I started collecting records at the age of six. This is probably a very sad admission but it has kept me out of trouble!.
I will endeavor to put the recordings into some context, that is, why such
and such a piece was recorded by such and such musicians on such and such a
date, otherwise it all looks a bit arbitrary. In fact there were often
very good commercial reasons for issuing particular discs and it is worth
while pondering how these were received by the public.
What was normal to a listener a century ago may seem very abnormal to a modern ears. The charge is often that modern musicians do not play as well as their predecessors or past generations of musicians do not play as well as today. Both these arguments are valid if music is treated as independently of fashion, culture, tradition.
I strongly recommend reading or dipping into Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, The Changing Sound of Music: Approaches to Studying Recorded Musical Performance (London: CHARM, 2009) in which the author gives an excellent overview of the current thinking. Also Peter Copeland, Manual of Analogue Audio Restoration Techniques, (London British Library, 2008) [link to pdf file on lower left of page] which gives an excellent overview of the difficulties encountered by musicians, recording engineers and problems of restoration, excellent overview is given in chapters 6 & 12. What is more both these works are FREE!