Many of us, faced with a name we don't know, would be more inclined to do a spot of googling and then present the result as if we'd known it all along (yes, I've done this and will probably do it again). It may LOOK more professional, but isn't it really just a mild con?
And just suppose John France had written something like "Michala Petri, as we all know, has been a leading light of recorder playing for several decades; these performances can only add to her reputation", this may have passed Keith Callow's litmus test, but would it really tell anybody anything? Superficially it sounds fine, but isn't it the sort of thing you can cosily write without hearing the record at all?
Of course, you have to draw the line somewhere, and I'm sure that if a critic began on the lines of "The name of Beethoven is not new to me, but this is my first encounter with any of his music", our editor would relieve him of his duties (though actually, it might be interesting to see what conclusions the critic drew). But I don't feel that line has been breached in this case. Between a recorder enthusiast who has never heard of Gordon Jacob and a Gordon Jacob enthusiast who has never heard of Michala Petri, my feeling is that the latter may have more to tell us in this case.
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