Issued – October 2007

Introduction by Stanley Henig

Singers from Issue 29
Singers from Issue 29
Although eighteen months have elapsed since issue 28, this has been a particularly productive period for Historic Masters with the publication of our special boxed sets devoted to Adelina Patti and Francesco Tamagno. Returning to more regular activities, it is a particular source of pleasure that our latest issue of seven double sided discs includes no less than eight sides which were unpublished as ‘78s’. As with the Tamagno issue, these unpublished items include completely new discoveries – on this occasion the two Björling recordings, for which the metals were long thought to have been destroyed.

Historic Masters is not the first organisation devoted to reissuing recordings in their original format, but we have now existed for longer than any of our specialist predecessor labels – IRCC, HRS, Addison Foster – and we have been able to issue many more hitherto unpublished items. This is due to the long-standing generosity of the EMI archive and much more recently that of Deutsche Gramophon.

The access granted has been essential in our ‘discovery’ of so much unpublished material. We have a strong suspicion that after Historic Masters there will be no other organization able to undertake this work. Our hope is that HM survives long enough to ensure the release of yet more rare and hitherto unreleased recordings. The fulfilment of this hope will be affected by future developments in an industry going through a period of change and, above all, by the attitude of collectors – our customers. We have over the last few uncertain years received considerable and generous support from the John Stratton Charitable Trust, but if Historic Masters is to have a future it has to be commercially viable. We can only continue to release records on the basis of income raised from selling current issues.

Finally we are pleased to welcome three new members to our committee – Larry Holdridge, perhaps the world’s leading dealer in rare 78s; Michael Letchford who has worked for many of the leading commercial record companies; and Roger Neill, Chairman of Music Preserved. Stanley Henig, Managing Director

Technical Notes for this issue are available here

Notes for Issues 29

HM 185
Feodor Ivanovitch Chaliapin (1873-1938)

Slonov: Ah, thou fair sun
Accompanied by the Aristov Choir and balalaika orchestra
Matrix number CTR3079-II
Recorded Paris, 27th September 1927, and previously unpublished
Suggested speed 77 rpm

Wedel: Open to me the gates of repentance
Accompanied by the Aristov Choir (cond. A. A. Scriabin?)
Matrix number CTR3106-II
Recorded Paris, 29th September 1927, and previously unpublished
Suggested speed 76 rpm

Yet more unpublished Chaliapin!
After Caruso’s death in 1921, he became the most famous and admired male singer in the world. It is not therefore surprising that HMV allowed him to record anything he wanted and as many times as he wanted. These songs exist in two other versions, two acoustics in the case of ‘Ah, thou fair sun’, and two electrics of ‘Open to me the gates of repentance’. Two takes were made of ‘Ah, thou fair sun’ on September 27th 1927: the preferred second take was allocated a single-sided issue number but remained unpublished until now. Two days later ‘Open to me the gates of repentance’ had two takes recorded, and again, the preferred take has survived. We are slowly but surely working our way towards issuing every unpublished record he ever made.

Recently added Text regarding recording HM 185
Veli-Jussi Koskinen has brought the following information to our attention re HM185 included in the recently released 29th issue of Historic Masters:-
“The fine art song by Slonov, ‘Ah, thou fair sun’, is NOT the song, which Chaliapin sings with chorus. The Slonov song is a solo song WITHOUT any chorus part.

The SONGS, which Chaliapin sings with the chorus are TWO coupled together on the one side. The first is: ARISE, RED SUN (Russian folk song on the Volga laborers theme). This song was also recorded by Chaliapin in 1908: Gram. 022115, 1910: 022187, DB 108, 1923: unpubl., 1934: DA 1371, VIC 1983.

Immediately on the same side after this follows the song:
FROM UNDER THE OAK, FROM UNDER THE ELM (folk song). This song Chaliapin recorded with chorus also in 1910: Gr. 022182, DB 610. On this side it is also a coupling with a Volga theme song: Down Mother Volga.”

Our original information was based on the standard discographies which presumably follow the original recording books. Historic Masters apologizes for perpetuating the error and thanks Veli-Jussi Koskinen for supplying the correct details.

Antonina Vasilievna Nezhdanova (1873-1950)

Delibes: Boléro (Les Filles de Cadiz)
Accompanied by orchestra
Matrix number 2602c, – Gramophone 023097
Recorded Moscow, 23rd April 1912
Suggested speed 79 rpm

Thomas: Hamlet -Mad scene
Accompanied by orchestra
Matrix number 2798c, – Gramophone 023132
Recorded, Moscow, 20th April 1913
Suggested speed 73 rpm

Regular subscribers to Historic Masters will know that a number of beautiful recordings by this out- standing singer have been found in the EMI archive. Happily we have been able to present a number of them over the years, and again, this one, a free issue, is due to the generosity of the John Stratton Trust. In Russia, which was essentially her artistic home for many years, Antonina Nezhdanova was without doubt one of the most admired singers of her generation, and indeed, virtually all other coloratura sopranos, however talented, were relegated to a secondary status. Possessing a warm and appealing timbre, her
voice ascends easily into an upper extension that is not only poised, but also very pure, and remarkably sweet.

Famed for her pianissimi, which evidently floated into the far corners of the largest theatres, her florid and staccato technique, with an ability to trill when required, place her recordings among some of the loveliest ever made. These virtues are apparent in the decorated passages to be heard in the difficult ‘mad scene’ from Thomas’s Hamlet where they have a dramatic value, and are not just examples of vocal exhibitionism. In the famous Boléro (Les filles de Cadiz) by Delibes, once a regular ‘war-horse’ for soprano recitalists in the early 20th Century, she demonstrates charm as well as technical assurance. We are sure that collectors will be delighted with the ambience of these recordings, which have an amazing immediacy, considering they were made well over 90 years ago.

Sena Jurinac (1921-

Tchaikovsky: The Queen of
Spades – Es geht auf Mitternacht … Alles ist schlafen gegangen (Lisa’s aria – Act III)
Accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Lawrance Collingwood
Matrix number 2EA 14955
Recorded London, 10th August 1950, unpublished as 78rpm
Suggested speed 78 rpm

Smetana: Hubicka (The Kiss) – Cradle song(Vendulka’s lullaby – Act 1)
Accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra cond. Warwick Braithwaite
Matrix number 2EA 14995
Recorded London, 11th September 1950, unpublished as 78rpm
Suggested speed 78 rpm

In my notes for the superb version of the aria from THE MAID OF ORLEANS, I failed to point out that, in the long history of HISTORIC MASTERS, we were issuing, for only the third time, a record by a singer who was still alive (the others were of Gerard Souzay and Giuseppe Di Stefano). The reaction to the Tchaikovsky aria by our subscribers, many of whom owned the LP issue, was extremely positive – indeed Michael Aspinall went as far as to say that, in his opinion, it was one of the greatest records we have ever issued. Here, therefore, are her equally fine versions of arias from HUBICKA and THE QUEEN OF SPADES. We send our best birthday wishes on 24th October to a great artist of the very first rank. She was born Srebrenka Jurinac in Travnik, Bosnia, which at the time was part of Yugoslavia. She studied at the Zagreb conservatory and made her debut as Mimì at Zagreb in 1942. In 1950 she appeared as Fiordiligi at Glyndebourne. She regularly appeared at Covent Garden in Mozart and Strauss. Sena Jurinac bade farewell to the operatic stage as Marschallin at the Vienna State Opera in 1983 but continued to give recitals for a number of years to follow and has been much in demand as a singing coach in Europe and USA.

Barbara Kemp/Delia Reinhardt

Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier – Mein schöner Schatz(extract act 1, score pp 141-148)
Accompanied by the orchestra of the Berlin Staatsoper cond. Richard Lert
Matrix number CLR4143-I
Recorded at a live performance, Berlin, 18th May 1928, and previously unpublished
Suggested speed 77 rpm

Ebba Wilton
Thomas: Mignon – Connais-tu le pays
Test recording accompanied by piano Matrix number CT1052-I
Recorded Copenhagen, 2nd December 1924, and previously unpublished
Suggested speed 78 rpm

BARBARA KEMP (1881-1959) / DELIA REINHARDT (1892-1974)
Despite her English sounding name, this wonderful soprano was of thoroughly German origin. She was born in Cochem an der Mosel and studied for five years at the Conservatoire of Strassburg (as it then was), where she appears to have made her debut in 1903. After learning her trade in the German provinces, she arrived in 1913 at the Berlin Hofoper (later the Staatsoper), which became her artistic home. Her second husband was Max von Schillings, the famous conductor and Director of the Hofoper and Staatsoper, whose opera, MONA LISA, she sang for the first time in Berlin in 1915, though she did not, as has been claimed, create the role. On May 18th 1928, fifteen sides were recorded from a live performance of DER ROSENKAVALIER at the Staatsoper, all of which have been destroyed with the exception of two sides published as HMV D 1629 and Gramola ES 495 and the side presented here, the duet from act I with Kemp as the Marschallin and Delia Reinhardt, the ranking Oktavian of her time.

EBBA WILTON (1896-1951)
From the evidence of her fourteen records, Ebba Wilton was the greatest soprano ever to emerge from Denmark. She had a fully developed coloratura facility, demonstrated, in particular, on her recordings of arias from LA FILLE DU REGIMENT and DIE ZAUBERFLÖTE, but it is the ravishing sweetness of her tone that makes all her records so enjoyable. It is a minor miracle that we have discovered this early unpublished test record. Though the piece lies rather lower than the
music of her later commercially issued discs, the performance is perfection itself and among the finest versions ever made of this much recorded aria from MIGNON.

Jussi Björling (1911-60)

Geehl: För dig allén(For you alone)
Test recording accompanied by piano
Matrix number BE1892-I
Recorded Stockholm, 4th September 1929 and previously unpublished.
Suggested speed 78 rpm

Leoncavallo: Mattinata(sung in Swedish)
Test recording accompanied by piano
Matrix number BE 1893-I
Recorded Stockholm, 4th September 1929, and previously unpublished.
Suggested speed 78 rpm

These were the first two recordings made by the tenor for HMV and were piano accompanied tests. They must have been deemed successful, as only fourteen days later he recorded four sides which were immediately issued commercially, thus beginning his long and distinguished career as a tenor before he had ever sung in an opera house.

Though the songs are more than acceptably sung, the performances do show occasional flecks of tension in the breath control, particularly in the lower lying passages, which were obviously caused by the strain of the occasion – he must have been fully aware of the crucial importance of passing the test. It is very interesting to compare this performance of ‘For you alone’ with the orchestrally accompanied version he made before the year was out, where the singing has a confidence that is quite amazing in so very young and inexperienced an artist.


Mario Ancona
Mozart: Don Giovanni – Deh vieni alla finestra
Accompanied by piano Carlo Sabajno
Matrix number 2320 L, Gramophone 52130X
Recorded Milan, December 1904
Suggested speed 81 rpm

Giuseppe Borgatti
Wagner: Die Walküre – Cede il verno al rai
(Winterstürme) (sung in Italian)
Accompanied by orchestra
Matrix number WB2589, Columbia D6073
Recorded Milan, May/June 1929
Suggested speed 77 rpm

MARIO ANCONA (1860-1931)
It was probably a complete accident that this Ancona master escaped the general destruction wreaked on the Red G&T series, apart from those of Caruso and Tamagno. Ancona recorded two versions of the Serenata from DON GIOVANNI on the same day, but unusually both takes (2320L and 2320L) were issued (as 52130 and 52130X). It is the second, very much rarer take, that has survived.

Borgatti’s everlasting claim to fame comes from his creation of the title role of ANDREA CHÉNIER at the world premiere at La Scala. A handsome man and an accomplished actor, he enjoyed a major career until the early onset of blindness put an end to it. Though he sang many verismo roles (he was the first Cavaradossi at La Scala), he enjoyed a matchless reputation as Italy’s leading exponent of Wagner’s tenor roles. For such an important artist, his discography is surprisingly small.

In addition to four published acoustic sides for Fonotipia (two of which HISTORIC MASTERS have already issued – See HM catalogue by Artist), he made just eight acoustic sides for Pathé, and three published electric sides for Italian Columbia. The Columbias are most uncommon, probably because his theatrical career was already behind him when they were made – the excerpt from DIE WALKÜRE is the only one to survive.


Conchita Supervia/Marcos Redondo
Bretón: La verbena de la Paloma – Ya estás frente a la casa
Accompanied by orchestra cond. Antonio Capdevila
Matrix number So 6055, Odeon 185022
Recorded Barcelona, 7th March 1930
Suggested speed 78 rpm

Conchita Supervia
Serrano: El mal de amores – La canción de la gitanita
Accompanied by orchestra cond. Pascual Godes
Matrix number So 7895, Odeon 184305
Recorded Barcelona, 31st October 1932
Suggested speed 80 rpm

CONCHITA SUPERVIA (1895-1936) / MARCOS REDONDO (1893 – 1976)
Supervia made Zarzuela duets with Redondo on five Odeon sides which were only ever published in Spain. They are all magnificently passionate performances, with each artist matching the other’s vibrant intensity, and are alive with true feeling and subtle shadings of expression.

The most difficult to find is the single side they made from Bretón’s LA VERBENA DE LA PALOMA, which is coupled here with her delightful performance of an aria from Serrano’s EL MAL DE AMORES. This must be one of the most vividly exciting records we have ever issued. Redondo made his debut as an opera singer in 1915, and sang the major Italian baritone roles for ten years in both Madrid and Barcelona, In 1925, he decided to devote himself exclusively to Zarzuela, and became a legend in Spain as the suc-cessor to the great Emilio Sagi-Barba.


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