THE GRAMOPHONE Incorporating V 0 X. THE R A D I 0 C R I TIC and B R 0 A DCA ST REV lEW
London Offtce; 10a Soho Square
Gerrard 2136. 2137
COMPTON MACKENZIE and CHRISTOPHER STONE Parmaxto, Rath Londo~
IT is not my desire to inflict upon read ers of THE GRAMOPHONE one superfluou s word about the crisis in mundane affairs which at th e moment of writing is still at the height of its fever ; but I should consider i t an evasion of my duty if! did not take this opportunity to remind our readers of the immense advantage they possess in their interes t in recorded music and urge them to lose no occasion throughout this coming winter to convert their friends and acqu aintances to an appreciation of the intellectu a l and emotional privileges which recorded music can provide for a distracted world.
I ask readers to cast their minds back to seven o'clock on the evening of Monday, September 12th. At that fateful hour H err Hitler was due to appear on the platform at Nuremberg and deliver a speech that might send us to bed that night weighed down by the appalling certainty of another world war from which those of us who came through i t alive would live on in a death-in-life of civilization. Turning the knobs of the wireless in an attempt to listen with my inadequate knowledge of German to this vital pronouncement, I failed to hear that voice. I switched from Nuremberg to Cologne, from Cologne to Leipzig, from Leipzig to Berlin, from Berlin to Stuttgart, from Stuttgart to Breslau, from Breslau to Munich, from Munich to Hamburg, from Hamburg all the length of the Third Reich to Vienna. The r esult was th e same everywhere: nothing but a curiously ragged performance of the Overture to The Mastersingers. It was interesting to note that this overture was considered the appropriate prelude to wha t might be a declaration of European chaos. By the time I had had to listen to this p erformance for a quarter of an hour I felt that I never wanted to hear the overture of The Mastersingers ever again. Herr Hitler himself appeared on the platform at a quarter past seven and after listening to him for fifteen minutes I switched on to the Second News from London R egional to hear what r eport the B.B.C. could give of the Fuehrer's speech up to date. As I had already gathered he h ad so far said nothing of immediate significance . I looked at the programme in the Radio Times and saw that at eight o'clock Mr. Richard Hughes was to speak on the Birth of a Hurricane. I decided th a t if a hurricane was being born tonight I would li sten in to th e a ccouchement, and I switched back to Herr Hitl er. By this time, however, th e Fuehrer's eloquence had become too torrenti a l for my scant German to follow him , so I decided to wait for the Third News at 9.40 and listen in to th e Promenad e Concert a t Queen's Hail, switching back from t ime to t ime to Munich (which was giving th e best reception ) to see how things were going in the Third Reich.
Th e Venusberg music! Nobody has a greater admiration than myself for Sir Henry Wood's handling of an orchestra in the Venusberg music ( those Columbia record s of his have been favourites of mine for a long t ime ) , but the last music I wanted to hear at that moment was the Venus berg music. I looked down th e programme. Waltraute's narration from The T wilight of the Gods. The Siegfried Idyll. The Siegfried Idyll sounded less idyllic when one remembered the Siegfried Line. Wotan's farewell? But Wotan and Thor a nd Odin were seeming on the poi nt of greeting once again a most r eluctant world. In fact this confounded performance of The Mastersingers overture had made Wagner's music intolera ble, and a s it was Monday night there was nothing else .
What was to follow? Songs of the Spanish Provinces sung by the B.B.C. Singers. If Spain was to be the relief from Wagner I did not want to hear the B.B.C . .Singers but De Gogorza singing some of thos e exquisite Spanish folk-songs on old ten-inch H. M. V. discs, or the radiant voice of our lost Conchita Supervia, or Lucrezia Bori in a duet with Segurola, or the GalliCurci of once upon a t ime singing ClaveLitos. I cut off the wireless and p layed over some of Schubert's great C major Quintet, aware that i t was being beautifully rendered by my electrical E.M.G. , but too grateful for the solemn assuagement of that glorious se cond mov ement to perplex myself with attempted comparisons between the performance of it electrically and that