Emilio de Gogorza - Baritone: Selected Recordings
Track-listing at end of review
rec. 1900-1927
Notes; no texts
MARSTON 52068-2 [79:38 + 79:23]
How good to encounter a two-disc selection of recordings by the pioneering baritone Emilio de Gogorza. A brief biography is inevitably called for since only those versed in the far-off days of vocalism on record will be at all familiar with his name.
He was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1874, to a Spanish family. Two months after his birth, the family sailed back to Cadiz, and at eleven he was sent to England to study at the Brompton Oratory Choir school. A decade later the eminent English cellist Charles Warwick Evans followed him to the same school before finding international fame in the London String Quartet. De Gorgorza meanwhile finished his schooling in Paris where he made his debut as a singer at the age of 21. Soon after, he sailed for America where he largely remained for the rest of his life.
A stage career was denied him, apparently because of very poor eyesight, but he pursued life as a concert singer. He had a wide repertoire, singing in a variety of languages, and was a prolific recording artist. He sang under a variety of names – Ed Franklin, M. Fernand (in French), Herbert Goddard and Carlos Francisco were some. He first recorded commercially around 1900, and then gravitated to Victor in 1904. He was a useful singer, as he was a linguist of distinction and had a wide repertory. He was also something of a facilitator, advising Caruso, amongst others, to record for the company even in the face of apparent indifference. Later still he married the great singer Emma Eames – his second marriage – though it didn’t last the distance. In 1925 he joined the Curtis Institute, where he taught Samuel Barber, Rose Bampton and many others. He died in 1949.
As a concert artist singer he was Victor’s leading recording artist. This selection of discs, made between c.1900 and 1928 gives some indication of his eminence as a musician, and the qualities vested in his singing.
Marston has broken down its selection into handy paragraphs. The first is ‘Operatic Arias and Duets’ and ranges between 1904 and 1919. He was a wonderfully communicative singer, as evidenced by his Barber of Seville extract (the obvious one), though he smudges clarity of diction in favour of patter dynamism. We can appreciate sovereign elegance in his Don Giovanni and in the other Mozart extract, Crudel, perchè finora from The Marriage of Figaro, he seems more sympathetic than his wife-to-be Emma Eames, who seems just a touch too cool. His Italian repertoire is no less fine; the Pagliacci extract is spread over two sides and with piano accompaniment is theatrically persuasive and vocally sagacious. His avoidance of mawkish verismo tricks can only be applauded as a mark of good taste. There are hints however, from time to time, of a weakness, which was his quite fast vibrato. There is an outstanding 1907 recording with soprano Marcella Sembrich in Thomas’ Hamlet; the radiant purity of her voice is tremendous. His French repertoire is just as expressive and eloquent, especially his subtly varied, legato-conscious Massenet Le Roi de Lahore, a rare example this from 1909. His voice is, though, neither quite steady nor especially beautiful in the same composer’s Hérodiade though it does remain stylish.
With Louise Homer in 1908 he essays Saint-Saëns’s A moi l’honneur from Samson et Delila but in English, oddly. There’s a souvenir of his Wagner which excellent sleeve-note writer Michael Aspinall admires but which I, for what it’s worth, find rather inert. The first disc ends with some Italian Songs. There’s an uneven Caro mio ben and a much better Dormi pure whilst Mandolinata is dispatched with tongue-twisting élan.
The earliest recording starts the second disc and it’s the Spanish song El celoso, recorded around 1900 on a two minute Edison cylinder. It’s a little worn but as with so many cylinders, when properly transferred, the sound is wonderfully forward and vivid. His evocative command of his native songs is a delight whether in a standby by Yradier - La poloma – or in duet with the honey-toned tenor Tito Schipa. Rosario de la Aurora, recorded toward the end of his studio career, shows the voice still in good estate and he conveys its melancholy with touching sincerity and directness, as well as considerable artistry. The selection of French songs reveals again the mobility and lightness of his singing, not least in Weckerlin’s Bergère légère. Some of these selections were not issued on 78 at the time, indeed one – Tambourin, recorded in 1925, seems to be wholly unissued until now, which is a bonus. These songs, sung as that famous ‘Monsieur Fernand’, reveal his stylish command of French repertoire, light or heavy. There are also English Songs, or at least songs in English, which includes a non-song like Where’er you walk, but let’s not quibble. This, unfortunately, gets a lugubrious, neutral reading complete with excessive rallentando. Much better are Drink to me only (1909) and Elgar’s The Pipes of Pan, adventurous repertoire in American studios for 1915. He sounds authentically British.
The two disc set comes with a typically first class booklet, with a fine essay and excellently reproduced photographs. The versatile baritone has been well served here, and this selection of his many discs shows him for the first rate, communicative artist that he was.
Jonathan Woolf
This versatile baritone has been well served here, and this selection shows him to have been a first rate, communicative artist.

CD 1 [79:38]
Operatic Arias and Duets
1.IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA: Largo al factotum (Rossini) 3:58
8 March 1909; (C-6867-1) 88181
2.DON GIOVANNI: Deh, vieni alla finestra (Mozart) 1:54
3 September 1913; (C-13721-1) 88447
3.LE NOZZE DI FIGARO: Crudel, perchè finora (Mozart) 2:58
with Emma Eames, soprano
6 April 1909; (C-6967-1) 89023
4.LA SONNAMBULA: Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni (Bellini) 2:56
9 June 1904; (B-1453-1) 1342
5.RIGOLETTO: Pari siamo (Verdi) 4:10
26 May 1908; (C-6235-1) 74110
6.UN BALLO IN MASCHERA: Eri tu (Verdi) 4:33
20 September 1911; (C-9677-2) 88324
7.PAGLIACCI: Si può? [Prologo] (Leoncavallo) 5:30
7 June 1904; (B-1430A-1/B-1430B-1) 2822/2823
8.HAMLET: Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse [Chanson bachique] (Thomas) 3:25
26 May 1908; (C-6236-1) 74114
9.HAMLET: Doute de la lumiere (Thomas) 4:11
with Marcella Sembrich, soprano
9 October 1907; (C-4871-1) 89010
10.CARMEN: Votre toast [Chanson du toréador] (Bizet) 2:35
with New York Grand Opera Chorus
11 June 1906; (C-3449-4) 74046
11.LE ROI DE LAHORE: Promesse de mon avenir (Massenet) 3:34
7 April 1909; (C-6968-2) 88172
12.HÉRODIADE: Divine volupté …Vision fugitive (Massenet) 4:07
2 February 1909; (C-6115-4) 88153
13.PANURGE: Chanson de la Touraine (Massenet) 2:16
3 January 1919; (B-22497-1) 64862
14.PATRIE: Jadis elles chantaient [Air du sonneur] (Paladilhe) 3:53
19 September 1911; (C-10997-1) 74229
15.SAMSON ET DALILA: A moi l’honneur de la vengeance (Vengeance at last)
(Saint-Saëns) 2:42
with Louise Homer, contralto
25 May 1908; (B-6227-2) 89501
16.TANNHÄUSER: Da scheinest du ... O du, mein holder Abendstern
(Wagner) 3:34
2 February 1909; (C-6764-4) 88154
Italian Songs
17.Caro mio ben (Giordani) 3:28
13 May 1909; (C-6974-2) 88173
18.Dormi pure (Scuderi) 3:30
14 May 1909; (C-7084-1) 74047
19.Comme se canta a Napule (Mario) 2:51
10 November 1914; (B-15369-1) 64479
20.Lasciali dir, tu m’ami (Quaranta) 3:45
16 December 1920; (B-24737-2) 66046
21.Mandolinata (Paladilhe) 2:48
28 November 1910; (B-9673-2) 64160
22.Non è ver (Mattei) 4:18
18 April 1916; (C-15368-2) 74421
23.Santa Lucia (Cottrau) 2:45
16 May 1927; (BVE-1916-11) 1263-A
CD 2 [79:23]
Spanish Songs
1.El celoso (Álvarez) 2:24
ca. 1900; (2-minute Edison brown wax cylinder) 12082
2.Cantares (Álvarez) 4:07
28 November 1911; C-11314-1; 74262
3.La partida (Álvarez) 4:04
5 September 1913; (C-13726-1) 74360
4.En calesa (Álvarez) 3:00
11 May 1920; (B-24104-7) 64898
5.Mi niña (Guetary) 4:08
19 November 1909; (C-8392-1) 74149
6.La paloma (Yradier) 2:21
12 January 1926; (BVE-1917-6) 1141-A.
7.La Sevillana (Yradier) 2:47
12 January 1926; (BVE-7-078-6) 1203-A.
8.A la luz de la luna (Anton and Michelena) 2:58
with Tito Schipa, tenor
8 February 1928; (BVE-38379-4) 1751-A
9.Rosario de la Aurora (Traditional) 3:07
18 May 1927; (BVE-38039-1) 1294-A
10.El relicario (Padilla) 3:04
18 May 1927; (BVE-38039-4) 1294-B
French Songs
11.Bergère légère (Weckerlin) 2:00
4 February 1925; (B-31831-1) 1108-B
12.Tambourin (Traditional; arranged by Tiersot) 2:15
3 February 1925; (B-31800-2) unpublished
13.Alleluia d’amour (Faure) 4:21
29 November 1910; (C-9676-1) 74234
14.Le mariage des roses (Franck) 2:39
18 May 1908; (C-6200-1) first issued on AGSB-69
15.Le plongeur (Widor) 1:59
18 May 1908; (C-6200-1) first issued on AGSB-69
16.A Colombine - Sérénade d’Arlequin (Massenet) 2:15
20 May 1902; (pre-matrix B-1401-2) Victor 1401
17.A toi (Bemberg) 2:30
21 May 1902; (pre-matrix 1406) 1406
18.Malgré moi (Pfeiffer) 2:57
28 November 1911; (B-11315-1) 64242
19.Voici que le printemps (Debussy) 2:59
6 April 1928; (BVE-43617-1) first issued on IRCC 72-B
English Songs
20.SEMELE: Where’er you walk (Handel) 4:01
3 July 1907; (C-4545-2) 74086
21.When dull care (Traditional, arranged by H. Lane Wilson) 2:26
24 October 1916; (B-18573-3) 64629
22.Drink to me only with thine eyes (Traditional) 3:04
14 May 1909; (C-7083-1) 74077
23.Mother o’ mine (Tours) 2:25
18 May 1908; (C-6199-1) 74118
24.The lark now leaves his wat’ry nest (Parker) 1:53
18 May 1908; (C-6199-1) 74118
25.The pipes of Pan (Elgar) 3:56
15 April 1915; (C-15900-2) 74438
26.The clang of the forge (Rodney) 2:35
14 May 1909; (B-7086-1) 64037
27.In old Madrid (Trotère) 3:10
12 January 1926; (BVE-24103-7) 1179-B
CD 1:
Languages: Italian [1-7, 17-23]; French [8-14]; English [15]; German [16]
Accompaniments: Tracks 1-3, 5-6, and 8-23 with orchestra; Tracks 4 and 7
with unidentified pianists
CD 2:
Languages: Spanish [1-10]; French [11-19]; English [20-27]
Accompaniments: Tracks 1-3, and 14-19, 23-24 with piano; 4-13, 20-22, and
25-27 with orchestra
All Tracks were recorded by the Victor Talking Machine Company except CD
2, Track 1