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

Historic recordings remastered. Not a sales list!

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
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
Matrices X1125E-?, X1126N-?
Michael Zacharewitsch, violin with piano

Wieniawski – Legende
Svendsen – Romanze

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

Sarasate – Zigeunerweisen (Gipsy Airs)
Edison Bell Velvet Face 525
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