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

Historic recordings remastered. Not a sales list!

Carmen excerpts: 1920 Columbia abridged recording; highlights on LP from Walter Goehr and Erasmo Ghiglia; orchestral and choral excerpts – Weingartner, Pitt, Maclean, Ronald, Sabajno, Matacena, Mackenzie-Rogan, Weissmann, Coates; excerpts from 1911 Pathé recording; other vocal excerpts in French, English, German, Italian and Russian

It has taken a long time to prepare this update, which focuses on Bizet’s Carmen. The centrepiece is the abridged 1920 Columbia set on 10” records. This is complemented by two LPs of excerpts from the 1950s, and then a wide selection of 78s of orchestral and vocal excerpts, whether in more or less their original forms, or as “gems.” The sung languages range from French, via Italian, English and German to Russian. Where Carmen excerpts occupy only one side of a record, the other side is, as usual, given here too. In some cases additional recordings by the same performer are included.

Complete or substantial excerpts:

Bizet – Carmen (abridged)
Orchestra of La Scala, Milan
sung in Italian

1. Prelude
2. Chorus of Cigarette Girls – Suono la campana
3. Habanera – E l’amore
4. Duet – Ah, mi parla di lei
5. Duet – Mio vegga ancor
6. Seguidilla – Presso il bastion di Siviglia
7. Duet – Carmen quest’ ufficiale
8. Bohemian Song – All’ udir
9. Bohemian Song – Or ben Pastia desia
10. Toreador Song – Part 1 (Con voi ber)
11. Toreador Song – Part 2
12. Quintette – Part 1 – Noi s’lia in vista un bell’ affar
13. Quintette – Part 2 – Certo la cosa
14. Duet – Alfin sei qui
15. Duet – Al quartier
16. Flower Song – Il fior
17. Duet – No, tu non m’ami
18. Duet and Finale (Part 1) – No, piu non ti voglio
19. Finale, Act 2 (Part 2) – Dubbio non c’e
20. Trio – Part 1 – Io ci veda
21. Trio – Part 2 – Invan par evitar
22. Ensemble – E nostr’ affar il doganier
23. Aria – Io dico
24. Recit & Duet Part 1 – Ma non m’inganno
25. Duet Part 2 – Per amante ell’ avveva
26. Finale Act 3, Part 1 – Ola! Jose
27. Finale Act 3, Part 2 – Ah! bada a te
28. Finale Act 3, Part 3 – Ah! paventa
29. Duet – Se tu m’ami
30. Duet – Sei tu?
31. Finale Act 4, Part 1 – Piu non m’ama il tuo cor?
32. Finale Act 4, Part 2 – No davver

Fanny Anitua, mezzo-soprano – Carmen
Luigi Bolis, tenor – Don José
Ines Maria Ferraris, soprano – Micaëla
Cesare Formichi, baritone – Escamillo
Lina Garavaglia, soprano – Mercédès
Rosa Garavaglia, soprano – Frasquita
Enrico Spada, bass – Zuniga
Luigi Baldassare, bass – Il Dancairo/Moralès
Carlo Paltrinieri, tenor –  Il Remendado
La Scala Chorus

Mediafire link for Bizet – Carmen – acoustic Columbia – Acts 1 & 2
Mediafire link for Bizet – Carmen – acoustic Columbia – Acts 3 & 4
(No longer available due to bogus copyright claim)

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

Columbia D 5582-97
Matrices 42436, 42381, 42384, 42427, 42398, 42416, 42431, 42412, 42411, 42382, 42383, 42395, 42396, 42413, 42414, 42415, 42420, 42429, 42430, 42406, 42388, 42424, 42426, 42392, 42397, 42389, 42434, 42421, 42385, 42432, 42435, 42433
Recorded 1920

Play at 82.6rpm (1, 19, 31-2), 78rpm (2-5, 7, 10-14, 16-18, 21, 24), 81.6rpm (6, 8, 9, 15, 22-3, 28, 30), 79.6rpm (20, 25-6), 83.4rpm (27), 80.9rpm (29)

Sides in order of matrix number:
2, 10, 11, 3, 29, 21, 26, 24, 12, 13, 25, 5, 20, 9, 8, 14, 15, 16, 6, 17, 28, 22, 23, 4, 18, 19, 7, 30, 32, 27, 31, 1

This recording, though of course publicised as the complete opera, is heavily cut, with substantial omissions at the start of Acts 1 and 4, among others. It’s still an interesting performance, though Luigi Bolis (Don José) tends to pronounce Carmen so that it sounds like Carmeng!

The first record in my copy of this set is broken, and I’ve done my best to repair it for this transfer.

Bizet – Carmen – Concert performance
Orchestra del Teatro Comunale, Firenze, Erasmo Ghiglia

1. Act 1. Habanera: L’amour est un oiseau rebelle
2. Parlez-moi de ma mère
3. Seguidilla: Près des remparts de Séville
4. Act 2. Chanson bohème (abridged, solo)
5. Toreador Song: Votre toast
6. Flower Song: Le fleur que tu m’avais jetée
7. Act 3. Card Scene
8. C’est des contrabandiers… Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante
9. Duet Escamillo/ Don José
10. Act 4. Si tu m’aimes, Carmen… C’est toi! C’est moi!

Franca Sacchi, mezzo-soprano  – Carmen
Eddie Ruhl, tenor – Don José
Alberta Hopkins, soprano – Micaela
Antonio Boyer, baritone – Escamillo

Mediafire link for Bizet – Carmen – concert performance – Ghiglia

(No longer available due to bogus copyright claim)

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

Saga XID 5264
Matrices XID 5264A, 5264B
Recorded 1950s
Play at about 32.7rpm (-2%)

The record label notes “First issued 1965”, but this is likely to have been recorded in the 1950s. Ghiglia is credited as Ghili, and Ruhl as Rhul on the record sleeve. The soloists sing in French, but the chorus sings in Italian throughout.

Bizet – Carmen – Opera in four Acts – a concise version
Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Walter Goehr
(Performers credited on label as:
Orchestra and Chorus of The Opera Classica Society of New York. William Stellar, conductor)

1. Prelude Act 1 (without Coda)
2. Habanera (abridged)
3. Parle-moi de ma mère (abridged)
4. Seguidilla (tenor is a bar behind in final section)
5. Act 2. Chanson bohème
6. Toreador Song (omits L’amour interchange at end)
7. Flower Song
8. Act 3. Smugglers’ march
9. Card Song and Trio
10. Micaela’s aria
11. Act 3. Finale
12. Intermezzo Act 4
13. Act 4. Finale (abridged)

Cora Canne Meyer, Carmen
Leo Larsen, Don José
Corry van Bekkum, Micaëla
Gerard Holthaus, Escamillo
Rick van Veen, Frasquita
Betty de Jong, Mercédès

Mediafire link for Bizet – Carmen – concise version – Goehr

(No longer available due to bogus copyright claim)

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

The Classics Club Rembrandt X64
(Originally issued by The Musical Masterpiece Society)
Matrices X64A1P, X64B1P
Recorded 1953-4
Reviewed in July 1954
Play at about 33.6rpm

This Classics Club reissue is slightly later than the original MMS issue.

Orchestral:

Wagner – Die Walküre – Magic Fire Scene
Bizet – Carmen – Overture and Intermezzo Act IV
Grand Symphony Orchestra, Felix Weingartner

Wagner – Die Walküre – Magic Fire – Weingartner

Bizet – Carmen – Overture, Intermezzo IV – Weingartner

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

Columbia L 1097 (pale blue label)
Matrices 36914-2, 36916-1
Recorded 23rd March 1914
Available from September 1916 to May 1928
(Previously available on D17724 from September 1914 to October 1916)
Play at about 79rpm (though speed is a little variable)

These recordings were among Weingartner’s earliest, made in America.

PREVIOUSLY AVAILABLE:
Bizet – Carmen selection
New Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra, Alick Maclean

Bizet – Carmen – selection – Maclean

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

Columbia L1485
Matrices 76991-2, 76992-2
Recorded 10th May 1923
Available from September 1923 to February 1928

PREVIOUSLY AVAILABLE:
Bizet – Carmen – selection
BBC Wireless Symphony Orchestra, Percy Pitt

Bizet – Carmen – selection – Pitt

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

Columbia 9125
Matrices WAX 1509-1, 1510-1 (6172, 6174)
Recorded 28th April 1926
Available from March 1927 to April 1941

The recordings below contain Landon Ronald’s complete orchestral excerpts from Carmen and almost all of his recordings from Delibes’s Sylvia – only the early 1913 account of the Prelude is missing (recorded on the same day as the Pizzicato)

Delibes – Sylvia – Prelude les Chasseresses
Bizet – Carmen – Intermezzos, Acts 3 & 4

Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, Sir Landon Ronald

Delibes – Sylvia – Prelude les Chasseresses – Ronald

Bizet – Carmen – Intermezzos, Acts 3 & 4 – Ronald

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

His Master’s Voice D 134
Matrices HO 1867ac, 3640af (side numbers 2-0698, 2-0912)
Recorded 27th May 1916, 8th March 1919
Play at 78.1rpm, 77.2rpm

Bizet – Carmen – Prelude
Mascagni – Cavalleria Rusticana – Intermezzo

Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, Sir Landon Ronald
(label for Mascagni “late New Symphony Orchestra”)

Bizet – Carmen – Prelude – Ronald

Mascagni – Cavalleria Rusticana – Intermezzo – Ronald

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

His Master’s Voice D 137
Matrices HO 456 aj, Cc 2755-I (side numbers 0863, 0739)
Recorded 8th February 1913, 27th March 1923
Play at 77.8rpm, 76.5rpm

This is the later of Ronald’s two recordings of the Cavalleria Intermezzo

Delibes – Sylvia – Cortège de Bacchus
Mendelssohn – Spring Song, Bees’ Wedding

Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, Sir Landon Ronald

Delibes – Sylvia – Cortège de Bacchus – Ronald

Mendelssohn – Spring Song, Bees’ Wedding – Ronald

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

His Master’s Voice D 160
Matrices HO 406aj, Cc 2754-I (side numbers 0845, 0738)
Recorded January 1913, 27th March 1923
Play at 76.6rpm, 77.2rpm

Ronald recorded the Mendelssohn pieces on 18th November 1911, but this side was not issued. On 6th January 1912 the side was recorded twice more, with the second attempt being issued. The 1923 remake given here (the first of two takes made on the same day) was his last issued recording of these works.

Delibes – Sylvia – Intermezzo and Valse Lente; Pizzicato
Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, Sir Landon Ronald

Delibes – Sylvia – Intermezzo and Valse Lente – Ronald

Delibes – Sylvia – Pizzicato – Ronald

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

His Master’s Voice D 161
Matrices HO 427af, HO 448aj (side numbers 0849, 0852)
Recorded January 1913, 3rd February 1913
Play at 78.1rpm, 77.5rpm

PREVIOUSLY AVAILABLE:
Bizet – Carmen – Preludes to Act 1 and 2
Royal Albert Hall Orchestra, Landon Ronald

Bizet – Carmen – Prelude Act 1 – Ronald

Bizet – Carmen – Prelude Act 2 – Ronald

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

His Master’s Voice E 461
Matrices BR 936-IA, 937-II (single side numbers 6-830/1)
Recorded 21st January 1927, Queen’s Hall, London

Bizet – The Toreador Song “Carmen”
Band of H.M. Coldstream Guards, John Mackenzie-Rogan

Bizet – Carmen – Toreador Song – Coldstream Guards

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

Gramophone Concert Record G.C.-283
Matrix 2482(b)-WG (side number 283)
Recorded 9th October 1902

Transferred at 78rpm, to play in G minor/major at A452.

Bizet – Carmen – Prelude to Act III (Intermezzo)
Orchestra of La Scala, Milan, Carlo Sabajno

Bizet – Carmen – Prelude Act 3 – Sabajno

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

Gramophone Concert Record G.C.-760
Matrix 8121b (side number 760)
Recorded May 1906, Milan

PREVIOUSLY AVAILABLE:
Bizet – Carmen – Selection I
Bizet – Carmen – Preludio Atto I
La Scala Symphony Orchestra, Carlo Sabajno

Bizet – Carmen – Selection I – Sabajno

Bizet – Carmen – Overture – Sabajno

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

Bizet – Carmen – Preludio atto IV
Orchestra of La Scala, Milan, Carlo Sabajno

Bizet – Carmen – Prelude Act 4 – Sabajno

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

His Master’s Voice C428
Matrices: 925c, 1045c (side numbers 0548, 05025)
Recorded 1906, April 1907, Milan

No conductor is identified in the recording ledgers for the April 1907 sessions. Fred Gaisberg recorded various solo items with Alice Cuccini, the La Scala Chorus and La Scala Orchestra. Other items from Carmen  were recorded at these sessions. When Gaisberg returned to Milan in May 1907, after recording in Egypt, Sabajno was in the studios, and  identified as such in the ledgers. It remains uncertain, therefore, whether he was involved in the April sessions.

Gramophone Concert Record G.C.-50547
Matrix 10383b (50547 IV)
Recorded April 1907

PREVIOUSLY AVAILABLE:
Bizet – Carmen – Intermezzo Act IV
Wagner – Lohengrin – Prelude Act III
Musica della R. Marina Italiana, Mo. Cav. Saba Matacena

Bizet – Carmen – Intermezzo IV – Matacena

Wagner – Lohengrin – Prelude Act III – Matacena

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

Fonotipia 39471, 39470 (Nos. 1927, 1926)
Matrices: XPh 1595m 1594
Recorded 9th February 1906

These performances are certainly spirited, but it is noticeable how ragged  they are, when compared with the much more polished performances by the  Coldstream Guards and the Garde Républicaine from around the same time.

Bizet – Carmen – Orchestral selections
Berlin State Opera Orchestra, Frieder Weissmann

Prelude (Act 1)
First Intermezzo (Avec la garde montante)
Second Intermezzo (Entr’acte Act 3)
Chorus of the Smugglers (Act 3)
Third Intermezzo (Entr’acte Act 4) (Includes extra repeat to fill out disc)
Ballet (Farandole from L’Arlèsienne, Danse bohemienne from La Jolie Fille De Perth)

Mediafire link for Bizet – Carmen – Orchestral selections – Weissmann

(No longer available due to bogus copyright claim)

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

Odeon 5027-9
Matrices C5027A-1, D5027B-1, A5028A-2, A5028B-5, C5029A-4, F5029B-2
Recorded 24th January 1923

Bizet – Carmen – Prelude Act 1, Act 3
Berlin State Opera Orchestra, Frieder Weissmann

Bizet – Carmen – Prelude Act 1 – Weissmann

Bizet – Carmen – Prelude Act 3 – Weissmann

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

Parlophone E 11015
Matrices W 2-20769-2 ab, 2-20768 Bm
Recorded late 1920s

Play at 75.9rpm

French:

Bizet – Carmen – excerpts from complete Pathé recording
Sides 5 and 6 – Choeur des gamins (Suite); Choeur des cigarieres: La cloche a sonné
Sides 15 and 16 – Ou me conduisez-vous… [Seguidille]; Oui mais toute seule
Sides 19 and 20 – Les tringles des sistres; Tra la la la
Sides 31 and 32 – Tu m’entendras [Air de la fleur]; Non tu ne m’aime pas

Chorus and Orchestra of the Opéra Comique de Paris, François Ruhlmann
Marguerite Mérentié,
soprano – Carmen
Agustarello Affre, tenor – Don José
Marie Gantéri, soprano – Frasquita
Jeanne Billa-Azéma, soprano – Mercédès
M. Dulac, baritone – Moralès
Pierre Ernest Dupré, baritone – Zuniga

Not heard on these sides:
Aline Vallandri, soprano – Micaëla
Henri Albers, baritone – Escamillo
Hippolyte Belhomme, bass – Le Dancaïre
Paul Dumontier, baritone – Le Remendado

Bizet – Carmen – Pathé sides 5-6 – Ruhlmann

Bizet – Carmen – Pathé sides 15-16 – Ruhlmann


Bizet – Carmen – Pathé sides 19-20 – Ruhlmann

Bizet – Carmen – Pathé sides 31-32 – Ruhlmann

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

Pathé catalogue number No.1652 – Carmen 5/6
Pathé catalogue number No.1657 – Carmen 15/16
Pathé catalogue number No.1659 – Carmen 19/20
(80rpm, 11½”, edge start, paper label)
Recorded 1911. Early 1920s pressings
Play at 76.6rpm, 78.1rpm, 76.4rpm

Pathé Carmen 31/32
(90rpm 11½” centre start etched label)
Recorded 1911. Early pressing.
Matrices 96460 RA, 96554 RA
Play at 87.9rpm

Auber – La Muette de Portici – Amour sacré
Orchestra
Henri Albers,
baritone
Albert Vaguet, tenor

Bizet – Carmen – Je suis Escamillo
Orchestra
Henri Albers,
baritone
Gaston de Poumayrac, tenor

Auber – La Muette de Portici – Albers, Vaguet

Bizet – Carmen – Je suis Esacmillo – Albers, de Poumayrac

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

Pathé catalogue number 1577
Recording numbers 561, 976
(90rpm 11½” centre start etched label)
Matrices 53632GR, 49578GR
Recorded 1910 – July 1912

Play at 88.0rpm and 88.6rpm

Bizet – Carmen – Couplets du Toréador
Berlioz – La Damnation de Faust – Voici des roses
Maurice Renaud,
baritone with piano

Bizet – Carmen – Toreador – Renaud

Berlioz – La Damnation de Faust – Voici des roses – Renaud

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

Pathé recording numbers 3381, 3383
(90rpm 11½” centre start etched label)
Matrices 11844Px, 11846Px
Recorded 1902-3

Play at 87.4rpm and 86.7rpm

Bizet – Carmen – L’amour est enfant; Air des cartes
Marie Delna,
mezzo-soprano with piano

Bizet – Carmen – Habanera – Delna

Bizet – Carmen – Air des cartes – Delna

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

Pathé recording numbers 3502, 3514
(90rpm 11½” centre start etched label)
Matrices 7845-B-x, 7866-B-x
Recorded 1903-4

Play at 89.1rpm and 85.2rpm

The opening of the Habanera was not successfully transferred from the Pathé Master Cylinder to this disc, so I’ve reconstructed it from the following bars.

Bizet – Carmen – Habanera
Handel – Célèbre Largo
Orchestra
Alice Raveau,
contralto

Bizet – Carmen – Habanera – Raveau

Handel – Largo – Raveau

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

Pathé No.0484 (11½”, edge start, paper label)
Recording numbers 1129, 1135 c
Recorded 1925 (Sides are dated 7th August 1925, 22nd August 1925)

Play at 78.4rpm (Handel transposed down a semitone into E major)

PREVIOUSLY AVAILABLE (new restorations):
Bizet – Carmen – Chanson du Toréador

Victor Orchestra
Emilio de Gogorza,
baritone

Victrola 88178
Matrix C-3349-4 (P88178)
Recorded Date 11th June 1906
Plays at 76.2rpm

In this recording (which has only one verse), the chorus members disagree over the language. De Gogorza has been happily singing in French, and most of the chorus follow this with “Toréador, en garde,” but some go for the Italian version “Toreador, attento.” Carmen was still frequently given  in Italian in the early 20th century, and at the Met it was not unknown for the soloists to sing in French while the chorus sang in Italian.

Rossini – Il Barbiere di Siviglia – Largo al factotum
Victor Orchestra, Rosario Bourdon
Emilio de Gogorza,
baritone

Victrola 88181
Matrix C-6867-2 (D88181)
Recorded 8th March 1909
Plays at 78.6rpm

In this recording,  at “uno alla volta” de Gogorza and the orchestra disagree over which edition of the score is being used: the singer uses the version which has the pattern F-E-F-E-D#-E, while the orchestra goes for  F-E-D#-E-D#-E.

Bizet – Carmen – Toreador – Gogorza

Rossini – Barbiere – Largo al factotum – Gogorza

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

Bizet – Carmen – Habanera; Seguidilla
Orchestra
Sigrid Onegin,
mezzo-soprano

Bizet – Carmen – Habanera – Onegin

Bizet – Carmen – Seguidilla – Onegin

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

Brunswick 15128
Matrices E21530, E21533
Recorded 17th February 1927

Italian:

Bizet – Carmen – Romanza del fiore
Thomas – Mignon – Addio Mignon
Orchestra
Angelo Bendinelli,
tenor

Bizet – Carmen – Romanza del fiore – Bendinelli

Thomas – Mignon – Addio Mignon – Bendinelli

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

Columbia-Rena Opera Record D 5503
Matrices 11243, 11266
Recorded c1912
sung in Italian

The Carmen aria is sung a semitone below score pitch, playing at 78rpm. The Mignon aria plays at 79.8rpm.

Bizet – Carmen – Habanera
Donizetti – La Favorita – O mio Fernando

Orchestra
Nini Frascani,
mezzo-soprano

Bizet – Carmen – Habanera – Frascani

Donizetti – La Favorita – O mio Fernando – Frascani

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

Columbia D 5505
Matrices 11113, 11115
Recorded c1912
sung in Italian

Play at 81.2rpm

English:

Gounod – Faust – Even Bravest Heart
Bizet – Carmen – Toreador Song

Orchestra
Thomas Chalmers,
baritone

Gounod – Faust – Even bravest heart – Chalmers

Bizet – Carmen – Toreador Song – Chalmers

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

Edison Diamond Disc 82060
Matrices 2826-B-5-4, 2997-A-2-1 (82060-L, -R)
Recorded 18th February 1914, 1st May 1914, New York

Play at 80.5rpm (Gounod), 79.6rpm (Bizet)

Bizet – Carmen – My Mother I Behold (Act I)
Orchestra, Sir Hamilton Harty
Elsa Stralia,
soprano
Frank Mullings, tenor

Bizet – Carmen – My Mother I Behold – Stralia, Mullings, Harty

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

Columbia 7258
Matrix 74106-2
Recorded c 14th May 1920
Available from March 1922 to April 1924

Plays at 83.7rpm
This was reissued on double sided 7332 in April 1924, coupled with Stralia’s 1920 account of Micaela’s aria.
This was available until January 1925 when the Micaela aria was replaced with a 1924 remake – this new issue was available 22nd January 1925 to August 1930.

Bizet – Carmen – The Toreador Song
Wagner – Tannhäuser – O Star of Eve
Orchestra, Clarence Raybould
(Bizet), Robert Ainsworth (Wagner)
Harold Williams,
baritone

Bizet – Carmen – Toreador – Williams

Wagner – Tannhäuser – O Star of Eve – Williams

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

Columbia 9873
Matrices WAX 3226-1, 4552-2 (side numbers 8480, 11189)
Recorded 7th August 1928, 15th January 1929

Play at 76.9rpm and 78.0rpm.

Bizet – “Carmen” – Vocal Gems

Intro.: Act1; Habanera; Micaela – Don Jose Duet; Seguidilla; Toreador’s Song, Act 2
Flower Song, Act 2; March, Act 4; Escamillo-Carmen Duet, Finale

Sadler’s Wells Orchestra, Warwick Braithwaite
Noel Eadie,
soprano
Nancy Evans, contralto
Webster Booth, tenor
Dennis Noble, baritone

Bizet – Carmen – Vocal gems – Eadie, Evans, Booth, Noble, Braithwaite

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

His Master’s Voice C 3143
Matrices 2EA 8190-I, 8191-I
Recorded 21st December 1939

Bizet – Gems from “Carmen”
Orchestra
Zonophone Operatic Party
Carrie Tubb,
soprano
Violet Elliott, mezzo-soprano
Ernest Pike, tenor
Harold Wilde, tenor
Stewart Gardner, baritone
Peter Dawson, bass-baritone

Bizet – Carmen – gems – Zonophone

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

Zonophone The Twin Serial A 50
Matrices z5447f, 5449f (side numbers Z-044509. Z-044510)
Recorded 15th September 1911

Plays at 75.6rpm

Bizet – Carmen – Habanera; Gipsy Song
Orchestra

Edna Thornton,
contralto
(credited on label as Madame Violetta)
Eleanor Jones-Hudson, soprano
Ernest Pike, tenor
Peter Dawson, bass-baritone

Bizet – Carmen – Habanera – Thornton

Bizet – Carmen – Gipsy Song – Thornton

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

Zonophone Celebrity Record G.O.9
Matrices 11589e, 11590e (side numbers 43205, X43207)
Recorded 14th April 1910

Plays at about 78.5rpm.

Thornton enters a beat early for the final verse of the Gipsy Song, but somehow she and the orchestra get themselves back together again after some time.

Bizet – Carmen – Toreador Song
Wagner – Tannhäuser – O Star of Eve

Orchestra
Roy Henderson,
baritone

Bizet – Carmen – Toreador Song – Henderson

Wagner – Tannhäuser – O Star of Eve – Henderson

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

Broadcast Twelve 5100/3231
Matrices L 0241, L 0245 (5100-A/3231-A, 5100-B X/3231-B X)
Recorded January 1929
Sides play at about 77rpm, and 78rpm

Gounod – Faust – Even bravest heart
Rossini – The Barber of Seville – Room for the City’s Factotum

Orchestra
Roy Henderson,
baritone

Gounod – Faust – Even bravest heart – Henderson

Rossini – Barber of Seville – Largo al factotum – Henderson

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

Broadcast Twelve 5089
Matrices L 0242, L 0246 (5089A X, 5089B)
Sides play at about 77rpm, and 78rpm
Recorded January 1929

At these speeds the Bizet and Wagner arias both play in score pitch. The Gounod plays in D flat, putting the introduction at score pitch, and the aria a tone below. The Rossini plays in A, a surprisingly large transposition of a minor third below score pitch.

 

Bizet – Gems from “Carmen”
Soloists, full chorus and orchestra
with Constance Willis, mezzo-soprano

Bizet – Carmen – gems – Willis

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

Broadcast Twelve 5018
Matrices L070X, L071X
Recorded c1929
Plays at about 76.0rpm

Saint-Saëns – Samson and Delilah – Softly awakes my heart
Bizet – Carmen – Habanera
Orchestra

Constance Willis,
mezzo-soprano

Saint-Saëns – Samson and Delilah – Softly awakes my heart – Willis

Bizet – Carmen – Habanera – Willis

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

Broadcast Twelve 5114
Matrices L 0208X, L 0247X
Recorded 1929
Plays at about 77.5rpm

Constance Willis is perhaps best remembered (if at all) for her impressive performance as Katisha in the 1939 film of The Mikado. She was an experienced singer both in concert and in opera by this time, and was known for her Carmen. Surprisingly she appeared only once at the Proms, in 1930, singing “Amour! viens aider ma faiblesse!” from Samson and Delilah, and two Rachmaninov songs. The second of her records listed here prompted the following from Herman Klein in the December 1929 issue of The Gramophone:

Constance Willis’s experience with the B.N.O.C. has made a dramatic singer of this artist and taught her to bring some of her stage instincts with her into the recording studio. In such cases let me assure the Broadcast Twelve operator that there is no need for indiscriminate over-amplifying; the voice and the style are quite big enough without his artful aid. The only other criticism I would make concerns the descending chromatic phrases of the Habanera; and there Miss Willis is too inclined to “slither” down from note to note when a clean scale is absolutely essential.

Earlier recordings for Vocalion were warmly received.

Bizet – Carmen – Flower Song
Gounod – La Reine de Saba – Lend me your aid

Orchestra
Frank Titterton,
tenor
(credited on labels as Francesco Vada)

Bizet – Carmen – Flower Song – Titterton

Gounod – La Reine de Saba – Lend me your aid – Titterton

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

Broadcast Twelve 5062
Matrices L 072, L 094 (5062A X, 5062B)
Recorded c 1929
Plays at about 77.4rpm. This record is very worn and scratched, particularly at the start of each side.

Puccini – La Boheme – Your Tiny Hand is Frozen
Bizet – Carmen – The Flower Song

Orchestra, Leslie Heward
(Puccini), Julian Clifford (Bizet)
Frank Titterton, tenor

Puccini – La Boheme – Your tiny hand is frozen – Titterton

Bizet – Carmen – Flower Song – Titterton

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

Decca K505
Matrices MA 486-2A, MA 746-1A
Recorded 24th September 1929, 6th December 1929
Play at about 78.5rpm and 78.9rpm.

Together, these two records provide a rare chance to hear an artist recording the same aria for two different companies around the same time.

PREVIOUSLY AVAILABLE:
Bizet – Carmen – March Act IV
Gounod – Faust – La Kermesse
Sung in English
Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, Albert Coates

Bizet – Carmen – March Act IV – Coates

Gounod – Faust – La Kermesse – Coates

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

His Master’s Voice D 1047
Matrices Cc 7063-II, 7065-II (single side numbers 4-0749, 4-0750)
Recorded 26th October 1925, Hayes

This was recorded in a session at Hayes which also included the Boris Godunov coronation scene with Chaliapin and the Church Scene from Faust, with Chaliapin and Austral. The baritone who has a brief solo in the Faust chorus is unnamed. There is a possibility that it is Edward Halland, who was in studio with Coates the following day when some Wagner excerpts were recorded.

The sound is somewhat recessed, as these are fairly early examples of electrical recording of pieces for chorus and orchestra. Indeed, on the same day that these recordings were made at Hayes, the pianist Max Darewski was being recorded acoustically in another of the Hayes studios.

German:

Saint-Saëns – Samson et Dalila – Printemps qui commence
Bizet – Carmen – Ja, die Liebe hat bunte flügel (Habanera)

Berlin State Opera Orchestra, Leo Blech
Maria Olszewska,
contralto

Saint-Saëns – Samson et Dalila – Printemps qui commence – Olszewska

Bizet – Carmen – Habanera – Olszewska

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

His Master’s Voice D1386
Matrices CWR 1291-I, 1295-II (side numbers 2-043085, 2-044029)
Recorded 27th and 28th February 1927, Berlin

Saint-Saëns – Samson et Dalila – Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix
Handel – Rinaldo – Lascia ch’io pianga

Berlin State Opera Orchestra, Fritz Zweig
Maria Olszewska,
contralto

Saint-Saëns – Samson et Dalila – Mon coeur s’ouvre – Olszewska

Handel – Rinaldo – Lascia ch’io pianga – Olszewska

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

His Master’s Voice D 1465
Matrices CLR 3961-III, CLR 3962-II (side numbers 2-033131, 2-033132)
Recorded 15th March 1928, Berlin

Across these two records Olszewska shows off her command of languages: the Saint-Saëns arias are in French, the Carmen is in German, and the Handel is in Italian.

Russian:

Bizet – Carmen – La fleur que tu m’avais jetée
Meyerbeer – Les Huguenots – Plus blanche que la blanche ermine

Orchestra
Dmitri Smirnov,
tenor

Bizet – Carmen – Flower song – Smirnov

Meyerbeer – Les Huguenots – Plus blanche – Smirnov

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

Historic Masters HMB 7
Matrices 2689c, 2857c (022312, 022338)
Recorded 21st October 1912, 15th October 1913, St. Petersburg

The sides play at about 78.6rpm and 75.2rpm respectively. This repressing from original matrices was among the earliest issues by Historic Masters.

Dan Godfrey – Mozart’s Jupiter (new transfer); Hamilton Harty – Mozart Divertimento No.17; Jean Witold – Eine kleine Nachtmusik; Pauline Aubert – Rondo alla turca; Robert Veyron-Lacroix – Piano Concertos K107 (after JC Bach), with Roland Douatte; Lener Quartet – Eine kleine Nachtmusik; Don Giovanni excerpts in English – Tudor Davies, Peter Dawson, Eleanor Jones-Hudson

The focus this time is on Mozart, with a new transfer of Dan Godfrey’s recording of Symphony No.41 “Jupiter” K551, and a selection of orchestral and keyboard items, including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, from the 1950s as presented on a French “Mode disques” LP from some time later. For a different take on Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, there is also the Lener Quartet’s 1926 recording. There are also some acoustic items from Don Giovanni, sung in English.

Mozart –Symphony No.41 in C major (“Jupiter” Symphony)

Mediafire link for Mozart – Jupiter Symphony – Dan Godfrey

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

Columbia L1938-41
Matrices: WRAX 2432-2, 2433-1, 2434-2, 2435-2, 2436-2, 2437-2, 2438-2, 2439-2
Recorded 4th February 1927
Available November 1927 to April 1934
Symphony Orchestra, Sir Dan Godfrey

This recording has a substantial overlap between sides 2 and 3. The first movement spreads over 3 sides, despite lasting only a little over 8 minutes. The first side contains the exposition (which could therefore be repeated by playing the record twice.) The second side carries through into the recapitulation, up to bar 243. The third side begins at bar 212, therefore overlapping 32 bars with the previous side, a fact acknowledged (but not explained) in the notes of the original record album.

It’s a shame that Godfrey chose this unusual side arrangement – if he’d squeezed the first movement onto 2 sides, he could have included a filler on the 8th side.

Mozart – Divertimento No.17 in D major K334

Mediafire link for Mozart – Divertimento No.17 – Hamilton Harty

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

Columbia LX 350-52
Matrices: CAX 7302-2, 7303-1, 7304-2, 7305-1, 7306-2, 7307-1
Recorded 1934

I. Allegro (1½ sides)
II. Theme and 6 Variations (1½ sides)
III. Menuetto & Trio
VI. Rondo: Allegro

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sir Hamilton Harty

Harty omits the fourth and fifth movements. In the second, repeats are played only in the theme and the final variation. The finale is somewhat cut, omitting bars 127-134, 1702-1861, 2072-2151, 269 and 3362-3441.

Mozart – “Petite Musique de Nuit; Marche Turque; Concerti No.2 et 3 pour piano et orchestre”

Mediafire link for Mozart – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Rondo alla Turca, Piano Concertos after JC Bach – Various

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

Mode Disques MDINT 9 073
(disques vogues)
Matrices MD1396-A/B
Recorded 1957

Serenade in G major K525 “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”

I. Allegro
II. Romance: Andante
III. Menuetto: Allegretto
IV. Rondo: Allegro

Ensemble Instrumental Sinfonia, Jean Witold

Piano Sonata in A major K331III. Rondo alla turca
Pauline Aubert, harpsichord

J.C. Bach arr. Mozart: Piano Concerto K.207 No.2 in G major

I. Allegro
II. Allegretto con variazioni

J.C. Bach arr. Mozart: Piano Concerto K.207 No.3 in E flat major

I. Allegro
II. Allegretto

Collegium Musicum de Paris, Roland Douatte
Robert Veyron-Lacroix
, piano

Mozart – Serenade in G major K525 “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”

Mediafire link for Mozart – Eine Kleine Nachtmusik – Lener Quartet

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

Columbia L 1729-30
Matrices WAX 1125-6, 1126-6, 1127-6 or 7, 1128-7
Recorded 19th February 1926
Available from Jun 1926 to July 1943 (Side 3 take 6 replaced by take 7 on 3rd March 1927)

I. Allegro (1 side)
II. Romance: Andante (1½ sides)
III. Menuetto: Allegretto (½ side)
IV. Rondo: Allegro (1 side)

Lener String Quartet

Mozart – Don Giovanni – On her contentment (Dalla sua pace)


Mozart – Don Giovanni – To her I love (Il mio tesoro)


His Master’s Voice D 957
Matrices Cc 4572-II, 4573-II (single side numbers 2-02073/4)
Recorded 5th May 1924
Tudor Davies, tenor
Orchestra, George W Byng

Mozart – Don Giovanni – Give me thy hand, Oh fairest (La ci darem la mano)


Zonophone X-44130
Matrix 10142e (X-44130-IV)
Recorded 19th May 1909
Peter Dawson, bass-baritone
Eleanor Jones-Hudson, soprano (credited on label as Alvena Yarrow)
Orchestra

(mp3 files – left click the link and download the file, or press play)

Fabien Sevitzky – Arensky’s Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovsky; Marie Novello – Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2; Thorpe Bates – Captain’s Song from HMS Pinafore; Joseph Batten – “March of Victory” for the National Savings Movement; Henry Wood – Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music (improved transfer); Michael Zacharewitsch – violin solos

The latest selection of recordings is a typically mixed bag.

Firstly, Fabien Sevitzky, who has been heard here before with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, recorded slightly earlier with his own Philadelphia String Simfonietta. One product of his studio sessions was Arensky’s Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky, an adaptation of the third movement of Arensky’s String Quartet No.2.

The tragically short-lived English pianist Marie Novello managed to record extensively. For Winner she recorded Liszt’s 2nd Hungarian Rhapsody, though it’s somewhat gratingly abridged to fit on two 10” sides.

Thorpe Bates has also appeared here before in recordings from early in his career. The present pair of recordings take us earlier still, and also to the end of his career.

As a regular in the Gramophone Company studios, he featured in numerous ensemble recordings, not always credited on the label. A 1906 recording of the Captain’s Song from HMS Pinafore includes Bates as soloist. The accompanying choir includes Peter Dawson, whose distinctive tones can be heard particularly on each cry of “What never?” as he holds the final note longer than everyone else!

Bates also visited the studios in 1945, to take part in one of those curious patriotic records for the National Savings movement. This one celebrated the work of the British forces in securing victory in Europe, and was recorded after Hitler’s death, but a few days before VE Day. Bates contributes to the first side, and the second features Walter Saull, a baritone who had sung Dr Caius in the third performance of Vaughan Williams’s Sir John in Love in 1929 (part of the original run).

And staying with English singers, I’ve just acquired a fine set of original 78s of Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music, which provides a much improved transfer compared to the Columbia 7” reissue that I previously transferred.

I’ve been prompted to transfer my latest Edison Bell of the violinist Michael Zacharewitsch, who has also appeared here before. As well as the new disc in my collection, I’ve also improved the transfers of the other Zacharewitsch recordings which have appeared here.

Arensky – Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovsky, Op.35a

Mediafire link for Arensky – Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovksy – Sevitzky

(This is an mp3 file – left click the link, download the file)

RCA Victor Red Seal DM 896 (11-8155/6)
Matrices 056558 7, 056559 1, 056560 1A4, 056561 10 (11-8155/6 auto, 11-8153/4 manual)
Recorded 1942

Part 1 – Variations 1 and 2
Part 2 – Variations 3 and 4
Part 3 – Variations 5 and 6
Part 4 – Variation 7 and Finale

Philadelphia Chamber String Sinfonietta, Fabien Sevitzky conductor

Album notes:

Arensky – Variations on a Theme of Tchaikovsky, Op.35a

Anton Arensky was one of the most distinguished Russian composers of his period. Endowed with a natural facility of musical diction, a tenderness of feeling and a gift for simple and beautiful melody, Arensky soon won the warm friendship of his older and greater contemporary, Peter Ilyitch Tchaikovsky. A word concerning the cordial relationship between the two men is in order, for it is a melody by Tchaikovsky which forms the basis for the variations by Arensky recorded here. Tchaikovsky found in Arensky “a man of remarkable gifts” (as he expressed it in a letter to Mme. von Meck), not the least of which was an impeccable technical equipment in the craft of composition which, in Tchaikovsky’s words, “deserves unqualified praise.” As an older and more experienced composer, Tchaikovsky occasionally felt called upon to criticize certain aspects of Arensky’s music. The criticism was kindly but firm, and, in one instance at least, reveals perhaps more about Tchaikovsky than it does about Arensky. Arensky had submitted a work (Marguerite Gautier) based on the famous La Dame aux Camelias of Dumas fils – the work which served Verdi as the foundation for his La Traviata. Tchaikovsky disapproved, failing to see how “an educated musician” could have chosen so trivial a work when such authors as Homer, Shakespeare, Dante, Pushkin, Gogol, Tolstoy were available as sources of inspiration. But Tchaikovsky could be extraordinarily kind as well. He put himself to considerable trouble to gain Arensky a hearing. He recommended Arensky’s book on musical theory to Jurgenson, the publisher. He wrote to Rimsky-Korsakoff asking as a favor that one of Arensky’s works be performed at one of his concerts. The manner in which the favours was asked is unique in the history of the friendship of composers, and indicates how much faith Tchaikovsky had in his friend’s talent. He proposed to Rimsky-Korsakoff that his own Rome overture be replaced by a composition of Arensky’s, arguing that where all Russian composers find a place, room should be made for Arensky. Arensky indicated his veneration for his friend by dedicating several of his compositions to Tchaikovsky. The present series of variations – originally a part of his string quartet, Op.35 – takes as its theme a song by Tchaikovsky.

In brief, the main outlines of Arensky’s biography follow. He was brought up amidst eminently musical surroundings. His father, a doctor, played the ‘cello, and his mother was reputed to have been an accomplished pianist. Arensky supplemented his early musical training with a course of study at the Petrograd Conservatory under Rimsky-Korsakoff. Following the completion of his studies – he graduated with honors – he was appointed professor of harmony and counterpoint at the Imperial Conservatory in Moscow in 1882. In 1889 he became a member of the Council of the Synodal School of Church Music at Moscow, a post which he held until 1893. For seven years he was conductor of the Russian Choral Society. In 189 he succeeded Balakirev, upon the latter’s own recommendation, as director of the Imperial Chapel at Petrograd. This post he resigned in 1901. He died in Terijoki, Finland, on February 25, 1906 following a long illness.

Liszt – Hungarian Rhapsody (No.2)

Download – Liszt – Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 – Marie Novello

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

The Winner 3599 (10″)
Matrices 6849K-3, 6850R-3
Recorded November 1921
Marie Novello, piano

National Savings Movement presents “March of Freedom”

Download – March of Freedom – Joseph Batten

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

EMI JG.303 (EMI: A Private Recording)
Matrices CTPX 12923-1, 12924-1
Recorded 3rd May 1945
London Symphony Orchestra, Joseph Batten
Thorpe Bates
, baritone (Side 1)
Walter Saull, baritone (Side 2)
Michael Shepley, compere (both sides)
Chorus (both sides)

Sullivan – HMS Pinafore – Captain’s song
(My gallant crew good morning… I am the captain of the Pinafore)

Download – Sullivan – HMS Pinafore – Captain’s Song – Thorpe Bates

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

Gramophone Concert Record G.C.-4404 (10”)
Matrix 8352b (4404 II)
Recorded 16th June 1906
Orchestra
Sullivan Quartette:
Thorpe Bates
, baritone
Peter Dawson, bass-baritone
Stanley Kirkby, baritone
Ernest Pike, tenor

Thorpe Bates listed as soloist in Gramophone Company archives. Though the record label notes “Sullivan Quartette”, the ledgers give “Sullivan Operatic Party.” As noted earlier, Dawson is distinctly audible in the chorus. The recording ledgers do not list the chorus members, but Pike, Dawson and Kirkby were all in studio on the same day, recording with Bates and Eleanor Jones-Hudson in various combinations: Kirkby (recording as Walter Miller) was accomapnied by the Minster Singers, comprising Dawson, Bates, Pike and Jones-Hudson), and when Pike was the soloist his place is the same named group was taken by Kirkby.

Vaughan Williams – Serenade to Music

Download – Vaughan Williams – Serenade to Music – Henry Wood

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

Columbia LX757-8
Matrices CAX 8367-2A, 8368-2A, 8369-1, 8370-1
Recorded 15th October 1938
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sir Henry J. Wood
Isobel Baillie,
soprano – Lilian Stiles Allen, soprano – Elsie Suddaby, soprano – Eva Turner, soprano
Margaret Balfour, contralto – Muriel Brunskill, contralto – Astra Desmond, contralto – Mary Jarred, contralto
Parry Jones, tenor – Heddle Nash, tenor – Frank Titterton, tenor – Walter Widdop, tenor
Norman Allin, bass – Robert Easton, bass – Roy Henderson, baritone – Harold Williams, baritone

 

Mediafire link for recordings by Michael Zacharewitsch

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

Schubert – Ave Maria
Zacharewitsch – Imagination

Edison Bell Velvet Face 509
80.0rpm
Matrices X1125E-?, X1126N-?
Michael Zacharewitsch, violin with piano

Wieniawski – Legende
Svendsen – Romanze

Edison Bell Velvet Face 517
Matrices X1122D-4, X1123B-4
80.0rpm
Michael Zacharewitsch, violin with piano

Sarasate – Zigeunerweisen (Gipsy Airs)
Edison Bell Velvet Face 525
81.9rpm
Matrices X1171E-1, X1172F-2
Michael Zacharewitsch, violin with piano

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