THE EIGHT RECORDS IN OUR 33rd ISSUE – September 2010

(Prospectus by Alan Bilgora)

HM 207A/B Sigrid Onegin, Contralto (1889-1943) Der Kreuzzug – Schubert-Leitner
Sung in German with piano accompaniment by Bruno Seidler-Winkler,
Matrix number: 1461s, Issued on DG 043337, Recorded 1919 or 1920
HM 207B Ave Maria — Eugen B.L Onegin Sung in German with piano accompaniment,
Matrix number: 1293m, Issued DG 043344, Recorded c.1919

The Swedish contralto Sigrid Onegin was born in Stockholm of German parents and her name was originally Elfriede Sigrid Hoffmann. Studies with Luise Ress in Frankfurt and later with Robert Weiss in Munich and further studies in Milan with Ranieri developed a voice that ensured that she would be numbered in a generation of great contraltos. An international career that began with her theatrical debut in Stuttgart as Carmen also saw her taking part in the world premier of Strauss’s opera Ariadne auf Naxos as Dryad, a role in which she made her English debut at London’s His Majesty’s Theatre. Appearances in New York at the Metropolitan Opera and concerts at Carnegie Hall established her American credentials and she subsequently sang in Paris, Berlin and at the Salzburg and Bayreuth festivals.

Her voice was a magnificent instrument, which enabled her successfully to undertake roles like Eboli in Verdi’s Don Carlos, Ulrica in his Ballo in Maschera and cause a sensation as Lady Macbeth.

She could modulate the dynamics required to accommodate both the huge outpourings of vocal tone required for the largest operatic roles, and also achieve the intimacy of lieder. Her mastery of technique enabled soft poised high tones, a superb trill when required and an impressive upper extension. The Schubert song and the Ave Maria composed by her husband Eugen B. Onegin show her control to perfection.

HM 208A/B
208A 208B
Hermann Jadlowker Tenor (1877-1953) Mafalda Salvatini Soprano (1888-1971)
Tu qui, Santuzza Ah! lo vedi, che hai tu (Cavalleria Rusticana) Mascagni
Sung in Italian with orchestra
Matrix numbers: 1397s and 1250m, Issued DG 054486/7, Recorded 19199

Jadlowker’s initial training as a cantor in Riga gave him an unusual flexibility, which he demonstrated in florid roles. However we must not forget that his range of operatic roles covered both the lyric and dramatic repertoire, encompassing Wagner’s Lohengrin and Parsifal and even Verdi’s Otello. Mafalda Salvatini was born in Baia a suburb of Naples and was launched on a fine career initially in Berlin after studies with both Jean de Reszke and Pauline Viardot-Garcia in Paris. Her appearances were mainly confined to Germany, Holland, Belgium and particularly France where she was much admired as Valentine in Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots She created the title role in Turandot in the Berlin première in 1926 and sang as a guest in Vienna. Dramatic roles in the verismo style seemed to suit her intense delivery of both music and texts. In this fiery and famous duet from Cavalleria Rusticana although Jadlowker’s voice does not manifest that special warm, sunny Italianate timbre, both artists manage here to engender that essential slancio so essential in the impulsive exchanges that express love, rejection, hurt, and then the anger called for in this highly emotive and colourful music.

HM 209A/B César Vezzani Tenor (1886-1951)
Un souvenir poignant (Sigurd) Reyer
Sung in French with orchestra. Cond. Georges Lauweryns,
Matrix number: OW 448-2 Issued Disque Gramophone DA4843 Recorded Salle Chapin, Paris, 11th September 1931

HM 209B O bien-aimée, pourquoi n’est-tu pas là (La Navarraise) Massenet
Sung in French with orchestra. Cond. Georges Lauweryns
Matrix number: OW 447-2 Issued Disque Gramophone DA 4843 Recorded Salle Chapin, Paris, 11th September 1931

Born in Bastia, Corsica, he spent his childhood in Toulon. He began to take some vocal lessons from Agnès Borgo who had discovered his voice, and underwent further train- ing at the National Conservatoire, making his theatrical debut at the Opéra Comique in Gretry’s Richard Coeur-de-Lion. In 1911 he married his former teacher Agnès Borgo and was contracted in 1914 to sing in Boston U.S.A. but the First World War intervened. Stories abound about his disagreements with the Paris Opéra and so his career seemed to be confined to the larger provincial houses in France where in Marseille, Toulon, Toulouse, he was a great favourite, also singing with success in Brussels and in North Africa in Algiers. He was famed for his dramatic approach to those demanding roles that call for a voice of intensity and vibrant tone. Certainly his large legacy of recordings all demonstrate a commitment that makes his versions of arias from Carmen, Faust, La Juive, Africaine, Guillaume Tell, Paillasse, Otello and in particular Sigurd, as well as some Wagnerian roles like Lohengrin and Siegmund, so exciting.

Sigurd is another telling of the Siegfried story, and calls for lyricism, excellent cantile- na and a heroic timbre. Massenet’s La Navarraise, is an opera composed in verismo style; its composition evidently stimulated by the success of Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. Set at the time of Spanish Carlist War in 1874, it tells a tragic story of Anita, a girl from Navarre, who falls in love with Araquil, a sergeant in the defeated royalist army. Desperate to win a dowry in order to marry Araquail she assassinates the Carlist leader and earns a reward. However Araquil follows her into what is enemy territory, and is killed. Both arias show Vezzani at this most telling and passionate, whilst emit- ting strong vibrant tone with high notes that have real squillo.

HM 210A Hina Spani Soprano (1896-1969) In quelle trine morbide (Manon Lescaut) Puccini
Sung in Italian with orchestra,
Matrix number: B340 issued on Columbia D9461, Recorded in Milan 1924

Born in Puán a suburb of Buenos Aires, Hirginia Tuñon, as she was christened, began her musical studies aged eight and gave a concert in Cordoba, Argentina when she was twelve. She studied then with Amanda Campodonico in Buenos Aires and subse- quently journeyed to Italy to take further lessons with Vittorio Moratti, a pupil of the legendary Lamperti in Milan. In 1915 she made her La Scala debut under the name of Hina Spani in the secondary female role of Anna di Rehburg in Catalani’s Loreley. The title role during that run was sung by Eugenio Burzio and then later by Salomea Krusceniski and tenor role of Walter by Eduardo di Giovanni (Edward Johnson, the Canadian tenor who later became manager of the Metropolitan Opera New York). Contracts to sing in South America followed and she finally returned to Europe after World War 1. Spani enjoyed a fine international career appearing in the huge Verona Arena, Paris, London, Austria, and Switzerland and singing with the finest colleagues of her genera- tion. This, plus her appearances in several premières, gave Spani’s many recordings a certain cachet. This was completely substantiated by the obvious excellence of her vocal quality and technical abilities. Her wonderful and magical singing of ‘In quelle trine morbide,’ electrically recorded in 1927, makes interesting comparison with this much more hard to find acoustic version, made in 1924. In spite of the rather duller acoustic ambience, all her opulent timbre is still caught. She demonstrates a superb legato, and controlled pathos whilst enjoying the luxurious surroundings so naively being experienced by Manon, the heroine who has deserted her true love for wealth.

HM 210B Barbara Kemp, Soprano (1881-1959) Höre ich nur (Liebestod Pt.2) (Tristan und Isolde) Wagner
Sung in German with Berlin Staatsoper orchestra Cond. Leo Blech,
Matrix number: BDR4685-2, Recorded Berlin, 10th June 1927

Born in Cochem an der Mosel, Barbara Kemp studied singing from 1902-1905 at the Strasburg Conservatoire. Early appearances in Rostock and then Breslau gained a call from the Berlin Hofoper/Staatsoper where she was to enjoy a long and distinguished career. She appeared in the première of Strauss’s Frau ohne Schatten and sang Senta and Kundry at the Bayreuth Festival in 1914. After World War 1 she started to make an international name, singing in Vienna and New York at the Metropolitan Opera, making her debut there on March 1st 1923 in the American première of Mona Lisa, an opera by her husband Max von Schillings, when the role of the jealous husband was sung by Michael Bohnen, who was also making his Metropolitan debut. She also sang this role to great success in Holland at the Hague and Amsterdam and made guest appearances in Prague, Munich, Frankfurt, Dresden and Hamburg. One of her most admired roles was that of the Marschallin in Strauss’s Rosenkavalier. Although she had considerable competition from other dramatic sopranos, including Frieda Leider, she sustained a fine reputation as a dramatic artist, and her recordings show a strong and very impressive, if not particularly highly, individual timbre. The fate of the metal for the first half of the ‘Liebestod’ is a mystery, but the opportunity of issuing this sec- ond half and more importantly previously un-issued disc could not be rejected. It enables collectors to hear a singer who is not known to be a prolific recording artist and does show her dramatically in her most imperious mood, happily also in fine voice and most surprisingly very moving.

HM 211A/B Lydia Yakovlevna Lipkovskaya Soprano (1880-1955)
Marfa’s mad scene Act 4 (The Tsar’s Bride) Rimsky-Korsakov
Sung in Russian with orchestra
Matrix number: 5335ae, Issued as 2-23827, Recorded St Petersburg, 20th January 1914

This Russian soprano was born Lydia Marschner in Babino (Bessarabia) and an outline of her considerable career both in Russia and abroad was given in the notes covering the 31st issue of Historic Masters. Marfa is loved by Gryaznoy whose mistress Lyubasha has substituted a poison for the love potion he has given to Marfa. Marfa is chosen to be the bride of Ivan the Terrible, who has Lykov the true love of Marfa, beheaded for the poisoning. Gryaznoy kills Lyubasha for her treachery and Marfa goes mad on learning of Lykov’ execution. Lipkovskaya’s singing of this moving scene as she lies dying is full of pathos, which is highlighted by the sympathetic timbre of her vocal tone.

HM 211B Why did I never know of sadness? (Iolanta) Tchaikovsky Sung in Russian with piano accompaniment by P.T.Dulov
Matrix number: 17157b, Issued as 2-23698, Recorded St.Petersburg 21st December 1912

In this opera set in 15th century Provence, Iolanta, daughter of King René is blind but unaware that she is different from other people, as her attendants have been forbidden to talk about light. Her father has betrothed her to the Duke of Burgundy and hopeful- ly a cure for her blindness will be found before they marry. So protected has Iolanta been, that in the Prologue she muses that she has never known of sadness. Once again the highly sympathetic quality of Lipkowskaya’s voice and her delicate vocalism makes this aria a charming addition to recorded excerpts from this opera.

HM 212 A Antonina Vasilyevna Nezhdanova Soprano (1873-1950) To go gathering berries (Prologue) (The Snow Maiden) Rimsky-Korsakov
Sung in Russian with orchestra
Matrix number: 7216L, Issued 2-23315, Recorded Moscow, 1908

Yet another beautiful recording by one of Russia’s most distinguished artists! As always the sweet, poised and very youthful tone and control of dynamics demonstrated in this recording show why Nezhdanova gained such an important reputation, not only in Moscow, but in St. Petersburg, Kiev and Odessa and also abroad when she appeared in Paris in Rigoletto with Caruso and Ruffo. After the Revolution she was for many years the leading coloratura soprano at the Bolshoi Theatre, and on retire- ment became a much sought after teacher. Her considerable legacy of recordings, have interested collectors for many years and her version of this charming aria from Rimsky-Korsakov’s fairy-tale opera has always been much sought after. Snegurochka, the daughter of Spring and Frost, has by nature a cold heart, but when she asks to go gathering berries Frost is worried that having met the shepherd boy, Lel, she will learn to love, come under the influence of the Sun and melt away.

HM 212B Lev Mikhailovich Sibiryakov Bass (1869-1942) Well well, well well ! What do I see? (Rusalka) Dargomizhsky
Sung in Russian with orchestra,
Matrix number: 5910ae, Recorded St. Petersburg, 26th March 1914

Sergei Levik, the baritone turned critic, in his memoirs that recount the activities and importance of Russian singers at the turn of the 20the century, comments that initially he was not impressed by Sibiryakov’s artistry. However, he later admits to falling under the spell of what he calls an outstanding voice: indeed the sound this great bass produced was enough to satisfy any lover of ‘vocal art’. The voice carried Sibiryakov to the world’s stages where he appeared successfully in the USA singing in Italian, Don Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia and the title role in Boito’s Mefistofele, and at London’s Covent Garden as St. Bris in Les Huguenots, with Luisa Tetrazzini and Emmy Destinn as Valentine and Marguerite, Pauline Donalda as Urbaine and Paul Franz as Raoul. He also sang as a guest in Antwerp, Brussels and Paris.

Diligent research by two members of the Historic Masters Committee has revealed that this previously unpublished and somewhat obscure extract from Rusalka is sung by the Miller, and forms the opening phrases to a duet with his daughter Natasaha. This evidently follows her confession to the anti-hero Prince that she is pregnant, but for reasons of state he says he cannot marry her. Distraught Natasha throws herself into the river, drowns and like so many other folk heroines such as the Lorelei, Undine or the Willis, she becomes the water nymph Rusalka. In this short piece we can gauge the effect Sibiryakov’s weight of dark tone and dynamic delivery.

HM 213/4 Alessandro Moreschi Castrato (1858-1922)
HM 213A Ave Maria J.S. Bach arr. Gounod
Sung in Latin, with piano and violin obbligato
Matrix number: 2187h, Issued 54777, Recorded Rome April 1904

HM 213B Pie Jesu (words taken from Dies Irae) Ignace Leybach
Sung in Latin, with piano
Matrix number: 2183h, Issued 54774, Recorded Rome, April 1904

HM 214A Crucifixus (Petite Messe Solennelle) Rossini
Sung in Latin, with piano,
Matrix number: 2182h, Issued 54773, Recorded, Rome April 1904

HM 214B Hostias et preces Eugenio Terziani Sung in Latin with piano and bassoon obbligato.
Matrix number: 2184h, Issued 54775, Recorded Rome, April 1904

Although far removed from the fabled virtuosity of the great castrati like Farinelli, Caffarelli, Ballatri and Pacchiarotti, the voice of Professor Alessandro Moreschi, the last of the Vatican choir castrati, does open a door to a special vocal quality. When emitted by those fabled singers, who were capable of producing incredibly long and complicated decorated phrases, it resulted in them becoming fêted and idolised by the public, men and women alike, and they were particularly patronised by kings, queens and the nobility.
Today, whatever the subjective effect of such a sound may have on any listener, these records by Moreschi are of important historic value. In spite of a certain amount of dete- rioration that has occurred to the original metals over the last 100 years and from which these discs were produced, with some resulting occasional distortion, we felt it important to give collectors an opportunity of owning them in their original format. Transfers, in various forms over some years, have lost that important sense of immediacy that is so obvious when playing a pressing from the metal master. We are very grateful to John Wolfson for his generous sponsorship of the first of these two discs.

Alan Bilgora July 2010

This article was last updated Saturday, 25 September 2010
This article is presented here for archival reference only. All information was accurate at time of printing, however, HM policies, fees/charges, details and availability of recordings are subject to change without notice. Copyrighted material – Historic Masters

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