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

Historic recordings remastered. Not a sales list!

A festive feast of Wagner and Verdi

To round off the Wagner and Verdi bicentenary year, I’ve gathered a varied selection of music by these two operatic greats, in various guises.

Dajos Béla recorded extensively in many genres. The following abridged version of the Tannhäuser Overture is one of his more straightforwardly classical recordings, though the scoring is adapted for his band of the time – a piano can definitely be heard contributing.

Wagner – Tannhäuser – Overture (abridged)
Künstler-Kapella Dajos Béla

Wagner – Tannhäuser – Overture – Dajos Béla

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

Odeon AA79816-7
Matrices xxBo 7551, 7552-II
Recorded 24th April 1923
Plays in A440 at 80rpm

 
Dan Godfrey has appeared here on many occasions, but this is the first time I’ve transferred anything by his eldest son, Dan Godfrey Jr. He very much followed in his father’s footsteps. He was appointed by the nascent BBC to conduct the 2LO Military Band with whom he recorded some 50 sides for the Edison Bell company, mostly arrangements of serious classical fare.

Wagner – The Rhinegold – Entry of the Gods into Valhalla
2LO Military Band, Dan Godfrey Jr

Wagner – Rhinegold – Entry of the Gods – 2LO Military Band, Godfrey Jr

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

Winner 4112
Matrices 8921B-1, 8922B-1
Recorded and issued 1924
Plays in A452 at 80.3rpm

 

The Dresden-born Emil Enderlein (b 1887) started as a lyric tenor, before developing into a Heldentenor. He sang Walther in Die Meistersinger at Bayreuth in 1925, and Parsifal and the Götterdämmerung Siegfried at the Zoppot Forest Opera in 1927-28. After his Bayreuth performances he changed his stage name to Erik Enderlein, and continued to perform well into the 1930s. After retirement he worked as a singing teacher in Berlin. He recorded for Pathé, Parlophone, Polyphon and Polydor as Emil Enderlein, but this curious
piano accompanied account of two excerpts from the Ring cycle appeared on the Piccadilly label, an offshoot of the Metropole label. The recordings are likely to have been made in 1929 when he sang at Covent Garden.

Wagner – The Valkyrie – Spring Song
Wagner – Siegfried – Forging Song
Eric Enderlein, tenor with piano

Wagner – Valkyrie – Spring Song – Enderlein

Wagner – Siegfried – Forging Song – Enderlein

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

Piccadilly No.5020
Matrices 1914, 1915
Recorded 1929
78.3rpm

 

The Carl Rosa Opera Company was a mainstay of opera in English from 1873 to 1960 (before being revived in 1997) performing in London and all round Britain. The selection from Lohengrin is conducted by Arthur Hammond (1904-1991) who joined the company in 1928, but by 1936 was working at Covent Garden. Imperial records were produced by the Crystalate company from 1920 to 1934, probably placing this record in the early 1930s. None of the soloists are named, but are likely to be Carl Rosa regulars of the period (but probably not among the top rank singers who were contracted to other recording companies.)

Wagner – Lohengrin – Vocal Selection
Arthur Hammond, Carl Rosa Orchestra, Carl Rosa Opera Company

Wagner – Lohengrin – vocal selection – Carl Rosa Co, Hammond

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

Imperial Z 115
Matrices T.I. 146.A, 148.A
Recorded c1931-32
79.1rpm

 

The French tenor Paul Franz (1876-1950) was born François Gauthier in Paris. He did not train as a singer until he was almost 30, but soon was in demand across a wide repertoire.

Wagner – Tristan & Isolde – Ou Tristan va se rendre
Wagner – Le Crépuscule des Dieux – Mort de Siegfried
Paul Franz, tenor with Orchestra

Wagner – Tristan und Isolde – Ou Tristan va se rendre – Paul Franz

Wagner – Götterdämmerung – Siegfried’s Death – Paul Franz

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

Pathé No.0286 (29cm, paper label, edge start)
Recording numbers 2376, 2494 R
Recorded c1919-20
Disc transfers 8th Jan 1924, 4th September 1924
73.1rpm, 76.5rpm

 

Borghild Bryhn-Langaard (1883-1939) was a Norwegian soprano, taught partly by Grieg’s wife Nina Hagerup. She sang the Rhinegold Fricka and Valkyrie Brünnhilde in Richter’s English Ring cycle at Covent Garden in 1908.

Wagner – Tannhäuser – Elizabeth’s Greeting
Wagner – Die fligende Holländer – Senta’s Ballad
Borghild Bryn (Borghild Lindvig Bryhn-Langaard), soprano with Orchestra

Wagner – Tannhäuser – Dich teurer Halle – Bryn

Wagner – Die fliegende Holländer – Senta’s Ballad – Bryn

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

Pathé 729
Recording numbers 77198, 77201
Matrices 24198 G, 47320 GR
Recorded 1917-18, Berlin
Play in score pitch at 94.4rpm, 91.5rpm

 

The cellist W.H. Squire recorded extensively for the Gramophone Company and Columbia, with large works interspersed with lighter pieces or arrangements of standards.

Wagner – Tannhäuser – O Star of Eve
W.H. Squire, cello with piano

Wagner – Tannhäuser – O Star of Eve – WH Squire
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

His Master’s Voice 7886
Matrix ak 14731e
Recorded 5th January 1912, London
78.4rpm

 

Landon Ronald needs little introduction for those who know this site well. A Wagner celebration could not go by without including something from him.

Wagner – Götterdämmerung – Siegfried’s Funeral March
Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, Landon Ronald

Wagner – Götterdämmerung – Siegfried’s Funeral March – RAHO, Ronald
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

His Master’s Voice D 502
Matrices HO 4434af, 4433-IIaf (3-0529, 3-0530)
Recorded 11th June 1920, Hayes
79.6rpm

 
John Barbirolli is also a name that requires little introduction, and his later recordings are well known. But early efforts like this operatic selection have received less attention.

Wagner – Tannhäuser – Selection (arr Alfonso Gibilaro)
London Symphony Orchestra, John Barbirolli

Wagner – Tannhäuser – selection – LSO, Barbirolli
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

His Master’s Voice C 2293
Matrices 2B 1102-1, 1103-1 (32-2441, 32-2442)
Recorded 25th September 1931, Queen’s Hall, London
77.6rpm

 

The Zoppot Forest Opera ran from 1921 to 1944 in Sopot (now in Poland) and was known as the Bayreuth of the North. Many prominent singer and conductors performed there, though by 1942 when Siegfried and Die Meistersinger were performed, the singers were perhaps not such big names, but still acquit themselves well.

Wagner – Siegfried:
Siegfried und die Stimme des Waldvogels a.d. 2 Akt – Freundliches Vöglein, dich frage ich nun
Zwischenspiel a.d. 3 Akt
Berlin State Orchestra, Robert Heger
Heinz Kraayvanger, tenor.
Cova Wackers, soprano

Wagner – Siegfried – Woodbird scene – Kraayvanger, Wackers, Heger

Wagner – Siegfried – Interlude to Act 3 Scene 3 – Heger
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

Polydor 67922
Matrices 1880½-GS9, 1891½-GS9
Recorded 18th June 1942 “Aufnahmen mit Künstlern der Zoppoter Waldoper 1942”
77.1rpm

 

Giuseppe Lenghi-Cellini, born in Italy in 1881 had a substantial career in Britain, performing in concerts and opera. He recorded extensively for Parlophone, but can also be heard on Regal and Piccadilly.

This particular record has a bad fracture affecting the first minute or so of each side.

Verdi – Il Trovatore – Ah si ben mio; Di quella pira
Giuseppe Lenghi Cellini, tenor with Orchestra

Verdi – Il Trovatore – Ah si ben mio – Lenghi-Cellini

Verdi – Il Trovatore – Di quella pira – Lenghi-Cellini
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

Piccadilly No.5032
Matrices 3556-2, 3559
Recorded c1930
79.3rpm (Di quella pira transposed down a semitone)

 
Alick Maclean is a favourite conductor of mine, though few of his recordings have appeared here so far. He recorded extensively with the NQHLO, and also regularly conducted the Scarborough Spa Orchestra.

Verdi – Aida – Selection
The New Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra, Alick Maclean

Verdi – Aida – selection – NQHLO, Maclean
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

Columbia L 1439
Matrices 75089-2, 75090-2
Recorded 11th May 1922, London
Available from 10/1922 to 2/1928
(Intended replacement on AX491-2; 492-2; recorded 2nd July 1924 conducted by Eugene Goossens II; test pressings made; but not issued)
80.3rpm

 

The shortlived British violinist Mary Law has appeared here before. These operatic fantasias were standard fare for her in the recording studios.

Verdi – Il Trovatore: Fantasia; La Traviata: Fantasia
Mary Law, violin with piano

Verdi – Trovatore fantasis – Mary Law

Verdi – Traviata fantasia – Mary Law
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

Zonophone Record The Twin Serial A 177
Matrices AL 8350f, AL 8354f (Z-047919, Z-047920)
Recorded 8th June 1915, London
77.9rpm

 

Stanley Chapple was the house conductor for the Aeolian Vocalion company, conducting orchestral works, as well as substantial operatic excerpts like the following. As usual, the soloists are unnamed, though I suspect that Frank Titterton can be heard on the Rigoletto selections.

Verdi – Vocal Excerpts from “Il Trovatore”
Grand Opera Company, Soloists, Full Orchestra, Stanley Chapple

Verdi – Il Trovatore – vocal excerpts – Chapple
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

Broadcast Twelve 5187-8
Matrices LO 733, 734, 735x, 736
Recorded 1930
79.0rpm

Verdi – Vocal Gems from “Rigoletto”
Grand Opera Company, Soloists, Full Orchestra, Stanley Chapple

Verdi – Rigoletto – vocal gems – Chapple
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

Broadcast Twelve 3094
Matrices LO 1108x, 1109x
Recorded 1931-2
78.5rpm

 

This HMV issue of US Victor masters of vocal gems from Aida in English disguises under the heading of “Grand Opera Company” an ensemble that includes the young Richard Crooks as Radames.

Verdi – Aïda – Vocal Gems
Grand Opera Company
Della Baker, soprano
Elsie Baker, contralto
Stanley Baughman, baritone
Rose Bryant, contralto
Helen Clark, soprano
Richard Crooks, tenor
Frank Croxton, bass
Royal Dadmun, baritone
Charles H Hart, tenor
Vivian Holt, soprano
Judson House, tenor
Olive Kline, soprano
Lucy Isabelle Marsh, soprano
Lambert Murphy, tenor
Ruth Rodgers, soprano
Orchestra, Rosario Bourdon

Verdi – Aida – vocal gems – Bourdon
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

His Master’s Voice C 1605
Matrices CVE-13995-20, 13996-23
Recorded 13th July 1928, Liederkranz Hall, New York
76.3rpm

 

In 1902-3 the Anglo-Italian Commerce Company made a number of recordings in Milan for Pathé. The two excerpts here are from a Verdi rarity, I due Foscari, and are sung by an unnamed baritone.

Verdi – I due Foscari – O vecchio cor che batti; Questa dunque è
unnamed baritone with piano
Verdi – I due Foscari – O vecchio cor che batti – unnamed baritone

Verdi – I due Foscari – Questa dunque è – unnamed baritone
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

Pathé 80098, 80874
Matrices 59089, 7555
Recorded c 1902-3, Milan
90.6rpm, 88.4rpm

 

France’s Garde Républicaine recorded extensively for many years for several companies. In Britain, the most comparable equivalent is the Coldstream Guards Band. These early operatic fantaisies have spoken introductions.

Verdi – Le Trouvère – Fantaisie
Garde Républicaine    

Verdi – Le Trouvère – Fantaisie – Garde Républicaine
(mp3 file – click to play, or right click the link, then select “Save as”)

Odeon 33318/33319
Matrices 33318-2 x, 33319-3 x
Recorded c December 1904
76.1rpm

Percy Pitt conducts Wagner

It’s quite some time since any of Percy Pitt’s recordings appeared here. I’ve therefore opted to share one of his acoustic HMV recordings. It’s an orchestral recording, unusual in his HMV output, which was mainly devoted to accompanying singers either as pianist or conductor.

Wagner – Götterdämmerung – Siegfried’s Journey to the Rhine
Symphony Orchestra, Percy Pitt

This is a curious recording. The first side has the later matrix number, and though it begins as usual, when the first horn call is reached, we find the passage transposed down a minor third into D major. The bass clarinet line is given to lower strings, and a coda is appended. The second side begins from the second horn call, now at score pitch of F major.  This means the sides do not join easily. The first file below gives the two sides in full. In the second version, I have digitally repitched the horn call passage into F major (without changing the tempo) to effect a side join and make the piece continuous.

Wagner – Götterdämmerung – Siegfried’s journey to the Rhine – Pitt (without side join)
Wagner – Götterdämmerung – Siegfried’s journey to the Rhine – Pitt (repitched horn calls for side join)

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

His Master’s Voice D 559
Matrices Cc 133-II, 132-I (3-0611, 3-0612)
Recorded 6th May 1921, Hayes, Room 1.
Plays at 76.8rpm

Shakespeare recordings by pupils of the Guildhall School of Music, Basil Maine and John Gielgud; Albert Coates conducts Siegfried’s Funeral March

Today marks the anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and death, and is also St. George’s Day. To mark the first of these, there are two quite different Shakespeare recordings from 78s, which are linked by a review in Gramophone magazine. Then there’s a set of Linguaphone recordings of John Gielgud performing Shakespeare. This is different to the set that has appeared here previously (though he does perform some of the same excerpts.)

Today is also the anniversary of the birth of the conductor Albert Coates, so I present here his 1926 recording of Siegfried’s Funeral March from Götterdämmerung.

Shakespeare – As You Like It: Rosalind’s Speech, Act III, Scene V
Miss Margaret Littlefair,
actor
Shakespeare – Twelfth Night: Garden Scene Duologue, Olivia and Viola, Act III, Scene 1
Miss Winifred Cain,
actor
Miss Bronwen Rees, actor

Shakespeare – As You Like It: Rosalind’s Speech – Littlefair

Shakespeare – Twelfth Night: Garden Scene – Cain, Rees

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

Columbia 4396
Matrices WA 3717-3, 3715-2 (23549, 23547)
Recorded 1927
Available from June 1927

Paul Berton, BA, BCI, FGSM, Professor of Dramatic Art and Declamation at the Guildhall School of Music, with the aid of some of his students, made the following 8 recordings demonstrating his principle of “Logical-Rhetorical Dissection of Speech”

This is the third of four records. This set was roundly demolished in a review in Gramophone in August 1927:

You all know the lines about little victims heedless of their doom, and here have I been sitting hard at work to-day quite unaware of the doom in store for me in a little heap of unplayed records. This afternoon the blow fell. I have played them all through, and if I say that they are more depressing than any recent weather forecast I shall actually be understating their effect. These records, four in number from Columbia, are announced as follows :–” TRAINING FOR SPEAKING. A Series of Columbia Records of Declamatory Art Demonstrating the Logical-Rhetorical Dissection of Speech by the Students of Paul Berton, B.A., etc., Professor of the Guildhall School of Music.”

…I find in these four records every fault of the professional elocutionist. It is all very well to dissect Shakespeare, but there is surely no reason why he should be murdered first, for murdered he is by these pupils of Mons. Paul Berton. Miss Winifred Cain has a really good voice; if she were properly taught she might make a good Shakespearian actress, and I am not sure that something might not be made of Miss Bronwen Rees. But no amount of logical-rhetorical dissection can compensate for the monotonous two notes, which is all that Mons. Berton seems to allow his pupils. I am aware that most Rosalinds rebuke their Phoebes in the style of a coy governess, but this particular version of the speech by Miss Margaret Littlefair outdoes all previous Rosalinds.

…It is dreadful to think what may be going on under our ears all the time without our being aware of it. I don’t know how long Mons. Berton has been a professor of declamation and dramatic art at the Guildhall School of Music, but he has evidently been there long enough to write a book about it, and a fine nonsensical piece of work it seems to be, to judge by the extracts. I had never thought of the Guildhall School of Music as a dangerous institution until I played through these records to-day.

….these elocutionary records are not a success, and I shall not send any of my young friends to the Guildhall School of Music. Does Shakespeare pay ? No, and he never will pay until we can get somebody to act him. Mr. Basil Maine the other night read three or four lines from Shakespeare so well that I wish he would record John of Gaunt’s glorious speech. Then there is the chief announcer of the B.B.C. He knows how to read. It is all very fine to have a Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, but we shall soon have to start a Society for the Protection of Ancient Poetry, with appeals to The Times signed by Mr. J. C. Squire, etc., calling on the public to help in preserving Hamlet’s soliloquies from logical rhetorical dissection. Columbia ! Columbia ! Why did you publish these records ?

The Gramophone reviewer’s request was soon answered, as Basil Maine made a number of recordings, both for HMV in 1929, and for Parlophone a little later, including John o’Gaunt’s speech from Richard II.

Shakespeare – Richard II – John o’Gaunt’s Speech
Shakespeare – Macbeth – The Dagger Speech
Basil Maine,
actor

Shakespeare – Richard II – John o’Gaunt –  Maine

Shakespeare – Macbeth – Dagger – Maine

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

Parlophone E5987
Matrices W1549, W1550
Recorded c1930

Around 1930, John Gielgud recorded a number of Shakespearian excerpts for Linguaphone. These were issued on five 78s, and have been available on this site before, but they are available to download again below. Some years later, Gielgud recorded again for Linguaphone, another set of five 78s. He is named as Sir John Gielgud on the labels, which places the records no earlier than 1953. There are a few overlaps with the earlier set, but most selections are new. In both sets, the records are numbered only by matrix – there are no disc numbers.

Shakespeare – excerpts from plays and Sonnets – Sir John Gielgud

Mediafire link for Shakespeare – excerpts – Gielgud (c1953)

(This is a zip file – left click the link, download the file, then unzip when downloaded)

Linguaphone – Shakespeare Series A
Matrices given below
Recorded c1953

ENG 242-2 – Much Ado About Nothing (Act 2, Scene 3)
ENG 243-2 – King Richard the Second (Act 3, Scene 2); Sonnet XXX
ENG 244 – King Richard the Second (Act 3, Scene 3); King Henry the Fifth (Act 1, Scene 1)
ENG 245 – Romeo and Juliet (Act 1, Scene 4)
ENG 246-2 – Romeo and Juliet (Act 5, Scene 3); Cymbeline (Act 4, Scene 2)
ENG 247 – Hamlet (Act 2, Scene 2)
ENG 248 – Hamlet (Act 4, Scene 4); Measure for Measure (Act 2, Scene 2)
ENG 249-2 – Richard II (Act 3, Scene 3)
ENG 250-2 – Henry V (Act 4, Scene 1)
ENG 251-2 – Macbeth (Act 1, Scene 7); Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5); The Tempest (Act 4, Scene 1)

Shakespeare – excerpts from plays and Sonnets – John Gielgud

Mediafire link for Shakespeare – excerpts – Gielgud (c1930)

(This is a zip file – left click the link, download the file, then unzip when downloaded)

Linguaphone – Shakespearian Records by John Gielgud
Matrices given below
Recorded c1930

EEG.28E – The Merchant of Venice – Gratiano’s Speech (Act 1, Scene 1); As You Like It – Jaques’ Speech (Act 2, Scene 7)
EEG.29E – King Richard the Second – John of Gaunt’s Speech (Act 2, Scene 1); Sonnet CXVI
EEG.30E – As You Like It – Jaques’ Speech (Act 2, Scene 7); The Tempest – Prospero’s Speech (Act 4, Scene 1)
EEG.32E – King Henry the Fifth – King Henry’s Speech (Act 2, Scene 1); King Henry the Fourth – Hotspur’s Speech (Act 1, Scene 3)
EEG.33E – Othello – Othello’s Speech (Act 1, Scene 3)
EEG.34E – Hamlet – Hamlet’s Speech (Act 2, Scene 2)
EEG.35E – Hamlet – Hamlet’s Speech (Act 4, Scene 4); Sonnet XVIII
EEG.36E – Richard II – King Richard’s Speech (Act 3, Scene 3)
EEG.37E – Henry V – King Henry’s Speech (Act 4, Scene 3)
EEG.38E – Midsummer Night’s Dream – Oberon’s Speech (Act 3, Scene 1); Oberon’s Speech (Act 3, Scene 2); Puck’s Speech (Act 3, Scene 2)

Albert Coates is without doubt one of my favourite conductors, though I haven’t featured him here very much at all. To celebrate his birthday, I’ve remastered his 1926 recording of Siegfried’s Funeral March from Wagner’s Götterdämmerung.

Wagner – The Twilight of the Gods – Siegfried’s Funeral March
Symphony Orchestra, Albert Coates

Wagner – The Twilight of the Gods – Funeral March – Coates

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

His Master’s Voice D1092
Matrices CR 217-II, 141-III (4-0837/8)
Recorded 26th March, 25th January 1926, Queen’s Hall, London