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October 2014 Newest Releases


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Covent Garden

Royal Opera, London Philharmonic

Melchior, Flagstad, Klose, Janssen, Nilsson, others

Acts I and II, 18 June 1937

Act III with Branzell and Schöffler, 22 June 1937

Sir Thomas Beecham, conductor



Act Two Complete, 22 June 1937

Covent Garden

Melchior, Flagstad, Nilsson, Schöffler, Branzell

Sir Thomas Beecham conducting


One of the most important releases in our history, this unforgettable performance in a new restoration: best sound ever, extensive notes and rare photos. Includes long missing Act I  finale from 18 June 1937. Bonus: extra Act II from 22 June 1937. Steane talks about the Covent Garden 1937 season; Beecham conducts Vaughan-Williams’ Flourish for the Coronation, London Philharmonic and Chorus 1937 premiere on disc. The ultimate edition!

From Henry Fogel’s review published in FANFARE magazine's Nov/Dec 2014 issue:

“ . . . an utterly remarkable performance of Tristan und Isolde available now in a version that so completely supersedes all prior versions as to render them irrelevant. Richard Caniell has given his usual attention to detail, removing hiss, grit and noise to the extent possible but without destroying the color of the voices and the orchestra. . . If you told me I could take only one to that mythical desert island, I would choose this one.

“Flagstad is often accused of being matronly, stolid, lacking in passion. To be sure, there are performances of hers that merit at least some of that criticism, though for me it always pales when set against the sheer glory of the voice itself. But this performance, perhaps inspired by Beecham, shows Flagstad not only at her vocal best, but responsive to text and to dramatic moment. She is girlish, she is impassioned, she is anguished, she is furious, she is tender; she is, in short, a complete Isolde. In no prior releases of this performance did her voice glow and shine the way it does in Immortal Performances’s transfer. The rich beauty of her top notes comes through with remarkable impact.

“Melchior too benefits from the sonic improvements of this edition . . . This is the Tristan of one’s dreams, combining urgency, vocal beauty, and a very musical way of putting forth a phrase.

“The other prime beneficiary of the superb sonic restoration here is Beecham, or rather Beecham and the orchestra. No other edition of this performance offers this degree of richness and variety of orchestral color, this dynamic range, and in particular this beauty of string tone. . . What we have here is one of the greatest performances of that opera ever to be captured in recorded form, finally transferred in a way that respects the quality of the music-making and brings it all vividly to life.

“Richard Caniell also gives us extensive and thoughtful notes that are way beyond what we get in most releases, either by the major record companies or certainly those specializing in historic material. . . And one must also note the wonderful photographs included in the two accompanying booklets.

“There are many labels, major companies and small independent producers, that make historic material available. None does it with the consistently high standards of Immortal Performances. Those of us who believe that the history of the art form of opera must be well documented, for our own enjoyment and for future generations, owe this company an enormous debt of gratitude.”

Click Here for Full Review

4 CDs for the price of 3 / $43.50

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Melchior, Flagstad, Thorborg, Tibbett, others

Metropolitan Opera

18 January 1936

Artur Bodanzky, conductor



Act III Complete

Melchior, Müller, Janssen, Jost-Arden

Chorus and Orchestra of the Bayreuth Theater

Karl Elmendorff and other conductors

A recreation of the 1930/1931 Bayreuth performances restoring all the music cut in the Columbia recording. See more details at the bottom of the review section for this release

Best sound over all other editions. Includes articles about the composer, the work, singers & performance.

From Henry Fogel’s review published in FANFARE magazine's Nov/Dec 2014 issue:

“To have in one performance, even if it existed only in our dreams, Melchior, Flagstad, Thorborg, Tibbett, and List is to have as close to a Wagnerian ideal as there is. . . .The key to any performance of Tannhäuser is the tenor in the title role, and it is doubtful that there was ever a better one than Melchior. Seven Met broadcasts exist in some form featuring the great Dane, most having been released on multiple labels . . . Of those, I am familiar with 1941 (on Arkadia CDs), 1942 (Music & Arts), 1944 (Gebhardt), and 1948 (Myto). In all cases the transfers are not very good, exhibiting pitch problems, muffled sound leading to colorless voices, and dynamic compression.

“For this transfer . . . Caniell has gotten a far superior, more natural, orchestral and vocal sound from the material than is even heard on some of the other labels’ later performances. What we have here sounds like the voices we know from later studio recordings, caught in the heat of performance.

“Melchior was as good as it gets in this fiendishly (difficult) role, retaining freshness of voice throughout the opera and characterizing the music with more specificity and dramatic meaning than he is usually credited with. The sound itself is glorious, his ability to sing an even, gentle legato and then to let his voice peal forth with glorious power without ever losing richness of tone is unique to him among Heldentenors. Captured here in his prime, he gives a performance to treasure.

“This is the only recording Tibbett left of a complete German role . . . and if there has ever been a Wolfram with a richer or more beautiful timbre I have not encountered him. He, like Melchior, is capable of a seamless legato, and his singing of the Hymn to the Evening Star has far more of a face to it than his studio recording.

“Flagstad too contradicts the clichés about her glorious voice being married to a too stolid temperament. She sings with variety of color and dynamic shadings, and inflects with specificity in a way that brings Elisabeth vividly to life. And indeed that voice is something of a miracle of nature in its glow and evenness from top to bottom.

“The principal issue in this Tannhäuser is Margaret Halstead’s Venus, a completely unacceptable singer in the company of Melchior, Flagstad, Tibbett, and List. She was apparently a last-minute substitute for Gertrude Wettergren. Caniell has substituted Kerstin Thorborg from a 1941 Met broadcast . . . The insertions are extremely natural and smooth, sonically and musically, and one is not jarred. For those who wonder about the justification for this kind of technical wizardry, Caniell has inserted after the conclusion of the first act some excerpts of Halstead’s performance. It is fairly gruesome singing, with intonation problems and a hollowness of sound that is really hard on the ear. What is particularly impressive is that instead of just lifting Thorborg/Melchior from 1941, because he wanted to keep Melchior from 1936 (where Thorborg wasn’t present) he had to keep switching between the two performances when they sang sequentially. That one cannot hear it is an impressive achievement. ”

“Thorborg’s rich vocal colors and sensitive shaping of Venus’s music more than justifies Caniell’s decision to bring her in from 1941 to remove the disastrous Halstead. None of the insertions are audible, and if we weren’t told . . . we would never realize that this was not a single performance.

“The individual bonus recordings speak for themselves—all are famous among collectors, and all have been restored lovingly and beautifully. . . As is normal for Immortal Performances, there are excellent notes about the opera itself, the singers involved, and the history of the recording as well as insights into the thought processes of Caniell in putting this together. ”

Click Here for Full Review

4 CDs / $58.00

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NBC Symphony Orchestra

All Wagner Benefit Concert

Lauritz Melchior - Helen Traubel

Carnegie Hall - 22 February 1941

Lohengrin - Tannhäuser - Die Walküre


Bonus: Rienzi Overture, The Flying Dutchman Overture (with rehearsal segment), Tannhäuser Prelude to Act III (Original full length version)

Three discs for the price of two

Remastered from a new source with a substantial improvement in sonics over our previous Guild Music release. Plus: two rehearsal portions from Die Walküre. Bonus: Overture to Rienzi, Flying Dutchman rehearsal & broadcast, Tannhäuser Prelude Act III (3 CDs for the price of 2)

3 CDs for the price of 2 / $29.00

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Richard Strauss


Concert Version

Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York

Rose Pauly

Szánthó, Boerner, Jagel, Huehn

21 March 1937

Artur Rodzinski, conductor



Don Juan - Two Lieder - Salome Final Scene

Rose Pauly

New York Philharmonic

27 February 1938

John Barbirolli, conducting


Rose Pauly: Lieder and operatic arias

Stunning performance by Rose Pauly in best sound ever. CD-2 offers All Strauss 1938 Concert including Don Juan, two lieder and Salome Finale (with Pauly) conducted by Barbirolli. Bonus: rare 78s of Pauly.

From Henry Fogel’s review published in FANFARE magazine's Nov/Dec 2014 issue:

“ “. . . the performance of Elektra somewhat abridged by Rodzinski is the real reason for this set. Rose Pauly . . . was a hugely successful dramatic soprano in Germany in the 1930s, but had to leave as the Nazis rose to power . . . She made very few recordings, and so we don’t think of her in the same way we think of other great dramatic sopranos of her day and the next generation—Flagstad, Leider, Lawrence, Varnay, Borkh and then Nilsson. This Elektra and the astonishing Salome final scene from a New York Philharmonic concert with Barbirolli in 1938 make clear that she is of the same caliber as any of them. . . . (Her) vocal brilliance and steely power, combined with a sufficient warmth of tone to provide vocal beauty as well as sheer volume, are part of the picture. But of equal importance is her understanding and communication of the text. . . Her rage and hatred are reflected in her tone, as is the ecstasy when she recognizes her brother. For those to whom Elektra is an important work, it would be essential to get to know this recording.

“The excerpts from the 1938 all Strauss New York Philharmonic concert are valuable too, giving us more documentation of the art of John Barbirolli. . . the accompaniments to Pauly in the two songs (Verführung and Gesang der Apollopriesterin) are sensitive, and the singing is remarkably intimate . . . Then comes the other highlight of this set: the final scene from Salome. Pauly manages to convey the sense, through vocal color and phrasing, that this girl is indeed a teenager. At the same time, she rides the orchestra with power. This is one of the great recording performances of this scene.

“The excerpts from Die Ägyptische Helena are immensely valuable. . . The conducting strikingly beautiful—not surprising since it is Fritz Busch. These four scenes, as well as the Ford Hour broadcast from Detroit of Allerseelen with Reiner, are extremely gratifying extras in this set, as is the Fidelio aria.

“Immortal Performances’s usual high production standards apply. The transfers are all infinitely superior to what has been around before of this material. The essays by Caniell himself and by London Green are illuminating, stimulating, and models of what we would hope to find in historical re-issues but almost never do. And the artwork and photographs are up to the same level. The texts and translations of the two songs are given as well.

Click Here for Full Review

2 CD set / $29.00

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Completed by Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov

Lyric Opera of Chicago

Boris Christoff – Igor Gorin

Consuelo Rubio, David Poleri, others

Rudolf Nureyev & Sonia Arova in the Polovtsian Dances

12 October 1962

Oskar Danon, conductor



Arie Antiche and Radio Interview

Gala performance included Nureyev in the Polovtsian Dances. Good sound, broadcast commentary; rare photos. Bonus: Interview w/Igor Gorin who sings Arie Antiche

From Henry Fogel’s review published in FANFARE magazine's Nov/Dec 2014 issue:

“ The principal value of this important release is Gorin’s Igor, a towering achievement vocally and dramatically. His rich, resonant, firmly focused voice is based on an extremely sound technique, and he sings with presence and character. Those who really love this opera should know this performance, which is as richly characterized and beautifully sung as any.

“In addition to Gorin, this performance boasts Boris Christoff in the dual roles of Galitsky and Konchak . . . In his excellent notes, producer Richard Caniell notes that Christoff is not in quite as firm voice as he was on his earlier EMI Boris Gudonov recording. That may be true, but he sounds pretty good to me here, and with much firmer tones than he shows on the later EMI set.

“There is one more highlight in Prince Igor, and that is the tenor David Poleri’s sensitive and lovely singing here. This version of Vladimir’s Cavatina can stand with some of the finest.

“So the monumental presence of Christoff and the rich Prince of Gorin are the reasons for serious collectors to explore this set. That is especially true because of the added bonus of a 1961 studio recording originally on the Golden Crest label called Arie antiche, with Gorin accompanied very nicely by pianist Willard Straight. . . . A brief interview rounds out the Gorin material here.

“As usual, Immortal Performances’s production standards are top of the line. The notes are both informative and interesting . . . overall this is a natural sounding early 1960s monaural radio broadcast, and for this kind of material the sound is really terrific.”

Click Here for Full Review

3 CD set / $43.50

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Vocal Ensemble and Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera

Melchior, Flagstad, Lawrence, Schorr, Thorborg, others

18 December 1937

Artur Bodanzky, conductor (and others)



Act I, Scene 3

Marjorie Lawrence - Lauritz Melchior

Erich Leinsdorf, 1940

A reconstruction of the 1937 broadcast in which Flagstad sings Sieglinde, drawn from private recordings, with some Act I passages in not very good sonics, the balance in good sound for the era. With Milton Cross commentary and curtain calls. Extensive booklet notes and rare photos.

From Henry Fogel’s review published in FANFARE magazine's Nov/Dec 2014 issue:

“Given the almost knee-jerk reaction to Flagstad among critics as “matronly,” many will be surprised at the femininity of her Sieglinde. Her voice positively glows, and she and Melchior are a thrilling pair . . . It is true that Flagstad lacks the ability or willingness to inflect with the kind of specificity that was a Lehmann specialty. But this Sieglinde makes her impact through, as Caniell himself puts it, floods of glorious tone.

“(The booklet’s annotator) Dewey Faulkner points out the thrilling singing she does in the opening war cries, and in so much else of her singing. She had both the low and high notes required by the role, a voice of glowing beauty, and a keen dramatic sense as well. Her Brünnhilde is somewhat more human and more vulnerable than many we have encountered, and it is a complex and convincing portrayal.

“Schorr was the Wotan of his day for a reason, and it is demonstrated here by both his ability to characterize with tone color and his ability to sing the music both beautifully and forcefully at the same time. The interchanges between Schorr and Lawrence never feel like merely great Wagnerian singing, but actually engage us as real music drama.

“The sound after the first act gets progressively better, and in much of Acts II and III is actually quite good, and far superior to any prior versions. The voices and the orchestra really come to life in this transfer . . . While the base for the performance is the December 18, 1937 Met broadcast of Die Walküre [which had the “dream” cast of Melchior, Flagstad, Lawrence, Schorr, List, and Thorborg], producer Richard Caniell had to make replacements from other performances, mostly from the Met in 1935, 1940, and 1946 . . . relying on portions of the December 18, 1937 broadcast recorded by a collector who focused only on Flagstad in the second and third acts. . . three quarters of what we hear is conducted by Bodanzky, and the remainder by Leinsdorf (1940 Met) or Paul Breisach (1946 Met).

“The bonus excerpts from the 1940 Met broadcast with Lawrence as Sieglinde and Melchior as Siegmund, and Leinsdorf conducting, is a perfect extra. Immortal Performances includes some commentary by Milton Cross, which of course re-creates the atmosphere of the way so many of us heard these broadcasts . . . The usual lavish booklet, with superb essays and photographs, accompanies the discs.”

Click Here for Full Review

3 CD set / $43.50

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Chorus and Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera

Martinelli, Tibbett, Mario, Cehanvosky, Tedesco

10 March 1934

Vincenzo Bellezza, conductor



  Recitar! (Martinelli) Vitaphone 1927

Final scene Chicago Opera, 1940

Martinelli, Zaplicki / Abravanel


Met 15 February 1936

Act II, Sc. 1; Act IV portion; Act IV, sc. 2 complete

Martinelli, Rethberg, Bonelli, Meisle / Papi

Bonus: Interview with Martinelli and Albanese


From Henry Fogel’s review published in FANFARE magazine's Nov/Dec 2014 issue:

“I have only been familiar with this 1934 Met Pagliacci on a dismal Walhall transfer, and found I could never get through it. What we have here is miraculous. . . . Caniell has cleaned up the material superbly — fixing pitch inconsistencies, bringing out real color from the voices, and reversing serious dynamic compression.

“There is another Martinelli Pagliacci, from 1936, but with Bonelli instead of Tibbett, and yet another from 1941 with Tibbett. But Martinelli surpasses himself here in 1934; this is the one to hear. . . the sound has plenty of ring, and he knew the style as almost no one else did. His sense of how to shape the music was innate and deeply held within him, and his willingness to give everything he had in performance made his appearances real events. . . This is a truly great performance, one that merits the over-used word “unique.”. . . I found myself swept up from his entrance to the opera’s conclusion.

“Tibbett is the other major asset of this performance. His is a richly sung and highly dramatic Tonio. Not only the Prologue, but the duet with Nedda is a true highlight.

“This is a performance of rare dramatic fire and with musical thrills galore, lovingly and brilliantly restored. If you care at all about Pagliacci and/or the verismo operatic tradition, you must know this performance, and only in this transfer.

“The other Pagliacci excerpts are valuable (the restoration of the 1927 Vitaphone recording shows us the younger Martinelli and reproduces the voice with remarkable color). . . The Trovatore excerpts (one scene is not from the Met but from a 1927 Vitaphone recording) are further illustration of Martinelli’s skill, and his ability to sing lyrically when the music requires. Rethberg and Bonelli are excellent. . . the restoration is as good as it gets. The 18-minute interview with Martinelli and Albanese . . . is a wonderful additional bonus. As usual, the notes and photos that accompany the discs are all one could ask for.”

Click Here for Full Review

2 CD set / $29.00

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Philharmonic-Symphony Society of New York

Two Complete Concerts

2 February 1936 Concert - Carnegie Hall

Bach: Brandenburg Concerto No. 2

Brahms: Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major

­­Robert Casadesus, pf

Beethoven: Coriolan Overture

Beethoven: Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major

Bonus: Beethoven – Triple Concerto (1942)

Complete Concert 19 April 1936

All Debussy

Le Martyre de Sai­nt-Sébastien: Le Cour d’Lys

Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune

Nuages - Fêtes - Ibéria

La Damoiselle Élue

(Bidú Sayão - Rose Bampton)

Women’s Chorus of the Schola Cantorum

La Mer

Four discs for the price of three

This private off-the-air recording of a memorable concert in Toscanini’s last year with the Philharmonic has been very extensively worked upon to correct many pitch variances, minimize surface noise, fill in turnover gaps, and improve the dynamics that were compressed by the radio broadcast limiters. While in better sound than some home-recorded discs, the surface noise can rather high in some places, and while these don’t offer sonics of modern recordings, they are all we have and are, thus, a treasurable part of our cultural legacy.

The bonus Beethoven Triple Concerto, though noisy, has remarkable presence and focus of sound, hugely improved over the gravely over-filtered Naxos version that we endured with their re-engineering of our restoration, now released in this album with much relief.

The All Debussy concert offers somewhat better tone and dimension than what has been previously available, with many pitch problems corrected, and dynamics expanded to compensate the poor microphone placement and radio limiters of the time. The magazine Musical America devoted an entire page to this concert, its reviewer (Oscar Thompson) writing that “. . . as a program, this was the outstanding novelty of the orchestral year,” one which was “among the most distinctive of Toscanini’s American achievements . . . in finish, balance of parts and beauty of tone, Toscanini’s orchestral performance could scarcely have been surpassed.”

4 CDs for the price of 3 / $43.50

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Unknown and Little Known Performances



Thomas - Mahler - Bizet - Bellini - Rossini

Standard Hour Concerts

Saint-Saëns - Tchaikovksy - Stradella - Rossini - Berlioz

Chausson : Poème de L’Amour et de la Mer, Op. 19

Haydn: Arianna a Naxos

Berlioz: La Mort de Cléopâtre

As Peter Davis wrote of Jennie Tourel in his book American Opera Singers (when considering her debut as Mignon): “. . . her vibrant voice, with its familiar, intriguing tang and pungency already securely in place, takes all the soprano options with stunning results. And in every measure, there is the distinctive, musical and interpretive intelligence that discerning audiences would soon learn to treasure.”

Davis, then a young man, attending a recital Tourel gave in a Boston Concert Hall during the fifties, told his readers that Tourel sang “a program of art songs and arias employing an extraordinary range of vocal colors and expressive dynamics, illuminating every emotion from Gretchen’s heartbreak to Périchole’s tipsy joie de vivre.”

From Henry Fogel’s article written for our booklet:

“Bizet, Rossini, Mahler, Chausson, Bellini, Haydn, Berlioz, Saint-Saëns, Offenbach, Stradella. The list of singers who would be comfortable in such a broad range of musical and dramatic styles is a very small list indeed. By “comfortable” I don’t mean just singing the notes. What I am talking about is conveying the appropriate musical style – everything from phrase-shaping to color and weight of voice and dynamic range – for each of those composers. One singer who easily passes that test is Jennie Tourel.

“The opportunity in this set to hear Tourel in such a wide range of material gives the listener a chance to re-assess her, and, frankly, brings a new appreciation of her artistry and her natural vocal strengths.”

3 CD set / $43.50

For further information about the great vocal artists offered in our CD releases, including articles, discographies and photos, see The Record Collector at:
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