C0013. SIR THOMAS BEECHAM Cond. Royal Phil., w.Marjorie Thomas: Delius Program. (England) Dutton CDLX 7028, recorded 1946-53. Transfers by Michael J. Dutton. Very long out-of-print, Final Copy! - 763587702827
“Before the English contralto became an endangered species, Marjorie Thomas was one of those who gave the voice its postwar Indian summer. She established a considerable recorded legacy under the composer Sir Malcolm Sargent, including Elgar's THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS (perhaps her finest memorial), two versions of MESSIAH, Mendelssohn's ELIJAH, Vaughan Williams' SERENADE TO MUSIC and a number of Gilbert and Sullivan operas. She also performed in a famous Mahler Third Symphony with the Czech conductor Rafael Kubelúˆ, as well as EMI's first stereo session, in 1955, for Bach's Cantata #6 with the Bach Choir. Though hailing from the north-east, she was half-Welsh and half-Scots, and was proud to sing for the investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon in 1969.
In 1945 she was heard by the conductor John Barbirolli, who booked her for Elgar's SEA PICTURES with the Hall� orchestra. That December she was Konchakovna in Sir Thomas Beecham's radio production of Borodin's PRINCE IGOR. At her audition Beecham asked for more emotion, then added: ‘But how could you have experienced emotion - 22 and living in Manchester?� Still, he asked her back for his Delius festival in 1946 and his MESSIAH recording in 1947. While rehearsing at Maida Vale studios, she met her future husband Edwin ‘Teddy� Gower, the sound engineer for the broadcast. They married in 1947.
Thomas first sang for Sargent in 1951, with both the Royal Choral Society and the Huddersfield Choral Society, and was among his favourite soloists from then on, often singing his orchestrated version of Brahms's Four Serious Songs. Music-lovers in the US, Europe and especially Britain will recall her chiefly as a concert singer, although she made forays into opera.
In 1950 she took the role of the Dryade in ARIADNE AUF NAXOS at Glyndebourne and the Edinburgh festival. In 1951 she sang Nancy in ALBERT HERRING with Benjamin Britten's English Opera Group at the Cheltenham festival and, later, Britten chose her as Hermia for the early productions of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at Aldeburgh, the Holland festival and Covent Garden. At Covent Garden she was a Rhinemaiden and a Valkyrie in Rudolf Kempe's RING and Magdalena in Kubelúˆ's MEISTERSINGER.
Thomas had an easy, unforced production that enabled her to ride orchestral climaxes in Elgar, Wagner and Strauss, while, at the other extreme, concentrating her tone for Handel or Bach. After Pope Paul VI's accession in 1963, she represented Britain in an international performance of the B minor Mass at the Vatican."
- Tully Potter, THE GUARDIAN, 24 Sept., 2008