Paperbacks: Maestros, Masterpieces & Madness, by Norman Lebrecht

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The Independent Culture

The subtitle, "The Secret Life & Shameful Death of the Classical Record Industry", covers only the first half of this book, a snappy, though not cliché-free ("CBS was young, hungry and punching above its weight") account of the record business from 1945 to its current moribund state, as EMI Classics issues McCartney's "oratorio" (LA Times: "gives saccharine a bad name'").

In the second half, on "100 Masterpieces of the Recorded Century", Lebrecht is knowledgeable but irritating. To describe a producer as "coming from a dreary corner of south-east London" and "the back of beyond" is pure snobbery.