Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol. 3, No. 10 (1929-07)

Record Details:

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July, 1929 The Phonograph Monthly Review 355 It is very evident that no pains were spared and no details overlooked to make this a vivid and authentic “Car- men.” The opera is slightly abridged and no doubt ^had to be for recording purposes, but we regret the cut of “Les Dragons d’Alcala.” The recording is well up to the present day high stan- dards and the orchestral performance is exceptional. Thanks to judicious scoring, an almost perfect balance is maintained between orchestra and vocalists. Rarely at an actual per- formance does one hear such an effective orchestral accom- paniment. Cohen conducts all but the “Flower Song”, (part 14) which is entrusted to the ubiquitous Gaubert. The interpretation is characteristic, abounding in vitality and rhythmic intensity and Cohen, a most, able chef d’orchestre, imparts to the reading the finesse which the score demands If on occasion he sets a pace that may leave one moment- arily breathless, the effect is not at all distasteful. The soloists perform no less admirably than does the or- chestra. Georges Thill, whose tenor voice records exceed- ingly well, gives a superb performance as Don Jose. We are not sure whether this is his debut as recording artist, but to phonograph enthusiasts, in this role he is a revela- tion. The Carmen of Raymonde Visconti is not the usual, incalescent lady who works herself up into dramatic fren- zies, but a somewhat milder edition. She sings the part beautifully which after all, seeing that television is not yet an appendage to the phonograph, is the important thing and in itself, no mean achievement. Martha Nespoulos is a most vivacious Micarla and M. Guenot, an excellent bari- tone, portrays Escamillo with the proper amount of gusto and does right by that tidbit, the “Toreador Song.” The minor parts are well filled and the chorus sounds as well as choruses ever sound on disks. The opera is sung in French, but for the benefit of those of us who have had high school French, a rather literal English translation is provided. With Carmen, Columbia has launched its operatic series most auspiciously. This recording should have a universal appeal—not alone because of skilful presentation, but be- cause of the music itself: this music of dance rhythms, of Creole savagery and gypsy passion, of which Nietzsche wrote, in his precipitate flight from Wagner,—“those rare and rarely gratified men, who are too comprehensive to find satisfaction in any kind of fatherlandism, and know how to love the South when in the North and the North when in the South . . . the born Midlanders, the “good Euro- peans”. For them Bizet has made music, this genius, who has seen a new beauty and seduction,—who has discovered a piece of the South in music.’ TRIAL BY JURY Victor: Gilbert and Sullivan: Album C-4 (4 D12’s) Trial By Jury. Dramatis Personae The Learned Judge Counsel for the Plaintiff The Defendent—Edwin Foreman of the Jury Usher The Plaintiff—Angelina Leo Sheffield, Baritone Arthur Hosking, Tenor Derek Oldham, Tenor I. Perry Hughes, Bass George Baker, Baritone Winifred Lawson, Soprano Chorus of Jurymen, Bridesmaids, Barristers, Attorneys, etc. Especially recorded by the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company under the supervision of Rupert D’Oyly Carte. About fifty-four years ago Richard D’Oyly Carte presen- ted the first of the Savoy Operas, “Trial By Jury”, the joint endeavor of Gilbert and Sullivan. Recently under the supervision of Rupert, the son, the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company reproduced this dramatic cantata, so that now we, a few thousand miles distant, may by a simple process, evoke its piquancies and jocosities at will.. Trial By Jury is a most welcome and delightful addition to the recorded works of the twin masters of whimsy. Since 1875 English audiences have been floored by its rollicking humour (somehow that adjective always creeps in when one goes Gilbertian.) It is a one act comedy in which there is no spoken dialogue. The recording is complete on four disks which tempts one to observe that brevity is the soul of a dramatic cantata. The performance is decidedly in the vein, which is to say that it is sufficiently burlesque, and the recording brings out the virtues of this organization. The soloists turn in uniformly good performances, especially Leo Sheffield, as the Learned Judge who goes quite poobah and they are ably aided and abetted by the chorus. The orchestral ac- companiment is entirely adequate. Comic Opera enthusiasts, more particularly Gilbert and Sullivan fans, will thank Victor for making available a worthwhile recording of a worthwhile revival. A. A. B. Vocal Victor 8125 (D12, $2.50) Norma—Casta Diva (Act I) sung by Rosa Ponselle, accompanied by the Metropolitan Opera House Chorus and Orchestra under the direction of Giulio Setti. The Metropolitan’s revival of Norma furnished one of the musical sensations of recent seasons. Appropriately the Victor Company gives Miss Ponselle the opportunity of phonographically duplicating some of her big moments in the opera. With Miss Telva she recorded the duet, Mira Norma, and now she is heard alone in the Queen of Heaven aria from the first act. Bellini’s music sounds more than a trifle faded, but Miss Ponselle makes the most of it. I admire the restraint of this performance; both soloist and chorus conserve their powers to redoubled effect. The nature of the music does not give the orchestra and re- cording director the chance of displaying the impressive talents they exhibit in some of the previous Metropolitan series, but they perform their task competently. An im- portant release for every operatic connoisseur. Victor 1371 (DIO, $1.50) Herbert: Naughty Marietta—I’m Falling in Love With Someone, and The Red Mill —sung by Richard Crooks with orchestral accompaniments. The “theme-songs” of the films, both silent and articulate, seemed to have stimulated a revival of interest in Victor Herbert’s mellifluous airs. Richard Crooks takes to them avidly and no doubt the many admirers of the Herbert operettas will take to his performances no less eagerly. He spreads the sentiment pretty thickly, but his voice is pleas- ing when he does not force it, and the accompaniments are fittingly bland. Victor (Italian list) 1399 (DIO, $1.50 Tosca—O dolci mani, and Manon—Ah! Manon, mi tradisce, sung by Giovanni Zenatello with orchestral accompaniments. Another welcome release is the excellent Zenatello series. A tendency to shout mars the tempestuous Manon excerpt, but the tender apostrophe to Tosca’s hands is admirably done. The accompaniments and recordings are quite up to the standard of the earlier releases in this series. (Zena- tello’s picture and a brief note on his records were published on page 303 of the last issue.) Victor 1393 (DIO, $1.50) Don Giovanni—Leporello’s Aria, sung by Feodor Chaliapin, with orchestral accompaniments conducted by John Barbirolli. An amazing little record that reveals Chaliapin in his best voice and most characteristic form. The variety of expression and the wealth of tone coloring and interpretative drollery are inexhaustible. But the comedy is so delicious that one longs to see as well as hear him enact his part. The recording is unsually realistic without suggesting over- amplification or undue brilliance. Barbirolli conducts the orchestra with his customary neatness and despatch. Odeon (German list) 10533 (D10, 75c) Lehar: Friederike —O wie schoen and Liebe goldner Traum, sung by Richard Tauber, with orchestral accompaniments. Lehar’s current operetta, Friederike, shows no falling off in the inventive facility of this contemporary master of light music. The two songs Tauber gives here are appealing in themselves, and doubly so in his deft perform- ances. This is his own ground and on it few singers can equal him. Accompanying orchestra, recording, tunes, and singing are all first rate; what more can one ask?