Our records are pressed in quality vinyl – certainly those made from the original first shells have a presence which is generally lacking in shellac copies. They give us a far more vivid picture of Melba’s voice than has ever previously been the case and help to explain why she was regarded as one of the greatest of artists on both sides of the Atlantic.

Some collectors may be surprised by one aspect of the listing of the contents of this issue. None of Melba’s early records play at the standard 78rpm speed: indeed some of them are very much slower. Within the boxed set there is a lavishly illustrated booklet largely the work of Roger Neill and it includes information on the complex subject of pitch and the variations across time and place. Based on this and with the help of a number of specialist collectors, we are able to recommend what seem to us to be the correct speeds for playback of these early Melba records.

As well as the eight records and the booklet the set also includes a companion CD with transfers of the sixteen recordings plus one extra. The CD also contains Melba’s very last record made more than twenty years later.

As ever, Historic Masters are greatly indebted to the Deutsche Grammophon and EMI archives and particularly their staff. Historic Masters is dependent on their ongoing commitment, help, encouragement and goodwill. On this occasion, however, we must also give very special thanks to our sponsors for this Melba release – the Greg Melgaard Foundation. More than fifty years have passed since regular production of ‘78s’ ceased. There are many technical problems inherent in producing top quality vinyl pressings from original masters. It is only with the generous support of our sponsors that we have been able to produce this, our Melba issue. An order form is attached and the boxed set will be available in the second week of December.

Postscript: The labels on the sixth record;- La Bohème and the Hahn song; were mistakenly reversed by the factory. We apologise for this error. Subscribers should also note the strange history of the complete Traviata scena on the bonus record, explained in the brochure which accompanies the set. The cabaletta was scratched out and only the first part of the scena was issued at the time. The complete recording, scratches and all, is now issued for the first time.

Historic Masters Ltd, the not for profit company set up to continue the work started by the British Institute of Recorded Sound, in issuing the first twenty records in the series, has just passed its silver anniversary – twenty five years old! During those twenty five years we have made innumerable discoveries, issued many hitherto unpublished items and other great rarities. There is no commercial profit in this work! But we can only continue with the support of collectors. So please order promptly and if by chance you missed out on Patti, Tamagno or other recent issues we do still have a limited number of sets available.

Contact Stanley Henig or Roger Beardsley for details and prices.
Professor Stanley Henig (Secretary and Managing Director)

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