Buying the Musician's Gramophone
IF purely musical values were all that went to the choice of a gramophone, I should advise anyone to go immediately to the E.M.G. shop at 11 Grape Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, and hear the Mark X model. I am persuaded that, except for very expensive electrical apparatus, nothing equals it on the market to-day. The only drawback is that not every household will welcome into its bosom an enormous horn like a ship's ventilator, which will upset the symmetry of any drawing-room. The fact is that usually a compromise has to be made between an object designed solely for the correct reproduction of sound and an object which looks like a civilized bit of furniture. The E.M.G. exterior horn models do not make this compromise : that is why they give the best musical results.
If a gramophone with an internal horn must be had on the grounds of genteel appearance, then the proper method of buying the right model is, in the • first place, to buy and read carefully Novice Corner, published by Gramophone Publications, Ltd. • and, in- the second place, bearing in mind such personal matters as size of room and length of purse, to go to some place, such as Keith Prowse, where you can hear several makes and compare them. Novice Corner suggests records which usefully test the abilities of a gramophone, and you can try them until you are satisfied ; and, since the quality of the bass is one'of the most important details, you should be sure to-listen tee MALY,' CUM. which
gives each instrument of the orchestra in turn, and note the reproduction of 'cello, double bass, and bassoon. Try, if possible, to buy the gramophone you hear and not merely one of the same sort ; gramophones have individualities just as much as violins. Two main things the musician must bear in mind : • he must have a machine with a large horn, even if this is folded up inside a cabinet, for otherwise he cannot hope to hear a symphony save as a flimsy and distorted ghost. An electrical record nowadays has the whole orchestra hidden in it ; but you cannot put a hogshead of sound into a pint pot, nor can you get it out of the portable model, though, of course, this may be all very well for foxtrots when you are camping. He must remember, also, that only fibre needles must be used, for at least three reasons : they can give a purer tone than steel, they eliminate surface noises, and steel needles will wear out any record with a large volume of sound in a surprisingly short time, whereas fibre leaves a record almost immortal.
If you have si gramophone already and do not wish to change it, you can at least discard steel for fibre needles ; but you must buy a special sound-box. The reason why many people fail with fibre is because a sound-box suitable for steel will break a fibre needle more often than not. There are many good sound-boxes, and you can select from those advertised in Compton Mackenzie's excellent monthly, The Gramophone, a paper to which you will subscribe as a matter of course if you wish to get all there is out of your gramo- phone. Do not be discouraged by people who have failed to get good results with fibre needles ; they have certainly tried to use them with a sound-box only suitable for steel needles, or they have used them to play records already badly worn by steel. These are the necessary preliminaries for anyone who is going to take their music seriously ; the next step is to realize the wealth of recorded music at your disposal. Everyone • knows H.M.V. and Columbia records, everyone ought to know Brunswick, Parlophone, and, by no means least, the German Polydor records. That Columbia publishes complete recordings of every Beethoven Symphony and Quartet, that most of Wagner has been recorded complete, that a little search will reveal a surprising number of Schubert Lieder, are facts which indicate the musical revolution of the last five years. Toscanini, Stokowsky, Karl. Muck, Coossens, Henry Wood—all can be brought to conduct their full orchestras at Tristan da Cunha. Yet even in Bloomsbury ignorance of how to treat a gramophone too often keeps them at more than arm's length. Of recent records the most important are H.M.V.'s issue of Haydn's " Clock " Symphony, played by the New York Philharmonic under the direction of ToseaniniI doubt if better playing has ever been so perfectly recorded, -and the flute passages in themselves are a revelation of what; can now be heard on the gramophone. Those who feel that enough Haydn is as good as a feast should get the record containing the third movement ; but the whole album is excellent. The next most interesting is Columbia's album of songs, sung and played by Sir George Henschel at the age of seventy-nine : perfect diction and perfect playing make Loewe's " Heinrich Der Vogler," Schubert's " Lachen and Weiner" and " Der Leierman " as exquisite as can be. It is as if the singer is with us at home by the fireside, rather :than coldly in a concert room.
H.M.V. gives us Elgar's "Wand of Youth" suite very well recorded. There are five records, and the best is No. 1637, containing " Fairy Pipers " and " Slumber Scene." The music was first written when Elgar was fourteen to show how children were misunderstood by their parents ; it is excellent music to play to children beginning to understand real music. So also are the two records of Schumann's " Kinderscenen " played by Fanny Davies and published by Columbia.
H.M.V. give us another Segovia record, and his guitar is particularly well recorded in the allegretto- a sonatina by Torroba. We would have liked the other movements. This record can be thoroughly recommended. Very different but excellent in their way arc the two H.M.V. records of Gershwin's" An American in Paris," where jazz orchestration has been most convincingly repro- duced. The music is better than " A Rhapsody in Blue," and Gershwin will one day give us a first-class satire on our age. Finally, among, cheap records Zaidee Jackson's negro spirituals, issued by Duophone, should be watched, as they have a genuine negro character of a different sort from Paul Robeson's.