1 February 2018

Well – I started. And since it is re: a review of a Honegger CD that I got really pissed at Amazon (see my blog-posts of January 29 and January 30), I decided to start by transferring my many Honegger reviews over here, and replacing them on Amazon with short summaries and invitations to visit my website. It’s going to take quite a while, because it is never a process of simply copying and pasting, but more of copying, pasting, scanning front and back covers, writing the complete credits and product info, sometimes adding relevant iconography, updating the reviews, changing the links, etc, etc.

But I started, and I decided to start with the historical recordings:

Collection Piero Coppola vol. 3: La Musique Française du XXème Siècle (Roussel: Suite en fa op. 33, Naissance de la Lyre op. 24 excerpt. Honegger: Pacific 231, Rugby. Schmitt: La Tragédie de Salomé. Rabaud: Mârouf Savetier du Caire Danses. Golestan: Rapsodie Roumaine). Dante Lys 373 (1998)

Honegger conducts Honegger (La Tempête-Prélude, Pastorale d’été, Pacific 231, Rugby, Les Aventures du Roi Pausole: Overture & Ballet, Symphonie “Liturgique”). Rhené-Bâton conducts Le Chant de Nigamon. Music & Arts CD-767 (1993)

Honegger conducts Honegger (Pacific 231, Rugby, Prelude to the Tempest, Pastoral D’été [sic], Les Aventures du roi Pausole: Overture & Ballet, Concerto for cello w. Maurice Maréchal). Maurice Jaubert conducts Jaubert: Ballade. Gabriel Pierné conducts Pierné: Ramuntcho. Dutton CDBP 9764 (2006)

Arthur Honegger: “Rugby” – Interprétations historiques sous la direction du compositeur (Pacific 231, Rugby, Symphony No. 3 “Liturgique”, three out of Quatre Chansons pour voix grave orchestral version w. Madeleine Martinetti, two excerpts from Apollinaire’s Alcools w. Dolores de Silvera, Trois Psaumes, two excerpts from Quatre Chansons pour voix grave piano version w. Eliette Schenneberg, two excerpts from Trois Chansons de la petite sirène w. Claire Croiza). Alpha 802 (2008)

Les Rarissimes de Arthur Honegger: Une Cantate de Noël (A Christmas Cantata), Cris du Monde, Nicolas de Flue, Rugby, Pacific 231. Georges Tzipine, Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion française, Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire. (2 CDs) EMI 5 86477 2 (2005)

Honegger: Pacific 231, Rugby, Mouvement symphonique No. 3, Prelude pour “La Tempête”, Pastorale d’été, Chant de joie. Stravinsky: Pétrouchka. Hermann Scherchen, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Westminster 289 471 245-2 (2001)

And an escapade to a more recent, and famed recording: Honegger: Symphony No. 2 for string orchestra & trumpet, Symphony No. 3 “Liturgique”. Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Herbert von Karajan. DG 20th Century Classics 423 242-2 (1988), reissued on DG “The Originals” 447 435-2 with Stravinsky’s Concerto for strings in D (1995).

And a post-script: having just transfered my review of the twofer Les Rarissimes of Honegger conducted by Georges Tzipine (see link above), I am reminded that there are strange connexions between my activities as a reviewer on Amazon, and Honegger. So, it is because Amazon.com pissed me on re-posting a review already posted of a Honegger disc that I decided to really jump out of the train – and have started doing it.

But it’s also a Honegger review that, back in 2006, sent me to Amazon.com to post my reviews. When I decided to post reviews on Amazon, the obvious choice to me was to post them on Amazon.fr (and in French, of course).  But I soon found the process extremely tedious and unwelcoming: many of my reviews wouldn’t get posted, I never received an explanation why, I figured out that, apparently, any review that was over 500 words was simply barred (although the limit established in Amazon’s own guidelines is 1,000). But the last straw with Amazon.fr came when I tried to post that review for EMI’s Rarissimes of Honegger by Tzipine. It didn’t get posted. In inquired why. I got in answer, which baffled and infuriated me. The review started something like: “Shame on EMI-France for not systematically maintaining in their catalog some of the sets they had published in the 1990s in the collection “Les Introuvables”, for which some internet sellers are now asking ludicrous prices. But still, praise them for pursuing their reissue effort in this new collection “Les Rarissimes” and making available again some of the finest collectibles from the late 78rpms and early LP era, from their own archive or the vaults of the French label Ducretet-Thompson“.

Well, the asses who screened the reviews at Amazon.fr responded: “libel”.

WTF??? Hey guys, I know a thing or two about libel laws in France. I know that in France free speech is more limited than in the US and libel laws stricter. But, NO you people, saying “shame on EMI for not keeping this or that available but praise them for making other things available” is NOT, not even close to (and not even far from, because metaphors of distance simply wouldn’t even apply) “slander”.

So I had people screening my reviews, that were incompetent both in classical music AND in the law, and they were making my life needlessly complicated. Jeeeezus!

But then, my first reaction was to say, “hey what the heck”, bite the bullet and mollify that first sentence, like “a pity that EMI-France hasn’t maintained….”. Ah, but, no…. although the review had been barred, the “system” (makes me think of Kafka’s Castle) considered that I had published a review, and barred me from posting another one under the same entry.

So: fuck Amazon.fr and go to hell if you don’t want my reviews and are afraid of your own shadow. And I moved my reviewing to Amazon.com, where to my great marvel most of my reviews got posted immediately with no apparent screening, even if they approached the 1,000-word limit (which I later discovered was in fact NOT a limit, just a recommendation – it is only passed 5,000 that the system wouldn’t accept a review) and staff was responsive and nice whenever I inquired about problems.

Ah but those were the heydays of Amazon.com, that’s over now. But how strange it is that a Honegger review would open that cycle and another one would close it, no? Ghost of Arthur, what are you trying to tell me?

Comments are welcome