I would instance in particular the marvellous anvil musir- from Rhinegold. Then there was the great eIYort by Columbia with the Bayreuth album made in the early days of electrical recording. The paucity of Wagner records during the last twenty-four months of this wonderful advance in the quality of recording is only too sadly evident on my shelves in Barra. Incredible though i t seems to me, I find that apart from one or two odd vocal records from Parlophone the only Wagner records produced have been the three orchestral medleys of Gotterdammerung, Tristan, and Parsifal made by Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra, though in the Gotterdammerung album Brunnhilde's Jast scene, with Agnes Davis singing magnificently, is included. Listening in the other night to the second act of Gotterdammerung on the splendid six-valve wireless set with which I have generously been presented by His Master's Voice, I realised t.hat I was sufTering from Wagner-starvation. I t is a most ungracious looking in the mouth of a gift horse to say that Wagner over the radio is not the same thing at all as Wagner on the gramophone, but J hope that in this instance the donors will approve of my apparent ingratitude. At any rate, I could feel perfectly confident that no other set worked with L.T. accumulators would be a stronger rival to the gramophone. The sense of Wagner-starvation became so acute that I have sent over to fetch from the mainland all the Wagner records within reach at the moment. After ali, one of the functions of music, even though we allow i t to be a minor function, is to serve as a tonic for the emotions. I am completely at one with myoId friend Norman Douglas in believing that modern man positively requires for his emotional health a strong dose of Wagner's music from time to time, and the louder the better.
I t is exhilarating-indeed, i t is life-giving stuff,
ahvays in my own case excepting the dreary moonbaying of Parsifal, which disagrees with me. Senor Nueda asks why in these days of societies there is no Wagner society: and the ans\\~er is really pretty difficult to discover. The only modern composer able to give us the kind of stimulation that Wagner gave is Sibelius, though I suppose many would add Strauss. And if i t comes to that, we have reason to complain of the neglect of Strauss. I recall those magnificent preelectric H.M.V. discs of Salome with Gata Ljungberg, and ask why we have so little electrically recorded Salome. Twenty-five years ago in H. CT. Pelissier's Revue All Change Here at the Alhambra. we were guying Elektra, and what seemed so strange and barbaric then might be tame enough now after Stravinsky and the rest of them. I heard the Alpine Symphony once long ago, but at a t ime when i t sounded more like a traffic revolution than music. So I am in no position to express an opinion about its appeal on records. But to return to Wagner. Is his appeal weakening to-day? It would not seem so by the regularity with whjch The Ring is performed in every opera house all over the world. Now that the great recording companies have joined forces, would i t not be possible for them to issue in t.heir joint names a complete Bayreuth performance of The Ring, and at the same time publish an authoritative volume containing the complete l ibretto in the original German with an EngEsh prose translation, an analysis of all the leitrnoti(Js of which we already have piano records from H .M.V., and illustrations of the characters and scenes? The expense of snch an undertaking would, of course, be enormous, but in view of the fact that radio all over Europe is becoming more and more dependent on gramophone records for anything except the most mediocre performances, would i t not be possible to obtain a general subseription from the various radio services?
" The more I see of people the better I like my dog," said some cynic, and I am going to add, "the more I heal' of wireless the better I like my H.M.V. dog." It is by now a platitude to point out the supreme advantage of the gramophone in giving you the music you want at the moment you want i t , but perhaps there is no composer so dependent as Wagner on having his music given to listeners in the right mood, and I am satisfied that there is no composer whom I miss so