THE GRAMOPHONE London 0jJice . 58, Frith Street, London, W. 1.
Edited by COMPTON MACKENZIE
TBLlI:PHONB: Regent 1383.
T~GBA.M8: Pa.nna.xto, Westcent, London.
ADISCUSSION of the Brahms First Symphony records must be postponed until the Parlophone version has appeared, and that will not appear till next month. But the various versions of Brahms's First Symphony can be profitably discussed from another aspect now. What is the posit ion? We had an acoustical version of this symphony conducted by Weingartner and published by Columbia in an album not so long ago; we now have another version electrically recorded by the same conductor and published by the same company, also in an album. We had a version by the Victor Company published in America with Stokowski conducting, and almost immediately afterwards we had in England from H.M. V. another version conducted by Abendroth. Not so long after this, H.M.V. published in England the American version with Stokowski in charge. Now we are promised a Parlophone version at a popular price, which I hear is very good. I t is obvious that only the wealthiest gramofans can afford to buy all these versions. I may take this opportunity to observe that there is a distinct difference between the American edition of Stokowski and the . English edition. A dealer, however, if he wishes to be considered what is called enterprising, must stock, at any rate, three of these versions, and the dealer is inclined to grumble at finding his shelves thus loaded up. For the hundredth t ime I must repeat that i t is the duty of every recording company to issue a list of the principal works i t. intends to publish during the next six months. Nobody objects to a plethora of versions, provided that they do not appear almost simultaneously; but I do think that the public definitely has a grievance when, for instance, H.M.V. publishes a version of Brahms's First Symphony with Abendroth, and then a couple of months or so after issues that Victor version with Stokowski, and then a few months later publish the same Victor version in England. This intention ought to bave been made clear to everybody who bought the Abendroth version, and surely i t would have been much better j f the Parlophone Company could have announced, when the Columbia version under Weingartner appea:ed at 6s. 6d., that they intended to bring out a versIOn at 4s. 6d. a month or two later. Meanwhile we remain without any edition at all of the Third
Symphony, though I feel perfectly sure that, when this is rectified, i t will be rectified with such prodigality as probably to fling half-a-dozen Third Symphonies at us one after another. I perfectly realize the difficulties of the recording companies in the matter of re-duplication, and I perfectly realize the need for each company to build up i ts stock ot dassical works; but I . still think that something less exasperating to the dealer and the public might l ,ave been devised than the present system of pubUcntion. There was another instance the other day of this unnecessary strain on dealers, publics, and (·ritics. I refer to the publication almost simultaneously by Columbia and H.M.V. of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. I know that the recording companies thmk of their publics as entities composed of thousands, or even millions of irrational beings; but there rema.in f\ few thousands of rational beings in the swa£m of humanity, and i t is among these few thous<:l.nds of rational human beings that the purchasers (if symphony albums will be found. I perfectly realize that, when a great popular hit like You keep ynur fork and I'll keep mine is published by one company, i t is absolutely imperative for all the other companies to publish such a sublime lyric simultaneously. Words like You keep your fork and I'll keep mine appeal to the majority of the human race, and so prudence, consideration, and common-sense need not be bothered about. Let the majority swill at :mcll a fountain; i t does not matter in the sum totl\I of human experience. But when works like the 'First Symphony of Brahms appear the rational minority deserves to be remembered. In a minute I f.Jresee that we are going to have trouble over Petrouchlca. The records of Petrouchka were first published by H.M.V. on four discs and conducted by Goos'icns, and a very fine set they were in those acoustical days. Then the Edison Bell Company brought out a shortened version, recorded electrically on two discs. After this a long silence, until the other day the Columbia people brought out a slightly shortened version on three discs conducted by Stravinsky himself. This was almost immedia.tely followed by the re-recording on four discs by H.M.V. with Albert Coates as conductor. This version, owing to i ts not having been sent me, I have not yet heard, hut I have