I started listening to music aged 5 (classical and rock and pop) at 11 bought the recently released Solti Gotterdammerung and ever since then have loved music of all kinds, but my great passion is classical. There is an element of insanity in this in that I have well over 10,000 LPs, 12 triga bytes of downloads and about 150 DVDs.
Despite training as a singer as a hobby, since I clearly wasn’t going to headline at La Scala I gave this up and concentrated on a different career.
Musically I have some gods, the greatest being Beethoven, closely followed by Schubert and then in alphabetical order, Britten Chopin, Elgar, Liszt, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Verdi and Wagner. I also revere and love Bach’s solo instrumental works, but can’t tell one cantata from another and the B minor Mass is pretty boring, as is much of Bruckner, although he does have his moments. There is only one real dislike and that is Mozart, whose music for me is irritatingly twee and reeks of insincerity.
For another publication I listen to a large number of streamed new releases by a variety of second and third-rate singers and instrumentalists who appear to roll off the production line with absolutely no interpretive insight or personality, which is profoundly depressing. So unsurprisingly much of my collecting and writing revolves around what might be called historical releases, although in any generation and to name only pianists, Perahia, Lupu, Zimerman, Goode and Argerich would be great artists. Of ‘older pianists the greatest is surely Rachmaninov (even in Marston’s very poor remastering his playing of his Symphonic Dances belongs to the gods), closely followed by Horowitz, Richter, Solomon and a host of others.
I also prefer to listen to high-resolution sound (that is 24/96 or higher) or LP as CDs are sonically very seriously compressed and compromised.
There is also the horror (or nonsense as I called it on here) of period instrument performance in Beethoven or later, where you do have to ask why on earth anyone would want to hear two and a half double basses playing without vibrato in the Scherzo of the 5th or a fortepiano that sounds like a cross between a harpsichord and clapped-out old pub Joanna in the Hammerklavier.