The Gramophone Column

For several years I’ve written a monthly column for Gramophone magazine. They are now available on line. Sort of. Here are links to the ones that I can ferret out of the magazine’s archive system, which uses optical character recognition and other arcane technologies. If you scan down, you’ll find a readable version of the text, with some accidental oddities (“I” often scans as “J” and words go missing, but report the errors and the system is supposed to correct itself)…

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

More To Come…

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

July 2008

February 2007

6 responses to “The Gramophone Column

  1. Dear Mr Kennicott
    As a critic of some years standing (13 years formerly with Fanfare etc. etc. and perhaps one of those ‘critics in their dotage who scratch creaky pens’) I read your piece in Gramophone on blogging with considerable interest.
    It seems to me that the fundamental problem with internet music criticism is that anyone can do it. You don’t have to have any experience or qualifications. You don’t get paid. You just have to be willing to do it. This means standards of on-line criticism are in general even lower than the majority of those that appear in print. And if you don’t believe me, just spend some time going round the various websites that carry Classical reviews. It’s all pretty dreadful and even worse than the dire present standard of reviewing in print (one of the reasons I left Fanfare was because I could no longer stand the amateurism of some of its reviewers), for evidence of which just turn to any issue of Gramophone. So, if you want to blog reviews, just consider what company you will be keeping!

  2. I am mainly replying to the post by Brian Robbins. I think its sad that he would rather leave a job in protest instead of staying to uphold a standard of writing he believes has fallen off because “everyone’s a critic”. I am not a critic, but I am critical of this type of attitude. He feels he is being noble and making a statement, when all he’s really doing is acting like a spoiled brat because he doesn’t want to share the spotlight with critics he feels are unworthy. What constitutes good writing is subjective to begin with. Maybe they are geniuses yet to be discovered because they are so far ahead of their time. Monet couldn’t get a show in Paris until an art broker-dealer marketed him in another country. Ours. Grow up Brian.

  3. Hello Philip,
    As an arranger working largely in the jazz field, your piece on James Galway rang true to me. On this side of the fence he is most well known for telephoning John Dankworth to ask if he could visit for the weekend to learn how to improvise. John was unimpressed at the idea that his 50 years of knowledge could be imparted in 48 hours, and I believe the meeting never took place.
    Happy Christmas,

    • Michael Emmerson

      Dear Nigel

      I was Galway’s long-time manager, with, twenty years later, very ambivalent feelings towards the great Maestro.

      However, this apocryphal story story is simply not true. I introduced Galway to John and Cleo who were long-time friends of mine and we made a very successful album (“Sometimes when we touch”) as well as several tours in this country and in the USA.

      I was not aware of Galway asking John for advice on improvising but if he did it was certainly not more than one musician seeking advice from another.

      The truth is that they remained friends over many years and I understand that Galway is returning to Wavendon once again in the near future.

      There are many negatives in the Galway story but this is not one of them.



  4. Tricia James

    Unfortunately the assumption seems to be that all “official” reviewers are well-qualified. This is not the case. In any case, being well-informed about music and performances doesn’t necessarily make a good reviewer. When I want an opinion on a performance or a work, I look for reviews which give a reasonable amount of background, and which offer considered explanations rather than emotional reaction. I find these more often on Web review sites, and even a couple of blog sites, than in the Gramophone or the BBC Music Magazine.

  5. ian punter

    I read your column with interest! (My first Gramophone (here beside me), is dated 1968!!
    I ‘worked’ with J Galway in the late 70’s as a camera assistant, twice, – once on tour in Japan and then following his commission of a Flute Concerto from Rodrigo and the subsequent performance in London. (Both of these BBC documentaries). I can only say that when I read your article, I was at first a little startled that the ‘knife was going in’ so publicly! Then a deep sigh of agreement came! In four weeks of travelling around Japan with JG, did he bother to find out anyone’s name? Sharing a minibus with maybe six of us or so, on a daily basis? He was quite happy to snap his fingers for a flunky to present a briefcase full of money, such as you only see in Hollywood movies, and remove a wad, with nary a ‘thank you’.
    I worked at about the same time on a couple of films with Andre Previn. No contest! The most charming, witty, self-deprecating man, at the height of his popularity. I think, though, in the general ‘non-music-loving’ public’s eye, the charming, smiling, twinkling Galway might have ‘shaded’ it in the popularity stakes. So wrong.
    Once when fronting a documentary in the North of England about the great brass band tradition up there, we were ‘rigging’ cameras sound and lights for a Saturday afternoon concert. No prospect of getting any lunch. Andre approached the lighting cameraman and myself to ask if we were hungry (we were!). ‘Can I get you something?’ We demurred, pointing out that we couldn’t really be seen munching burgers or whatever in front of maybe 15 other peoples. AP disappeared, returning after 30 minutes or so with a large box containing 20 burgers and coffees, ketchup, sugar, creamer etc. In some ways the most awful meal I’ve ever had, but also one of the most memorable! He’d been over the road (it was like a bombsite, a suburb of Manchester, through which they were building a motorway ‘flyover’, – and it was raining). He’d caused quite a stir in the burger-bar, being instantly recognizable to the general public at that time from his weekly BBC series.
    As I say….no contest!

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