V1800. RICHARD CROOKS: Songs by d’Hardelot, Friml, Geehl, Moya, etc.; Arias from Don Giovanni, L’Elisir d’Amore, Lohengrin, Faust, Roméo, Manon, Werther, Le Roi d’Ys, Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Sadko, Tosca, Fedora, L’Arlesiana, Naughty Marietta, The Red Mill & The Vagabond King. (Austria) Preiser 89744, recorded 1928-39. Final Sealed Copy! - 717281897440
“This much admired tenor from New Jersey was one of the mainstays of the Metropolitan Opera from 1933 until 1946. The Great Depression of the early 30's brought about the departure of several distinguished Italian colleagues, which did much to further his career. But he was already a great favorite with the general public by virtue of his weekly broadcasts on American radio. His lovely, fresh-sounding, unforced tenor voice ensured a vast circle of admirers; and his recordings of light classics, operetta, and popular songs sold in vast quantities world-wide. Since he died it is fairly safe to state that collections of his recordings have always been available in one format or another. This latest selection, including popular arias and songs recorded 1928 to 1939, gives an excellent overall portrait of the tenor. Two particular favorites are missing: ‘Recondita Armonia’ from TOSCA and ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’ from L’ELISIR D’AMORE. They date from 1927— the year he made his stage début as Cavaradossi in Hamburg. That both these initial efforts in the recording studio were sung in German may account for their absence here. They reveal a disarming freshness of tone akin, perhaps, to a young McCormack. This youthful quality remained to some extent for his entire career. His phlegmatic acting seems to have been another quality he shared with his more famous Irish colleague. In a well-phrased and forthright ‘Il mio Tesoro’ his Ottavio sounds anything but wimpish. This is followed by an unusually sensitive ‘Una Furtiva Lagrima’—more relaxed and expressive than the earlier German one. Lohengrin’s farewell is splendidly lyrical—in the style of the best of earlier Italian interpreters. A group of mainstream French arias follows in mostly idiomatic, highly enjoyable performances, which now reveal many unrecalled felicities of interpretation.…Operetta selections and ballads of the day fill up the program. These were all well recorded for their period and have been cleanly transferred here. If you have somehow missed these definitive performances in other guise, you are in for a treat.”
-Vivian A. Liff, AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, Nov./Dec., 2011
"...Crooks'...voice was by far the most attractive among the American tenors of his generation, combining the sweet Irish lilt of a John McCormack with the weightier accents of a German lyric....he was a favorite with Toscanini, Walter, and Mengelberg - under the latter's baton, Crooks participated in the American première of Mahler's DAS LIED VON DER ERDE."
- Peter G. Davis, THE AMERICAN OPERA SINGER, pp.366-67