V0031. EMMA CALVÉ: The Complete 1902 G & T, 1920 Pathé and ’Mapleson Cylinder’ Recordings, incl. Songs by Beethoven, Gounod, Massenet, Hahn, de Lara, Valverde, Burnham, Lieurance, Key, Bland, Stephen Foster, etc.; Arias from Amadis de Gaule, Nozze, Vivandière, Carmen, Les Contes d’Hoffmann, La Perle du Brésil, Faust, La Périchole, Sapho, Cavalleria & Norma; CÉCILE MERGUILLIER: Arias from Sapho, Le Pardon de Ploëmel, Galathée, Le Pré aux Clercs, Le Domino Noir, Manon, Hamlet, Mignon, Mireille, Roméo & Philémon et Baucis. 2-Marston 52013, recorded 1902-20. Transfers by Ward Marston. [original release (not a CDR re-release) this two-disc set with English-language booklet has a new jewel case, booklet and cover art in excellent condition; discs are mint.] Long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 638335201320
"Emma Calvé was a phenomenon. Her Spanish songs, as well as selections from CARMEN, are charmingly rendered with much joie de vivre. Her ‘L'Heure exquise’ is truly exquisite, thanks to her infinitely delicate touch. Her voice becomes richly mournful intoning ‘In questa tomba oscura’, while in ‘Casta Diva’ she becomes a jealous, passionate Norma. In ‘Charmant oiseau’, an ethereal conjunction of timbres is achieved between her voice and the birdlike flute. Despite the rough quality of the source material, both the G&T and Pathé recordings manage to capture Calvé's lightness of tone, which is most charming on the high notes. The Lionel Mapleson cylinders, recorded live at the Met in February of 1902 are gruelling to listen to. Nonetheless, particularly those from FAUST prove that a marvelous instrument was gracing the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. They also indicate that her studio recordings, fantastic as they are, don't measure up to the Emma Calvé we hear in these live performances. She almost literaly brings down the house. Despite the difficulty of listening to them, the Mapleson cylinders are worth careful attention. Mere aural smudges, they nonetheless prove that Calvé's studio recordings don't do her justice
Ward Marston is a wizard at tranferring the voices from old records. Careful not to over-engineer, he makes sure that the voices from the dawn of the last century sound as sensuous as possible….I'm always delighted by the rich, warm, scintillating tones that Marston uncovers, even if sometimes he leaves a lot more surface noise in the mix.
Finally, as an added bonus, Marston gives us fifteen rollicking performances recorded for Thomas Edison by the lively French soprano Cécile Merguillier, a vocal acrobat if ever there was one. Her selection from Meyerbeer's LE PARDON DE PLOEMEL is a showstopper. A great duet with Monsieur Gluck ends this marvelous two CD set."
- Paco Rivero