Issued – April 1987

In the first series of Historic Masters issued in 1972 by the British Institute of Recorded Sound, there were four ten inch discs. About this time, major record companies were ceasing to produce records in this form and gradually they disposed of the appropriate manufacturing equipment. When the new committee was formed to establish Historic Masters Limited, it was faced with an immediate problem. Many of the greatest treasures in the EMI archive, to which we have been given access, are in ten inch (sometimes 10 3/4 inch) form, but the technology for producing records of this size has been effectively ‘lost’. Resisting the temptation to issue the smaller discs in twelve inch format, we have invested much effort in seeking what is, in effect, a recreation of this technology.

With the help of research grants from the Historic Singers Trust we have been able to overcame all problems and are now able to offer a set of five ten inch discs – these are probably the first ten inch discs to be produced for public sale in the UK in the 1980’s! We believe this set contains much material of the greatest interest to collectors. The issue is, on this occasion, limited to just -300 sets, so it is advisable to order immediately.

Some collectors have queried the need to issue and sell these records in sets of five. Historic Masters are a limited company but we are only a very small record producer. We lack the resources to run a large or a back catalogue. The process of re-issuing records in 78 rpm form is expensive. Assuming there were some means by which we could offer records individually, the cost would work out at approximately double the cost we charge per disc now. Historic Masters is a service for collectors. The Board certainly appreciate that all collectors will have their individual ideas on what we should or should not issue and may find the purchase of five discs at one time inconvenient. We hope nonetheless collectors will give us their full support so that we can continue to make widely available direct pressings from the original masters which would otherwise exist only in a handful of copies.

PROSPECTUS (Notes by Richard Bebb)

HMB 42
Selma KURZ (1874-1933)
LA BOHEME – Leb ‘wohl ohne Hass (Puccini)
Parla (Arditi)

Mini’s ‘Donde lieta usci’ is sung with great delicacy of feeling and nuance of expression by one of Puccini’s favourite interpreters. The Arditi song, in contrast, is one of her most brilliant performances on record, the sound is very forward and, of course, the trill at the end is breathtaking. Both are extremely rare in their original form.

HMB 43
Francesco TAMAGNO (1850-1905)
LE PROPHETE – Sopra Berta (Meyerbeer)
HERODIADE – Adieu donc (Massenet)

Since Tamagno’s retirement, there has been no tenor before the public with such brilliance of tone combined with such declamatory power. These are unpublished takes of titles of which issued versions exist, but, as the pressings have been made from unused shells, the sound is wonderfully forward and vivid.

HMB 44
Dame Nellie MELBA (1861-1931)
Jean (Burleigh)
Celestine BONINSEGNA (1877-1947)
Te Solo (Carlo Sabajno)

This previously unknown Melba title was discovered, quite accidentally, when a search was being made for records of Edna Thornton. It is an example of her mezza voice singing at its best – the voice sounds wonderfully poised and full and, as often when she sings songs in English, she is at her most relaxed and intimate. A few minor audible scrapes, which are inherent in the master, are certainty not serious enough to prevent publication.

The composer accompanies Boninsegna in this charming song written specially for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company. Copies of this record are exceedingly rare in mint state.

HMB 45
Toti DAL MONTE (1897-1976)
Sei bella mia dolcezza (Du bist wie eine Blume) (Schumann) Recorded – 2/7/1925 (?)
Estrellita (Pons)

Though assigned an issue number (DA 720), neither title was ever published. Both songs are sung with all Dal Monte’s considerable charm. They also have the distinction of being the first discs by a classical artist made at Hayes in the electrical period of recording.

HMB 46
Fyodor CHALIAPIN (1873-1938)
Bolero (Dargomyzhsky)
Sapphische Ode (Brahms)

Both these sides are previously unpublished. For the Pabst film of ‘DON QUIXOTE’ in which Chaliapin starred, special songs were written by Jacques Ibert. It is little known that an extra song was included – the Bolero of Dargomyzhsky. It is one of Chaliapin’s most brilliant recordings, and the only possible reason it remained unissued is that with some styli there are a few trivial scrapes at the start, though it is possible to play it perfectly. He recorded it at the same time as the other songs for the film in 1933.

The Brahms song is one of a number of unpublished items dating from 1913.

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