The Music of the Discs
The development of an appreciation of the better class of music has always been the policy of the leading talking machine companies, and each monthly issue contains records in which every music lover will be interested.
"Recordo" will review each month in this page those which he believes will be of most interest to our subscribers, and of the most assistance to teachers in their work.
Perhaps because it is so thoroughly in tune with spring evenings, Mario Chamlee has chosen to sing to us at this time Metcalf's sentimental classic "Absent." Truly, as sung by Chamlee, "Absent" makes the heart grow fonder.
When the Spaniards treat of love in music they do so with a more animated rhythm. For instance, "La Paloma," which Richard Bonelli, baritone, sings with fine fervor. On the reverse of this disc he gives us, with English words, the Neapolitan "Funiculi, Funicula" (Denza), as enthusiastic with animal spirits as any street song ever written.
Too many renderings of sacred music that one hears have the ring of empty artificiality. It is a relief then to hear the simple directness, the convincing sincerity with which Lloyd Simonson sings two Christian Science hymns--"Shepherd, Show Me How to Go," and "Saw Ye My Saviour.
This month Columbia entrusts chief vocal honors to two tenors--Charles Hackett and George Meader. Hackett sings the melodious and thoroughly appealing ballad "Love Sends a Little Gift of Roses," by Openshaw, with splendid artistry. It is one of the best recordings he has ever made, and the charm of his voice is skilfully enhanced by the orchestral color of the accompaniment. If Meader is somewhat less of a star, he has pleasing gifts as a singer and he gives good measure by singing on two sides of a disc--"Pale Moon" (Logan), a memorably beautiful art song in the Indian manner, and "My Little Home on the Hill," a ballad of the type of "My Little Gray Home in the West."
The low voice that sings "Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms" is not a human one, but that of Pablo Casals's violincello; but he gives it a quality of human tenderness and poignance that conveys the meaning of the song as movingly as though every word of it were uttered. Another instrumental record that will he liked is a double offering of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Ysaye, playing the perennial "Hearts and Flowers" (Czibulka), here blessedly delivered from the sentimentality with which most interpreters afflict it, and the serenade "Love in Idleness" (Macbeth), sprightly and deftly colorful. The recording of this complex, variegated orchestra is exceptionally satisfactory. Percy Grainger, pianist, plays with characteristic gusto and brilliance two selections of the sort that he most delights in-- "Turkey in the Straw," that contagiously rollicking jig, elaborated by David W. Guion into a concert hall dazzler, and a bizarre composition of Grainger's own making, picturesquely entitled "The Gum-Suckers March." Thus endeth the Columbia list, very much allegro.
The Edison Company is indeed fortunate in having acquired Claudia Muzio, and Claudia Muzio is fortunate in having her voice recorded with Edison realism; but the chief gainer of all is the public, for her first offerings under Edison auspices are among the loveliest things ever made available by the phonograph. They comprise two double discs--a pair of limpidly melodious bel canto arias from Trovatore, "Tacea la notte" and "D'amor sull' ali rosee; and two arias from operas less familiar in America, "La Mamma Morta," from Giordano's opera dealing with the French Revolution, Andrea Chenier, and the Letter Scene air from Tchaikowsky\s Eugene Onegin. These four numbers, beautiful music in themselves, well reveal the richness and heart, appeal of this distinctive voice.
Other notable vocal recordings are the Flower Duet from Madama Butterfly, with its exquisitely unusual harmonies, sung by Marie Rappold and Carolina Lazzari, and (on the reverse) the affecting Tosti song "Povera Mamma!" sung by Mario Laurenti, baritone, better than we have ever heard him sing before. The "Ingemisco" from Verdi's Requiem is sung with emotional power by Giovanni Zenatello, tenor, and, as a contrast, the happy-go-lucky baritone aria "A quoi bon l'économie?" is sung by Torcom Bézazian.
Paul Reimers, newly come into the Edison fold, is heard in Kreisler's arrangement of the Viennese "Old Refrain," singing very agreeably in English. This is paired with the tender mother song "Son o' Mine" (Zameenik), sung by Elizabeth Spencer, soprano.
Instrumental records include a double offering by Albert Spalding -- a Chopin Nocturne arranged for violin by Wilhelmj, and the Canzonetta from Godard's "Concerto Romantique." These are played in thorough musicianly fashion. And the American Symphony, which last, month gave us four delightful numbers from Tchaikovsky's toy ballet. The Nutcracker, now gives us three more. They are gems of ingenious whimsicality.
Pathe makes a specialty this month of old-favorite songs. Yvonne Gall, though an imported soprano, has learned to sing in lucid English the songs we all cherish. Her rendering of a Foster plantation song last month was by no means a foreigner's. Now she sings for us Nevin's "Rosary" most satisfyingly, and, on a separate disc, "Annie Laurie." She does these with excellent taste and appealing tenderness, and the quality of her voice is brought out more beautifully than in some of her earlier recordings.
Wilfred Glenn displays his profundo powers agreeably in those two deep favorites "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep" and "Asleep in the Deep;" and Adamo Didur, an operatic basso with strong dramatic thrill, sings a pair of short folk songs of Little Russia, arranged by Zimbalist. Wells Clary, an ingratiating baritone, is heard in the familiar "Beauty's Eyes," by Tosti, and "Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes," which the label on the record cheerfully attributes to Mozart.
Old favorites rule in the instrumental realm also. Hans Kronold, 'cellist,, plays the quaint and appealingly simple melody of days of yore --"The Willow Tree," and, on the reverse, two old standbys by Moore --"The Valley Lay Smiling Before Me," and "Believe Me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms." Vir-gilio Ranzato, concertmaster of Toscanini's orchestra, makes his phonograph debut after the manner of many another violinist by playing Dvorak's "Humoresque," but he plays it very nicely indeed, and gives us as an encore Mozart's Minuet No. 13.
Victor's music festival is as abounding as ever. Caruso sings a pleading waltz song, the words of which he wrote himself. The music is by Bracco. Listening to the supreme ease with which the inimitable Enrico gambols through this Serenata with its unexpected high notes, it is hard to realize that such a singer could ever be afflicted with human ailments. If his recording must, halt for a time, he will have no mean understudy in Benjamino Gigli, who this month sings the beautiful "Ciclo e mar" air from Gioconda with emotional appeal and splendid quality of tone. John McCormack gives us a vivid and colorful art song by Rachmaninoff-- "O Cease Thy Singing, Maiden Fair"--with a violin obbligato played by Kreisler and piano accompaniment, by Edwin Schneider. Another vivid number is the Neapolitan song "Munasterio" (The Monastery), by Costa, sung dramatically by Titta Ruffo. Its tragic sombreness is decidedly in contrast to the Neapolitan songs one is accustomed to hear. But. there is no more perfect example of artistry in the entire list than "Beau Soir," sung by Giuseppe de Luca. It is a setting by Debussy, that Monet of Music, of a poem by Paul Bourget. Of simpler appeal are the ballad "Just a Little House of Love" (Wood), sung by Sophie Braslau, contralto, and the sacred song "Oh Morning Land" (Phelps), sung by Louise Homer and her daughter. A record unhonored with the red seal but which is decidedly enjoyable nevertheless is a double disc of two favorite soprano numbers from Aida --"Ritorna vincitor" and "O patria mia," sung by Lucy Isabelle Marsh.
Instrumental offerings include Efrem Zimbalist playing Pierné's graceful and dainty Serenade; two piano records, one by Cortot, who plays the first half of Liszt's Second Hungarian Rhapsody, and the other by Rachmaninoff, playing the scintillant, adroitly droll "Dr. Gradus ad Parnassum," from Debussy's "The Children's Corner." Toscanini and the Scala Orchestra give a crisp and spiritedly concise performance of an old Gagliarda by Galilei, and the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra, led by Stokowski, acquits itself brilliantly in that astonishingly sensual pagan orgy, the Bacchanale from Samson et Dalila. It is significant of the increasing popular interest in standard music that a single company issues, in one month, records by two different concert orchestras.
Great dramatic sopranos are few indeed. Those who are successful at recording are fewer still. Their style of singing is less easy for the wax to capture than that of the lyric or coloratura soprano. Rosa Raisa's first phonographic attempts were to our mind disappointing, but now she is at last beginning to duplicate on the phonograph her achievements on the operatic stage. Her singing this month of the vividly emotional "Ave Maria" from the last act of Otello is quite enthralling. Contrastingly light and carefree is the "Musetta Waltz" from Boheme, sung by Marie Sundelius with airy purity of tone. She gives the Musetta minx a wistful sweetness that is an unusual attribute for that saucy spitfire. Another operatic record is the "Donna non vidi mai" aria from Manon Lescaut, an expression of love at first sight, sung by Guilio Crimi.
Song offerings include "Homing," by Therese del Riego, a finer thing than her better known "O Dry Those Tears," sung by Marguerite d'Alvarez, contralto, with a particularly nice accompaniment; and "The Sweetest Story Ever Told" (Stultz), a ballad in the popular manner sung by John Charles Thomas.