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The Complete Celestina Boninsegna

The Complete Celestina Boninsegna

55003-2 (5 CDs) | $ 72.00
VOCAL

Celestina Boninsegna (1877–1947) was one of the most prolifically-recorded sopranos of the early twentieth century. Yet it was not her stage career which convinced recording executives to produce her records, but her “phonogenic” voice that created the demand. Boninsegna’s recordings are stunning, making her one of the most collectible sopranos of her time. She managed to overcome the limitations of the acoustic recording studio and leave us records that have some of the presence of live recordings from the stage. According to Fred Gaisberg, the impresario for the Gramophone Company, Boninsegna’s “voice was so smooth and velvety and of such even registers that recording was no effort; the results obtained were always thoroughly musical and therefore gave intense pleasure. Those harsh places expected in any record by a dramatic soprano were conspicuous by their absence.”

Over the past fifty years there have been no comprehensive LP or CD reissues of Boninsegna’s records. We now pay homage to Boninsegna by reissuing all of her recordings in this five-CD set, which includes several extremely rare photos, complete discographic information, and an informative essay by Michael Aspinall on her career and recordings.

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.

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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.