The exact date of Bob’s death, 9th November. When I first knew him I was the ‘Young Turk’ among Gramophone’s venerated roster of old reviewers, though he was always hugely supportive, and enthusiastically encouraged new or refreshing viewpoints. We’d spar and laugh regularly, sometimes over a jar of this or that, or a meal. I have missed his writing of late and often wondered what he would have made of new Sibelius symphony cycles (a speciality) conducted by the likes of Segerstam, Paavo Järvi, Storgards etc. How, according to Bob, would they have stacked up against say Sir Colin Davis in Boston, Anthony Collins in London, various symphonies that Karajan recorded and so forth? And what’s more important, how would you rate his opinions alongside those of his various successors, especially in Gramophone? Have reviewing standards dipped, stayed level or risen? Does the fact that unlike Bob’s forebears the modern critic has sometimes to consider hundreds of rival versions of a particular symphony invalidate his/her opinions simply because it’s impossible to listen to everything? And how does the presence of so many unedited websites/blogs etc – some of them impressively authoritative – alter the state of play when it comes to assessing officially published critical viewpoints? How valid is record reviewing anyway? Do you simply learn to trust those who you regularly agree with? And was the scholar/broadcaster/musician Has Keller right when he called record criticism a ‘phoney profession’? Thoughts please!