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Posted October 1, 2010
Most discerning listeners still think that LPs sound better than CDs. Even if you are reminded by younger friends that your entire ten thousand record collection could fit on one one iPod --what a cheeky suggestion! -- still most records just convey more of a performance. But here is a CD that is the opposite. The original LP version of these Bruno Hoffman recordings had an off-putting shrillness and lack of tonal exactness coming from this odd instrument. The music Mozart wrote is so beautiful that many are tempted to put the Glass Harmonica with Schubert's Arpeggione one-off enthusiasm as a lost cause, and play it on another instrument altogether. But I was amazed how beautiful the Glass Harmonica sounded in this CD transfer. It makes you appreciate why so many composers wrote for it. Of course the beauty of it throws all the eighteenth century hand- wringing about the "danger" of the instrument in sharp relief. Many divines were seriously convinced that it was the work of the devil or likely to make the tender-minded go a bit crazy. Perhaps the original form of it consisting of glasses of water rubbed on the rims looked a bit sensuous to some, rubbing wet things having prurient possibilities to prudish types. But leave it to Ben Franklin who re-invented the instrument and brought to it, as a Freemason, the straightforwardness and orderly thought that Masons are reknown for. It's probably wise to put this instrument, and its contemporaneous detractors, in the context of the controversy surrounding Mesmer's thought such as it was, which attracted a lot of attention and with which, in some people's minds this curious old instrument got lumped. Even with that context, all the bizarre worries about what amounts to glass with some water on it, seem quite funny. It's surprising in this regard that there wasn't a Papal pronouncement anathematizing it! How lucky we are that Mozart was not was not put off, but given his commitments in life that is hardly surprising. And thanks to this CD we can really hear it well.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.