C0817. THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS – Excerpts (Complete, as recorded) (Elgar), w.Joseph Batten Cond. Royal S.O.; Edith Furmedge, Dan Jones & David Brazell. (England) Palaeophonics 100, recorded 17 Feb., 1917, Edison Bell. Excellently transferred from the legendary 78rpm rarities.
“Until 1920 [the Edison Bell Company) had been one of the foremost manufacturers of popular records….Now came a change of policy: it was decided to compete with the two ‘big fellows’, as HMV and Columbia were known….To me was assigned the onus of building a catalogue of good music….the recording on which I look back with the greatest pride was that of THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS. This oratorio had always deeply stirred me, but had it not been for a conversation with Charles Draper, the finest clarinetist of his day, and a friend of Elgar’s, I doubt if I would have braved the technical problems such a project involved….to record such music would be a labour of love, an act of homage to a great composer. And apart from the aesthetic motives, another voice whispered to me that if it could be done, what a feather it would be in my cap…to accomplish a recording which [HMV and Columbia] had declared to be impossible….it opened the way to my appointment with Columbia a few years after.”
- Joe Batten, JOE BATTEN’S BOOK, pp.56-59
“A gentleman farmer with a love of Edwardian and early Twentieth Century music has created a home industry of preserving early Musical and Revue scores as recorded on 78 and cylinder, the latter of which he is certainly a specialist. It is an impressive list of shows that Dominic Combe has digitalised and issued on Compact Disc. Not only is it the recordings but the lovingly created books that attach.
Early theatre recordings abound in Great Britain, more so than in the United States where it took them some time to start recording original cast material. And so, many early scores are available to be heard. But what Dominic discovered when he started assembling these scores was that often latter day British 78 and cylinder record collectors turned their noses up on recordings of dance music or covers and ‘best of’ or ‘gems’ making them hard to find. And, it is those recordings which can often contain songs not otherwise recorded. He has built strong connections with other collectors willing to lend material to make each issue as complete as possible.
Modern equipment and an aptitude for perfection have helped Dominic ‘clean up’ old 78 and cylinder records to deliver a sound quality that can be stunning. The booklets are produced with as much care by using original theatre programmes or magazines such as PLAY PICTORIAL and MUSIC FOR ALL so that the listener can get a good idea of how the show looked as well as to see the unique art work used to advertise the show back then.
Dominic has issued over fifty of these gems and still has titles either being completed or awaiting to be started on. The label is called PALAEOPHONICS.”
- y phayward, OVERTURES: The Bunnet-Muir Musical Theatre Archive Trust, 10 July, 2017