The Colonial's Guide to Understanding Gramophone Magazine Reviews

The American record buyer who makes purchases in reliance upon reviews published in that redoubtable British periodical, Gramophone, is often surprised by the difference between what is heard and what has been read. This list of oft-used phrases and their actual meanings may serve to alleviate that problem.

"Sir Adrian conducts a (pick one) deeply felt/noble/heartfelt performance.

Translation: Sir Adrian's pacemaker crapped out during the slow movement.

"...despite occasional lapses in ensemble... "

Translation: The French horns missed 8 entrances.

"I find myself returning again and again to the Barbirolli."

Translation: It's the only performance I own.

"The recording is top-drawer."

Translation: The performance sucks.

"The performance is all one could wish for."

Translation: The recording sucks.

"Bernstein certainly is a little willful in the scherzo."

Translation: Lenny now holds the world's indoor land speed record for this movement.

"Despite Klemperer's choice of expansive tempi, the rhythms are well-sprung."

Translation: This is the slowest performance on record,but they get most of the dotted eighths and sixteenths.

"The performance of (insert name of comely young artist) pleased me not a little."

Translation: The (pick one) bimbo/hunk put out for me.

"Karajan's traversal is somewhat erratic."

Translation: Herbie's been senile since 1978.

"Overall the performance works well."

Translation: They finished together.

"EMI currently plan on reissuing only Sir Thomas' most treasured recordings."

Translation: If Sir Thomas so much as farted near a microphone, they'll release it on a 2 CD set at full price.

"I was much taken with the gorgeously mellow brass."

Translation: These wimps are gutless wonders who couldn't play fortissimo if their lives depended on it.

"He brings a youthful freshness of approach and spontaneity to the score which infuse new life into this much-hackneyed war-horse."

Translation: The new conductor is British.

"His lack of experience, alas, is only too evident in the finale."

Translation: The new conductor is American.

"Rattle knows exactly what he wants."

Translation: Unfortunately, nobody else does. Especially the orchestra.

"It is common knowledge that Mehta's relationship with (insert name of British orchestra) has been stormy."

Translation: (pick one) a) They keep calling him 'Gunga Din' b) The lads can't bear playing for someone who, a hundred years ago, would have been a water boy for the Bengal Lancers.

"His credentials are impressive."

Translation: His talent is non-existent.

"The performance is stunning."

Translation: Not to say shocking.

"As always, (insert name of dead British artist) was a paragon of good taste."

Translation: Boooooring.....

"His account of the famous solo passage in the third movement is unforgettable."

Translation: Because he comes in three bars early.

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