London Office: 10.!-, Soho Square,
Edited by COMPTON MACKENZIE
TELEIPHONE: Regent 7977, 7978.
TELEGRAMS: Parmaxto, Weetoont, London.
THE first thing I have to do this month is to express my regret that we had to disappoint so many readers over the sale of the remaining :stock of the National Gramophonic Society records. So eager and immediate was the response to our offer that we were sold out within forty-eight hours of the publication of the October number of THE GRilIOPHONE, and for the next ten days the staff was kept busy sending back postal orders to the value of over four hundred pounds, not to mention packing up and despatching the records that we were still .able to supply. I do wish that we had not had to ,disappoint so many readers, particularly because I .am so well aware that most of those who wrote were lovers of chamber music only debarred from indulging in chamber music records through what is to so many people nowadays the prohibitive price which has to be charged for them. I say " has to be charged for them,)) because in the case of a small society like ours i t is impossible to publish them more cheaply than we .(lo. I cannot help wondering, however, if some of the great recording companies might not manage to ,do more than they have in the way of publishing ~heaper records of chamber music. I recognise that .great reductions in the cost of good music have been made during the last twelve months; but the fact remains that, in spite of these reductions, the lowest price for which you can obtain a complete long work is still beyond the means of the average man. Once more I urge recording companies to consider the possibility of bringing out cheap editions of standard works-really cheap editions I mean, for I do not ~all any symphony that costs more than ten shillings ~omplete really cheap. Even ten shillings will be .a strain on the pockets of many enthusiastic gTamophone lovers. Seven-and-six would be an even better price, and that would be the price of a new novel.
The main objection that sales-managers have .always offered to this suggestion of mine is that no great recording company could afford to give i ts name to a product which at any point displayed the least inferiority to i ts standard wares. But need ~heap reprints display such inferiority ~ The labels might have less gold, and even the ma,terial might be les s durable without casting a stigma on the company. The public do not expect cheap reprints of books to be produced with such solidity as the original editions. They are thoroughly used to the notion of cheap reprints, and I cannot believe that the dignity of the great recording companies would suffer if i t were made clear on the labels of the discs that they were the equivalent of reprints. I may say at this point that one of the great recording companies, whose name I shall not mention, not so long ago did allow experiments to be made with the material of their diSCS, some of which were not very happy experiments, to judge from the number of complaints I received from all over the world about the deterioration in the wearing quality of that company's records. Meanwhile, the Vocalion Company have gone boldly ahead with excellent Broadcast Twelves, and after publishing Grieg's Pianofm·te Concerto and Liszt's Hungarian Fantasia, they brought out last month an excellent Schubert's Unfinished Symphony at six shillings. Moreover, I hear that their latest venture in the same series will be the first and last movements of Schumann's Pianofmie Quintet. I should find i t hard to put into suitable words my respect for such enterprise, and I sincerely hope that the public support win be such as to warrant the production of more and still more of the popular classics. I am well aware of a school of critics which is inclined to fear that harm may result from the unworthy performance of good music for the sake of cheapness, and certainly if I felt that the Broadcast records provided unworthy performances I should not be writing about them with such admiration. But they are not unworthy performances. They are as good as anybody has a right to expect at such a price.
Stanley Chapple is a young conductor with a great future before him. He is not the kind of man who is going to allow himself to be associated with unworthy products. Maurice Oole is as safe a pianist for a big work as we have in England. The orchestra employed may not be so large as some, but i t is a thoroughly efficient orchestra, and in these days when mere volume of noise is coming to seem to many people the most important function of the gramophone, a