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Vocal Rarities
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tannhäuser - Dir töne Lob! [1:58]
Tannhäuser - Dir, Göttin der Liebe! [0:59]                   
Siegfried Schmiede mein Hammer [2:38]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)                     
Otello - Ora e per sempre addio [1:40]
Ivan Vasilievich Ershov [St. Petersburg ?1903]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Don Giovanni - Finch'han dal vino [with encore] [3:20]
Giacomo ROSSINI (1792-1868)      
Il Barbiere di Siviglia - Largo al factotum [4:11]            
Guillaume Tell -  Sois imobile [3:30]     
Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797-1848) 
L'Elisir d'Amore - Vien Leonora [3:26]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tannhäuser - O du mein holder Abendstern [3:55]
Francisco d'Andrade  recorded ?Berlin c.1907
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Die Zauberflöte - Ach, ich fühl's [3:48] 
Ernani (Verdi) Ernani, rette mich [4:21]
Il Trovatore (Verdi) In deines Kerkers tiefer Nacht [4:30]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Aïda - O Vaterland [4:27]
Luise Perard-Petzl, recorded Berlin 1-XII-13

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tannhäuser - Dir töne Lob! [2:14]       
Stets soll nur dir [1:57]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Aïda - Holde Aïda [3:20]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)
Cavalleria Rusticana – aria [1:39]
Francis MacLennan, recorded Hamburg 1908

Jacques Fromental HALÉVY (1799-1862)
La Juive - Er kehrt zurück [3:06]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)
Cavalleria Rusticana - Als euer Sohn [3:18]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Der Freischütz - Und ob die Wolke [3:53]                              
Mignon (Thomas) Kennst du das Land [2:56]
Johann STRAUSS II (1825-1899)
Zigeunerbaron - So elend und so treu [3:10] Roxy King recorded Berlin 1905
Unaccompanied Folk Songs  
Ekh, you, Van'ka [3:19]
Nochen'ka - Ah, you, night, dark night  [3:50]                          
Luchinushka - A wooden splinter, my little one [3:44]
Feodor Chaliapin, recorded Milan X-1907

SYMPOSIUM 1350 [79:38] 

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Symposium is in two minds about this release; Vocal Rarities says the booklet cover but Major Vocal Rarities says the jewel case. Well, for once, the more discreet self-promotion is the truer one. Some of these discs are very rare indeed. In fact an index of their rarity value can be provided by the name of the man from whose collection the vast majority derive, the late Sir Paul Getty.

The collector looks for rarity and condition. Both constituents are met here. The sextet of singers represents divergent traditions, naturally enough, and they espouse their own repertoire but rarity and quality of condition remain constant features.

Ershov, one of the most magnificent tenors ever to have recorded, visited the recording studios but seldom. We are fortunate to have this batch of 1903 Columbias in such good estate and they bear out everything that has been said of him. Firstly he is an intensely dramatic singer, secondly the tone is very firmly centred and thirdly he generates a most intense and sometimes florid excitement. If this is Ershov in the necessarily contained world of the 1903 recording studios one can only wonder what he must have sounded like, unleashed and leonine, on stage. He sings Wagner and Verdi with equal command; he also sets a standard that proves impossible to match.

This is hard on the Portuguese d’Andrade but he has only himself to blame. His Mozart is stylistically and technically all over the place. Amusing though it is to hear his studio cronies cry “encore” and “bis” for a scripted encore it’s less so when he goes through his vocal paces again. This is odd as he was a widely admired singer but to sing Mozart as if it were Rossini is surely a solecism too far. When he does sing Rossini he is stretched by its demands and the overriding impression is of an undisciplined singer surviving on theatrical charisma and dispatching note values, rhythm and precision to the furthermost reaches of his arsenal.

Luise Perard-Petzl only made four sides and they’re all here. She is in a different class from the unfortunate Portuguese; a fine, lyric soprano with a certain dignified hauteur; not over demonstrative but still convincing. All her sides were sung in German and all reveal a thoroughly well trained and well disciplined voice. Note the floated tone in the Trovatore in particular and if she sounds rather rushed maybe it was unfamiliarity with the recording process or the length of the sides.

The American Francis MacLennan was a noted Hamburg Wagnerian – one of the many successful American expatriates from before the First War. He certainly convinces in his two Wagner sides in the best unhistrionic and noble line of compatriot Wagnerians. In the second extract he has the luxury of an orchestral accompaniment. His Verdi alas is less impressive – lugubrious and in poor style.

The name Roxy King sounds like a flapper but was another in the line of fine European-trained Americans. Born in Ohio she moved to Brazil at thirteen, to Berlin in her later teens and then began what seems to have been a highly promising career. It ended in 1908 when she returned to Brazil and married. She made two batches of discs - for G & T in Berlin and for South American Victor. Here we have the Berlin sides, all rare. She has a fine and free top and in this generally slow tempo quintet of recordings she displays an excellent legato and sure sense of style. Clearly a highly impressive artist.

To finish we have the unaccompanied Chaliapin folk songs made in Milan in 1907 and not originally meant for publication. Possibly they were a test of his own vocal projection in the studio. Certainly he dares some vertiginous pianissimos in the second song, which might warrant that assumption.

The biographical notes are perceptive and helpful without swamping one in too much detail. And the copies are, as noted, as good as one can reasonably expect to find after a century of use. The unfiltered transfers allow one a privileged eyrie on some indisputably great singing.

Jonathan Woolf     


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