Launching at the British Librarymain
The new book went live last night with a well-attended lecture at the British Library and a big piece follow-up in the Evening Standard.
Jonathan Summers, the wonderfully erudite curator of recordings at the BL, said the audience was the biggest he’d had for any lecturer bar Mitsuko Uchida. What pleased me most was its diversity – every type of record fancier from bone-dry discographer to rock band member. Nice.
Whenever I talk about records in London, some distinguished old gentleman will come up afterwards and I will identify him instantly by his bearing as a survivor of Walter Legge’s Philharmonia Orchestra. There is something heroic to these musicians, something of the wartime RAF about them, an esprit de corps allied to a flinty derring-do.
There have been other great bands and there will be more, but these were the best of the best. They stood up to Karajan and they defeated Legge’s destructive wiles. They live on in legend – and, not least, on record.
Neville Marriner was a member of that great Philharmonia crew in the early fifties as well. So, QED, I think. Those early Karajan/Philharmonia recordings are among his very finest, I think.