I suppose the compact disc, along with digital recording, its partner in computer-based wizardry, is here to stay. Once again the history of musical attitudes to developments in sound reproduction has followed its familiar pattern: initially resisted, new technologies first establish themselves on wider commercial grounds, and then win acceptance from music lovers, not because of the new art these technologies have brought in their van, but because of the old they have conserved in their wake. It was so with the primitive acoustic process at the turn of the century, which many thought would render music soulless but which then turned out to preserve a golden age of Italian and French operatic singing. It was so with electrical recording in the mid-1920s, which was accused by cultivated listeners of stridency and distortion but which served to document the golden age of German operatic and Lieder singing and the...


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