I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Monday, 14 May 2012

The later yardstick

Technology can affect our choice of music. I doubt I’d have ever listened to operas when they came as a huge stack of 78s. LPs made them far more accessible and CDs were another major advance. But these steps were simply matters of convenience. Electron flow can also shape our taste.

During my most intense collecting period I could never afford full-price CDs, I was always searching for special reductions. And when Naxos started offering original recordings at £5 a shot I was in like Flynn. But the net result was a load of discs by competent, if unstarry, performers or early versions by stars before they became stars. Very occasionally I would go full whack (Wilhelm Kempf, David Oistrakh, Schwarzkopf) while acknowledging I was only getting 60 minutes playing instead of 180 minutes.

But now I have YouTube. This morning I listened to Heifetz playing Bach’s unaccompanied chaconne. In his day Heifetz was the Beatles and Usain Bolt combined. GB Shaw suggested that Heifetz should, every month or so, play a wrong note just to encourage other violinists. He was note perfect and a masterly interpreter. My own chaconne, bought second-hand, is by Itzhak Perlman and is excellent in its way. But it’s not Heifetz. I’m going to have to have it.

I already mentioned hearing the Takacs playing the late Beethoven quartets. A revelation. They’re now on my shelves.

In the old days I wasn’t all that discriminating and I’m still able to make do with Joe Doak conducting the Transylvanian Phil doing the four Roussel symphonies. But not the biggies that are part of my very fibre. Luckily I’m somewhat better off than I was in the Naxos days. Thanks YouTube.

NOVEL Blest Redeemer 83,043 words. But there are thousands to go. 


  1. I too am happy to be able to poke around on Youtube for musical gems. Perlman was the first violinist I heard live on stage, so he'll always have a special place in my heart. I often find myself wishing there was a livlier "live" scene here.

  2. RW (zS): The pianist Solomon occupies a deep-seated position in the affections of both of us (especially with regard to Beethoven's fourth piano concerto and the sonata opus 109). A tricky question arises. Should we occasionally test these performances against others or is early enthusiasm fixed for ever, inviolate, etc? Should affection be allowed to rule over the subsequent evidence of our ears?

    I think the answer is that there is no such thing as "better" (provided the instrumentalist, singer or orchestra plays all the notes) and we are allowed to say that this newer performance simply co-exists with the earlier, both being relevant. Or that appreciation of the latter is founded on what we learned from the former, and thus the two versions have a consecutive relationship.

  3. Yes, I agree. I was dazed and amazed at hearing Julia Fischer play the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto recently. And here I'd been under the impression that the only versions for me were Kyung-Wha Chung's. My appreciation of her work laid the foundation for being moved by Fischer's rendition.