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Nineteenth-Century French Baritones, Volume 1

This set comprises some of the earliest and rarest recordings of French arias and songs, featuring four illustrious baritones: Léon Melchissédec, Jean Lassalle, Max Bouvet, and Maurice Renaud. All of these singers possessed technique and style firmly rooted in nineteenth-century teaching with their careers firmly established during the 1880s. The recordings heard on this compilation were made between 1899 and 1907, many of which are on fragile wax cylinders, which now survive only in the hands of a few fortunate collectors and audio preservation archives. The informative, comprehensive essay by Luc Bourrousse highlights the biographies and legacies of these singers, while discussing the merits of their recordings.

Léon Melchissédec, 1843-1925 was an invaluable member of three Paris companies: the Opéra-Comique, the Théâtre Lyrique, and the Paris Opéra. He is the earliest born French baritone to make authenticated commercial recordings beginning in 1899. Included in this compilation is his first recording, a seven-inch Berliner label disc, a group of Pathé cylinders, three discs for Zonophone, and six-disc sides for the APGA label recorded in 1907-1908. 

Jean Lassalle, 1847-1909, was one of the greatest luminaries of the Paris Opéra, was a frequent guest in London, and an honored member of the Metropolitan Opera. Although his recordings were made when he was in his late fifties there is still much to be enjoyed in the way of style and technique.  His first recordings were Pathé cylinders dating from 1902, some of which are released here on CD for the first time. Also included are his seven-disc sides for Odeon and two-Pantophone sides made in 1904 and 1905.

Max Bouvet, 1854–1943, began his career in café-concert and operetta.  He joined the Opéra-Comique in 1884 remaining there until 1900.  He also sang at Covent Garden and enjoyed a long stint at Monte-Carlo. He recorded exclusively for Pathé: cylinders in 1903 and 1904, and discs in 1907.

Maurice Renaud, 1861–1933, was the most internationally acclaimed of our four baritones. His thirty-seven-year career has been well-documented and we have already issued his complete Gramophone Company recordings on Marston 52005. We have now chosen this set for inclusion of Renaud’s extant Pathé recordings.

This compilation is one of our most important releases not only for the rarity of the recordings but more importantly for the understanding of French style displayed by these singers. We hope to follow this with a second baritone volume devoted to Lucien Fugère, 1848-1936, and Gabriel Soulacroix, 1854-1905.

Now Available!

The Complete Josef Lhevinne

The Complete Josef Lhevinne

53023-2 (3 CDs) | $ 54.00

Josef Lhevinne studied at the Moscow Conservatory under Vasily Safonov, made his public debut at fourteen in a performance conducted by Anton Rubinstein, and graduated top of a class that included both Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexander Scriabin. Lhevinne is often included as one of the greatest golden-era pianists, and yet, his recorded legacy is approximately fifty minutes of repertoire for Pathé and Victor, albeit treasured and admired. And not unlike a star whose light went out too soon, the public created a mythos based on a small output and clamors for more examples of his playing to further justify his reputation. The wait is now over.

In addition to the Pathé and Victor recordings, this release includes a 1943 New York broadcast of Brahms's Op. 25 Piano Quartet with Lhevinne and the Perolé String Quartet, which is the cornerstone of this release. Also included will be several studio broadcasts from the 1930s. Among these broadcasts will be the second and third movements of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 from an NBC studio broadcast of 1933, which has been in the hands of collectors for many years. However, we now have a nearly complete performance of this work: Josef Lhevinne featured in this concerto during a Worcester Festival concert in 1936. It should be noted that for unknown reasons the first four minutes of the concerto were not recorded and despite recording flaws, this recording does give us a sense of Lhevinne's unique brilliance. This set will be a must for anyone collecting recordings of pianists of the golden age.

A Survey of British Tenors Before Peter Pears

There was a style of tenor singing in the early days of recording that was peculiarly British. It began we can suppose with tenors of the 18th and 19th centuries who did not record, such as Charles Dibdin, John Braham and Sims Reeves, and carried on more or less until the end of the 78rpm era by British tenors who did record until the model for singing tenor in Britain became Peter Pears, whose singing was not really like any of his predecessors. This CD set celebrates the historic and wonderful recordings made by those earlier tenors. They sound old-fashioned because no-one singing today sounds like them. They also sang and recorded a repertory of English songs and opera arias infrequently performed today. Although some of them recorded songs and arias in foreign languages, we have intentionally limited this set to songs, operatic arias and oratorio arias originally sung in English. As Shaw wrote in 1891 in his review of the farewell concert of Sims Reeves, the public was losing the greatest tenor in England and perhaps the greatest tenor in the world. This set is intended to allow us to imagine what a Sims Reeves concert might have been like.

Included singers: Dan Beddoe, Webster Booth, Tom Burke, Joseph Cheetham, John Coates, Sydney Coltham, Ben Davies, Tudor Davies, Hubert Eisdell, Gervase Elwes, Walter Glynne, William Green, John Harrison, Gregory Hast, Ruby Helder, Joseph Hislop, Walter Hyde, James Johnston, Hirwen Jones, Arthur Jordan, Morgan Kingston, Edward Lloyd, John McCormack, Frank Mullings, Heddle Nash, Joseph O’Mara, Charles Saunders, Herbert Teale, Frank Titterton, Henry Wendon, Walter Widdop, and Evan Williams.

The Complete Lotte Schöne

The Complete Lotte Schöne

55002-2 (5 CDs) | $ 72.00

Lotte Schöne is one of those singers whose personality shines through the shellac: joyful, expressive, and bubbly. She was loved by audiences in Vienna, Salzburg, Berlin, Paris, and London. Being Jewish, she left Berlin in 1933, but continued to sing in Vienna and Paris until 1938. At the outbreak of World War II, Schöne took refuge in a small village in the French Alps, where she stayed in hiding until 1945. After the war she gave occasional concerts and sang one performance in 1948 at the Berlin State Opera. She spent the remainder of her life living outside of Paris with her son and grandchildren.

Lotte Schöne’s records are highly prized, especially her acoustic discs. This set contains all of her known recordings for Vox, Odeon, and the Gramophone Company, including six unpublished Odeon sides made just before the company’s conversion from the acoustic to the electric recording process, and four unpublished Gramophone Company sides of Hugo Wolf songs recorded in 1934. The set concludes with a delightful group of non-commercial discs made for her family, and a substantial offering of German and French songs recorded late in her career for French and German Radio in 1948 and 1950.

This is the first time that Lotte Schöne’s complete extant recordings can be heard in one compilation. The booklet includes rare photos, an evaluation of Schöne’s recordings by Michael Aspinall, and a personal essay by the noted French author, André Tubeuf, written in English especially for this Marston Records release.

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Free CDs to Preferred Customers!

In recognition of our Preferred Customers, Marston created the Lagniappe Series. This series consists of single disc issues that are given to Preferred Customers free of charge. Read More.