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

Historic recordings remastered. Not a sales list!

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
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.