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

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

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

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

German – Welsh Rhapsody

Download – German – Welsh Rhapsody – Henry Gibson

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

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

German – Welsh Rhapsody

Download – German – Welsh Rhapsody – Landon Ronald

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

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


Verdi – La Traviata – Addio del passato

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

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

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

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