Breaking: Gramophone is sold off

Breaking: Gramophone is sold off


norman lebrecht

October 11, 2013

The faltering record magazine has been sold by Haymarket Publishing, its owners for the past decade and more.



The new owners are to be the Mark Allen Group, publishers of healthcare, edcation and travel trade journals. The group is family-owned, which may help restore Gramophone to its recording roots. The magazine describes itself these days as ‘The world’s authority on classical music since 1923’.


  • SergioM says:

    is this good news or bad news?

  • Simon F says:

    Yes, I’m sure it sits very well alongside its other stablemates in the Leisure division of the Mark Allen Group; Carriage Driving, Jazzwise and Wiltshire Life!

  • Janet says:

    For at least the past 5 years the Gramophone magazine has been degrading its once pristine reputation as the world source of first class information regarding recordings and artists for the sake of earning income in order to survive. I have been extremely disappointed reading the many articles in the Gramophone magazine as PR platform to promote mediocre/ no talent artists, many of the supposed young and upcoming, telling the public how great they are and how great their new CD/ DVD’s bla….bla…bla….while the truth is these artists deserve ZERO chance to be supported by a magazine once credited as the “best” classical music magazine in the world. The world has changed so much, so does the classical music business which is run by many incompetent, untalented, unknowledgeable people!

    • Laura says:

      Like whom, exactly?

      • Les says:

        Like a lot of British young artists with some (or no) talent (including the overrated not-so-young-anymore Rattle)! I fully agree with Janet.

        Since 1978 I subscribed for years. Not anymore.

        • Robin says:

          Rattle is cool. He’s no Toscanini, but he’s been in the business more years than most people can shake a stick at. Who are you? Nobody. Got it.

    • Robert says:

      Here here Janet. The rot set in after James Jolly went as editor and Haymarket took it on. An opera review by the likes of doyen JBS ended up at less than a third of a page column. After 40 plus years I gave it up when a review of La Traviata did not even mention it was missing over ten minutes of music.

  • PK Miller says:

    Once upon a time, I couldn’t wait to get to Borders or Barnes & Noble when I knew the latest issue of Gramophone was out. (It was too costly to subscribe to on this side of the “pond,” and took too long as well. We had no internet in that era and even then, except for the NY Times, most arts coverage was sparse in the local papers except for local reviews. Gramophone was worth waiting for. Now, I wouldn’t buy it for 25 cents. Of course it’s “faltering.” When you let your quality slip….

    • Couldn’t’ve agreed more. Back during my college years (well, post-graduate years) I’d read through all the issues I could have access to and at least buy the “Award” issue. Now, no more.

  • I I Davies says:

    Shall we all have a quiet sit down and a cup of tea?

  • Elaine Fine says:

    I should mention that the American Record Guide has maintained the same high quality during the 20 years I have been a contributor. The way the magazine is sold has changed (it isn’t sold in stores anymore), and the way people produce CDs has changed (smaller labels abound), but the reviewers still call it like they hear it. Our editor respects honesty.

    • R. James Tobin says:

      Fanfare is still its rigorous self also.

      • I am intrigued by this. We have a constant stream of offers from Fanfare, direct to artists, selling them reviews, editorial and cover space. That to me is far from rigorous or maintaining any standard of integrity whatsoever.

        • Herbert Pauls says:

          I think to be fair, you have to be more specific about how that works at Fanfare. The first 100 pages or so are always the “infomercial” part of the magazine, painfully obvious, I must say: An ad every second page, mixed with interview articles, each of which is followed by a CD review where the interviewer tries to say a few nice things about the artist in question (but even then the review can be more polite than enthusiastic). In any case, this seems to be what pays the magazine’s bills. Otherwise there would be no Fanfare, because it is operated on a shoestring, with a limited circulation aimed at hard core specialist listeners.

          The other 400 pages are where the important reviews are. (I never did put much stock in the infomercial reviews). Virtually no ads at all in the main section (could you imagine Gramophone magazine at any time in its history going on for 400 pages with no ads???). I’ve read the magazine for eons and the main body of reviews (with no ads mixed in) shows the reviewers to be a very feisty lot who stand up for their own opinions (just read the letters to the editor and you will see what I mean). There is nothing like it in any other classical record review magazine. For the life of me, I can’t imagine some of those reviewers letting record companies push them around too much.

          • frank says:

            Problem with Fanfare is that so many of the reviews are given to one Lynn Rene Bailey who often confesses to have had no previous experience with the pieces or artists she is reviewing, and clearly has no knowledge of the “standard” previous recordings. But despite this, has mostly overly fervent opinions about what’s on her current plate. I’m seriously considering cancelling my subscription

          • R. James Tobin says:

            Why give up the magazine because one of their many reviewers openly and honestly admits ignorance of the work or previous recordings? Many of Fanfare’s reviewers have multiple comparisons. The only kind of review–anywhere–I cannot stand is a declaration that one performance is better than another without justifying reasons. My experience with Fanfare is that once you know a particular reviewer’s preferences and tastes, you can compensate for that. Sometimes you can decide to get a recording just because a certain reviewer dislikes it!

          • Les says:

            I agree that Fanfare has great integrity. ARG was as well thanks to its fine reviewers, but I cancelled my suscription years ago due to the cantankerous rants (and ultra-subjective annoying reviews) of editor Vroon. Is he still there? If not, I may revisit.

      • James Lisney says:

        Despite the July 19th 2012 article that Norman felt moved to post?

        • R. James Tobin says:

          What I heard from the head of a small label is that they would do a feature article on the label in exchange for a display ad–a deal which was not taken up. I did not see Norman’s article so I cannot comment on that. (If it can be re-posted, I would like to see it.) A quid pro quo in the form a favorable review would be outrageous, if true. I am almost a charter subscriber and what has always struck me is the careful comparison between performances in many cases. The “this is better than that, period” is a useless evaluation which I sometimes see also. The also review an enormous number of releases.

      • Anon says:

        That would be Fanfare of the “we’ll ensure you have a good review if you select one of the following advertising options” would it? Very rigorous.

        (See previous blog entries about this elsewhere on Slipped Disc.)

  • Thomas Walton says:

    It’s very interesting that I read this today, as I just received a renewal notice from the Gramophone Magazine and I made the decision, after being a loyal subscriber for more than thirty years, to not renew my subscription. Why?

    Month after month I receive a magazine that reads more like the mouthpiece of the perverted recording industry than a true independent voice fighting for quality recordings and quality music making. I totally understand how hard the task at hand is, as they need the revenue generated from advertising to support their publication and that comes from the recording industry, for the most part. The recording industry is today an embarrassment, a total and unequivocal disgrace, occasionally offering something of quality, but for the most part, and particularly the once great iconic labels, like Deutsche Grammophon, they only show how cheap, vulgar and tasteless they have become. When I read interviews with their management, I am appalled at their stupidity, lack of musical taste and knowledge, lack of communication skills and their belief that by simply popularising everything and appealing to the lowest common denominator, they will solve their problems. When I read interviews in the British papers with somebody like Max Hole, espousing stupidity after stupidity about how to popularise classical music and how people should be able to shout out and cheer and classical concerts and endless other comments that anybody familiar with the business has already heard before, often more than twenty years ago, I realise that if a company is overseen by such people, who have no true understanding or appreciation of classical music, then this business is doomed. Since it is dependent on that business, the Gramophone Magazine is doomed as well, unless they become pertinent again and not subservient slaves of a putrid recording industry overseen by mostly moronic incompetent people. Here, I don’t mince nor exaggerate my words, as I mean it!

    I learn more about music, artists and recordings from blogs, from friends and using my own knowledge and experience honed over thirty ears as a collector and as a musician. I won’y blindly ever buy a Deutsche Grammophon recording again, as I used to, in total trust, in total confidence. I will never again buy a recording blindly, based on a Gramophone review, as I once did. No, both of these organisations have lost my trust and that of thousands of others (all of my friends and colleagues). So, let the Gramophone pass into other hands and let’s see whether they can have an honest voice, or whether they too play the sycophantic game of repeating what a decadent, incompent industry tells them to say and review.

    • Mike Earles says:

      A strongly argued case but oh so true. Like others here, I learned a huge amount from the Gramophone in my formative years and I trusted the judgements of the critics so much that I often looked out for AR, JC and so on even before reading the column, even JB unknowingly taught me a lot about sound reproduction but where are the writers of such knowledge and quality today? Sadly lacking. I also ceased to buy the one time bible of recorded music.

      Further proof they have become money mad is the fact that the Archive once freely provided on the Gramophone’s web site is now only available for a fee!!

      • Nigel Harris says:

        Absolutely. The last straw for me, having subscribed for 20 years and more, was the decision to charge me for something, the Archive, they had hitherto provided me with for free. The ‘Gramophone’ has been in decline for some time, but it was my feeling, rightly or wrongly, that it finally ceased to be serious and reliable about three or four years ago.

  • Lucy Miles says:

    Yes, Gramophone is ‘faltering’ and ‘doomed’. Having paid out to buy the magazine, clearly the first thing the new publishers are going to do is close it down, thereby losing all their investment.

  • Arianna says:

    As long as Gramophone Magazine, and all of the others, remain dependent upon the classical recording industry for their advertising revenues, then the Gramophone magazine will be nothing more than a reflection of that industry and suffer the same fate as the recording industry. As the recording industry is in the driver’s seat, and they drive recklessly and irresponsibly, then the only solution for Gramophone is to seek all of its advertisng revenue from outside of the recording industry. This would also help them to regain their independence, be critical and actually help restore an industry that is managed by idiots, and incompetent populists, i.e. Deutsche Grammophon and Universal Classics in general. That has already been said above, so I won’t repeat my own thoughts which are similar to Thomas’s above.

    Let’s try to see this sale of Gramophone in a positive light. If the new owners are able to cut their financial dependence from the classical recording industry, allowing them to be free to write and criticise as they want and as they should, then there is hope. If the new owners just keep the dependency as it is, then Gramophone will die along with the recording industry and will actually accelerate their common demise.

    • Elaine Fine says:

      The ARG is not dependent upon advertising revenues. I know this because I was the advertising manager for a year or two. There are a few companies that advertise in the ARG because they always have, and there are a few companies that advertise because they know that the ARG has an interested readership, but the “few” of which I speak is a literal few.

  • Prewartreasure says:

    The only copy I have archived (I must have a look inside to see why) is the January 1943 issue in the days when the magazine was edited by Compton Mackenzie & Cecil Pollard.

    It cost one shilling even then!

    Inside there’s a lovely whole-page advertisement by ‘Rimingtons’ (Cranbourne Street, London) asking the question: “Is there a Boom in Music?” What has changed (sigh) the ad opines, “….only the old favourites can be relied upon to fill a hall….”

    The ‘outstanding records of 1942’ was., apparently, ‘Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition’ (with Carroll Gibbons & the Savoy Orpheans) and The Halle Orchestra (under Dr Malcolm Sargent) with the Brahm’s Variation on a Theme of Jospeh Haydn, Opus 56a.

    But (keep this to yourself) ‘Golden Pyramid Needles’ manufactured by the British Needle Company, Redditch, are declared the best. The ad continues – “The steel, the machinery and the men that go to making of Golden Pyramid needles are now making munitions. They are scarce, but they are still the best on record! (what a pun)

  • ReadTheScore999 says:

    When I was an O-level, then A-level, then university music student – a long time ago now – I used to really value the insight, expertise and authority of many Gramophone reviewers. The reviews were so much longer and interesting than they are today! I stopped buying Gramophone as I found myself ignoring the largely superficial reviews and just using it as a guide to which discs were released each month; the Internet can service that need very adequately. I have many happy memories of the hours I spent learning about music through the articles and reviews in Gramophone in the 1980s and 1990s; I feel that anyone with the same interests nowadays would not get much out of Gramophone in 2013, unfortunately. I hope the new owners make a positive difference.

  • This is hopefully very good news – it has been really sad to see how a once great musical reference has become so debased. I have known it since the 1950s.

    Until the Gramophone is in the hands of people who really know about music it cannot hope to compete.Many of the Reviewers in recent years just do not appear to have the depth of knowledge required for what is a highly complex field.

    I wish the new Owners good fortune.

  • Mark Allen Group are smart,forward-thinking people. The editorial team at Jazzwise tell me consistently that becoming part of the MAG set-up has been extremely positive for them.

    If Gramophone is as tired a brand as so many commenters are asserting so aggressively here, then access to the resources of this group must be a positive.

    At times when everything about the way print media operate is changing very fast, then, the answer to the first question must be a yes. This is good news.

  • Fred says:

    with all the (mostly VERY BAD) internet blogs and the like it’s questionable whether or not the gramophone still has a future ahead. I strongly doubt it as they’ve become too much dependent on advertising and PR money. i stopped buying a long time ago since i realized covers and reviews could be bought, minor record lalbels never got a chance unless they advertised etetc, so the answer is NO unless a tycoon wants to sponsor it and they change their policy completely.

    I miss magazines in print as reading on the pc screen doesn’t always match with me, some blogs and sites excepted of course…how long will the british opera magazine survive?

  • Vaquero357 says:

    Not saying this to disparage Gramophone, but I rely on the American Record Guide to keep me up to date. Still well over 200 pages an issue, all solid content, no fluff. It’s not so much a magazine as a book that comes out 6 times a year. The annual subscription price is what I usually pay for one concert ticket for a good spot in the house. Money well spent, I think.

    The major labels have all but abandoned classical music, except for a few high-profile releases for “stars.” But there are lots of small labels turning out exciting and interesting stuff. You just need a way to weed through the so-so releases to get to the gems.

    Even in the age of the Internet, ARG is still way ahead of a lot of the competition with really well written, thoughtful reviews. And no glowing reviews surprisingly connected to artist profile features…..

  • João M. says:

    I have three words to say: International Record Review.

    • Odd Rydland says:

      Yes indeed. Invaluable.

      • Bart says:

        About time that somebody said. It’s a splendid magazine. If you liked the Gramophone in its heyday, then you should try International Record Review now.

      • George M. says:

        seconded, if you have to have a glossy magazine, worth supporting.

        • Bart says:

          ‘glossy magazine’? Sounds tautological; most magazines are printed on glossy paper these days.

          Or are you being critical: ‘glossy’ in the sense of bland hype? If so, IRR certainly isn’t like that

  • Kyle says:

    Gramophone finally lost all credibility with me when they included Harnoncourt’s Beethoven cycle among the 100 greatest recordings of all time, but soon after didn’t include it in the top five Beethoven cycles of all time! There remain individual reviewers of worth writing for Gramophone

  • Felix Hayman says:

    Full of old guys,no, ancient guys, who have spent 30 years ignoring the changes in the music industry as the world flew past them.Reviews that sucked up to the industry or just plain sucked.The magazine that could lull me to sleep within three minutes.At last a change is on the way

  • Gramophone used to be my favourite magazine in the late 1970s & early 1980s; I still look through the many back issues on my shelves and I always pay attention if there’s an informative review by a reviewer with professional integrity such as Lionel Salter, Robert Layton, Edward Greenfield, Michael Kennedy, Michael Oliver or Richard Osborne (and others). The intelligent advocacy and enthusiasm extant in the writings of those open-minded critics has, over the years, fired me with enthusiasm to purchase thousands of LPs & CDs which I might otherwise have passed by, so I’d acknowledge that they have stimulated my musical awareness and assisted my musical education.

    Nowadays, the magazine offers only ill-informed pontification which attempts to masquerade as authoritative judgement. There are of course still some expert critics writing for Gramophone, but they are now outnumbered by pretentious journalists who have almost no knowledge of the back catalogue, who cannot assess new recordings within the context of previous ones of the same repertoire, and whose main priority is to distort the slant of their reviews so as to contrive a pretext to deliver some punchy memorable phrases. The reviews are littered with factual mistakes and there are frequent indications that CDs have not been listened to in their entirety. Much of the ‘reviewing’ is probably based on memories of casually listening to the CDs in the car, judging by the vagueness of the comments, and although the ability to read musical notation is a prerequisite for assessing a performance, such basic literacy is sometimes lacking amongst modern music commentators.

    • Simon Bowditch says:

      Absolutely Ray. My experience was similar to yours as you know (though I bought quite a lot fewer records!) and the publication of Gramophone was one of the highlights of each month. How that has changed! The key players now are not Universal or Warner (R.I.P. EMI) – they are Chandos, Hyperion, cpo, Dutton – I could go on but you get the idea. How successful has Gramophone been in reviewing this material which is of enormous interest to many of its former readers? – not at all. They review a few in an apologetic way. Otherwise it’s all gloss, spin, bias and superficiality.

      I’d read it again in a heartbeat if the standards returned to those of 20 years ago. Contrary to some other commentators, I don’t believe the classical recording industry is doomed – the torrent of new releases of unfamiliar and neglected repertoire from smaller companies (much of the neglect of which is in itself unwarranted and very sad) shows no sign of abating. I want informed comment about these interesting new releases – not another Pavarotti retrospective or a feature about musicians who only get recorded because they are raunchily photogenic……

  • Bill says: from Mark Allen Group’s “Recycling and Waste” magazine tells the story we have all been waiting for. The classical record label business is full of recycling and waste.

    Gramophone is now being published by the group which includes among its most popular titles “The Bowel and Bladder Handbook”.

  • DavisA says:

    I think one of the problems the magazine faces is the sheer lack of recordings by major companies to review. So it seems they must try to make the magazine relevant by doing things like changing the layout. I don’t know how long I’ll remain a subscriber as the quality of the writing is not what it used to be. But good luck to the new owners.

  • Lucas says:

    I agree with several of the comments above, particularly Thomas Walton’s well said analysis, as well as Arianna’s recommendations for the new owners of Gramophone.

    I would however like to add to those comments. I too no longer even am curious or interested to read Gramophone, as it is quite simply dull and boring, more like a self serving vehicle for the moribund, lacklustre classical music recording business. I am a serious collector and a serious concert goer, but I have seen Gramophone decline steadily over the past ten years drifting into praising recordings and artists that ten or fifteen years ago they would have thrown right into the bin. Indeed, Gramophone has now become just an extension of the pathetic major labels and their complete disarray and lack of personality, good intelligent management and artistic conviction. It has become an old boys club, for insiders, who make their deals behind closed doors, agreeing with the labels whose turn it will be to get ‘Editor’s Choice’ and the Gramophone Award, not chosen by their readers, but by the industry itself! The Awards are for the industry, as the Gramophone is the mouthpiece, as stated above, of that industry. The Gramophone will be sold and will most certainly, if it continues on its current path, be mothballed!

  • Michael says:

    I have cancelled my subscription already 8 years ago, partly because too many reviewers didn’t seem to know what they were talking about ( discussing “all the existing versions of Schubert G major Quartet ” and then omitting the Kolisch Quartet’s recording was one of many milestones I remember ) and also because of the increasingly crappy appearance.It began to look like one of those magazines one finds on a table when waiting for the dentist…
    ” The world’s authority” also used to post endless superlative reviews about Joyce Hatto ( “the greatest British pianist ever ” ) and I vaguely remember that in the same edition where they finally “uncovered ” the scam ,they still had a glowing review going about one of her fake recordings .
    It is a pity that a magazine that tries to promote classical music is probably in trouble again,but I can’t help guessing that lowering the once impeccable standards might have driven away quite a number of its readers.
    Maybe things are changing for the better .I am happy to support it once I find it worthwhile reading again.

  • jean2371 says:

    I am sorry to hear that Gramophone is “faltering” but I can understand why. I could no longer afford to buy the magazine but decided to invest in a year’s subscription to the digital edition. I’m afraid I have not had my money’s worth as there has been little of real interest in it as far as I am concerned. The only advantage to my subscription was having access to the archives from 1923 on, although I had gone through much of the archive before when it was free.

  • Robert Kenchington says:

    All of the above doesn’t surprise me. Gramophone was excellent until the Pollard family turned the editorship over to James Jolly who was simply a mouthpiece for PolyGram bigwigs. During his tenure the quality, quantity and even punctuality of the reviews descended from up to the minute, eloquently penned in-depth articles to trite, superficial and hopelessly out-of-date opinions offered by so-called ‘experts’ like Rob Cowen (who used to be an ice cream seller). Even if I disagreed with some of the older critics like Edward Greenfield, I still used to enjoy the actual quality of the writing. Nowadays , I’ve read better classical reviews in the Daily Mail.

    And even if the quality of the writing is inferior, couldn’t Gramophone at least ensure their reviews tied in with the actual release date of the CDs under discussion? (For example, Cowen’s trite assessment of EMI’s sunset reissue of a 77CD Klemperer Legacy was published 12 months after the series had been released and sold in millions from Vancouver to Vladivostok).

    Gramophone changed editors and I think made some attempt to recover its old form but the damage had already been done. From then on there was an alarming lack of direction as the publication fell awkwardly between the popular style of the late Classic FM magazine and the more specialized approach of International Record Review – whose staff, incidentally, included former members of Gramophone’s original editorial team.

    Most Gramophone readers would I feel welcome a return to the in-depth style of yesteryear. It can be done. If not, then a once flagship publication that educated and inspired three generations of record collectors might as well be consigned to the flames.

  • bonducca says:

    Before too much more theorizing ahead of data about this, may I remind all of you…It can always get worse. There! Art Thou Happy?!

  • Paul Jocre says:

    When I met Mark Allen 35-odd years ago he was a concientious journalist with high standards of integrity. Looking at his group’s current activities I’d say he’d carried on like that. His staff are certainly very professional, and he’s stuck to making printed media work. He’s presumably still the chairman (as of 2010), and the odd range of consumer titles reflects his own interests. I don’t see why he’d buy it in order to close it unless to launch a similar title.

    He’ll have his work cut out, but an ad vista scarcely tapped by The Gramophone is surely the listening technology. I dare say if you sent him this entire thread he’d appreciate it; he’s quite approachable, but obviously rather busy.

    Fingers crossed.

    • Mark Allen says:

      Dear Paul

      Thank you, rather belatedly, for your kind comments, which I’ve just come across again, after we acquired Gramophone a few years ago. I hope I have not disappointed you.

      As you may know, we have recently acquired the Rhinegold assets, so we have an even bigger challenge on our hands. But we will, I hope, be working to a reasonable plan.

      Paul, you intrigue me. Your name rings a distinct bell all those years ago, but I’m trying to place you. Can you enlighten me?

      Once again, thanks for your generous comments about me and I’m so sorry to have taken so long to reply to you.

      Kind regards


    • Mark Allen says:

      Dear Paul
      Did you receive the message I send you? If you did, perhaps you could reply to my email address.
      Kind regards
      Mark Allen

  • John Skuse says:

    There was a time when the Gramophone included several pages dedicated to jazz and light music. Indeed a review in probably the 50s led me to the piano playing of the American Don Shirley. Let’s hope that Mark Allen can broaden the appeal of the magazine and inspire younger readers to take a broad interest in music rather than bore them rigid with the current output.

  • Paul says:

    I wish Gramophone a new lease on life. As it stands, the magazine is corrupt to the core. I hope the new owners will do a thorough housecleaning and put everyone currently involved with Gramophone out to pasture. If I never read another review by Bryce Morrison, arguably the worst of Gramophone’s reviewers, it will be too soon. The fact that he writes notes for CD booklets should disqualify him, along with anyone else who writes them, from reviewing. This is clearly a conflict of interest. Not long ago Morrison gave an absurdly praiseworthy review to a young pianist who’s studying in Miami, then I realized Morrison has been invited to Miami to lecture in a festival with which that pianist’s teacher is closely involved. Contemptible.

    • R. James Tobin says:

      “The fact that he writes notes for CD booklets should disqualify him, along with anyone else who writes them, from reviewing.” Really? Even if there is no monetary gain involved?

      • Paul says:

        It’s not about monetary gain, it’s about propriety. If a critic writes booklet notes for CDs published by Universal, for instance, then gives a CD published by Universal a positive review, there will always be doubt about the integrity of that review. Is it positive because the music making is really good, or because the critic wants to keep on good terms with the record company so that he or she can keep writing notes for it? No one’s going to get rich writing reviews or booklet notes, so is it asking too much for the writer to wear just one hat?

  • R. James Tobin says:

    In addition to any editorial concerns, International Media Service has recently sent me not one but two e-mail notices saying my subscription to Gramophone is about to run out–which it is not.

  • I remember that even the 1990s, Gramophone was pretty encyclopedic with scholarly reviews (courtesy of Robert Layton, Fanning, Osborne, Warrack, et al.) and with excellent, absorbing articles (like the history of recording, which I fondly remember reading). And I appreciated the fact that it had, until a year ago, archived reviews available on its website for curious listeners to decide whether to buy that particular recording. But standards have changed, and not for the better. Reviews have become less in-depth and it seems that business decisions undermined the true integrity of sharing and communicating art to us passionate about music.

  • J C says:

    Rather frightening to read this criticism which basically treats a publisher of classical magazine reviews as pornographers.

    The old Gramophone was the past. The market, listeners, buyers — almost all has changed. Except the perhaps antediluvian critics here.

    That was then; this is now. Get over it.

  • Jeffrey says:

    I am surprised Gramophone has lasted as long as it has. James Jolly’s fatuous tenure drove me from the subscriber stable long ago, and after 25 years of subscribing. It probably isn’t reasonable to expect reviewers of the caliber of Eddie Sackville-West and Compton Mackenzie simply because the number of people who actually can read a review longer than 3 paragraphs and think for themselves has dwindled with the dumbing down of education. Under Jolly’s guidance the reviews of major operatic releases often barely mentioned the singers! With less stellar releases, if they bothered to review them at all, oftentimes the singers weren’t mentioned at all.

    I always had the impression Mr Jolly and his ilk existed solely for the awards dinners and glam elbow-rubbing with the ‘Stars’.

    And now we have this avalanche of really god-awful dvds from 2nd rate houses with 2nd rate conductors and singers and execrable producers and directors who are clearly only interested in shocking the public (YAWN) and creating ‘legends’ for themselves. It is all a vile disservice to the composers, musicians and singers who pour(ed) their souls in to their work.

    And, yes, Simon Rattle. Isn’t it time for him to lose the mopsie haircut? He looks ridiculous.

    But that’s beside the point.

    Opera Magazine will be next to be dropped into the dustbin of history. Very sad.

    And Opera Now had never even registered on my radar.

    If people who expect intelligent, in-depth and USEFUL criticism of recordings are antediluvian then count me one of them.