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John McCormack: A Patrician Artist

This deluxe 16-CD set contains John McCormack’s complete electrically recorded output of 243 sides, 1925-1942, plus all extant alternative takes as well as 2 CDs of his surviving radio broadcasts. Each disc was newly transferred by Ward Marston from original sources. The set contains a comprehensive booklet of essays and notes on the recordings by the leading authorities on John McCormack: Gordon Ledbetter, author of two books on the tenor, and Michael Aspinall, the world’s acknowledged expert on the art of bel canto, of which McCormack was one of the greatest exponents. The final two CDs in the set comprises new restorations of all 57 of McCormack’s earliest recordings, made on cylinder and disc in 1904, following his victory in the Dublin Feis Ceoil national singing competition in 1903. These fascinating, if primitive, vocal documents allow us to hear the artist before his sojourn in Italy in 1905, when he trained under Maestro Sabatini.

Sidney Foster: Rediscovering an American Master

Sidney Foster, 1917-1977, was undoubtedly one of the greatest pianists of his time, but he is all but unknown today, and made almost no commercial recordings. In 1993, the International Piano Archives at the University of Maryland issued a two-CD set of Foster performances taken from live concerts. This year Marston is celebrating Foster’s centenary by issuing a seven-CD set of solo and concerto performances from live concerts, never before issued. Foster’s breath-taking virtuosity, the volcanic intensity he was capable of unleashing, and his beautiful sound, are immediately apparent, but it is his gift of supreme music-making that places him solidly in the top rank of twentieth century pianists. A line from Harold C. Schonberg’s review for the New York Times of an October 1963 Carnegie Hall Recital offers valuable insight into Foster’s artistry: “He is everything the connoisseurs claim he is: an interesting original pianist, the master of tonal shading, and an artist.”

In 1938 Foster won the MacDowell Competition and in 1940 the first Edgar M. Leventritt Prize. His Leventritt award led to his debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1941, playing Beethoven’s C Minor Concerto under John Barbirolli, for which Foster composed his own first movement cadenza for the performance. Fortunately, this performance was recorded off the air and we are pleased to be able to include it in our compilation. From 1952 until his death, Sidney Foster was a tenured professor at Indiana University. This seven-CD set contains carefully chosen performances recorded during this time, from 1952 to 1973.

Feodor Chaliapin: The Complete Recordings

Feodor Chaliapin (1873-1938) (bass) was in the opinion of many the greatest singing actor of the 20th century. Like Enrico Caruso, the name Chaliapin continued to be a household word long after his death. A case in point is that the Sobranie tobacco company continued to market their “Chaliapin” cigarettes into the 1970s. Producing a Chaliapin set has long been a desire of Marston, yet due to the size of the compilation, the production costs, and the time involved, this project has been pushed to the back burner time and time again. With the financial assistance of some of our generous supporters, we have finally released a thirteen-CD set containing every known recording of Feodor Chaliapin numbering well into the two hundreds. This set contains a substantial number of previously unpublished alternative takes, as well as all extant sides from the live performances at Covent Garden and the Royal Albert Hall that were recorded by His Master's Voice in 1926 through 1928. The booklet accompanying the set includes essays on Chaliapin and his records by Michael Scott and Michael Aspinall, and a reprint of an essay by the great accompanist, Ivor Newton.

Rachmaninoff Plays Symphonic Dances

At an impromptu gathering in 1940, Sergei Rachmaninoff demonstrated at the piano just how he wanted his new orchestral work, Symphonic Dances, to be performed. Rachmaninoff, one of the greatest of all pianists, reduced the orchestral score for a single piano on this occasion. That recording is presented here in two versions: first, edited to conform to the score and again, just as the occasion unfolded, as Rachmaninoff jumped from place to place as he demonstrated. Other performers include pianist Benno Moiseiwitsch, mezzo soprano Nadezhda Plevitskaya, and conductors Adrian Boult, Dmitri Mitropoulos, Eugene Ormandy, and Leopold Stokowski. These are complemented by every known non-commercial recording of Rachmaninoff, accompanied by a detailed essay concerning Rachmaninoff, the Symphonic Dances, and these recordings written especially for this issue by Richard Taruskin, author of the Oxford History of Western Music.

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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.