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The Edison Legacy Volume 1 - Unpublished Treasures of the Edison Archive
see end of review for details
rec. 1910-20
MARSTON 52042-2 [79:43 + 77:07]
Experience Classicsonline

Here we have, in essence, 36 unpublished, or very rare, Edison discs made between 1910 and 1920. The vast majority in fact were never issued and these performances all derive from the collection held by the archive in the Edison National Historic Site. It’s another Marston treasure trove in other words. You will find several well known names but there are also a number of artists of whom this is the only known example of their recorded singing.

I think it’s well known even to those collectors of 78s who may not regularly have encountered Edisons, that the recorded sound achieved by his process was advanced. The evidence here for that assertion is plentiful. Even the 1910 recordings are no trial to hear, unless of course you are allergic from the start to the idea of 78s, in which case I suspect you won’t have got this far in the review.

Examples of otherwise unheard singers, heard here in priceless performances are the most important component of this two CD set. Marcella Craft, Indianapolis-born, is heard in this single unpublished Edison side. Italo Cristali, the Italian tenor from Piacenza, made only one side for Columbia and these Edisons. The important Genoa-born mezzo Luisa Garibaldi, who sang in the 1908 Italian premiere of Charpentier’s Louise, conducted by Toscanini, is here. Her Edisons were all rejected for publication. Here we can hear her and Cristali together in a duet from Cavalleria Rusticana, a performance recorded in late 1910 in London. Of other singers some are represented on other labels, though they can be few and obscure. Oreste Benedetti for instance made one Edison that was published - but one only - and that La Bohème duet with tenor Aristodemo Giorgini is now augmented by a duet with Paola Koralek in La Gioconda. This Budapest-born soprano made some recordings for Pathé in 1912 but none of her Edisons were issued - until now.

Fortunately Edison’s technically advanced systems ensured that twelve inch masters could contain an unprecedented - for the time - six minutes (and plus) in length. Thus we can hear such as È strano…Ah, fors’ è lui…Follie!…Sempre libera from La Traviata which lasts nearly seven minutes; it’s sung by Lucrezia Bori in memorable sound for the time, her brilliant coloratura an especial adornment; all five of her sides are splendid reclamations. Destinn is captured in one solo aria and in one duet with Dinh Gilly, in which the baritone sounds to have been standing several feet behind her. Garibaldi, mentioned earlier, is fine though Cristali has a fast vibrato and is a touch nasal. Big names follow; Heim, Hempel, Jaume, Labia - and you’ll note that the 36 tracks are arranged alphabetically by artist. Jaume’s Meyerbeer aria is not the subtlest. Lucette Korsoff’s Manon Lescaut - the one by Auber - is something of an anomaly, as it was briefly issued on an Edison ten inch, but withdrawn soon after.

Emmi Leisner sings Meyerbeer and Gluck - the inevitable Che faro - with metrical freedom. As with the Korsoff, Umberto Macnez’s O Lola was issued very briefly - the recording coincided with his London debut, so Edison’s talent scouts were clearly quick off the mark. His career petered out; one wonders why. It’s especially good to have souvenirs of that charming and important soprano Carmen Melis, who did record quite heavily for Edison in any case but the two additional unpublished sides here merely cement one’s admiration for her. Less so the rather immobile contralto Rosa Olitzka, whose recordings I find rather statuesque. Marie Rappold was a big seller for Edison - and her discs with violinist Albert Spalding are still fairly commonly found on record dealers’ lists. Her Carmen and Tosca arias were recorded in Paris in 1910. Valuable also to hear Domenico Viglione-Borghese, the baritone who in the same year that he recorded this aria from Un Ballo in Maschera had given the Italian premiere (he played Jack Rance) of La fanciulla del West. Two powerful American sopranos end the set; Edyth Walker, a soprano and mezzo, and Carolina White.

In addition to all this Marston’s transfers are customarily state of the art, and their booklet has mini-biographies and finely reproduced photographs of each artist under discussion. Once again the historic vocal market has been enriched tremendously.

Jonathan Woolf

Track details
CD 1
Lucrezia Bori (soprano)
1.La Traviata: È strano…Ah, fors’ è lui…Follie!…Sempre libera (Verdi) 6:44
Mid-1910; London (180-S1) 12 inch1
2.Rigoletto: Gualtier Maldè!...Caro nome (Verdi) 4:41
9 April 1913; New York (2218-B) 10 inch2
3.Manon Lescaut: In quelle trine morbide (Puccini) 2:43
Mid-1910; London (192-A) 12 inch
4.Tosca: Vissi d’arte (Puccini)3:13
August or September 1911; London (885-B) 10 inch
5.Madama Butterfly: Un bel dì vedremo (Puccini) 4:56
Mid-1910; London (188-A) 12 inch
Marcella Craft (soprano)
6.La Traviata: Addio del passato (Verdi) 4:19
5 June 1918; New York (6203-C) 10 inch
Emmy Destinn (soprano)
7.Cavalleria Rusticana: Voi lo sapete (Mascagni) 3:25
15 December 1911; New York (887-A) 10 inch
Emmy Destinn (soprano) & Dinh Gilly (baritone)
8.Cavalleria Rusticana: Ah! Il Signore vi manda (Mascagni) 5:08
15 December 1911; New York (888-A) 12 inch3
Edoardo Faticanti (baritone)
9.Ernani: Gran dio!...O de’ verd’anni miei (Verdi) 4:52
Mid-1910; London (206-B) 12 inch
Luisa Garibaldi (mezzo) & Italo Cristali (tenor)
10.Cavalleria Rusticana: Tu qui, Santuzza? (Mascagni) 3:58
Fall 1910; London (413-A) 12 inch
Melitta Heim (soprano)
11.Rigoletto: Gualtier Maldè!...Teurer Name (Gualtier Maldè!...Caro nome)
May or June 1911; London (703-B) 12 inch
Frieda Hempel (soprano)
12.Il pensieroso: Sweet Bird (Handel) 4:41
28 May 1920; New York (7372-C) 10 inch
Heinrich Hensel (tenor)
13.Die Meistersinger: Am stillen Herd (Wagner) 3:54
ca. March 1911; London (624-A) 12 inch
Valentin Jaume (tenor)
14.L’Africaine: Pays merveilleux…O Paradis (Meyerbeer) 3:59
June 1914; London (3189-B) 10 inch
Paola Koralek (soprano) & Oreste Benedetti (baritone)
15.La Gioconda: Ora posso morir (Act IV Finale) (Ponchielli) 6:34
July or August 1911; London (760-S1) 12 inch
Lucette Korsoff (soprano)
16.Manon Lescaut: C’est l’histoire amoureuse [Eclat de rire] (Auber) 3:07
August or Septem1ber 1910; London (395) 10 inch (published briefly)4
17.Mireille: O légère hirondelle [Valse] (Gounod) 3:13
July 1914; London (3209-B) 10 inch
Maria Labia (soprano) & Valentin Jaume (tenor)
18.Les Huguenots: Dillo ancor, tu m’ami (Tu l’as dit, oui, tu m’aimes!)
(Meyerbeer) 4:57
May 1914; London (3161-B) 10 inch
1 After the words “Follie! Follie!” the orchestra takes an unwieldy
transposition down a semi-tone so that “Sempre libera” is sung in G
2 Transposed down to E-flat
3 Published only on LP: Edison Originals FS889B
4 Briefly published as a preliminary matching on 82007, 82008, and 82009.
Re-matched in June 1913 on 82038, which did not appear on the list of 1 May 1917.

CD 2
Emmi Leisner (alto)
1.Orfeo Ed Euridice: Che farò senza Euridice? (Gluck) 4:34
June or July 1914; London (3200-A) 10 inch
2.Le Prophète: Wer ich bin…Ich bin, weh’ mir (Qui je suis…Je suis, hélas!)
(Meyebeer) 3:48
June or July 1914; London (3206-B) 10 inch
3.Mignon: Kennst du das Land? (Connais-tu le pays?) (Thomas) 5:02
June or July 1914; London (3201-A) 10 inch
Umberto Macnez (tenor)
4.Cavalleria Rusticana: O Lola [Siciliana] (Mascagni) 2:46
November 1910; London (383-A) 10 inch (issued briefly)
5.L’Amico Fritz: Ed anche Beppe amò…O amore, o bella luce (Mascagni) 4:14
November or December 1910; London (430-A) 12 inch5
Margarete Matzenauer [ms]
6.Don Carlo: O don fatale (Verdi) 4:39
25 February 1915; New York (3606-B) 10 inch
Carmen Melis (soprano)
7.Adriana Lecouvreur: Ecco, respiro appena…Io son l’umile ancella
(Giordano) 3:54
21 March 1913; New York (2195-A) 10 inch
8.Io son l’amore (Tosti) 4:35
September 1913; London (1432-A) 10 inch
Rosa Olitzka (alto)
9.Les Huguenots: Nobles seigneurs, salut…une dame noble et sage
(Meyerbeer) 3:56
28 December 1915; New York (4376-C) 10 inch
10.Carmen: All’ udir del sistra (Les tringles des sistres tintaient)
10 January 1916; New York (4409-C) 10 inch
Marie Rappold (soprano)
11.Carmen: C’est des contrebandiers…Je dis que rien ne m’épouvante
July 1910; Paris (171-B) 12 inch
12.Tosca: Vissi d’arte (Puccini) 3:17
July 1910; Paris (168-B) 12 inch
Domenico Viglione-Borghese (baritone)
13.Un Ballo In Maschera: Alzati; là tuo figlio…Eri tu che macchiavi
quell’anima (Verdi) 6:19
ca. June 1911; London (1146-A) 12 inch
Fritz Vogelstrom (tenor)
14.Lohengrin: In fernem Land (Wagner) 4:46
July or August 1910; London (270-A) 12 inch
Edyth Walker (soprano)
15.Die Walküre: Ho-yo-to-ho (Wagner) 2:10
December 1910 or January 1911; London (538) 10 inch
Carolina White (soprano)
16.La Gioconda: Suicidio! In questi fieri momenti tu sol mi resti
(Ponchielli) 4:02
19 July 1910; Paris (181-B) 12 inch6
17.Andrea Chenier: La mamma morta (Giordano) 4:49
20 July 1910; Paris (178-A) 12 inch
18.La Wally: Ebben? Ne andrò lontana (Catalani)4:02
22 July 1910; Paris (0176-S2) 12 inch
5 Briefly published as a preliminary matching on 82509 and c.o. in June
1913. Re-matched on 82513, which did not appear on the list of January
6 The exact dates of the Carolina White recordings were determined from
Paris vouchers.
CD 1: Accompaniment: All tracks accompanied by orchestra; Languages: Italian [1-10, 15, 18]; German [11, 13]; English [12]; French; [14, 16-17]
CD 2: Accompaniment: All tracks accompanied by orchestra; Languages: Italian [1, 4-8, 10, 12-13, 16-18]; German [2-3, 14-15]; French; [9, 11]



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