THE ~RAMOPHONE Vol. xx APRIL 1943
EDITO'RIAL THE year 1812 was not remarkable only for Napoleon's attack oh Russia in June and the retreat from ~10scow that was the beginning of his end. In the year 1812 Beethoven wrote his Grand Symphony in A and his Grand Symphony in F. Both symphonies are expressions of the same mood, a mood of intense elation at his own genius. Neither symphony is t inged with melancholy, even for as much as half. a dozen bars. The great Allegretto of the Seventh Symphony is solemn, but with the solemnity of a mighty procession moving across the stage of the world. The epithet accorded by Beethoven to his Seventh Symphony and his Eight Symphony should be noted. None of his other symphonies, not even the Ninth, was given this epithet on the title page of the published edition, though in the original dedication of Bonaparte the Eroica was called Sinfonia Grande. Indeed, if he had not been so great a genius one might be tempted to discern signs of folie de grandeU1" in the Beethoven of 1812. He had already said after the Battle of Jena how unlucky i t was he did not know so much about military matters as music, because if he did he would soon show Napoleon who was master. They said in North Germany that the Seventh Symphony was the composition of a drunkard, and as Beethoven himself had de1cared himself to be the Bacchus who crushed delicious nectar for mankind and provided i t with divine frenzy, perhaps they were not so far out in North Germany. Wagner wrote: "I do not know whether Beethoven wished to depict a Bacchic orgy in the finale of the Seventh Symphony, but I recognize in this impassioned kermesse a sign of his Flemish origin. We see that also in his defiant speech, and in the freedom of his bearing which was completely out of harmony with a country like Austria ruled by the strictest discipline and the most rigid etiquette. The Seventh Symphony is a wild explosion of superhuman energy rejoicing in its own power like a river which overflows its banks and floods the country all around."
I t was Wagner too who called this symphony the apotheosis of the dance. Probably the ballet, the name of which I cannot for the life of me remember, which was set to the music of the Seventh Symphony and had such a success in the years before the war, helped to popularise the Seventh in this country. It has not yet caught up with the Fifth, but I should say i t is probably the most popular now after the Fifth, and even ten years ago the Third and the Sixth were much more popular than the Seventh. I t is significant that among the requests for recordings to be compared the Seventh Symphony led,
which is why I am writing about i t this month.
The only versions which remain in the catalogue are those of Weingartner with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on five light-blue Columbia discs and Toscanini with the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra on five red H.M.V. discs. The Toscanini version , as one would expect, is a most brilliant affair; but i t is American recording, and i t IS intended for a radiogram. American recorders believe that acoustical instruments are extinct. I doubt if this Toscanini version is suitable for any except the best radiograms. Even my two huge horns are apt to get t ied up in the higher registers with the volume of sound
CONTENTS 153 Editoriol Compton Mackenzie 155 Turn Table Talk 156 Behind the Needle-XXXIV
Herbert C. Ridout
157 Yehudi Menuhin F. W. Gaisberg 158 Analytical Notes and First Reviews 161 Miscellaneous and Dance 162 Jazz Edgar Jackson 164 The Record Collector-XIII
P. G. Hurst and produce at times a kind of tingling effect on the ears which can be irritating even in the largest room. This never happens with the Columbia recording of the Weingartner version, and i t does not happen on the earlier American recording of Stokowski and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, which used to be in the H.M.V. catalogue. Those five successful black discs are well worth looking out for.
I have for some t ime now been feeling that the volume of sound which modern recording is able to perpetuate on a record has outrun the ability of the ordinary instrument to reproduce it. It is rather like the problem of modern economics. Production has outrun the capability of distribution to keep up with it. I commend to inventors the problem of the distribution of sound. I have played myself with the idea of recording the orchestra in four partsstrings, woodwind, brass and percussion, and then playing the result on four synchronised records from four different speakers. Of course this would be out of the question with wax discs of to-day, but i t seems improbable that wax discs will go on indefinitely. At any rate I am convinced we have reached the l imit of sound tolerable without better means of distributing it.
There was an admirable article by Joseph Szigeti, in the October number of the American Music Lover in which he paid a tribute to what Thomas Mann wrote about the gramophone in his great book The Magic Mountain.
By the courtesy of Mr. Herbert Barrett I am able to quote from Mr. Mann's letter to Mr. Szigeti about this article:
"This little meditation has given me great pleasure; i t may really be that in the future the gramophone chapter in The Magic Mountain will have a certain significance from the point of view of musical technique, and, in a way,. has such significance already to-day. The development which the phonograph has undergone since the days when I wrote my" chapter is indeed surprising, but, as i t goes, I was perhaps happier with my black box then and the thin sound of the records which i t played than with the glorious sounds coming now from my loudspeaker."
I think that most of us with a gramophone experience going back thirty years will agree with Mr. Mann, and agree too with Szigeti when he writes:
" With the growth and attendant blase acceptance of the phonograph, we begin to need the poet's definition of the essence of the thing-the view of naivete and wideeyed wonderment that will lead us to its soul."
Szigeti reminds his readers that the first complete symphony recording was that of the Beethoven Fifth made by Nikisch in 1913, and for this statement he is wrongly corrected by the Editor of The American Music UJver who says: "This performance on two twelve-inch discs afforded only excised versions of all four movements. The first complete symphony recording was made by Albert Coates around 1920."
In point of fact the Nikisch Fifth was complete and occupied-it still occupies them on my shelf- four twelve-inch discs, and as an interpretation no performance of the Fifth Symphony recorded since has equalled it. Mention of Albert Coates reminds me that he made a shortened version of the Seventh Symphony which was published in France on three darkgreen H.M.V. discs. The first complete Fifth was made by Landon Ronald and issued in the early spring of 1923. Here is what I wrote 20 years ago to the month in the first number of THE GRAMOPHONE.
" There is no doubt that solelv from dle point of view of recording this n~w version is the best issued so far. Actually I prefer the old rendering conducted by Nikisch with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, now taken out of circulation . Still, there ~ere some disastrous noises on that, particularly in the famous opening bars of the