Notes and Editorial Reviews
A magnificent, fascinating, compilation.
Prima Voce Party
DELANNOY Philippine – Complainte de l’homme
MENDELSSOHN Ich wollt’, mein Liebe ergösse dich, Op. 63/1c [3:06]
Cher petit Rossignol
DI CAPUA O sole mio
Der Vogelhändler - Nightingale Song
f (sung in English)[3:40]
Aimant la rose
YRADIER La Paloma
STRAUSS (arr. Bodenstedt) Wiener Bonbons
TCHAIKOVSKY None but the lonely heart
COWARD Tonight at 8.30 – Shadow Play
FOSTER I dream of Jeannie
ARDITI Se seran rose
The Lost Chord
TRADITIONAL (arr. Diack, with apologies to Handel) Little Jack Horner
HEUBERGER Der Opernball – Im Chambre séparée
TRADITIONAL O Lord, what a mornin’
t [3:19]. Sicilian Cart Driver’s Song (arr. Sadero)
rMaggie Teyte (sopranos);
uBlanche Marchesi (mezzo);
pSigrid Onégin (contralto);
sHerbert Ernst Groh (tenors);
qAlexander Kipnis (basses);
lGertrude Lawrence (singers);
qErnst Victor Wolff,
uAgnes Bedford (pianos); orchestra/
nWalter B. Rogers;
lPhoenix Theatre Orchestra/Clifford Greenwood;
sOdeon-Künstler Orchester/O. Dobrindt.
a19 November 1937;
b31 October 1939;
c11 March 1933;
e26 March 1934;
g24 April 1932;
h5 September 1928;
l16 January 1936;
m24 August 1934;
n23 August 1910;
o29 April 1912;
q30 September 1940;
r17 April 1941;
NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 7839 [71:21]
What a remarkable track kicks off this compilation! Hugues Cuénod’s first, sustained tone of the Delannoy piece is infinitely arresting in its unique, ultra-beautiful sound and suave ease of delivery. The whistles at the end of the piece announce that we are, indeed, at a party, albeit with a difference. Cuénod’s exemplary diction is likewise worthy of note. No less impressive is Rosa Ponselle’s
A l’aimé - piano accompaniment this time. Although recorded only two years after the Cuénod, the quality is significantly better: this is a Victor; the Cuénod was a Columbia. Ponselle’s honeyed voice is perfect for this slower number.
A multi-tracked Tauber duets with himself in the famous Mendelssohn “Ich wollt’, mein Liebe ergösse dich”. The accompaniment is orchestral, which in the present context adds to the warmth of it all. Great fun, but hardly as mesmeric as Miliza Korjus’s stratospherically high nightingale for the Moszkowski.
Gigli’s recording of “O Sole mio” seems remarkably true to the work’s geographical origins and avoids degenerating into Three Tenors overdrive. One just revels in the golden splendour of Gigli’s voice. Elisabeth Schumann nearly usurps him in her sung - and whistled (the documentation credits her with the whistles, too) - Zeller excerpt. What impresses most here is her sense of easy style. Pure delight; as is, by the way, Amelita Gall-Curci’s
La Paloma (The Dove).
In total contrast comes Tito Schipa’s glorious, meltingly beautiful Rimsky excerpt: also known as “The Nightingale and the Rose”. Schipa’s subtle art is fully on display here, and the orientalisms from the oboe seem entirely in place.
The more than unfortunate circumstances of Joseph Schmidt’s life - he died aged 38 in a concentration camp - stand in high contrast to the joie-de-vivre of the delightful Strauss compilation. Schmidt’s high register is wonderfully free. Contrast the high spirits of this song with Tchaikovsky’s “None but the lonely heart”, memorably sung by Nina Koshetz on a 1922 Brunswick; there is also a cello obbligato, but the cellist is unnamed.
Another contrast comes in the form of Paul Robeson, with the much easier on the ear “Trees”. One just revels in the resonance of his bass voice, just as one revels in the period piece “Shadow Play”, deliciously rendered by Coward and Lawrence. McCormack is in fine voice for “I dream of Jeannie”, and is sensitively accompanied by Edwin Schneider on piano.
Interesting to compare the Nimbus transfer of Melba’s 1910 Victor version of “Se seran rose” with the Marston Romophone transfer (“Nellie Melba: The complete Victor recordings 1907-16”, 81011-2). The Nimbus is laudably clear, and we hear all of Melba’s ease and character, yet perhaps in the Romophone we hear a little more. The Romophone set (a three-disc box) also includes the more recessed, but still musically fresh, 1907 Victor version.
We have to wait until relatively late in proceedings before Caruso turns up, but when he does he makes it count with a glorious
Lost Chord. Sigrid Onégin provides Christmassy, tinkly contrast with “Fairy Pipers”; hardly what one expects from this singer, but a marvellous success. Alexander Kipnis is likewise out of character in “Little Jack Horner”. To calm the senses, Maggie Teyte hypnotises in a Hahn song to words by Paul Verlaine.
From thence to operetta, a delicate “Im chambre séparée” on a 1932 Odeon courtesy of Herbert Ernst Groh, in smooth and charming voice. Cuénod returns for a Negro Spiritual, set so high initially this could be a soprano. He returns to his normal, lower voice for the second verse; note he also accompanies himself on the piano. Tender in the extreme, this is a lullaby par excellence. This is about as magical and as Christmassy as it gets. Finally, Blanche Marchesi. She was at the end of her career when she recorded this
Sicilian Cart Driver’s Song and I remain unsure that this was the best way to end the disc, even if the final impression is haunting.
The witty and informed booklet notes tidily pull all the tracks together, adding commentary to each. This is a magnificent and fascinating compilation.
-- Colin Clarke, MusicWeb International