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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for the 1930 Columbia Tannhäuser); all of Janssen’s surviving 78 rpm Lieder recordings, including several previously unpublished items; and rare broadcast material that appears here together for the first time.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.

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.

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.

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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.