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The Complete Recordings of Hina Spani

Hina Spani (1890*–1969) was born Higinia Tuñón in a province of Buenos Aires. She enjoyed a major operatic career centered in Italy during the 1920s and 1930s. Among the great sopranos of her era, Spani shines as brightly as any, yet her celebrity was less well known most likely due to her career being limited mainly to Italy, Spain, and South America, and her only tour to an English-speaking country was in Australia. She made her operatic debut at La Scala in 1915 as Anna in Catalani’s Loreley. She sang at Puccini’s funeral at the Duomo in Milan’s cathedral on 29 November 1924 (and repeated this performance at La Scala a month later) under the baton of Arturo Toscanini, which was a turning point in her career. She created the title role in the world premiere of Respighi’s Maria Egiziaca in 1934 at the Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires and performed in the world premiere of Alberto Franchetti’s Glauco. Spani’s voice is of first-rate quality and well-trained, with a beautifully warm tone and an even scale. She began as a lirico-spinto but graduated to dramatic parts and had a vibrant, instantly recognizable voice capable of thrilling the listener in opera or song. Although she was a true soprano, she had the fullness associated with mezzo-sopranos: she sang some roles often taken by mezzos, such as Marina in Boris Godunov and Santuzza in Cavalleria rusticana, and regretted never having portrayed Eboli in Don Carlos. She excelled in art songs but commanded no fewer than sixty operatic roles. After retiring from the operatic stage, she taught at the Vocal Art Institute of the Teatro Colón, which she directed.

Hina Spani’s entire recorded output can be found on fewer than twenty discs. Her musical conviction and sincerity linked with limited recordings have made Spani a favorite among record collectors. This complete two-CD set includes all of her recordings for Italian Columbia and HMV. The repertoire is almost evenly divided between operatic arias and Italian, Spanish, and Argentinian art songs. The booklet notes are by Michael Aspinall and Tully Potter.

*In true prima donna fashion, Spani took six years off her age and gave her birth year as 1896.

Luboshutz-Nemenoff

It wasn’t until the end of the 1920s that professional duo-piano teams became a regular part of the concert scene with the emergence of Bartlett and Robertson, followed by Vronsky and Babin a bit later, and finally, in 1936, Luboshutz and Nemenoff.

Pierre Luboshutz (1890–1971) and Genia Nemenoff (1905–1989) were husband and wife. Both were from musical families of Russian and Jewish heritage and both ultimately settled in New York by way of Germany and France. Pierre had established a fine reputation in Russia as a member of the Luboshutz Trio, comprised of Pierre and his two more famous sisters. He also became known as a successful accompanist who toured extensively with a variety of distinguished soloists. Genia, however, languished in the States: it was the Depression, her family was abroad, and musical opportunities were limited. Performing together was a wonderful solution, if not without risk: duo-piano teams were not featured on the concert circuit. Yet Pierre and Genia were not only undaunted, they were well-connected: Pierre had many important musician-colleagues and friends and Pierre’s sister Lea introduced the duo to her manager, the indomitable Sol Hurok, who was intrigued and on board. “Luboshutz & Nemenoff’s” success came quickly, but it was their talent and chemistry that left an enduring legacy.

Marston’s 4-CD set contains Luboshutz and Nemenoff’s RCA Victor recordings and selections from their LP discs: Mozart’s Sonata K. 448, Brahms’s Haydn Variations, Schumann’s Andante and Variations, Op. 46, Milhaud’s Scaramouche Suite, and many transcriptions and arrangements. Also included are live performances of Bach and Mozart concerti with Serge Koussevitzky and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, as well as Harl McDonald’s Two Piano Concerto with the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by the composer. Notes are written by Thomas Wolf, the grandson of Lea Luboshutz and the grandnephew of Pierre and Genia. Thomas’s recollections of the time spent with his great aunt and uncle provide a unique glimpse into the people who comprised one of the greatest of piano duos.

Herbert Janssen: Portrait of a Mastersinger

The recordings of the baritone Herbert Janssen (1892–1965) have continued to delight listeners, beginning with their first appearance in the 1920s up until the present, where contemporary critics often revere them as standards of distinguished singing. The very individualistic beauty of his voice has long been held in the highest esteem by connoisseurs of both operatic and Lieder singing. His perfect Italianate legato, his breath control, and the “long-bowed” phrasing of his vocal art were greatly praised by critics and audiences throughout his thirty-year career, first in continental Europe and at Covent Garden, and latterly in the Americas.

His musically rich and varied career in Europe ended abruptly in 1937 when his outspoken opposition to Hitler’s regime led to his pursuit by the Gestapo and eventual escape and exile. Until then, he had given highly praised performances, not only of the Wagnerian roles for which he is chiefly remembered today, but of Mozart, Gluck, a great deal of Verdi and other Italian and French operas, as well as of contemporary works and even Russian repertoire.

Janssen’s Lieder singing on record has left memorable interpretations of songs by Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, and Strauss which are still highly prized today.

The present collection includes all his surviving pre-war studio recordings of opera and operetta (except for the 1930 Columbia Tannhäuser); all of Janssen’s surviving 78 rpm Lieder recordings, including several previously unpublished items; and rare broadcast material that appears here together for the first time. The set includes liner notes by Iain Miller and Michael Aspinall, as well as a large selection of rare photos. As a portrait of one of the greatest baritones on records, this six-CD set of Herbert Janssen is the most complete yet to appear.

Marston Records

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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.