So you think you know record history?

A hissy spat has broken out in the New York Review of Books over a magisterial essay by Robert Winter, Distinguished Professor of Music at UCLA, on the complete recordings of the sadly-missed polymath pianist, Charles Rosen.

Sony have reissued all of Charles’s recordings in a large box. Professor Winter, after a lengthy disquisition on the merits and demerits of large boxes, proceeds to praise the pianist’s lifetime achievement. Right here.

charles Rosen3

This is altogether too much for Donald Manildi, Curator of the International Piano Archives at Maryland (IPAM), who fires back an instant letter, finding fundamental fault with Prof Winter’s knowledge of recorded history.

How could he claim, for instance that Rosen was ‘the first to record all twelve Debussy Études’ when surely everyone knows it was the South African pianist Adolph Hallis, who (did so 13 years earlier) for English Decca in 1938.’

Of course he did.

And more besides. Right here.

And while we’re on the subject of classical reviews, Some time, quite soon, all music reviews will look like this.

 

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  • Only a total fool would spew their knowledge of piano-recordings history in print without first consulting Don Manildi.

    • I’ve met Donald and as the American NY-ese slang expression goes, “Dat boid knows his onions.” A quick look at W.E.R.M. would have confirmed it and avoided the mistake.

  • Amazing. At first I thought it was Donald Manilda being grumpy, but it’s an astonishingly poorl researched bit of “record jacket musicology”, as we used to say. So many factual misstatements, inaccurate characterizations. The statements on the Goldbergvariations are comtemptible lacking in actual knowledge of the performance history of the Work.

  • Aw, too bad Dr Winter, Distinguished Professor of Music at UCLA is not a record nerd!

    I somehow think that doesn’t disqualify him from writing this wonderful tribute/essay on Charles Rosen which I read last night. Relished every word.

    I’m not a record nerd, but I did use The Classical Style in my classes when I taught in college, and — again, probably because I’m not a record nerd — came to his recordings only of late.

    It’s a brilliant piece which has widened my knowledge and made me even more interested in Rosen.

    • If Dr. Winter had any general knowledge of the history of the recording of Ravel’s piano music, he should never have missed including the complete Columbia recordings by one of the great pianists of the last century, Robert Casadesus, who was associated personally with Ravel. When a scholar misses something that obvious, it is difficult for me to enjoy the rest of the article,

    • If Dr. Winter had any general knowledge of the history of the recording of Ravel’s piano music, he should never have missed including the complete Columbia recordings by one of the great pianists of the last century, Robert Casadesus, who was associated personally with Ravel. When a scholar misses something that obvious, he has weakened his credibility.

      As for John twice insisting he is not a “record nerd”, is John implying that those who knew
      more than Dr. Winter about the discography of “Gaspard” are exhibiting a weakness?

      I’ve found Rosen’s book on Arnold Schönberg particularly rewarding.

  • A scholar is obligated to show that he has at least tried to master the relevant bibliography. In this case, it means consulting catalogs such as WorldCat, which are more accessible. If Dr. Winter didn’t’ want to check with Manildi, he could have asked his local music librarian at UCLA to verify the information in his article, and thus avoided unnecessary embarrassment in print.

  • Professor Winter’s commentary on the Goldberg Variations of old Sebastian are just plain wrong. Landowska’s second recording for RCA was such a runaway success that it frightened other labels enough to not release either Arrau or Serkin’s versions on piano.

    Not to mention – a considerable number of harpsichord recordings before Gould enjoyed respectable success – not only Kirkpatrick, but also Ahlgrimm (Phillips) and Leonhardt’s first one (Vanguard, produced by Seymour Solomon).

  • As Winter asked in his reply to Manildi’s letter, why is IPAM so uncooperative in assisting scholars who are not among those stamped with his coterie’s seal of approval? What does Manildi actually do all day? Why is IPAM run in such an aloof manner? One can be forgiven for believing that Manildi and his coterie, from Gregor Benko on down, don’t want the holdings of IPAM to be fully catalogued and to be made fully available. These guys are hobbled with the mindsets of collectors, not scholars…gate-keepers who want to keep the gate closed.

    The particular problem of Manildi’s letter, which is the particular problem with most everything he writes, is his tone. He takes the approach of a sniffy and sanctimonious prosecutor rather than a fair-minded colleague unless you are an accepted member of his coterie–one of whom, Richard Zimdars, has posted, unctuously, on his behalf. Other pro-Manildi posts by persons using aliases may be assumed to come from the same quarter. Of course, if you are part of his coterie, you can get away with murder.

    Winter could have been and should have been more exacting in his research, but he has something Manildi and Co. will never have: class and an ability to extrapolate ideas from facts.

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