The Record Collector - 2011,  Rene Maison, Leon Melchissedec, Margareta Hallin, Sofía del Campo, Edward Johnson, Joan Cross, Eric Marshall, Edith Coates, Tovia Kittay            (TRC 35)
Item# V2037
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The Record Collector - 2011,  Rene Maison, Leon Melchissedec, Margareta Hallin, Sofía del Campo, Edward Johnson, Joan Cross, Eric Marshall, Edith Coates, Tovia Kittay            (TRC 35)
V2037. THE RECORD COLLECTOR - 2011 Issue, incl. Joan Cross, René Maison, Sofía del Campo, Edward Johnson, Léon Melchissédec, Margareta Hallin, Eric Marshall, Edith Coates & Tovia Kittay. (England) The Record Collector TRC 35, recorded 1902-48, partially broadcast performances, partially first time on CD. Transfers by Norman White.


“It is our pleasure to present another compilation of the rare, the unpublished and recordings not otherwise available on other reissues. As always, THE RECORD COLLECTOR has chosen the recordings with an emphasis on beautiful singing.

What a fine soprano Joan Cross was! That makes her neglect by collectors all the more to be regretted. The voice was a beautifully-placed lyric soprano, with a security and nobility of utterance worthy of the greatest singers. Especially lovely is her ‘Mimì’s farewell’, which is sung with an enchanting delicacy and poise. If it were in Italian rather than English it would be a highly sought-after disc.

It is a pity that Edward Johnson is likely to be remembered in history more as a General Manager at the Met than as a tenor. Records show a solid lirico spinto voice used with great intelligence and a secure technique. His Columbia recordings, especially, are exciting and show a tenor not afraid to coarsen his tone when the dramatic situation demands it. His recording of ‘Ah! Manon, mi tradisce’ is among the best of versions. Alan Bilgora recommended his singing of ‘Una parola sola’ in his review of Johnson’s records, and justly so. The MIGNON disc is of especial interest as it was unpublished. It, too, is well sung.

We have found two examples of Sofía del Campo at her best, one of which appears to have eluded reissue on CD. Her voice has been captured here with none of that slightly acerbic quality which sometimes mars her discs. These two songs show a fine technique, an even and secure range and a vivid personality at work.

For some reason, reissues of René Maison’s commercial discs seem to be relatively few. He is better represented in live performances, especially from the Met. His performance of ‘La donna è mobile’ shows all his virtues: a strong, spinto sound, with an incisive middle range which would have projected through any orchestra. The voice cannot be described as especially beautiful but there is compensation in the weight and security of his tone which made him ideal for heldentenor and dramatic rôles. His recording of this aria boasts a magical diminuendo on ‘muta d’accento’ in the second verse.

It is a pity that the recordings of Edith Coates fail to do justice to a historically important and patrician artist. They capture a tonal quality which is not especially ingratiating. Those who heard her spoke of a fine artist and reliable colleague who made far more impact in the theatre than she does on her recordings. We wanted to bring you at least one example of one of her most successful rôles.

Tovia Kittay is hardly known to collectors. He turns up on records most often as the partner to Tamaki Miura in the love duet from MADAMA BUTTERFLY. His solos are much harder to find. Although the voice sounds a little strange at first, he soon settles down to a beautifully poised and heartfelt delivery of this lovely aria from CHEREVICHKI. His could hardly be called a great voice but the obvious sincerity and lyricism are worthy of attention.

We hope that collectors who do not know the singing of Margareta Hallin will be delighted by these selections. At the beginning of her career hers was a lovely, leggiero soprano of great range and pin-point accuracy, with an engaging personality. Her only two 78 rpm sides are here and both are lovely performances, worthy of ranking her with many far more famous colleagues. The Strauss items are enchanting souvenirs of a lovely artist.

For me, the gems on this CD are the three arias sung by Eric Marshall. Here is another example of an artist of limited natural resources, who, by dint of hard work, great artistry and a superb sense of style, enjoyed a fine career and made wonderful records. The sheer beauty of his tone and his mastery of legato, rubato and portamento in his ‘O Lisbona’ time and time again recall Battistini. Here Marshall is a supreme stylist at work. Had he been gifted with a first-class voice he would surely have had an international career. Still, his records are eagerly sought after by collectors.

We are fortunate to be able to find four incredibly rare examples of the great Léon Melchissédec. He was a singer of immense historical importance, who, thankfully, was captured just in time by the gramophone. His discs give us a glimpse of performance practice from the middle and later decades of the 19th century. In the APGA recordings, the sixty-three year-old baritone still retains an amazing amount of voice. It is perfectly steady, his technique is secure and he is fully in control of it. The top of the voice is well preserved, though the bottom register is by now something of a wreck. The sound is much fresher in the Zonophones made 4½ years earlier. The ‘singing lesson’ ‘Reste immobile’ is something of an oddity and it is strange to think that it was published commercially.”