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Issued – April 1998
Historic Masters are pleased to announce the twentieth issue of direct vinyl pressings produced in collaboration with EMI from original 78rpm metal masters in their archives.
Our complete catalogue now numbers 129 discs, comprising 257 sides. Of these no less than 68 have never previously been available in 78rpm format. Both in respect of the size and range of catalogue and in the number of previously unpublished discs, Historic Masters has now surpassed the activities of many of the pioneering historic labels such as the HMV Archive and the Addison Foster series. To date, 107 different singers have been featured on our records.
The new series includes four items not previously available in original form. It also breaks fresh ground for Historic Masters by including a number of artists new to the series and comprising altogether seven discs. As well as the free disc contributed by our great benefactor, Dr John Stratton, we are also including at no extra cost an additional disc. Subscribers will remember our survey asking whether collectors would welcome the opportunity of acquiring relatively common records originally published in poor shellac, but now in first class sound. In the light of the response we decided on the occasional inclusion of one of these discs at no extra cost.
This time you will be able to hear the voice of the great English tenor, Walter Widdop, as you have never heard it before!
Historic Masters has enjoyed the co-operation of many individuals without whom our work would he impossible. These include Ruth Edge and the staff of the EMI archive and Alan Kelly, master of the art of discography.
Historic Masters discs are now being manufactured at the re-sited EMI factory in Hayes. Collectors hardly need reminding that it is now more than 40 years since regular production of 78 rpm discs ceased. It is of course also a decade since the introduction of the CD. In this context it seems almost a miracle that we have so far found ways to continue our activities. However, nothing can be taken for granted. EMI make available the metal masters and produce the finished product. We are dependent on our customers and it is essential that we sell the bulk of each issue. It is sometimes suggested that collectors would prefer a system under which discs were individually available. We have examined the possibility but it would be financially unviable.
There is also, inevitably, some criticism of the choice of discs. Our aim is that each series should be balanced between type of voice and musical content. Of course we cannot re-issue discs where the masters no longer exist. In any event we need the continued support of the collecting world to ensure the continuation of our activities, so please order promptly!
Prospectus, pitching decisions and speeds by Richard Bebb
GOTA LJUNGBERG (1893-1955)
JOSEPH SCHMIDT (1904-1942)
TOSCA – Puccini
Amaro sol per te
Both at Speeds 78
Matrices CLR 5421-2 and CLR 5422-2
Recorded in Berlin on 28 May 1929
Issued as D 2019 (Sung in German)
It is likely that this fine record was only ever published in Germany and England in the period when HMV shellac was at its worst. So it is well worth reissuing it in such lovely silent pressings, particularly as it had only a brief catalogue life and is quite hard to find today. It is astonishing that Ljungberg is so neglected by collectors – she made many quite wonderful recordings.
Swedish friends tell me her name should be pronounced as ‘Yurta Yungberg’.
MARIA CANIGLIA (1905-1979)
Stornello (Poesia populare toscana) – Giuranna
Matrix OBA 1401-1
Recorded in Milan on 25 May 1936
Mi madre, se mi date Giovannino – Giuranna
Matrix OBA 1428-1
Recorded in Milan on 2 June 1936
Both issued in Italy on VdP DA 1497
There is no doubt of the important, if not pre-eminent, position that Maria Caniglia enjoyed in Italy for most of the 1930′s and 1940′s. Yet she has never enjoyed much popularity amoung English or American opera goers or record collectors.
It is a pleasure to make known one of the loveliest, and certainly most rare, of all her recordings – two songs by the contemporary Italian composer Barbara Elena Giuranna. With the composer as accompanist this can be classified as a ‘creator’ recording.
The voice is wonderfully relaxed and the full beauty of her tone is more evident than on any other of her records. These recordings were never published outside Italy despite being of the finest quality both artistically and technically.
GERHARD HUSCH (1901-1984)
Die Taubenpost and Abschied
Two songs from Schwanengesang (Schubert)
Matrices 2RA 2185 and 2RA 2187
Recorded in Berlin on 27 August 1937
Both these sides are unpublished and belong to the finest period of Husch’s career – he re-made both titles much later on for the Japanese Victor company in a complete recording of ‘Schwanengesang’ but by that time he was in vocal decline.
His unaffected yet sensitive singing, combined with the sheer loveliness of his voice, still make him the ideal baritone interpreter of Schubert.
ALELINA CARRERA (1871-1939)
MASCAGNI – Calalleria Rusticana
Vio lo Sapete
Maxtrix XPh 3063
Recorded in Milan on 11 March 1908
Issued as Fonotipia 92169
Nel Suo Amore Rianimato
Matrix XPh 3115
Recorded in Milan on 3 April 1908
Issued as Fonotipia 92168
This Spanish soprano (born in Barcelona in 1871) has a permanent niche in operatic history. After many years singing largely in her native country and Russia, she was chosen to create the role of Maddalena in the world premiere of Andrea Cherier at La Scala, Milan on 29 March 1896 opposite Guiseppe Borgatti and Mario Sammarco.
Her repertoire included most of the great Wagnerian roles but, as this record proves, she was a very effective interpreter of the verismo operas. Like Borgatti, she never bothered to record an aria or a duet from the opera that guaranteed her lasting fame.
FYODOR CHALIAPIN (1873-1928)
On the Hills of Georgia – Rimsky-Korsakov
A Swan – Grieg
Both at Speeds of 80
Matrices 5303ae and 5302ae
Recorded in St. Petersburg on 12 January 1914
Both sides sung in Russian
Both these sides have never before been published in 78 form and neither of the titles were ever re-recorded by the great bass. Both are superbly sung – why they remained unpublished until now is a mystery.
‘On the Hills of Georgia’ is one of the loveliest melodies ever written by Rimsky-Korsakov and is sung with haunting nostaliga.
ELENA KATULSKAYA (1888-1966)
ALEXANDER ALEXANDROVITCH (1881 – circa 1950)
Il se fait tard… Eternalle FAUST – Gounod
Matrices 2783 1/2C and 2784c
Recorded in St. Petersburg on 5 April 1913
Issued as HMV 024076 and 024077
Both sung in Russian
Alexandrovitch is probably least known of the great Russian tenors active in Russia before the first world war. Of all of them, he seems to be the lost lyrical. The voice does not sound large, but the loveliness of his tone and excellent musicality are evidentin every one of the few records that he made.
He left Russia for the USA shortly after the revolution, where his autobiography was published in Russian. He is not to be confused with the later Soviet tenor, Mikhail Alexandrovitch.
Katuiskaya was regarded as the leading young coloratura of her time, and had a very long career, making a great many electric recordings for Melodia. Their performance of the Faust duet is exquisite.
This record is the generous gift of Dr. John Stratton (a member of the committee) to our subscribers.
WALTER WIDDOP (1892-1949)
Yes, let me like a soldier fall
Matrix Cc 18617-4
Recorded in London on 23 January 1930
All hail! thou dwelling
Matrix Cc 17998-3
Recorded in London on 11 March 1930
Both are sung in English and were originally issued an HMV D1887
Some thirty years ago almost all the masters of the D, E, C and B series (which were largely devoted to the work of British artists) were destroyed, and only a few survive today.
As the first of the records which are being offered as a free gift to our subscribers, we have chosen this wonderful performance by Walter Widdop of Wallace’s “Yes, let me like a soldier fall” from ‘MARITANA’, complete with its original coupling of the `Faust’ aria sung in English.
It is our aim to offer a similar gift with each issue – a common record by any great singer (whether or not they are British) that only exists on very noisy shellac.
Do you own a gramophone? Can you play 78rpm discs? Many of these records have never previously been published. Others are major rarities in their original form.
Lilli Lehmann, Richard Tauber, John McCormack, Nellie Melba, Titta Ruffo, Dmitri Smirnoff, Joseph Schmidt, Feodor Chaliapine, Geraldine Farrar, Lev Klementieff, Vanni Marcoux, Jacques Urlus, Beniamino Gigli, Jussi Bjorling and Celestina Boninsegna – our list goes on and on!
Our records are pressed from the original metal parts used for pressing the discs in the days of 78s. They are not transfers or dubbings. Thus they are identical to original pressings, but instead of noisy shellac, we use vinyl which has a much lower surface noise. That means more of the music can be heard. And, modern technology enables us to produce better pressings than could be made 50 or more years ago.
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