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Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3



Mary Garden (soprano)
see end of review for track listing
Claude Debussy (piano) ¹
Jean Dansereau (piano) ²
Anonymous accompaniments
rec. 1904-1928
MALIBRAN CDRG 196 [79:14]

Experience Classicsonline

There’s a real gem in this set of recordings by Scottish soprano Mary Garden. It’s a gem not merely because it’s a fine and important piece of singing but also because it’s exceptionally rare. It’s the seventh track, an aria from Massenet’s Chérubin, made on a two minute Edison cylinder in Paris in 1905. Modestly, Malibran doesn’t crow about it in its liner notes, though it has gone to the trouble of illustrating the cylinder itself and its box on the CD - nice touch, and evidence of a recording that many seem to think was a ghost. Well, no, here it is, and it sounds good too, and has been attractively transferred. I think that, before we move on, I should note that its place in this disc means that this CD is a mandatory purchase for any Garden collector.
The remainder of the recital deals justly with the various stages of her career. They start with two 7.5” Pathés from London in 1904 or 05 of Scottish songs, ones to which she was to return in her later studio days - Comin' thro the rye andJock O'Hazeldean. The voice is nicely forward, the singing quite coquettish; the piano fortunately is stable, unlike some of the disastrous Paris piano recordings of the time. The problematic French turntable afflicts the famous Debussy series with the composer accompanying Garden. Fortunately they have been reissued a number of times, and Ward Marston in particular has done an outstanding job on them on his own label. His are to be preferred to these.
The Pathé series - Massenet and Bemberg - sounds much better than the ghastly French G&Ts - with the last composer represented by his charming Chant Vénitien. These are followed by an outstanding 1911-12 series made for Columbia in New York; four are French and two sides are Italian, both from La Traviata. The sound is forward and the shellac top ensures treble frequencies are open. The Charpentier and Massenet sides show her idiomatic understanding of contemporary French repertoire. There are also Scottish and Irish folksongs in this selection, with those early London Pathés repeated under better conditions. The only electric recordings come via the Victors made in 1926 and ’28. There’s a souvenir of her Carmen, and a snippet of Alfano. Unusual repertoire for her comes via Gretchaninov’s Across the Steppe. Appropriately the recital draws to a close with more Debussy, Beau Soir, but this time with pianist Jean Dansereau. Finally we hear her speaking voice; she was interviewed for Chicago radio reminiscing about her time in the city - she lived there from 1910 to 1930. This broadcast was made from Aberdeen in 1943, and at the end she’s encouraged to sing a few lines of My Bonnie Jeannie.
This is an attractive single disc selection of some of Garden’s more difficult-to-trace recordings. The Massenet super-rarity makes its cachet to specialised collectors even higher.
Jonathan Woolf

Track liisting
Comin' thro the rye [2:06]
Jock O'Hazeldean [2:12]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Il pleure dans mon cœur (No. 2 from Ariettes Oubliées) [2:15] ¹
L'ombre des arbres (No. 3 from Ariettes Oubliées) [2:26] ¹
Green (No. 5 from Ariettes Oubliées) [1:40] ¹
Mes longs cheveux (from Pelléas et Mélisande) [1:50] ¹
Jules MASSENET (1842-1912)
Nous n'aurons pas d'Apotheose (from Cherubin) [2:02]
L'amour est une vertu rare (from Thais) [2:16]
Herman BEMBERG (1859-1931)
Chant Vénitien [2:00]
Gustave CHARPENTIER (1860-1950)
Depuis le jour (from Louise) [5:08]
L'amour est une vertu rare (from Thais) [3:12]
Liberté (from Le jongleur de Notre-Dame) [3:08]
Il est doux, il est bon (from Hérodiade) [4:01]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
Sempre libera (from La Traviata) [3:58]
Pour jamais ma destinée [2:35]
John Anderson My Jo [2:39]
Comin' thro the rye [2:22]
Jock O'Hazeldean [2:57]
Blue Bells of Scotland [3:00]
Kathleen Mavourneen [3:17]
Depuis le jour (from Louise) [4:45]
Franco ALFANO (1875-1954)
Giunge il treno...Dio pietoso (from Risurrezione) [3:48]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
En vain pour éviter (from Carmen) [3:28]
Alexander GRETCHANINOV (1864-1956)
Across the Steppe Op.5 No.1 [3:02]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Beau soir [2:57] ²
Joseph SZULC (1875-1956)
Clair de lune Op.83 No.1 [3:20] ²
Mary Garden - radio interview and a short speech from Aberdeen to Chicago [2:38]










































































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