Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another word about review sources

When I was doing the thrilling statistical analysis of last year's Nereffid's Guide Awards I noticed that each of the 5 print publications I consult would review roughly 80 percent of all albums that overall the critics deemed "very good" or better. A pretty good record but it shows that the buyer who relies on any single magazine for their information about what's worth buying risks being unaware of a lot of good stuff.
This year I changed how I collate the information so such facts are not to hand. But just looking at the 70 albums that appeared in the Awards tells me this: Gramophone reviewed 66 of them, which was the best coverage. Or, to put it another way, Gramophone missed 4 of them. IRR missed 7, Fanfare missed 9, and BBC Music Magazine and ARG each missed 10. MusicWeb missed 18, and Classics Today missed 30.
Then again, there's another way to look at how useful each of the sources is. According to my rough tally, Gramophone awarded an Editor's Choice or a Gramophone Recommends, or very high praise without one of those accolades, to roughly 400 albums in the period covered (the October 2009 to January 2011 issues). BBC Music Magazine gave 5 for performance or a Choice accolade to about the same number. IRR gave high praise to about 570, ARG to roughly 1,000, and Fanfare to roughly 1,400. The numbers for Classics Today and MusicWeb were, respectively, about 400 and about 1,400. Part of those figures relates, of course, to how many albums each source reviews. But some also relates to whether the source operates some sort of ratings system - in the absence of ratings, my "grading" of any given review probably errs on the side of praise. And to my mind Fanfare and MusicWeb, the ones that appear to dish out the most praise, do come across as the two sources that in their language and editorial style radiate the most enthusiasm for recorded music.
Which I hope is something being generated by these here Awards, too.

No comments: