Phonograph Monthly Review, Vol. 5, No. 4 (1931-01)

Record Details:

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January, 1931, VoL V. No. 4 135 the serenade has never been over-sung. The chorus forms an excellent background for the singer especially in the Trovatore niumber, and is excellently subordinated, and, in turn, the orchestra itself, plays an unusually effective accompaniment under the skilled direction of Giulio Setti. Die Walkuere— Bruennhildes Bitte and Ho-yo-to-ho, sung in German by Marie Jeritza, with orchestral accompaniments. Victor 7268 (D12, $2.00.) This disc was recently given special release in San Fran- cisco in connection with the appearance of Jeritza in the role of Brunnhilde with the San Francisco Opera Company. Her interpretation of the Battle Cry is certainly unhackneyed. Its dramatic aspect is surely that to be singled for comment, for tonal qualities are thrown completely overboard. In Briinnhilde’s appeal to Wotan the absence of emotional warmth and sincerity of feeling divorces the music from its usual moving force. There is so much that Mme. Jeritza does splendidly, and which no other diva can do, that it seems a pity 1 to expend her talents on such uncharacteristic per- formances. Strauss: Salome—Salome with the Head of Jokanaan, sung in German by Gota Ljunberg and the Berlin State Opera Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Leo Blech Victor 9786 (D12, $1.50). (References to the Fiirstner score). The first performance of this notorious opera was at the Royal Opera Dresden, on December 9, 1905. Twenty years later this acrid music still has the power to burn, to shriek, to exult the senses. All the Schonberg, Copland school of dis- sonance fails to change the reactions to any great extent. The noted Stockholm diva rises triumphantly to the task set be- fore her, with, however, varying results. The orchestral fab- ric, is, of course, so dense that the thread of voice has at all times a valiant struggle to be heard. The present recording begins immediately after the executioner holds out the head of the prophet to the princess (just before section 314 in the score). This is a cut (from 326-9) which does not destroy the continuity of the scene which leads to the end of side one (with section 332). The second side (beginning with 333) is far more interest- ing musically as the theme of Ecstasy occurs as the princess recalls the body of the prophet, varied in turn by the motives of Longing Prophecy and Charm with the significant return of the Jokanaan theme. Another cut (section 338) leads to a restatement of the motives of the Kiss and the Dance. The only large elison now takes place (from 349-359). Salome screams out in lustful satisfaction! The record ends with the chord upon which the moon covers Salome with light. Herod commands her death and the curtain closes on the dy- ing phrases of the Enticement theme. The orchestra under Dr. Leo Blech performs its part in the unheard of demands which the composer makes, with the ut- most virtuosity and it is a striking tribute to the new repro- ducing methods that they are able to cope so splendidly with the colossal instrumental scheme of the composer. The opera is being revived this year in San Francisco to give Maria Jeritza an opportunity to appear in the title role, one of her most famous achievements, which should suit her vocal style well. Surely the time is also ripe for the work to be brought back to the Metropolitan. R B SONGS Bach: Birthday Cantata for August III— u Hark to the Soft Chorus of Flutes” and Gluck : 0 Del Mio Dolce Ardor. sung by Hedwig von Debicka, with accompaniment bv the State Opera Orchestra, Berlin, conducted by Julius Pruewer, in the Bach air, and pianoforte accompaniment bv Julius Pruewer in the Gluck air. Brunswick 90109 (D12, $1.50). I am afraid that I have not done my conscientious duty as a reviewer with this record. Since it first came into my hands I have intended to listen to it very analytically, to delve in library files for information on Bach’s Birthday Cantata for August III and for the source of the Gluck aria. The studio dictionaries of music and musicians contain no mention of Hedwig von Debicka, yet no doubt the current edition of some German lexion would include information on her. But I am unashamedly uninterested in biographical and historical details as far as this particular disc is concerned: It is too abundantly sufficient unto itself. On rare occasions the mysterious genii of recording apparatus, wax, amplifying tubes, and electro-plating achieve an unaccountable perfec- tion of co-ordination, which in combination with a superb voice and immaculate musicianship produce a record that stands apart and incomparable in the phonographic literature. There were such records even in acoustical days. Since the electrical era we have had examples from Nina Koshetz (a Borodin aria), Barbara Kemp (the Marschallin’s monolgue from Der Rosenkavalier), Lotte Schoene (Mozart arias), E isabeth Schumann (Bach arias), Emmy Bettendorf (a solo passage in the Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana), and perhaps a few others. The two airs sung by Hedwig von Debicka on the Brunswick disc being played as I write belongs to this matchless group. Like them it is as incomparable with other records as they are with each other. Yet it certainly is in nowise inferior in any way to their very finest qualities. Here is the ideal in recording singing— darkly cool, passionless, yet suffused with feeling, caught by the microphone with thrilling spaciousness. To my mind such a record is more satisfying, more exciting in the purest musical sense, than any “actual” performance could hope to be. It is an accident perhaps, but what a glorious one! And so much more reason for not missing an unparalled musical experience. There is no one, no matter how blunted or undeveloped his sensibilities may be, who will not be profoundly moved by this record. It embodies all the musical and phonographic virtues. Intentionally to deny oneself the experience of hearing it is a species of musical suicide. R. D. D. Grieg: Solveig’s Song, and Franck: Le Manage des Roses, sung in French with piano accompaniment, by Andree Marilliet. Columbia 2325-D (D10, 75c.) One of the great French composer’s least consequential songs and a thrice familiar Grieg number sung by one of the newer sopranos of the Paris Opera. Not outstanding in any way, but a pleasing interpretation and voice. Haydn: My Mother Bids M,e Bind My Hair, and Arne: The Lass With The Delicate Air, sung in English by Anna Case with piano accompaniments by Carroll Hollister. Columbia 2341-D (D10, 75c.) It is a pleasure to welcome another recording by Miss Case, in this instance two thrice familiar soprano airs that have formed a part of the repertoire of countless singers. There are the familiar felicities of style and voice and those who have become acquainted with this estimable soprano through her recent Columbia recordings will not need to be urged to hear the above numbers. It is also pleasant to note that the singer’s accompanist is Carroll Hollister who has scarcely de- served anonymity in the past. Schipa: I Shall Return, and Donaldson: When You’re In Love, sung in English by Tito Schipa, with orchestral accom- paniments. Victor 1479 (D10, $1.50.) One of the finest operatic talents essays the field of the popular song (an overture to possible talkie performances?). Schipa’s own song is of considerably more interest than the average example of the type to which it is drawn, but Whiter Donaldson’s When You’re in Love scarcely warrants celebrity attention. Schipa’s tone qualities are slightly forced in places, and the orchestral accompaniment not well balanced to the voice. HANNAKAiNEN-Aidm Silmdt (Mother’s Eyes) and Ruusu Pieni (Little Rose), sung in Norwegian by Hanna Granfelt, with orchestral accompaniments. Victor (Scandinavian list) (D10, 75c). Two Norwegian “heart-songs” sung with requisite effect by a soprano of charming attainments. Searches after vocal novel- ties will be well rewarded by hearing this release. Nieto: El Barbero de Sevilla, and Marques: El Anillo de Hierro, sung in Spanish by Margarita Cueto, with orchestra under the direction of Ed. Vigily Robles. Victor (Mexican list) 90010 (D12, $1.25.) All lovers of the music of Latin America should hear this disk. I do not know who the soprano is nor am I cognizant of the music itself, but I enjoyed both thoroughly. The voice is colorful, with florid tendencies, capable at times of dramatic intensity, and I should say of giving a vivid picture of the subject of the songs. The orchestra, too, radiates a warmth of expression which is a joy to hear. R.B.