Damian's 78s (and a few early LPs)

Historic recordings remastered. Not a sales list!

Acoustic recordings by Eugene Goossens

I’ve been busy tidying up the site, so haven’t done much transfer work recently. But, finally to welcome March, yet more acoustic recordings by Eugene Goossens, all with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Wolf-Ferrari – Il Segreto di Susanna – Overture
Sibelius – Scènes Historiques No.3 – Festivo
Columbia 908
Matrices 75139-1, 75148-1 (4048, 4057)
Recorded 5th, 7th July 1922, Columbia’s Petty France Studio, London
London Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Goossens

Auber – Crown Diamonds – Overture
Columbia 918
Matrices 75141-1, 75142-1 (4050, 4051)
Recorded 5th July 1922, Columbia’s Petty France Studio, London
London Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Goossens

Delibes – Le Roi l’a Dit – Overture
Columbia 923
Matrices 75137-1, 75138-1 (4046, 4047)
Recorded 5th July 1922, Columbia’s Petty France Studio, London
London Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Goossens

Mediafire link for Wolf-Ferrari, Sibelius, Auber, Delibes – LSO, Goossens

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

The Sibelius work is a premier recording, and was in fact the only acoustic recording of this work. It has several small cuts, removing bars 7-10, 5 after D to 9 before E, 13 after F to H, 7 after I to 6 before L.

Mendelssohn with Harty, Mendelssohn’s Walpurgisnacht, Golschmann’s Shostakovich, Raybould, Goossens, Heger, Frank Mullings and Salvatore Salvati

This latest update sees a site redesign, and a number of new transfers on site. In the orchestral arena, we have Harty’s sparkling account of Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony (afflicted by swish), Golschmann’s early 1950s LP recording of Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony, overtures conducted by Clarence Raybould (on Regal), and Eugene Goossens (on Edison Bell), and a Strauss excerpt under the baton of Robert Heger.

Vocal music comes in the form of two Handel arias from Frank Mullings (with Raybould conducting), two operatic arias from the tenor Salvatore Salvati, and a performance of Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht, from a probably pseudonymous Everest LP.

Mendelssohn – Symphony No.4 in A major Op.90 “Italian”
Hallé Orchestra, Sir Hamilton Harty
Columbia DX 342-4

Matrices WAX 6054-2, 6055-2, 6056-1, 6-57=2, 6058-1, 6059-1 (14899, 14902, 14901, 14900, 14912, 14916)
Recorded 10th April 1931

I. Allegro vivace (1½ sides)

II. Andante con moto (1½ sides)

III. Con moto moderato (1 side)

IV. Finale: Saltarello-Presto (2 sides)

(mp3 files – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

Shostakovich – Symphony No.5 in D major Op.47
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Golschmann
Capitol Classics CTL.7077

Matrices P1.8268Y-1B, P2.8268Z.1B
Recorded 1953

I. Moderato

II. Allegretto

III. Largo

IV. Allegro non troppo

(mp3 files – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

Mendelssohn – Die erste Walpurgisnacht Op.60
Everest 3229 (Electronic Stereo)

Recorded ?

Mediafire link for Mendelssohn – Walpurgisnacht

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Overture: The Change of Winter to Spring
1. A Druid and Chorus of the People
2. An Aged Woman and Chorus of the People
3. A Druid Priest and Chorus of Druids
4. Chorus of Druid Guards and People
5. A Druid Guard
6. Chorus of Guards and People
7. A Druid Priest and Chorus
8. A Christian Guard and Chorus of Guards
9. A Druid Priest and Chorus of Druids and People

“Lorenzo Bernardi and Chorus and Orchestra of the Leipzig Bach Festival”

This recording, presumably from a German or Austrian radio source, leaves its soloists (soprano, tenor and bass) unnamed. The conductor and other performers seem to be pseudonymous. Although the first side of the record is roughly at correct pitch, the second side drifts downwards until a horrendous edit about a minute from the end, where the pitch and ambience are suddenly hugely different. This final section may even come from a different performance. I have endeavoured to fix the pitch, and reduce the jarring effect of the change of sound quality. I’ve also mixed the sound back to mono.

I’ve included the closing passage of the work prior to pitch adjustment, so that the grating effect of this awful edit can be fully appreciated.

If any recognises any of the soloists or indeed the whole performance, do let me know!

 

Donizetti – La Favorita – Una vergine
Mascagni – Cavalleria Rusticana – Brindisi
Phonycord Flexible Nr 151
Matrices 8235, 8241
Recorded 1930
Orchestra
Salvatore Salvati, tenor

Download – Donizetti – La Favorita – Una vergine – Salvati

Download – Mascagni – Cavalleria Rusticana – Brindisi – Salvati

(mp3 files – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

These are taken from a flexible disc recording, which was badly warped, and not easily persuaded to lie flat. They therefore had to be recorded below speed to ensure the stylus tracked the groove, and this has had an effect on the level of surface noise.

 

Handel – Semele – Where’er you walk
Handel – Jephtha – Deeper and Deeper Still
Columbia 9350

Matrices WAX 1898-1, 1900-1 (6585, 6583)
Recorded 13th September 1926
Available from 12th February 1928 to January 1937
Orchestra, Clarence Raybould
Frank Mullings, tenor

Download – Handel – Semele – Where’er you walk – Mullings

Download – Handel – Jephtha – Deeper and Deeper Still – Mullings

(mp3 files – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

This was a reissue of L1344, available from October 1926 to February 1928. An earlier version of L1344 was available from February 1920 to October 1926 – with recordings made on 5th May 1919, with Hamilton Harty conducting.

Curiously, although the Semele aria maintains correct pitch, the Jephtha increases speed slightly. The Jephtha aria is also notable for the variety of tone colour used by Mullings.

Beethoven – Egmont Overture
Regal G1084

Matrices WAX 5186-1, 5187-2 (12757/8)
Recorded 3rd October 1929
Available from February 1930 to March 1941
Classic Symphony Orchestra, Clarence Raybould

Thomas – Raymond – Overture
Regal MX8

Matrices WAX 5318-1, 5319-2 (13162, 13161)
Recorded 4th January 1930. Recorded in a concert hall
Available from June 1930 to March 1941
Classic Symphony Orchestra, Clarence Raybould

Download – Beethoven – Egmont – Raybould

Download – Thomas – Raymond – Raybould

(mp3 files – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

All of the above sides play at slightly below 78rpm.

 

R. Strauss – Feuersnot – Love Scene
His Master’s Voice C1841

Matrices CW 2161-IA, CW 2162-II (6-0659/60)
Recorded January 1929
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Robert Heger

Download – R. Strauss – Feuersnot – Love Scene – Heger

(mp3 file – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

The recording session was between the 9th and 25th January 1929.

 

Wagner – The Meistersingers – Overture
Edison Bell Velvet Face 523

Matrices X1163K-1, X1164F-2
Recorded 1921
Available from October 1922
Goossens Orchestra, Eugene Goossens

Download – Wagner – The Meistersingers – Overture – Goossens

(mp3 file – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

Both sides play at almost 82rpm.

There is a gap of several bars between the two sides. The first side finishes on the first beat of bar 96 (with an E major chord), and the second starts at bar 122 (with an E flat major chord). This prevents an adequate side join.

Mario Rossi conducts Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony, Robert Easton sings Mendelssohn and Gounod

As Mendelssohn’s 200th birthday arrives, it seems apt to provide a few more items by this wonderful composer. Thus we have a symphony, and a wonderful bass aria which was much loved by English speaking singers, yet seems sadly neglected now.

Mendelssohn – Son and Stranger – I am a roamer
Gounod – Philemon and Baucis – Vulcan’s song
Columbia 9210
Matrices WAX 2330-1, 2331-1 (7116/7)
Recorded 7th April 1927
Available from September 1927 to January 1946
Orchestra, A W Leggett
Robert Easton, bass

Download – Mendelssohn – Son and Stranger – I am a roamer – Robert Easton

Download – Gounod – Philemon and Baucis – Vulcan’s Song – Robert Easton

(mp3 files – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

The Mendelssohn plays in C major at 80rpm, the Gounod in A minor (a semitone below score pitch).

This recording was reviewed in The Gramophone, September 1927:

Robert Easton. – The two records on this disc present a singular contrast – the same fine bass voice in both pieces, but a difference of style and effect that is simply astonishing. It is, however, no mystery, no problem beyond solution. The singer knows how to make every point in I’m a roamer. He gets away with it from the starting-gate, and from that point is a winner as well as a roamer – tone, rhythm, words, humour, everything pat and perfect to the finish. With Vulcan’s Song it is otherwise. Here too slow, there too fast; now too deliberate and heavy; nearly always too lugubrious – the true significance of Vulcan’s allusive remarks and the satire of his own ugliness and deformity, showing what a mistake it is for him to quit Venus and his own fireside to go on nocturnal adventures – the humour of all this is utterly lost, thanks partly, perhaps, to the fatuity of the English translation. That, I suppose, is why Santley always insisted on singing this song in French.

 

Mendelssohn – Symphony No.4 in A major Op.90 “Italian”
Vivaldi – Olimpiade – Andante
Decca AK 1974-7
Matrices AR 11730-1, 11731-1, 11732-1, 11733-1, 11734-1, 11735-1, 11736-1, 11737-2
Recorded 1947

Mediafire link for Mendelssohn – Symphony No.4 Italian – Mario Rossi

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

I. Allegro vivace (2 sides)
II. Andante con moto (1½ sides)
III. Con moto moderato (1½ sides)
IV. Finale: Saltarello-Presto (2 sides)

Turin Symphony Orchestra, Mario Rossi

This recording received a detailed review in The Gramophone, December 1948:

Turin Symphony Orchestra (Mario Rossi): Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, “Italian” (Mendelssohn); Andante from “L’Olimpiade” (Vivaldi arr. Mortari). Decca AK1974-7 (12 in., 27s. 4d.).

I cannot imagine why Decca have decided to withdraw the Unger version in six months’ time in favour of this new one. It is true that Unger took the first movement rather deliberately and was altogether too perfunctory about the Andante; but he was well recorded, and on points his version wins hands down over this new competitor. Perhaps the idea was that it would be interesting to have an Italian orchestra playing a work which owed all its inspiration to Italy – for this is not one of your made-up titles stuck on afterwards by a publisher. Mendelssohn had started off at the age of 25 for an extended tour of Austria, Italy and Switzerland, and his sketches and letters vividly record the impressions made on his naturally vivacious mind: in 1831 he wrote from Rome, “The Italian Symphony makes rapid progress: it will be the gayest piece I have yet composed, especially the last movement. I have not yet made up my mind about the Adagio (sic), and think I shall reserve it for Naples.” He finished the work on his return home, and conducted the first performance himself in 1833 for a concert of the Philharmonic Society of London. The curious thing is that this symphony, for all its seeming spontaneity and the sunny freshness of its writing, caused Mendelssohn exceptional difficulty, and right up to the year of his death he was still considering making alterations to it.

W.R.A., writing of the recent Barbirolli recording of the Italian, said that it achieved “high clarity at the expense of warmth.” Here almost the reverse is true: there is plenty of spirit, even if the orchestra is not particularly well disciplined, but far greater definition, both of playing and recording, is necessary. Rossi starts off at an impetuous speed; the woodwind repeated chords are a mere indistinct background; the strings, when they enter with their exuberant tune, skitter over the quavers and clip the rhythm. It is all, clearly, just too fast for the players’ comfort: phrases are snatched, and there is frequently little continuity of the melodic line. But there is interesting perspective and plenty of vitality. If the staccato string passage leading to the second subject is untidy, the second subject itself is treated with the most delicious lightness and grace. It is a pity that the exposition is not repeated: it is becoming a bad habit to alter Mendelssohn’s carefully-calculated proportions by cutting the repeat.

After the first movement the rot begins to set in. The Andante is played sympathetically, but (especially at the end) oh! so slowly. This seems to have depressed the orchestra so much that it plays the third movement without much conviction, and the Trio is dreary in the extreme – it is taken very slowly, the horns ignore the phrasing (which is clearly marked in bar-lengths), and the violins’ dancing figure is laborious and leaden-footed. By contrast, in the Saltarello, the Roman carnival seems to have gone to the players’ heads, and the rhythm is none too stable (notice how the woodwind soloists jump their fourth beats at letter C, side 7). This movement certainly cannot compare with Unger’s version.

The fill-up is interesting: a gracious elegiac Andante from one of the 38 operas of Vivaldi, the red-headed priest on whose music Bach drew so much. L’Olimpiade, one of Metastasio’s most popular libretti, was set by about a dozen composers, and Vivaldi’s opera was revived in 1939 at the Siena Festival.

The LP issue was reviewed briefly in The Gramophone, September 1950:

*MENDELSSOHN. Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90, “The Italian.” Turin Symphony Orchestra (Mario Rossi). Decca LX3004 ( 10 in., 29s. 6d.).

In December, 1948, my colleague L.S. devoted nearly a column to a review of the 78 version or this symphony. He wrote with no great enthusiasm, and I agree with all his strictures. Indeed, as a whole, it is a poor performance, and therefore I cannot understand why Decca has bothered to issue it on L.P. There is certainly no improvement in the quality of the recording. L.S. said that “far greater definition, both of playing and recording, is necessary.” It still is. R.H.

German’s Welsh Rhapsody from Landon Ronald and Henry Gibson, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf in La Traviata

There are just a few items today, with more to follow later in the week. Edward German’s “Welsh Rhapsody” was, surprisingly, not one of the many works that German himself conducted for the Gramophone Company. Pioneering acoustic versions were left to Dan Godfrey (on one side), Henry Gibson and the Mayfair Orchestra (2 sides) and Bainbridge Robinson with Boosey’s Concert Orchestra (4 sides). Electrical recordings followed from Landon Ronald with the LSO and Basil Cameron with the Hastings Municipal Orchestra in 1930, and the City of Birmingham Orchestra under George Weldon came later. The July 1931 issue of The Gramophone had the following to say about Ronald’s recording:

German is always likeable, because he knows his job inside out – the job of inventing good tunes, working them up into not-too-complex patterns, and orchestrating them in firm, bright colours (with a special ear to the values of the wind, as you may notice in this Rhapsody, which he wrote for the Cardiff Festival in 1904). This time he did not invent the tunes, but took them from the splendid folk store of Wales. The first movement builds on the air to “Loudly proclaim o’er land and sea This is the home of liberty” a capital, lusty opening. About a third of the way on side 2 we run right into the scherzo section, beginning with the fleet “Hunting the Hare” and using secondly “The Bells of Aberdovey” (with some neat combinations of the two). A minor-key reminiscence of the Bells tune, an inch in on side 3, changes the scene reflectively for the third movement, in which oboes and lower strings give out “David of the White Rock”, which is briefly treated, and ends pp; directly, we know what is going to happen, for the instruments hint excitingly at “Men of Harlech”, and then we sit back and, if we are not too blasé, feel a touch of the old patriotic thrill as the grand old march recalls the pageant of stormy history. All very simple and old-fashioned, you may say; but it is done by a man who, I repeat, knows his job inside out, and there are too few who have learnt their job as German did, graduating in the most valuable of all arenas, that of the theatre. Without over-smiting, the L.S.O. paints warmly and well, and no one could keep the thing in perspective better than Ronald. The tunes on which the movements are based should have been noted on the labels.

The two recordings given below are Henry Gibson’s abridged 1916 account, and Landon Ronald’s 1930 recording. In addition to these, a little opera: a test pressing of Elisabeth Schwarzkopf’s 1950 Addio del passato, included as an extra in a recent record order, as one of the other discs in the order had a rim flake that the seller hadn’t previously spotted.

German – Welsh Rhapsody

Download – German – Welsh Rhapsody – Henry Gibson

mp3 file – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

His Master’s Voice C 701
Matrices HO 1453ac, 1455ac (2-0654/5)
Recorded 27th January 1916
Issued September 1916
Mayfair Orchestra, Henry Gibson

German – Welsh Rhapsody

Download – German – Welsh Rhapsody – Landon Ronald

(mp3 file – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

His Master’s Voice D 1939-40
Recorded 17th September 1930
Matrices Cc 19731-II, Cc 19732-II, Cc 19733-I, Cc 19734-1 (32-1763/6)
London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Landon Ronald

 

Verdi – La Traviata – Addio del passato

Download – Verdi – La Traviata – Addio del passato – Schwarzkopf

(mp3 file – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

Columbia one-sided test pressing (issued on LX 1370)
Matrix CAX 10947-2
Recorded 1950
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, soprano
Philharmonia Orchestra, Alceo Galliera

Rodzinski’s Mussorgsky-Ravel Pictures and Henry Wood’s Handel

Today brings another two brief updates, because I’ve been busy. There’s an early LP of Rodzinski conducting Pictures at an Exhibition. The record I’ve taken this from is in terrible condition, so there is a considerable amount of noise that could not be removed. The other item is Henry Wood conducting an arrangement of a Handel overture – as “inauthentic” a performance as one could wish for.

Mussorgsky-Ravel – Pictures at an Exhibition
Columbia Masterworks ML 4033
Matrices F XLP 254 3A, F XLP 255 3C
Recorded 1945
Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York, Artur Rodzinski

Mediafire link for Mussorgsky-Ravel – Pictures at an Exhibition – Rodzinski

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

1. Promenade
2. Gnomes
3. Promenade
4. The Old Castle
5. Promenade
6. Tuileries
7. Bydlo
8. Promenade
9. Ballet of chicks in their shells
10. Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle
11. The market place at Limoges
12. Catacombs
13. Cum mortuis in lingua mortua
14. The hut on Fowls’ Legs
15. The great gate at Kiev

Tracks 11 and 12 are combined into one mp3 file to avoid a break in sound. The gap between tracks 14 and 15 is as on the LP.

Handel – Berenice – Overture
Decca K.819
Matrices TA 2041-II, 2042-II
Recorded 7th November 1935
Released May 1936
The Queen’s Hall Orchestra, Sir Henry J. Wood
Charles Woodhouse, leader

Download – Handel – Berenice – Overture – Henry Wood

(mp3 file – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

The minuet from this overture was also recorded in a performance by Reginald Jacques.

Scheherezades from Philippe Gaubert and Eugene Goossens

Because I’ve been hard at work on transfers, here’s yet another update. This time there are three Scheherezades – two are highly abridged, one only slightly. Landon Ronald’s acoustic account (now available to download from Historic Recordings ) takes one side for each movement. The early electrical version by Eugene Goossens adopts the same principle, and contains only a little more music, evidently being intended as a replacement for the acoustic version. The “complete” version recorded by French Columbia is conducted by Philippe Gaubert on 11 sides, including a cut between the end of side 10 and the start of 11. I don’t know why it wasn’t simply recorded complete on 12 sides.

Rimsky-Korsakov – Scheherezade Op.35
His Master’s Voice C 1287-8
Matrices CR 561-IIA, 562-II, 563-IV, 564-I (4-0868/71)
Recorded 13th (parts 1, 2, 4) and 15th (part 3) July 1926
Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden, Eugene Goossens

Mediafire link for Rimsky-Korsakov – Scheherezade – Goossens

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

This abridged recording by Eugene Goossens uses almost the same cuts as Landon Ronald’s acoustic account, simply adding one or two extra passages that Ronald decided wouldn’t fit on. These include the opening twelve bars of the first movement, a section between A and B in the third movement, and in the fourth movement, the section between A and B, and from W to a little before X.

The parts of the score included in the recording are given below. Page references are to Hawkes Pocket Score – section letters appear common to all scores.

First Record: start (p3) to end (p4); E (p19) to 6 after F (p26); 5 after H (p30) to M (p38); 11 after M (p39) to end (p41)

Second Record: start to bar 4 (p42-3); A (p44) to B (p45); C (p47) to D (p50); H (p62) to 16 after I (p68); 6 before L (p73) to L (p74); N (p79) to P (p87); R (p92) to end (p96)

Third Record: start (p97) to B (p101); C (p105) to H (p116); I (p119) to K (p120); P (p133) to end (p134)

Fourth Record: 24 before A (p140) to bar before E (p147); K (p158) to N (p168); P (p173) to bar before Q (p176); W (p197) to 10 after X (p213); 15 after X (p216) to 10 after Y (p221); Z (p222) to 6 after Z (p224)

 

Scheherezade – Suite Symphonique Op.35
Columbia Masterworks Album 156 (DBX 1-6)
Matrices WLX 418, 419, 420, 476-2, 477-2, 478-1, 375, 376, 377, 416, 417 (9722, 9723, 9724, 10559, 10560, 10561, 9529, 9528, 9527, 9728, 9706
Recorded 6th July 1928, April 1929

I. The Sea and Sinbad’s Ship (3 sides)
II. The Story of the Kalandar Prince (3 sides)
III. The Young Prince and the Young Princess (2 and a half sides)
IV. Festival of Bagdad: The Sea – The Ship is Wrecked (2 and a half sides)

L’Orchestre de la Société des Concerts du Conservatoire, Paris, Philippe Gaubert

Bizet – L’Arlesienne Suite – Adagietto No.1 for Strings
Matrix WAX 5048 (12368)
Recorded 11th to 15th June 1929
Concertgebouw Orchestra, Amsterdam, Willem Mengelberg

Mediafire link for Rimsky-Korsakov – Scheherezade – Philippe Gaubert

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Gaubert’s account of Scheherezade is substantially complete, and demonstrates the excellent sound obtained by French Columbia (though the noise level is high on some sides). Curiously, side 10 ends 28 bars after V and side 11 starts at W, an omission of 44 bars. Given that the work was going to be issued on 6 double sided records, it’s unclear why 12 sides were not used, rendering the cut unnecessary, along with the unusual filler side. The French Columbia issue of this set was coupled with Gaubert’s account of the Menuet from Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin.

Mark Hambourg’s Tchaikovsky 1st Concerto, Rodzinski conducts Mozart concertos, Howard Barlow conducts Haydn’s Surprise, creators of Der Rosenkavalier, Vladimir Golschmann conducts Sibelius and Mozart

There’s quite a mixture of items for mid-January. Firstly, I’ve had another attempt at Mark Hambourg’s recording of the Tchaikovsky First Piano Concerto – the HMV surfaces are rough, and the recording isn’t the easiest to deal with, but I’ve certainly improved on my previous attempt. It also brings the name of Landon Ronald to my site – there’ll be much more to follow. In addition, I’ve transferred a Westminster LP with Artur Rodzinski conducting Mozart’s Clarinet and Bassoon Concertos. Then it’s back to two of this year’s anniversary composers. Haydn’s Surprise symphony has already appeared on this site in versions by Horenstein, Weissmann and Sargent. The next account is with Howard Barlow conducting the Columbia Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra. And as a little nod to the sixtieth anniversary of the death of Richard Strauss, two of the sides recorded by Minnie Nast and Eva Plaschke-von der Osten, the creators of Sophie and Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier. Finally, I’ve transferred an early LP of Vladimir Golschmann conducting Sibelius’s 7th Symphony and Mozart’s Prague Symphony.

Tchaikovksy – Piano Concerto No.1 in B flat minor Op.23

I. Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso
II. Andantino semplice
III. Allegro con fuoco

Mediafire link for Tchaikovsky – Piano Concerto No.1 – Hambourg, Ronald

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

His Master’s Voice D 1130-33
Matrices CR 736-IA, 737-I, 738-IA, 739-I, 732-IIA, 733-IA, 734-IA, 735-IA (single side numbers 05951/4, 05947/50)
Recorded 28th September 1926, Kingsway Hall, London
Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, Sir Landon Ronald
Mark Hambourg, piano

Mozart – Clarinet Concerto in A major K.622

I. Allegro
II. Adagio
III. Rondo: Allegro

Mozart – Bassoon Concerto in Bb major K.191

I. Allegro
II. Andante ma adagio
III. Rondo: Tempo di minuetto

Mediafire link for Mozart concerti – Rodzinski

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Whitehall WH20060
Matrices XTV 21725/6 (M18287A/B)
Recorded June 27th to July 11th 1954, Vienna Konzerthaus, Mozartsaal
Vienna State Opera Orchestra, Artur Rodzinski
Leopold Wlach, clarinet
Karl Oehlberger, bassoon

Haydn – Symphony No.94 in G major “The Surprise”

I. Adagio cantabile – Vivace assai (2 sides)
II. Andante (2 sides)
III. Menuetto (Allegro molto) and Trio (1 side)
IV. Allegro di molto (1 side)

Mediafire link for Haydn – Surprise Symphony – Howard Barlow

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Columbia (UK) DX 929-931
Matrices XCO 24147/52
Recorded 20th February 1939, New York
Columbia Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra, Howard Barlow

This UK Columbia set has a very high level of surface noise and crackle, and proved much more difficult to restore than other UK Columbias of a similar vintage, despite the good recording quality.

Richard Strauss – Der Rosenkavalier:
Mit ihren Augen voll Tränen (Act 2)
Ist ein Traum, kann nicht wirklich sein (Act 3)

Download – R Strauss – Rosenkavalier – Mit ihren Augen – Nast, Osten

Download – R Strauss – Rosenkavalier – Ist ein Traum – Nast, Osten

(mp3 files – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

His Master’s Voice D 1002
Matrices 2305½c, 2304c (single side numbers 044184, 044183)
Recorded 25th August 1911, Berlin
Minnie Nast, soprano
Eva Plaschke-von der Osten, soprano
with Orchestra

Der Rosenkavalier was premiered in Dresden on January 26th 1911. These two sides were part of a group made seven months later in Berlin. Eva von der Osten and Minnie Nast created the roles of Octavian and Sophie. Margarethe Siems, the creator of the Marschallin, also took part in the session, recording solo and ensemble pieces.

“Mit ihren Augen” runs from 2 bars before fig 115 to fig 129
“Ist ein Traum” runs from 2 bars before fig 297 to fig 300, then has a transition section, before running fig 303 to 2 bars after fig 305

Sibelius – Symphony No.7 in C Op.105
Mozart – Symphony No.38 in D major “Prague”

I. Adagio – Allegro
II. Andante
III. Finale: Presto

Mediafire link for Sibelius and Mozart – Vladimir Golschmann

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

RCA Victor Bluebird Classics LBC-1067
Matrices E3RP-5266-1S, 5267-1S
Recorded 1942 (Sibelius), 1945 (Mozart)
St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Golschmann

This very early American LP was in poor condition, with considerable surface noise, and suffers some blasting in bass-heavy passages.

Malcolm Sargent conducts Mendelssohn’s Ruy Blas and Horenstein conducts Haydn’s Surprise

2009 brings the bicentenary of Mendelssohn’s birth, for which we have Malcolm Sargent conducting Ruy Blas, and the bicentenary of Haydn’s death, with Jascha Horenstein conducting the Surprise Symphony. Both recordings are 80 years old in 2009.

Download – Mendelssohn – Ruy Blas Overture – Malcolm Sargent

(mp3 files – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

Mendelssohn – Ruy Blas – Overture
His Master’s Voice C 1813
Matrices Cc 17933-II, 17934-I (32-1065/6)
Recorded 16th December 1929, Kingsway Hall, London
London Symphony Orchestra, Malcolm Sargent
(The orchestra is credited on the record labels only as “Symphony Orchestra”)

Mediafire link for Haydn – Surprise Symphony – Jascha Horenstein

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Haydn – Symphony No.94 in G major “The Surprise”

I. Adagio cantabile – Vivace assai (2 sides)
II. Andante (2 sides)
III. Menuetto (Allegro molto) and Trio (1 side)
IV. Allegro di molto (1 side)

Polydor 66914-6
Matrices 132, 133, 134½, 135, 136, 137½ BV VI (B 21217/22)
Recorded 1929, Berlin
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Jascha Horenstein

 

Henry Wood’s Vaughan Williams

To round off this Vaughan Williams anniversary year, here are the remainder of Henry Wood’s recordings of Vaughan Williams’s music: The Serenade to Music, The Wasps Overture and the Fantasia on Greensleeves.

Download – Vaughan Williams – The Wasps – Wood

Download – Vaughan Williams – Fantasia on Greensleeves – Wood

(mp3 files – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

Vaughan Williams – The Wasps – Overture
Vaughan Williams – Fantasia on Greensleeves
Originally issued on Decca K.821/2
Matrices TA 2136, 2137, 2138 (The Wasps), TA 2139 (Greensleeves)
Recorded 22nd April 1936
The Queen’s Hall Orchestra, Sir Henry J. Wood
George Stratton, leader

The present transfers are made from the Decca Ace of Clubs LP reissue, ACL 255.

Vaughan Williams – Serenade to Music
UPDATED TRANSFER AVAILABLE

Vaughan Williams’s “A London Symphony” – Wood and Goossens

As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to remember a composer who died fifty years ago: Ralph Vaughan Williams. There have been many reissues in connection with this, including, from Symposium, Dan Godfrey’s premiere recording of A London Symphony – both his earlier recording of the first (abridged) and third movements, and the “complete” recording that followed. The abridged first movement was one of the records recommended by Percy Scholes in his “Second Book of the Gramophone Record”. Godfrey’s recording used the 1920 version of the score. Vaughan Williams published an updated version of the score in 1936, and it is this that was used by Sir Henry Wood in his recording the same year. However, by a curious quirk, when Eugene Goossens recorded the work in 1941 with the Cincinatti Symphony Orchestra, he used the 1920 version. It is also noteworthy, that both Wood and Goossens omit the repeat of the first section of the Scherzo, which Godfrey included in both his acoustic recordings of the movement. There can be no doubt that both conductors would have had room for it: Wood’s side lengths are fairly short, and breaks between movements occur during sides; and Goossens’s recording takes 9 sides, with the 10th taken up by a 1938 recording with the LSO of Bizet’s Farandole!

These recordings, then, by Wood and Goossens provide an opportunity to compare the two versions of the work. It’s also an instructive comparison of recording styles. Wood rarely approaches a true pianissimo, particularly where the lower instruments are concerned, perhaps continuing the habits from around 1916 when he started conducting for records. Goossens for Victor has a much more natural recorded sound, allowing for a wide dynamic range.

Mediafire link for Vaughan Williams – A London Symphony – Henry Wood

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Vaughan Williams – A London Symphony

I. Lento – Allegro risoluto (3½ sides)
II. Lento (2 sides)
III. Scherzo (Nocturne) (1½ sides)
IV. Andante con moto – Maestoso alla Marcia. (2 sides)
Epilogue – Andante sostenuto (1 side)

Decca X.114-8
Matrices TA 2126-III, 2127-II, 2128-II, 2129-II, 2130-II, 2131-III, 2132-I, 2133-III, 2134-2, 2135-II
Recorded 21st April 1936
Issued June 1936
The Queen’s Hall Orchestra, Sir Henry J. Wood
George Stratton, leader

There is a deterioration in sound quality for the last two sides, as the final disc in my copy of the set of 78s has a crack from label to rim. I have done my best to alleviate the effects of this.

Mediafire link for Vaughan Williams – A London Symphony – Eugene Goossens

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Vaughan Williams – A London Symphony

I. Lento – Allegro risoluto (3 sides)
II. Lento (2 sides)
III. Scherzo (Nocturne) (1 side)
IV. Andante con moto – Maestoso alla Marcia. (1½ sides)
Epilogue – Andante sostenuto (1½ sides)

RCA Victor Red Seal DM-916 (11-8253/7)
Matrices 062506/14
Recorded 19th and 20th February 1941, Cincinatti
Cincinatti Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Goossens

Bizet – L’Arlésienne Suite No.2 – 4. Farandole
RCA Victor Red Seal 11-8253
Matrix 2EA 6311-II, 073028
Recorded 9th May 1938, Abbey Road Studio 1, London
London Symphony Orchestra, Eugene Goossens

Luella Melius

Luella Melius is a far from well known singer.

“Luella Melius, soprano, born 21st August 1892, Appleton, Wisconsin. Date of death unknown. Her actual name was Mrs. W. Fulton Melhuish. She began her training in Chicago as a child, and then studied under Jean de Reszke in Paris. She debuted at the Vienna Volksoper under Weingartner at the start of the 1920s and gave guest appearances in Paris, Madrid, Naples and Berlin, including Gilda at the Paris Opera in 1924. In the 1925/6 season she was at the Chicago opera as Gilda in “Rigoletto” and as Rosina in “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” (alongside Schipa and Bonelli). She guested in 1926 at the San Francisco Opera as Lucia di Lammermoor and as Gilda. As her career developed she broadcast for the BBC, and then American radio. She took part in numerous opera broadcasts in the 1920s. In 1926-27 she was a guest artiste at some German houses. In 1932 she created a vocal school in New York, at which such important figures as Marguerite Sylva, Adamo Didur, Carolina Lazzari and EH Gauthier taught. Records: First acoustics in England with HMV (1925); later in the USA early electrical Victors. All show a technically confident coloratura soprano.”

Time Magazine notes in October 1923 that she was heading to Europe for a year of concerting, including Gilda in Paris. On November 30th 1925, Time had this to say:

“It is rapidly becoming a convention for the critics of Chicago to hail every week as a great artist some singer hitherto ungraced by U.S. laurels. Two weeks ago it was Baritone Bonelli. Last week it was Luella Melius, coloratura singer, born in Appleton, Wis. She made her debut in Rigoletto. Staid people have been foolish enough to believe that a modern audience could not be more than politely moved by the graceful insipidities of the old score – that the days were past when a perfect trill was a signal for young men in evening clothes to unhitch the horses of a prima donna’s carriage and pull her home themselves. The Chicago enthusiasts stopped short of this. But they held up the performance after she had sung the “Caro Nome,” and gave Luella Melius ten curtain calls at the end of the act. Old Critic Glenn Dillard Gunn declared that he remembered only three such scenes in the last 25 years; others compared Miss Melius with Gali-Curci. Even the most reserved could not help agreeing that her voice is very good.”

There are notes of concerts in various parts of the USA in the late 1920s.

It may be that Melius’s visit to Europe was longer than planned, or that she returned in 1925. Certainly the Gramophone Company made a number of recordings with her, starting with tests in May of that year, and six issued sides in August.

  • 8th May 1925: LUELLA MELIUS with Mme ADAMI, piano
    Cc 6101-1, -2 Verdi – La Traviata: Ah, fors’è lui (in Italian)
    Cc 6102-1, -2 JB Wekerlin – Fleur des Alpes (Swiss echo song) (in French)
    (Test matrices)
  • 5th August 1925: LUELLA MELIUS, with Orchestra conducted by George W Byng
    Cc 6439-1▲?, -2▲? Delibes – Lakmé: Pourquoi dans les grands bois
    Cc 6444-1▲?, -2▲? Delibes – Lakmé: Bell song – Where is the young Hindu maid
  • 6th August 1925: LUELLA MELIUS, with Orchestra conducted by George W Byng [B Studio]
    Cc 6452-1▲?, -2▲? JB Wekerlin – Les fleurs des Alpes, Swiss echo song (in French)
    Cc 6453-1▲?, -2▲? Benedict – La capinera (in French) with GORDON WALKER, flute
  • 6th August 1925: LUELLA MELIUS, with Orchestra conducted by George W Byng [Room 1]
    Bb 6454-1, -2 JB Wekerlin – Les fleurs des Alpes, Swiss echo song
    Take 2 issued on 7-33071 DA722
    Bb 6455-1, -2 Benedict – La capinera with GORDON WALKER, flute
    Take 1 issued on 7-33072 DA722
  • 10th August 1925: LUELLA MELIUS, with Orchestra conducted by George W Byng [Room 1]
    Cc 6474-1, -2 Delibes – Lakmé: Pourquoi dans les grands bois
    Take 2 issued on 2-033103 DB883
    Cc 6475-1, -2, -3 Delibes – Lakmé: Where is the young Hindu maid (Où va la jeune hindoue)
    Take 3 issued on 2-033102 DB883
    Bb 6476-1, -2 Mozart – Il Flauto Magico: Aria di Pamina – Ah lo so
    Take 1 issued on 7-53091 DA723
    Bb 6477-1, -2 Mozart – Il Flauto Magico: Aria della Regina della Notte – Gli angui d‘inferno
    Take 1 issued on 7-53092 DA723

It’s curious that in these last days of acoustical recording at Hayes, Melius attempted four items electrically, but that her issued HMV recordings were ultimately made acoustically – and in fact the acoustic recordings of the Wekerlin and Benedict items were preferred over the electrical versions recorded the same day. On Melius’s final HMV recording day, Noel Coward was recording electrically at Hayes, as were Jack Hylton’s Kit Kat Band. And it appears that Melius was followed into the studio by tenor Tudor Davies who made 4 unissued acoustic sides, before going into Studio B and recording two of the same items electrically, one of which was issued.

Melius also made at least two issued sides for Victor – 1927 Polonaise from Mignon and Valse from Mireille (the issued takes were both number 34.)

Download – Luella Melius sings Ach, ich fühl’s

Download – Luella Melius sings Der Hölle Rache

(mp3 files – right click the link, then select “Save as” or click the play button)

Il Flauto Magico – Ah! lo so, piu non m’avanza (Pamina’s Aria)
Il Flauto Magico – Gli angui d’inferno (Queen of the Night Aria)
His Master’s Voice DA 723
Matrices Bb 6476-1, 6477-1 (7-53091/2)
Recorded 10th August 1925 in Room 1 at Hayes
Orchestra, George W. Byng
Luella Melius, soprano

Pamina’s aria plays in score pitch at 78rpm, and the Queen of the Night Aria plays in C minor (a transposition of a tone downwards) at the same speed, so that Melius produces a string of top E flats, rather than top Fs.

Pamina’s aria has the following text visible under the label, inscribed into the wax master:

BB6476

10 Aug 25

I

5/6/25

Palmina’s Aria

Magic Flute

Luella Melius

(And “Palmina” is what actually appears there, it’s not my misprint!)

Safford Cape conducts Dufay

Safford Cape and the Pro Musica Antiqua of Brussels recently appeared on this site on an Anthologie Sonore 78 of works by Dufay and Isaac. Cape and his group returned to the Dufay in 1950 – it was one of thirteen items on an LP of Dufay’s secular works which he recorded for Elaine Music Shop.

Mediafire link for Dufay secular works directed by Cape

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Guillaume Dufay – Secular Works
Elaine Music Shop EMS206
Matrices E1-LQC-15052-1A, 15053-1B
Recorded in the Fall of 1950
Pro Musica Antiqua (Brussels), Safford Cape
Maria Ceuppens, soprano
Jeanne Deroubaix, contralto
Louis Devos, tenor
Franz Mertens, tenor
Albert van Ackere, baritone
Charles Koenig, recorder
Rachel van Hecke, treble viol
Jean-Christophe van Ecke, tenor viol
Alphonse Bauwens, tenor viol
Suzanne Bouquette, minstrel’s harp
Michel Podolski, lute

(only Bauwens features on the early Anthologie Sonore recording)

Side 1:

  • Resvelons-nous, amoureux
  • Pouray-je avoir vostre mercy
  • Hé! Compaignons
  • La belle se sied au pie de la tour
  • Adieu, m’amour
  • Ce moys de May

Side 2:

  • Je donne a tous les amoreux
  • Bon jour, bon mois
  • Par droit je puis bien complaindre et gemir
  • Ce jour de l’an
  • Mon cuer me fait tousdis penser
  • Je languis en piteux martire
  • J’atendray tant qu’il vous playra

This early LP is rather worn and noisy in places, but I’ve tried to remove the most obvious thumps and bumps.

Konstantin Ivanov conducts Glazunov’s Fifth Symphony

Konstantin Ivanov’s 1963 EMI/Melodiya recording of Glazunov’s Symphony No.5 is well-regarded, but his earlier account for Supraphon with the Czech PO is little known. This issue appears in the WERM 1951-2 supplement as a reissue, so the LP would appear to be from around 1950, and the timing of one or two conspicuous edits suggest a 78rpm source.

Mediafire link for Ivanov’s Glazunov 5

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Glazunov – Symphony No.5 in Bb major Op.55
Supraphon D LPM-18 (matrices MM43/4)
Recorded c1950
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Konstantin Ivanov

I. Moderato – Maestoso
II. Scherzo
III. Andante
IV. Allegro – Maestoso

Leo Blech conducts Schubert’s Great C Major Symphony

A few recordings by Leo Blech have appeared previously on this site, and it seemed time for another – his 1927 account of Schubert’s Great C major Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra.

Mediafire link for Blech’s 1927 Schubert C major

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Schubert – Symphony No.7 in C major “Great”
His Master’s Voice D1390-5 (Album Series No.59)
Matrices CR 1587-I, 1588-IA, 1589-IIA, 1590-II, 1591-IA, 1592-II, 1593-IA, 1594-IA, 1595-IIA, 1596-IA, 1597-IA, 1598-IIA (5-0735, 5-0693/9, 5-0714, 5-0711/3)
Recorded 15th November 1927, Queen’s Hall, London
London Symphony Orchestra, Leo Blech

I. Andante – Allegro ma non troppo (3 sides)
II. Andante con moto (4 sides)
III. Scherzo – Allegro vivace (2 sides)
IV. Finale – Allegro vivace (3 sides)

The first record in my copy of this album is cracked right across, being held together mainly by the record label. I have done my best to remove the resultant heavy clicks.

It’s curious to note that in this set, record 1 contains sides 1 and 2, and record 2 contains sides 3 and 12. This ensures that the next two records can include the slow movement, and that the two sides of the scherzo fit on one record. There is, however, a significant cut in the reprise of the scherzo.

Charles Munch conducts Haydn’s Symphonie Concertante

Haydn’s wonderful Symphonie Concertante in C was recorded by L’Oiseau-Lyre, and provides another chance to hear the French bassoon sound of Fernand Oubradous, and an early example of Charles Munch conducting.

Mediafire link for Haydn – Symphonie Concertante – Munch

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Haydn – Symphonie Concertante in C major for Violin, Cello, Oboe and Bassoon

I. Allegro (2½ sides)
II. Andante (1½ sides)
III. Allegro con spirito (2 sides)

L’Oiseau-Lyre OL.83-85
Matrices PART 1285-1, 1286-1, 1287-1, 1288-1, 1289-1, 1290-1 (M6-96308/9, 96311/4)
Recorded October 1938
Myrtil Morel, oboe
Fernand Oubradous, bassoon
Roland Charmy, violin
André Navarra, cello
Orchestra, Charles Munch

Pauline Aubert plays music of the Couperin dynasty

Pauline Aubert has appeared here already in a number of Anthologie Sonore recordings. The present set is slightly later, probably about 1950, on a Classics Club LP. Aubert plays music of “The Couperin Dynasty”.

Mediafire link for Pauline Aubert recordings of Couperin dynasty

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

The Couperin Dynasty
The Classics Club – Counterpoint X52
Matrices CCHN52A1, 52B1 (CPTM 30053A, 30053B)
Recorded c1950
Pauline Aubert, harpsichord

Armand-Louis Couperin:
Les cacqueteuses
The Four Nations: Italy
The Four Nations: England
The Four Nations: Germany
The Four Nations: France
Gervase François Couperin:
Variations on “Ah! ça ira”
Jacques Champion de Chambonnières:
Pavan
Louis Couperin:
Fantaisie
The Tomb of Monsieur Blancrocher
François Couperin:
8 Preludes to the Art of Playing the Harpsichord

The Floral Dance and The Lute Player

Katie Moss’s 1911 song “The Floral Dance” was first recorded by Peter Dawson in 1912, and its popularity has endured. Dawson recorded four commercially released versions of it, and two broadcasts survive. The first recording of September 1912 was followed by a 10” version on the cheaper Zonophone label before the end of the year. His later electrical version was coupled with Frances Allitsen’s “The Lute Player” in 1927, a coupling that was repeated in 1934. The pairing of the two songs seems to have been so popular on HMV that other labels emulated it – Frederick Ranalow on Metropole, and Robert Easton (under the nom de disque Graham Stewart) for Broadcast Twelve.

When Dawson’s first recording of the Floral Dance was released it was coupled with Slaughter’s “The Dear Homeland,” sung by the baritone Thorpe Bates. Thomas Thorpe-Bates, FRAM, FGSM (London, 11th February 1883 – London, 23rd May 1958). Bates studied at the Guildhall and the Royal Academy of Music. He married Edith Helena Leech, and by 1935 they had a son and a daughter. He sang as principal baritone at provincial Music Festivals, Choral Societies, Promenade Concerts and the Hallé and Brand Lane Concerts, Manchester. He played in “The Yankee Princess” in New York in 1922. He also appeared in “The Maid of the Mountains,” “The Rebel Maid” and many other plays. As of 1935 he lived at Westerley, 10 Salmon St, London NW9. Bates’s daughter was the actress Peggy Thorpe-Bates, perhaps best remembered as one of three actresses who played Hilda Rumpole in the TV adaptations of John Mortimer’s “Rumpole of the Bailey” novels.

Frederick Baring Ranalow, FRAM (Dublin, 7th November 1873 – London, 8th December 1953) was taken to England at a young age, becoming a chorister at St. Paul’s. He was educated at the Royal Academy of Music. He married Lilian Mary Oates, with whom he had, by 1935, produced a son and a daughter. He became a professor at the RAM with a focus on opera. He appeared at the Queen’s Hall and the principal festivals of the UK and at the Royal Albert Hall. He also composed light songs. He took many parts in the Beecham Opera Company, and played Macheath in the Beggars’ Opera over 1400 times. He toured Australia and New Zealand with Nellie Melba. He also appeared in several films including Autumn Crocus (1934). His recreations are listed as golf and motoring, and he was a member of the Garrick club. He lived at 12 Argyll Road, Kensington W8.

Ranalow’s recordings, though extensive, are little remembered now. He recorded for HMV, Columbia, Edison Bell, Vocalion and Metropole. He was Sharpless in the complete English Madam Butterfly with Rosina Buckman, and took part in the acoustic recording of the Beggars’ Opera under Richard Austin. He recorded excerpts from Ethel Smyth’s “The Boatswain’s Mate” with Rosina Buckman – they had been in the premiere together. He also took part in the complete acoustic HMS Pinafore of 1922-3 singing part of Sir Joseph Porter’s role.

Ranalow’s operatic repertoire included Prince Igor, Figaro, Sachs, Papageno and roles in La Boheme, Falstaff, Segreto di Susanna, Tannhauser and Tristan. After his marathon run in the Beggars’ Opera from 1920, he turned more to light opera.

Robert Easton (Sunderland, June 8th 1898 – 26th May 1987) was a British bass of the mid–twentieth century. As a boy, he sang in his local church choir. He joined the BEF in 1915, and was severely wounded while on service in Flanders. He had a long convalescence, and had a leg amputated. After that he wore an artificial leg. He claimed to have drifted into singing, eventually studying in London with Bozelli, Norman Notly, Harry Plunket Greene and Dinh Gilly.

In 1922 he sang in several concerts with the National Sunday League. He made his Prom debut in 1926, where one of the items he sung was “I am a roamer” from Mendelssohn’s “Son and Stranger” – this was to become a regular feature of his concert programmes. His range enabled him to cope with ease in the wide two-octave leaps and even at a rapid speed his impeccable enunciation made the words clear. In 1929 he replaced Harold Williams in the annual Crystal Palace performance (under Beecham) of “Messiah”. Between 1933 and 1939 he sang at Covent Garden, appearing as Sparafucile, Titurel, the King in Aida, the Father in “Louise”, Colline and Fafner. In 1938 he was chosen as one of the 16 soloists in Vaughan Williams’s “Serenade to Music.”

Easton was a versatile singer, equally successful in opera, oratorio, recitals and as a concert artist. He was a true basso profondo, with a highly individual, instantly recognisable, dark timbre and rapid flickering vibrato. His range was from F# above middle C, down to a low Bb below bottom C. He was one of Columbia’s exceptional trio of ‘profondos’ in the inter-war years, along with Norman Allin and Malcolm McEachern. He recorded for Vocalion between 1923 and 1925 and then for Broadcast and Regal Zonophone. For these labels he had to use pseudonyms, so he also appears as Robert Merlyn, Robert Raymond and Graham Stewart.

In 1930 he was chosen by Beecham to sing Mephistopheles in the English language recording of Gounod’s “Faust” with Licette and Nash. He also sang in Stanford Robinson’s complete recording of Stainer’s “Crucifixion.” In 1938 he was involved in the famous “Lisa Perli” deception, and featured as Colline in Beecham’s recording of Act 4 of La Boheme.

After 1940 Easton confined himself to broadcasts, concerts and oratorios and during the 2nd World War made concert tours with ENSA and CEMA, appearing in France, Belgium and Germany, as well as in Britain. A 1969 broadcast showed him to have lost no vocal quality over the years and he continued to make occasional concert appearances as late as 1985, mainly for the Council of Music in Hospitals. He was a frequent festival adjudicator, on one occasion according a prize to Janet Baker.

He spent his later years at his home in Haslemere, Surrey with his wife of 60 years, and his daughter Margaret.

Mediafire link for Floral Dance and Lute Player recordings

(These are zip files – left click the link, download the files, then unzip when downloaded)

Slaughter – The Dear Homeland
Thorpe Bates, baritone with anonymous pianist
Matrix Ai 6268f (single-side number 02394)
Recorded 13th May 1912, 81rpm in Eb major
Moss – The Floral Dance
Peter Dawson, bass-baritone, with Kennedy Russell, piano
Matrix z 6557f (single-side number 02426)
Recorded 10th September 1912, 81rpm in Db major
Both from His Master’s Voice C 441

Moss – The Floral Dance
Allitsen – The Lute Player
His Master’s Voice C 1313
Matrices Cc 8106-X, Cc 8101-VA (single-side numbers 2-02207, 2-02208)
Recorded 14th January 1927, 78rpm in Db major and C minor respectively
Peter Dawson, bass-baritone
Gerald Moore, piano

Moss – The Floral Dance
Allitsen – The Lute Player
Broadcast Twelve 5032
Matrices LO116X, LO117
Recorded September 1928, 78rpm in Bb major and B minor respectively
Robert Easton, bass (credited as Graham Stewart)
with harp, piano and violin accompaniment

Moss – The Floral Dance
Allitsen – The Lute Player
Metropole 1126
Matrices 1538-2, 1539-2
Recorded c1930, 78rpm in C major and C minor respectively
Frederick Ranalow, bass-baritone
with Orchestra