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Eisdell "Explodes On CD! 

As if in answer to a prayer (see Discography), Hubert Eisdell's voice is now suddenly on CD. Not simply one, not two, but three separate releases! What a windfall! Two fledgling companies in England have accomplished what no established organization would attempt.

The ink was barely dry on my tribute when The Greenhorn Record Company featured the tenor on CD 0004 with his favorite partner, Dora Labbette, as ‘Bird Songs at Eventide’ I thought, "Wow! They've given us their twenty-five duets all in one lot!" Well not so, but five is fine: there's the title song and its reverse, Sanderson's "Until," a pair from Lilac Time and Molloy's "Love's old sweet song." Dora shines in her eight solos as does Hubert in seven including Quilter's "Go, lovely rose" and "Dusk in the valley" by his dear friend, Liza Lehmann.

Greenhorn chose to honor him again by giving twenty-two of his discs new life in their prestigious Silver Series as "Sing me to sleep." The title song by Greene (Col DB 914; 1931) is one excluded from THE EISDELL RECORDS format as is Clutsam's "Sweet, be not proud" (Col D1597; 1927). Both are here on CD 0049.

Otherwise this is a fine assortment of songs with five by Eric Coates, including a 1926 solo version of "Bird Songs at Eventide," three from Haydn Wood with "Roses of Picardy" leading the way, and singles from Quilter, W. H. Squire, Lohr, Sanderson and even one by the mysterious Kitty Parker. A. V. Tate's "Somewhere a Voice is Calling" is significant as the first music that Hubert recorded in November, 1912. The version here was made four years later for Columbia. All in all, this is a feast of honey-toned tenor singing.

Not to be outdone and with exemplary planning, Cheyne Records presents various facets of Hubert's art on CHE 44421. For those keen on the tenor, but not necessarily eager to sit through Beecham's complete Messiah, his contributions begin this programme. Next is Liza Lehmann's In a Persian Garden under her direction with Hubert joining fellow soloists Agnes Nicholls, Edna Thornton and George Baker. Eisdell had a long history of singing Lehmann's music, in particular this cantata, both in England and in America. His main melody has been justly famous ever since, as a friend in London confirmed recently after reading my Eisdell story, "His "Ah Moon of my Delight" has to be one of my all-time favorite records." Listeners to this CD will hear Hubert vintage 1916 while both Greenhorns have his 1928 rendition.

The rest of 44421 continues to run the gamut with "Where'er you walk" by Handel, Lohr's "Where my caravan has rested" (also on 0049), his earliest "Speak" and "Parted" by Tosti, rarities by Teresa del Riego, "The Reason" and "O Dry those tears" with Madame Teresa at the piano and a John Ireland gem, "The bells of San Marie." It concludes with a third disc not previously listed, "I attempt from love's sickness to fly" from Purcell's The Fairy Queen (Col D1414; 1920).

In THE EISDELL RECORDS, I suggested seventeen discs as a basis for a fine Eisdell CD. Between them, Greenhorn and Cheyne have delivered six, two per CD, as follows:

0004: I hear you calling me (Marshall) Col L1136 (1917)
In a monastery garden (Ketelby) Col 9381 (& on 0049)
0049: Who is Sylvia? (Shakespeare/Schubert) Col D1419 (1920)
I'll sing thee songs of Araby (Clay) Col L1369 (1920)
44421: Hiawatha (Coleridge-Taylor): Onaway, awake beloved
Col L1616 (1923)
Jocelyn (Godard): Angels guard thee HMV C738 (1912)

Greenhorn provides "Parted" along with its flip side, d'Hardelot's "Wait," on both CDs, the 1916 version on 0004, and the 1927 product courtesy of 0049.

According to Cheyne's avowed policy, "no top cut or sound processing of any kind" is employed. This approach is to be commended, as any tinkering with a human voice destroys some of that singer's sound. Greenhorn does not disclose its approach, but the sound produced is similar to Cheyne's.

I have already set down my views about the Eisdell voice so retracing familiar ground seems pointless. Instead, let me suggest acquisition of all three especially if, like me, you're tired of squally, bleating or unsteady tenors. The rewards are many!

Bravo to both entrepreneurs!

Charles A. Hooey

LABBETTE/EISDELL "BIRD SONGS AT EVENTIDE" CD 0004
Mr. John Phillips, THE GREENHORN RECORD COMPANY, The Old Manse, Church Road, Lyminge, Folkestone, Kent CT18 8JA £4.50

HUBERT EISDELL "SING ME TO SLEEP"
Greenhorn "Silver Series" CD 0049 £5.95

" HUBERT EISDELL"
Cheyne Records, P.O. Box 132, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 2XF
CHE 44421 £10.00  

 


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