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Customer Discussions > Classical Music forum

Gramophone Guide will no longer be published in print form


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Showing 1-22 of 22 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 27, 2012 8:38:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 27, 2012 9:10:43 AM PST
Gramophone has announced that the 2012 edition of their Classical Music guide will be the last print edition. They say that they have improved their website to the point where all archive issues are available online, and are offering that for a subscription fee.

I began my classical music collection in the early 1980's and for a long time I used the Gramophone reviews and guides as one of my main resources (remember the old "Good CD Guide"?). These days of course there are many more places to go for recommendations and opinions, including Amazon, but I've still valued Gramophone and enjoy reading their reviews.

I hope that their website improvements have solved the problems I have found there in the past. When I've tried to search the Gramophone archives online, I've usually found that the scanning accuracy of their old magazines was so poor that the articles were frequently almost unreadable. If the new website has fixed those problems then it will be a great improvement, but it still won't be the same as browsing through the print edition (and whether or not you prefer Gramophone, or Penguin, or whatever, I think that the printed guides are always enjoyable to pick up and read).

I've seen that most of the participants in this Amazon forum are very knowledgeable classical music fans, so the loss of the Gramophone guide to those here is probably not a big deal. But to someone who is a beginner, as I was when I first picked up a Good CD Guide, this will be a real loss.

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 8:55:55 AM PST
<<<I've seen that most of the participants in this Amazon forum are very knowledgeable classical music fnas, >>>
we can fool the best of 'em...

the truth is that the internet has altered the way we get such information.
and the 'print editions' of things just seem to get worse and worse and more useless..
(new 'penguin guides' were a 'must own, must buy' for me since college...yet the last one I bought was just a shell of its former self)

On a related topic.
I was one of the last hold outs in getting a daily newspaper. 'the LA times' was no slouch and I really liked supporting it. BUt it just kept getting thinner and thinner, more expensive. Until I just gave up on the notion that it would ever get back to where it once was.
supermarket ads can only take one so far......
breaking news..tuna fish 99cents/can...

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 9:15:55 AM PST
Anyone remember the monthly Schwann catalogs? Many of us thought the classical music shopping world was at an end when that ceased publication.

As for the Good CD Guide, I don't recall it ever being as informative or comprehensive as the Penguin Guide (which itself was made up of mostly Gramophone reviewers as well, if memory serves).

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 9:36:11 AM PST
<<<Anyone remember the monthly Schwann catalogs? Many of us thought the classical music shopping world was at an end when that ceased publication.>>>

when I first started getting 'into' CM,I used the schwann catalog as a guide.
I figured the works to investigate 'first' by a composer were the ones that had the most recordings.
I know now there are flaws in that system, but it still seems a good sort of path before 'youtube' and the only way to hear things were at the mercy of the radio stations, scratchy library LPs or buying things first hand.

<<<As for the Good CD Guide, I don't recall it ever being as informative or comprehensive as the Penguin Guide (which itself was made up of mostly Gramophone reviewers as well, if memory serves). >>>
ivan march, edward greenfield and robert layton were(are?) the main contributors and they all were gramaphone writers.
I chose the penguin guide myself over the gramophone guide as well..also, didn't waste a lot of printing space on 'pictures'...

If I remember correctly the Gramaphone guide just gave the top recommendations whereas the penguin was more comprehensive and gave reviews of most recordings, good and bad.

I think what happened to it is that it became a monster trying to keep up with all the re-issues that have taken over in the last few years so they just make arbitrary decisions what not to cover. The last one I have is dated '2009' and I don't think there is a single brilliant box listed.....
I wanted to read THEIR reviews of the complete beethoven, mozart or bach boxes which were certainly out at the time of the printing...

Posted on Nov 27, 2012 10:46:05 AM PST
HB says:
Now that we have Spotify and NML available, do we really need guides? For example, I read lots of great things about the Vanska Sibelius set and at less than 8 dollars, it was a great deal. However, I simply do not like the conductor. I find his interpretations to be terribly superficial. With NML, I was able to check out his Sibelius and nothing changed for me. I still don't like him or his Sibelius or the orchestra. Although I suspect the really good download price will finally sucker me into buying it one of these days.

My point is this: You can check out the recordings for yourself. Be your own judge. The critics might have more knowledge but in the end, the decision should be yours and not theirs. Just my two cents on the matter, FWIW.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 7:05:59 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
HB

NML?

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 7:21:15 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2012 7:24:56 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
Back when I was getting into buying records of classical music, Noah hadn't even begun to build his ark yet. The best source for authoritative reviews in the US at that time (late fifties - middle sixties) was the record review magazine High Fidelity. Second in quality was Stereo Review. There was another excellent source, The American Record Guide, but I didn't know about it until many years later. While I had a good sense of what the standard repertoire was, I looked to High Fidelity to guide me in my purchases of recordings of the music I was seeking. I rarely ever had reason to complain about a recommendation from them. Unfortunately, sometime in the late 70s of early 80s the magazine folded. Stereo Review continued for many years afterward, but, in truth, they weren't as helpful in classical music as HF had been. In time, with the arrival of home video, the magazine morphed into Sound and Vision, still being published. Now, it's rare for them to cover a new classical CD, but every once in a while, they do.

Fortunately, in the early 80s I discovered the wonderful American review magazine, Fanfare, devoted mostly to classical music. They do have an article reviewing jazz recordings each month, and they also review select film score recordings. It's a bimonthly publication as is The American Record Guide. I've been subscribing to both for years. They are indispensable.

Then there were all those Penguin Guides, amazingly helpful, and it's a shame the books have gone away. I keep every one I ever bought, which was for years every one published.

The previous post came to you by way of the Things-No-One-Ever-Needed-to-Know-About-the-Poster department.

Posted on Nov 28, 2012 11:13:16 PM PST
High Fidelity folded in the mid-1980s. At one point they were carrying Musical America as a bound insert inside the magazine. That was very cool, as MA carried both concert and recording reviews, and had folks like Joan La Barbara as reviewers.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 4:18:40 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2012 4:19:18 AM PST
Cavardossi

NML refers to Naxos Music Library an on-line streaming service hosted by the budget label Naxos.
You can access for free by signing up for the e-mail newsletter from Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
They have a great number of recordings from independent quality labels - they even have some EMI.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 5:58:30 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2012 6:00:48 AM PST
The Gramophone Good CD Guide is, truthfully, no great loss. Neither was the Penguin Guide (still publishing?). Penguin was first, and it was quite reliable, but in time the Gramophone came along, both were British, both shared many compilers/editorialists so they became ineffective from a practical point of view. Sadly, nothing today really is of true value/advice/recommendation for collectors, especially the inexperienced newbies to classical music and the vast catalogs of current, recently-current, long out of print, and historic recordings.

The real loss, for all of us, both past and present was the passing on of The Schwann Music or Record Guide. It is a shame indeed that nobody ever came along and saved it, transporting it to the net, and kept it up. Every recording was listed and rated and new releases were evaluated against them. It was the single most valuable tool a collector could hold in his hand.

Gramophone, BBC Music, et al, seem no longer unbiased, and I have not seen an issue of FanFare for a very long time, not sure it still publishes.

What we are now left with seems to be ourselves here, corresponding and recommending to each other, customer reviews here, and us "older generation" for help and advice.

The music industry is in sad shape, in particular classical and opera. Witness the wholesale sell-offs and buy-outs of our most treasured historical labels and companies. Sad, very very sad. Perhaps, indeed, the very day may be coming when, indeed, the music will stop. Can you imagine this? Look what we (as humanity) have created for our enlightenment and pleasure over the centuries and today seem to be throwing away.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 6:10:05 AM PST
HB says:
NML?

NML is the Naxos Music Library, free to anybody through the Toronto Symphony. It has over 1 million tracks. Besides Naxos recordings, it also has EMI, Chandos, Berlin Classics and hundreds of other independent labels. I use it daily. Here is the link:

http://www.tso.ca/Plan-Your-Experience/Beethoven-On-Demand.aspx

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 6:44:35 AM PST
I don't recall Schwann's rating of classical recordings. I remember it more as a recordings in print type deal.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 7:00:51 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2012 7:02:25 AM PST
HB says:
"I don't recall Schwann's rating of classical recordings. I remember it more as a recordings in print type deal."

In the early '60's, it costs 35 cents and was about the same size as a paperback book. I think some stores even gave it away as a means of selling records. Later, as I recall, they doubled its size and had some articles. It got really big and then died. Now, of course, with the web, it would serve little or no purpose. It might be a good way to kill time, when the electricity goes out and you can't charge your smart phone.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 8:32:57 AM PST
<<<In the early '60's, it costs 35 cents and was about the same size as a paperback book. I think some stores even gave it away as a means of selling records>>>
wallich's music city would let customers have the month old copies when the new issues came out.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 10:14:09 AM PST
KenOC says:
"I don't recall Schwann's rating of classical recordings."

I *think* there were something like little black squares or circles next to the most notable recordings of a piece.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 10:16:42 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2012 10:29:56 AM PST
For me, the real news is that GP's online archive is no longer available for free. Last time I tried to access the archive I was redirected to GP's main page, where I found a banner announcing the new subscription service. Not happy. Thought maybe I had a cookie problem, but apparently not.

Yeah I know, I shouldn't expect something for nothing. But that's just what they offered for several years, and now they're retracting it. And if the subscribers get the same lousy OCR scans we once got for free, GP is selling a low-quality service at a ridiculous premium. Overall, it's not good for CM listeners.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 10:24:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2012 10:25:12 AM PST
from wiki

"""The Schwann Catalog (previously Schwann Long Playing Record Catalog or later Schwann Record And Tape Guide) was a catalog of music started by William Schwann in 1949.[1] The first edition was hand-typed and 26 pages long, and it reviewed 674 long-playing records (see LP record). By the late 1970s, over 150,000 record albums had been covered by the Schwann Catalog. The Schwann Catalog changed hands several times, sold in 1976, then again in the late 1980s to Stereophile, then to Valley Media in the 1990s. In 2002, the company was purchased at a bankruptcy auction by Alliance Entertainment Corporation.[2]
"""

I don't remember the reviews or black dots.
except some essays at the beginning.
I do remember that new releases were marked.

here is an example of how I used it.
I do remember is hearing a Dvorak quartet didn't make out the name or number of it. checked thwe schwann and found the 'american' with 50 million more recordings than any other Dvorak quartet. I took a chance and bought a recording. it was the correct one.

again, in this day and age, I hit the local classical station's website and I'm good to go.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 10:54:30 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2012 10:58:15 AM PST
I think the black dots were in the Stevenson Guide, which I found very useful while shopping at Tower. The Penguin was my least favorite guide.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 11:20:13 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
I, too, was a longtime user of the Schwann Record Catalog and I don't remember any reviews. I wonder what Wiki is thinking of? Nor do I recall any black dots, but I DO remember that the Schwann did have a mark for recordings about to be deleted from their companies catalogs. That was a real service, too, because it alerted you to the fact that a recording in which you might have been interested had better be purchased now, if you could find a copy.

I can assure everyone that Fanfare is most definitely still being published; I just re-upped my subscription for another two years. If anyone is interested, their website is

fanfaremag.com

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2012 11:29:13 AM PST
Vaughan -

That's my recollection, too. The Stevenson Guide was a great resource - it's a shame that it didn't last very long.

The Penguin guides were only useful if you had them all, because the recordings listed were quite limited, which became more and more of a problem as the years went by and more stuff was issued on CD. And even so, their assessments of certain recordings was questionable, to say the least....

Bill

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 11:30:37 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
I must say, I don't get the oft stated dislike of the Penguin Record Guides. They were written by knowledgeable music lovers who also knew recordings over the course of many years. Not only did the Guide point out great recordings of a piece, but warned of problematic ones if they were currently available.

It is true that they had a British-centric view, but once you caught on to that you could evaluate what they were saying to your needs. Personally, I'm sorry that the Guide is gone.

Now, as to Gramophone.....I've had access to that magazine for decades, read it, and never cared for it. Too slick by far, I never felt the reviewers really had a passion for what they were doing, and the reviews tended to be facile and unrevealing. I never purchased anything they recommended unless I bought it because Fanfare and/or American Record Guide liked it.

I know, I know, the writers of the Penguin Guides also wrote for Gramophone, but somehow those shorter reviews in the books were more persuasive than what I found in the pages of Gramophone. I no longer have access to Gramophone and I don't miss it a bit.

Posted on Nov 29, 2012 1:20:49 PM PST
John Spinks says:
If the converter I used is correct Gramophone's online archive is:

Print magazine and online access to the complete archive = $120.06/year

Online access to archive only = $64.06/year.

I took the magazine for several years. Primarily for notification of new recordings, not reviews. I can't help thinking that I could buy five boxed sets easily (and maybe more) for $120.06. I'll probably be using other review sources as well as the opinions of our well-informed community for shopping guidance, and stick to spending that cash on actual recordings.
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  11
Total posts:  22
Initial post:  Nov 27, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 29, 2012

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