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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


BROADWAY THROUGH THE GRAMOPHONE (1844-1930)
New York in European Footsteps (4 volumes)

Various singers and orchestras of the
Victor, Columbia and Vocalion record companies
Volume 3 1914-1920 [CD1 72.19, CD2 72.23]
PEARL: GMS 0084 Mono ADD
Volume 4 1920-1929 [CD1 74.24, CD2 73.50]
PEARL: GMS 0085 Mono ADD

Full track details below

 

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At four double CDs this Pearl set must be one of the largest compilations of Broadway musicals/operettas ever transcribed. The tracks comprise 'Vocal Gems': gramophone transcriptions Broadway productions between 1914 and 1929. The titles are usually confined to one 12" 78 record side resulting in a maximum track length of 4'30". There are occasional tracks of over 8 minutes where the selection covers two 12" sides.

Many of the musicals represented in these volumes have never been given any professional revivals since the decade immediately following the opening run. This neglected music, whatever the source, has been lost from public attention since the 50s when LP players rendered the old 78s unplayable.

We have to be grateful to Victor for the regular issues of New York's popular Twenties musicals. No sooner had a musical made its mark on Broadway than it seems the score was taken into the studio for recording.

No details of singers are given on these discs but a few separate credits show that the Broadway stars did enter the recording studio. Generally the singers we hear are those engaged directly by the record companies. Whoever they are they are good singers and harmonise well. We hear singing with good diction and elegant English phrasing.

In volumes 3 and 4, there is a lot of very interesting native American material, of Victor Herbert and Jerome Kern in particular. Some of the titles are likely to be completely new to us. Thirteen years ago the McGlynn recordings of Showboat and Anything Goes proved very popular and judging by the content of these volumes it appears there is further potential to provide modern recordings of many more of these musicals. After Volumes 1 and 2 one is aware of a more modern approach to composition from 1915 onwards. This can be detected in Volume 3, CD1. Examples the approach can be heard in tk4, Romberg's Maid in America (1915); and tk11, Cuvillier's Florabella (1916); CD2 tk5, Kern & Wodehouse's Oh, Lady! Lady! (1918)

The last tracks here represented were recorded in 1930 and relate to film music The Love Parade and Sunny Side Up (Volume 4 CD2 tks 14 & 15). The musical numbers have more bounce to their rhythm and zip to the vocal lines. The recordings, of course, have a wider frequency spectrum and are (marginally) better than those from the previous two decades (collected in volumes 1 and 2).

The notes tell us little about the original Victor records, their conductors or their singers. The Light Opera Company "Gems" series launched by the American Victor Company began about 1909 and used such prolific Victor artists as Lucy Isabelle Marsh, Olive Kline, Lambert Murphy, Reinald Werrenrath, Harry MacDonough, Elsie Baker, and Royal Dadmun. The Victor investment in recording such a series was more extensive than Columbia's contribution. When electrical recordings were introduced in 1925 the Victor series continued, with re-recordings of some of their early acoustic discs. The original singers continued into the early electrical era and Lambert Murphy used by Victor went on to sing with the Metropolitan Opera.

In the later twenties and early thirties Victor began to issue composer-dedicated albums of Light Opera "Gems". Victor Herbert (two volumes of five twelve inch records, VM-C1 and VM-C2), Rudolf Friml (with the composer playing the piano on some of the sides), Sigmund Romberg and, eventually, Jerome Kern and George Gershwin were featured in this series. A third Victor Herbert set, largely recapitulating the most popular repertoire of the previous two sets, came out in the 1930s. Again major artists participated along with 'company' singers; Rise Stevens sang in the Romberg set (before making her debut at the Met.) and the popular singer Jane Froman prominently featured in the Gershwin set. Nathaniel Shilkret was the music director for most of these electrical sets and he conducts with authority and style deploying orchestrations that are authentic in phrasing. (This important background information comes from research kindly provided by Calvin M Goodwin of America.)

Occasionally some of the HMV series (the two-sided electrical Merry Widow, for example) were issued under a Victor 'Stateside' label and a G&S set originating in England was similarly reissued in the US. These were on their black label as were the previous individual "Gems" records: the American composer-specific sets were Red Seal issues. Some of the electric "Gems" follow the British tradition and are two-sided. We desperately need reissues of the later Victor Red Seal sets. They offer near definitive interpretations by Shilkret which preserve much of Herbert's own characteristic "rubato-style" as well as authentic orchestrations, tempi, and harmonisations.

Since they preserve a now vanished "authentic" style of interpretation there will be many, on both sides of the Atlantic, who hope that supplementary Pearl volumes maybe forthcoming. One can appreciate why Pearl disregarded the Offenbach operettas in these volumes. As for Showboat, Kismet and Anything Goes and all those operettas/musicals imported from Britain, these have modern recordings elsewhere.

In volumes 3 and 4 we find recording techniques have become better adapted to the medium and one becomes slowly aware that the orchestral textures thicken and the choruses sound fuller: evidence of the evolution of the gramophone. Composition wise, the shows (as they were now becoming called) increasingly take on the characteristics of the Busby Berkley films.

The notes give a four-page description of the progression of the musical scene on Broadway from 1914 to 1929 but with so much content on the discs they are barely adequate.

That aside these two sets represent that powerful combination of historical significance and pleasurable listening enhanced by beneficial developments in recording techniques so evident when you compare the sound on the first two volumes with that on the present two.
Raymond Walker

Full track Listing

Volume 3 CD 1

1. CHIN-CHIN Caryll Music, Caldwell & O'Dea Words Happy New Year, Violet, Good-Bye Girls (words by Golden), Love Moon, Ragtime Temple Bells
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1915. Victor 35440)

2. THE ONLY GIRL Herbert Music, Blossom Words
Here's to the Land We Love, Boys, Tell it All Over Again,
Connubial Bliss, Personality, When Your Ankle Wears the
Ball and Chain, When You're Away
(Columbia Light Opera Company: Rec 1915. Columbia A-5639)

3. WATCH YOUR STEP Berlin Music & Words
Let's Go Around the Town, Show Us How to Do the Fox Trot, Lead Me to Love, Watch Your Step, (Light Opera Company: Rec 1915. HMV C-610)

4. MAID IN AMERICA Romberg & Carroll Music, Atteridge Words
Doctor Baltimore, M.D., Only for You, I'm Looking for Someone's Heart,
Susie Ann, Finale: Oh, Those Days
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1915. Victor 35440)

5. NOBODY HOME Kern Music. Greene Words
Any Old Night Is a Wonderful Night, You Know and I Know, In Arcady,
The Magic Melody, Finale: At That San Francisco Fair
(Victor Light Opera Company. Rec 1915. Victor 35471)

6. THE PRINCESS PAT Herbert Music, Blossom Words
Love Is Best of All, Neapolitan Love Song, Wedding Bells,
All for You, Two Laughing Irish Eyes
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1916. Victor 35517)

7. ALONE AT LAST Lehár Music, Woodward Words
Picnic in the Sky (by Gaetano Merola), Pretty Edelweiss,
Thy Heart, My Prize, One in the Game of Love, Nature Divine
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1916. Victor 35517)

8. VERY GOOD EDDIE Kern Music, Greene and others Words
Wedding Bells Are Calling Me, Babes in the Wood, If I Find the Girl,
Some Sort of Somebody, On the Shore at Le Lei Wi
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1916. Victor 35529)

9. STOP! LOOK! LISTEN! Berlin Music & Words
Teach Me to Love, The Girl on the Magazine Cover, Beautiful Honolulu,
Take Off a Little Bit, That Hula Hula, I Love a Piano,
Until I Fell in Love with You, I Love to Dance, England Every Time for Me
(Light Opera Company: Rec 1916. HMV C-691)

10. SYBIL Jacobi Music, Graham & Smith Words
The Captain of the Crimson Hussars, Love May Be a Mystery,
Lift Your Eyes to Mine, I Like the Boys, When Cupid Calls
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1916. Victor 35529)

11. FLORA BELLA Schwarzwald & Cuvillier Music, Various writers Words
We'll Dance Till Dawn of Day, You're the Girl, It's Very Hard to Bring Up Father,
Creep, Creep, the World's Asleep! Flora Bella, Give Me All of You
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1910. Victor 35592)

12. HAVE A HEART Kern Music, Wodehouse Words
I'm So Busy, And I'm All Alone, The Road That Lies Before,
Honeymoon Inn, You Said Something
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1917. Victor 35624)

13. LOVE O'MIKE Kern Music, Smith Words
Look in the Book, It Wasn't My Fault, Drift with Me, We'll See, I Wonder Why
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1917. Victor 35624)

14. OH, BOY! Kern Music, Wodehouse & Bolton Words,
Till the Clouds Roll By, An Old-Fashioned Wife, You Never Knew about Me,
Rolled into One, Till the Clouds Roll By
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1917. Victor 35651)

15. EILEEN Herbert Music, Blossom Words
Glad Triumphant Hour, My Little Irish Rose, Eileen!,
Free Trade and a Misty Moon, Ab, True Friends of Ireland, When Ireland Stands,
The Irish Have a Great Day To-night, Ireland, My Sireland, Life's a Game,
I Want to Be a Lady, Love's Awakening, Thine Alone
(Victor Light Opera Company, conducted by the composer: Rec 1917. Victor 35631)
 
Volume 3 CD2

1. ZIEGFELD FOLLIES OF 1917 Hubbell & Stamper Music, Buck Words.
Chu-Chin-Chow, Just Because You're You (music by Kern), Same Old Moon,
Just You and Me, Hello, My Dearie
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1917. Victor 35651)

2. LEAVE IT TO JANE Kern Music, Wodehouse Words
Just You Watch My Step, The Crickets Are Calling, What I'm Longing to Say,
The Sun Shines Brighter, The Siren's Song, Leave It to Jane
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1917. Victor 35666)

3. JACK O' LANTERN Caryll Music, Caldwell Words
Take a Trip to Candyland, Wait till the Cows Come Home, Knit, Knit, Knit,
Take a Swing with Me, Follow the Girls Around, Wait till the Cows Come Home
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1917. Victor 35666)

4. GOING UP Hirsch Music, Harbach Words
Hip Hooray, If You Look in Her Eyes, Kiss Me, Going Up, Do It for Me,
The Tickle Toe, Down! Up! Left! Right!
(Columbia Light Opera Company: Rec 1918. Columbia A-6055)  

5. OH, LADY! LADY! Kern Music, Wodehouse Words
When All the Little Ships Come Sailing Home, Not Yet, Before I Met You,
Some Little Girl, You Found Me and I Found You, When All the Little Ships Come Sailing Home
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1918. Victor 35672)

6. THE RAINBOW GIRL Hirsch Music, Wolf Words
My Rainbow Girl, Just You Alone, I'll Think of You, Mister Drummer Man,
Finale: I'll Think of You
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1918. Victor 35677)

7. ROCK A BYE BABY Kern Music, Reynolds Words
The Big Spring Drive, Lullaby, Little Tune, Go Away, The Kettle Song,
There's No Better Use for Time than Kissing
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1918. Victor 35677)

8. SOMETIME Friml Music, Young Words
The Tune You Can't Forget, Keep on Smiling, Spanish Maid, Sometime
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1919. Victor 35694)

9. LISTEN LESTER Orlob Music, Cort & Stoddard Words.
Show a Little Something New, Oh! You Sweet Stuff, When Shadows Fall,
I'd Love to, Waiting for You
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1919. Victor 3569l)

10. SOMEBODY'S SWEETHEART Bafunno & Stothart Music, Price & Hammerstein Words
Twinkle, On Wings of Doubt, In the Old-Fashioned Way,
Girl of My Heart, It Gets Them All
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1919. Victor 35691)

11. SHE'S A GOOD FELLOW Kern Music, Caldwell Words
Some Party, The First Rose of Summer, Jubilo,
Teacher, Teacher, I've Been Waiting for You All the Time
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1919. Victor 35694)

12. THE LADY IN RED Winterberg Music, Caldwell Words
Lulu Lavinia, The Waltz of My Heart's Desire, Where's the Girl for Me? (by Kern & Smith), Beautiful Lady in Red, Mister Love Will Catch You Yet
(Victor Light Opera Company. Rec, 1915. Victor 35491)

13. APPLE BLOSSOMS Jacobi & Kreisler Music, Le Baron Words
The Second Violin, You Are Free, When the Wedding Bells Are Ringing,
Brothers, Star of Love, Little Girls, Good-bye
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1920. Victor 35697)

14. BUDDIES Hilliam Music & Words
My Buddies, Please Learn to Love, Darling, I...,
To Be Together Is the Thing, Twilight Song, Hullo, Home!
(Columbia Light Opera Company: Rec: 1920. Columbia A-6142)

15. IRENE Tierney Music, McCarthy Words
The Last Part of Every Party, Alice Blue Gown, Irene,
Castle of Dreams, Sky Rocket
(Columbia Light Opera Company: Rec 1920. Columbia A-6142)

16. THE NIGHT BOAT Kern Music, Caldwell Words
Good Night Boat, I Love the Lassies, Whose Baby Are You?, Left All Alone Again Blues
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1920. Victor 35702.)

17. HONEY GIRL Von Tilzer Music, Fleeson Words
Racing Blues, Small Town Girl, I'm Losing My Heart to Someone,
I Love to Fox Trot, Close to Your Heart
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1920. Victor 35705)
 
Volume 4 CD 1

1. MARY Hirsch Music, Harbach Words
We'll Have a Wonderful Party, Mary, Waiting, Anything You
Want to Do, Dear, The Love Nest
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1920. Victor 35702)

2. JIMMIE Stothart Music, Harbach & Hammerstein II Words.
Carlotti's, Cute Little Two by Four, Jimmie, Baby Dreams, Toodle oodle um
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1920. Victor 35705)

3. THE LAST WALTZ Straus & Goodman Music, Various writers Words
Live for Today, The Next Dance, The Last Waltz, A Baby in Love.
(Aeolian Light Opera Company: Rec 192 1. Vocalion 35004.)

4. BLOSSOM TIME Schubert, arr. by Romberg & Berte Music, Donnelly Words
Three Happy Maids, Tell Me Daisy, Only One Love Ever Fills the Heart, Song of Love
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1923. Victor 35722)

5. ROSE-MARIE Friml Music, Harbach & Hammerstein II Words
Totem, Tom Tom, Rose-Marie, Indian Love Call, Door of Her Dreams
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1925. Victor 35756)

6. THE STUDENT PRINCE IN HEIDELBERG Romberg Music, Donnelly Words
Students' Marching Song, Golden Days, Serenade, Deep in My Heart, Drinking Song
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1925. Victor 35757)

7. THE LOVE SONG Kunneke Music, Smith Words
Yes or No, Love Will Find You Some Day, Only a Dream,
Remember Me (Love Song)
(Columbia Light Opera Company: Rec 1925. Columbia 50015-13a)

8. NO, NO, NANETTE Youmans Music, Caesar & Harbach Words
No, No, Nanette, I Want to Be Happy, You Can Dance with Any Girl at All, Tea for Two
(Victor Light Open Company. Rec 1925. Victor 35756)

9. DEAREST ENEMY Rodgers Music, Hart Words
Sweet Peter, Bye and Bye, Here's a Kiss, Here is My Arms, Cheerio!
(Victor Light Opera Company. Rec 1925. Victor 35766)

10. THE VAGABOND KING Friml Music, Hooker Words
Song of the Vagabonds, Only a Rose, Huguette Waltz, Love Me To-Night
(Light Opera Company. Rec 1926. HMV C-1346)

11. SUNNY Kern Music, Hammerstein II & Harbach Words
Sunny, Two Little Bluebirds, D'Ye Love Me? Who
(Victor Light Open Company: Rec 1926. Victor 35769)
12. MERRY-MERRY Archer Music, Thompson Words
I Was Blue, My Own, Every Little Note, little Girl, It Must Be Love
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1926. Victor 35772)

13. PRINCESS FLAVIA Romberg Music, Smith Words
Comrades, What Do I Care, I Love Them All, I Dare Not Love You
(Victor Light Open Company: Rec 1925. Victor 35766)

14, THE COCOANUTS Berlin Music & Words
Lucky Boy, Florida by the Sea, The Monkey Doodle-Doo, Tango Melody, A Little Bungalow (Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1926. Victor 35769)

15. THE GIRL FRIEND Rodgers Music, Hart Words
The Girl Friend, The Blue Room, Mountain Greenery, Step on the Blues, What's the Use of Talking (Light Opera Company, Rec 1927. HMV C-1399)

16. QUEEN HIGH Gensler Music, De Sylva Words
Always on the job, Cross Your Heart, Everything Will Happen for the Best,
You'll Never Know, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
(Gaiety Musical Comedy Chorus: Rec 1926. Brunswick 20047)

17. HONEYMOON LANE Hanley Music, Dowling Words
Half a Moon, The Little White House, Jersey Walk, Mary Dear.
(Victor Light Opera Company, with Johnny Marvin of original cast
(uncredited): Rec 1926. Victor 35811)
 
Volume 4 CD 2

1. OH, KAY! G. Gershwin Music, I. Gershwin Words
Oh, Kay, Maybe, Do-Do-Do, Someone to Watch over Me, Clap Yo' Hands
(Columbia Light Opera Company with Mering & Banta (pianos): Rec 1927. Columbia
50031-D)

2. THE DESERT SONG Romberg Music, Hammerstein II & Harbach Words
The Riff Song, One Flower Grows Alone in Your Garden, The Desert Song, One Alone (Columbia Light Opera Company. Rec 1927. Columbia 50031-D)

3. PEGGY-ANN Rodgers Music, Hart Words
Hello, Where's That Rainbow?, Maybe it's Me, A Tree in the Park
(Light Opera Company. Rec 1927. HMV C-1399)

4. RIO RITA Tierney Music, McCarthy Words
Rio Rita, The Kinkajou, If You're in Love You'll Waltz,
Following the Sun Around, The Raniger's Song
(Victor Light Opera Company with J. Harold Murray of original cast: Rec 1927. Victor 35816)

5. LUCKY Ruby, Kalmar, Kern & Harbach Music & Words
Dancing the Devil Away, That Little Something, When the Bo-Tree Blossoms Again,
Cingalese Girls, The Same Old Moon.
(Columbia Light Opera Company: Rec 1927. Columbia 50039-D)

6. MY MARYLAND Romberg Music, Donnelly Words
Boys in Gray, Won't You Marry Me?, Mother, Silver Moon, Your Land and My Land (Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1927. Victor 35816)

7. THE THREE MUSKETEERS Friml Music, Wodehouse & Grey Words
My Sword and 1, Ma Belle, Evry Little While, Queen of My Heart, Your Eyes,
Love Is the Sun, March of the Musketeers
(Columbia Light Opera Company: Rec 1930. English Columbia DX-56)

8. THE NEW MOON Romberg Music, Hammerstein II Words
Marianne, One Kiss, Softly as in a Morning Sunrise, Love Come Back to Me, Stout-Hearted Men. (Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1929. Victor 35969)

9. HOLD EVERYTHING! Henderson Music, De Sylva Words
Lew Brown. Don't Hold Everything, To Know You Is to Love You,
Too Good to Be True, You're the Cream in My Coffee
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1929. Victor 35970)

10. WHOOPEE Donaldson Music, Kahn Words
Until You Get Somebody Else, I'm Bringing a Red, Red Rose, Come West, little Girl,
Come West, The Gypsy Song, Makin' Whoopee.
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1929. Victor 35969)

11. FOLLOW THRU Henderson Music, DeSylva & Brown Words
Button Up Your Overcoat, My Lucky Star, I Want to Be Bad,
You Wouldn't Fool Me, Would Y~.
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1929. Victor 35970)

12. BITTER SWEET Coward Music & Words
Tokay, Green Carnations, Zigeuner, If Love Were All, Ta-Ra-Ra-Boom, Ladies of the
Town, Kiss Me, I'll See You Again, The Call of Life.
(Columbia Light Opera Company. Rec 1929. English Columbia 9900)

13. WAKE UP AND DREAM Porter Music & Words
The Banjo That Man Joe Plays, Wake Up and Dream, Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love,
What is This Thing Called Love, Looking at You.
(Light Opera Company: Rec 1929. HMV C-1665)

14. THE LOVE PARADE (1929 Paramount Film) Schertzinger Music, Grey Words
My Love Parade, Dream Lover, Nobody's Using It Now, March of the Grenadiers
(Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1930 Victor 36008)

15. SUNNY SIDE UP (1929 William Fox Film) Henderson Music, DeSylva & Brown Words
Sunny Side Up, I'm a Dreamer, Aren't We All? Turn On the Heat. If I Had a Talking Picture of You. (Victor Light Opera Company: Rec 1930. Victor 36008)

 

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