ARTS / Cries & Whispers

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TWO WEEKS ago I noted that Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' had been adopted as the anthem of the European Community, and invited readers to find something a little more apt. This morning seems as good a time as any to return to the subject.

Alan Smart from Llanfyllin, Powys, proposes either the Haydn string quartet tune that was 'misappropriated' for 'Deutschland uber Alles' or, in honour of the Common Agricultural Policy, something from Birtwistle's Yan Tan Tethera. Nigel Bewley from Perivale, Middlesex, would prefer anything from Alfredo Catalani's opera La Wally (why the wally should be female, he doesn't explain); or else Mozart's String Quartet No 19 in C (K465) - also known as The Dissonance Quartet.

Angela Hewitt of Belsize Park, London, puts in a word for Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question. A whole regiment of Euro-sceptics nominate Berlioz's March to the Scaffold. Both John Williams of Walmer, Kent, and Geoff Veale of Pencader, Dyfed, go for Haydn's Farewell Symphony, in which one performer after another leaves the stage before the music stops. Mrs R D Green of Oxted, Surrey, plumps for Elgar's Cockaigne Overture, on the grounds that Cockaigne is defined as 'an imaginary land of easy and luxurious living'.

Helen McNabb of Llantwit Major, Glamorgan, has three ideas: 'a spirited rendition of 'Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better' ', John Cage's '4' 33' - to represent the level of communication between member states - or, more seriously, Penderecki's Auschwitz Oratorio, 'to remind us of the price of failure'. Jon Shum, of the Glasgow Polytechnic psychology department, thinks it's too easy to be cynical. The anthem 'must command attention without bureaucratic directives: just shut your eyes and feel the extra-terrestrial power'. My thoughts entirely. So he goes for the theme to Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey - Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra.

Many other suggestions came in. But the bottle of champagne goes to Norman Gettings from Cardiff, who nominates Mussorgsky's ever-popular Night on a Beurre Mountain. My thanks to all those who took the trouble to write.

NOT CONTENT with having replaced a format which costs pounds 8 with one that costs pounds 13, the leading record companies are now planning to do the same thing again. Just as CD has taken the place of the LP, so the moguls hope that one of two new formats

digital compact cassette and mini-disc - will supplant the standard cassette. And as our news pages reported last Sunday, pre-recorded DCCs and MDs will cost the same as CD: pounds 14, top whack. Happily, there is a hitch. The record companies tried to force their artistes to accept lower royalties while the new formats got established. Now some of the more influential band managers, notably Ed Bicknell (Dire Straits) and Elliot Rashman and Andy Dodd (Simply Red), already seething over the record companies' grasping attitude to CD, have decided that enough is enough. Last Sunday, in Manchester, the bonhomie of the first AGM of the British music industry went rather flat when the managers - free spirits to a man, in my experience - took the novel step of forming a union.

One record company, however, deserves applause - Island Records, whose forthcoming Bob Marley box set gives you four CDs, handsomely mounted, for pounds 33. But remember: prices won't come down while we continue to pay them. So don't pay full price if you can help it. Except for the Marley set.