The long notes
ONE of the highest compliments that can be paid to a news paper critic is to have his or her reviews compiled and published in book form. Reviews, produced under pressure of late night deadlines, and sometimes regretted in the morning when first impressions have given way to a more considered response, often do not outlive their immediate context. Now music lovers have a chance to assess the contribution to musical criticism of Charles Acton, Music Critic of The Irish Times from the mid1950s to the late 1980s. Acton, usually accompanied by his wife Carol, was a familiar figure at concerts, recitals and opera performances all over the country, where members of the audience would scrutinise the tilt of his head to gauge his reactions.
Dr Gareth Cox, a lecturer in music at Mary immaculate College, University of Limerick, has compiled, edited and introduced an anthology of Acton's Irish Times review - which also includes his appraisals of traditional music, for which he received the first Sean O Boyle Award in 1986. John O'Conor writes in a preface to this volume: "Of course he could be infuriating at times but there is nobody who can match his experience, enthusiasm, compassion and exuberance."