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The Edison Legacy - Volume 2: Unpublished Treasures of the Edison Archive
Full track-listing below
MARSTON 53014-2 [3 CDs: 78:00 + 75:35 + 78:55]

This is the second volume in a continuing series that is historically valuable, indeed remarkable.
 
The first release was in 2009 (see review) and it contained two CDs. This latest entrant goes one better in that respect and offers getting on for four hours of previously unpublished recordings on three full CDs.
 
The story of the retention, archiving and eventual disinterring of these Edison recordings has been told before. The inventor’s laboratory and home has been a historic park since 1956. The contents of the music archive has, however, only very much more recently been investigated. Fortunately those responsible for its upkeep and preservation are generous-minded and thus it is that Marston has been allowed access and the opportunity to transfer these precious recordings to CD from the 12-inch wax masters, many of them precisely dated.
 
The recordings have been well pitched, and Marston has taken a minimal approach to digital processing, taking off some of the high surface noise but not invariably being able wholly to eradicate the mid-range hum that is present in some of the masters.
 
The recordings were made between 1910 and 1912 in London and Paris and a few in New York. The singers are presented alphabetically throughout the three CDs and there are sumptuously reproduced photographs and biographies included in the booklet. This is especially valuable in the case of those singers whose reputations have remained local or, indeed, exiguous.
 
The singers include Adelina Agostinelli, unsuccessful at Covent Garden, but showing a fine lyric voice in the Italian repertoire, albeit too oscillating perhaps on held notes. Carlo Albani reveals a bleaty tenor in his Gounod extract, and is eclipsed by baritone Oreste Benedetti, much admired by Titto Ruffo, who only made one issued recording - and a duet at that. His dramatic impersonation was captured six years before his death. Celestina Boninsegna sounds considerably older than her 34 years in her Verdi extracts, but she was known as a specialist so it’s intriguing to hear her. Her characterisation sounds, on this evidence, generic and there are registral breaks in her voice. Nevertheless, she is an important singer.
 
There is only one other example of tenor Italo Cristalli on disc and he reveals some fearsome vowel sounds and an arresting roll of the consonants. He is certainly cavalier over rhythm but provides a rich vocal performance in Carmen. His Lohengrin is effortful and unidiomatic. Eleonore de Cisneros (born plain Eleonore Broadfoot in NYC) is efficient but characterless in Donizetti’s La Favorita. It’s no wonder that Marie Delna and Toscanini fell out, given her rhythmic waywardness in Gluck’s Orfeo.
 
Almost all of the singers have something to tell us about teaching practices in the later nineteenth century and about consequent voice production in the first quarter of the twentieth. One would like to encounter more often a voice such as that possessed by the bass Andrés de Segurola. It’s a shame that Maria Galvany is saddled with the indifferent tenor Umberto Macnez for her Sonnambula extract, but she’s fortunately heard solo in lighter material, not least L’incantatrice, of which she did leave a studio recording for another company; the technical virtuosity of this canary-bird offering is remarkable, if tiring. Heinrich Hensel was a noted Wagnerian and he, most appropriately, essays Götterdämmerung in March 1911; he’s an excellent, forward-thinking ‘modern’ singer. Giuseppe Kaschmann has just the right kind of legato for Meyerbeer and Verdi, but unfortunately he also has an obtrusive vibrato as well. There’s a crowded studio for three singers in a Trovatore extract: Paola Koralek, Carlo Albani and Oreste Benedetti and there’s a contingent from the chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, on hand to support Koralek and Pompilio Malatesta in Gounod’s Faust.
 
The third disc has four passable Macnez tracks. A much more popular singer was Marie Rappold who recorded widely. She’s represented by four pieces. She lacks languor and legato in her Wagner but her Aida, though wanting in tonal variety, is a bit better. The sonorous baritone Domenico Viglione-Borghese declaims the Prologue from Pagliacci quite impressively. Then there is a final long sequence of six extracts devoted to the soprano Carolina White. The purity of her top notes is a tonic, but it’s a pity her discs were made in Paris as the London-made sides are more immediate and capture the voices in greater breadth.
 
Such an outstanding historic retrieval will be of major interest to vocal collectors, who will be heartened to know that volume three is in preparation.
 
Jonathan Woolf  
 
Track-listing 
CD 1
 
ADELINA AGOSTINELLI [soprano]
1. DON CARLO: Tu che le vanità conoscesti del mondo (Verdi) 7:02
15 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 534-A
2. AIDA: O patria mia (Verdi) 5:47
15 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 533-A
3. IRIS: Ho fatto un triste sogno (Mascagni) 5:47
June 1912; London, unpublished wax master 1140-A
4. FAUST: Or via, non ci pensiam … Ah! È strano poter [Jewel song] (Gounod) 6:55
10 June 1912†; London, unpublished wax master 1147-A
CARLO ALBANI [tenor]
5. FAUST: Qual turbamento in cor mi sento … Salve! Dimora casta e pura (Gounod) 6:07
4 July 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 757-B
ORESTE BENEDETTI [baritone]
6. UN BALLO IN MASCHERA: Alzati, là tuo figlio … Eri tu, che macchiavi (Verdi) 6:26
30 June 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 754-A
CELESTINA BONINSEGNA [soprano]
7. IL TROVATORE: Tacea la notte placida (Verdi) 4:02
11 April 1911; London, (ten-inch matrix 632-B) published briefly as 82035
8. LA FORZA DEL DESTINO: Pace! Pace mio dio (Verdi) 6:01
April 1911; London, unpublished diamond disc test pressing 620-B
9. AIDA: Ritorna vincitor (Verdi) 5:44
4 April 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 619-B
ITALO CRISTALLI [tenor]
10. CARMEN: Il fior che avevi a me [Flower song] (Bizet) 4:05
1 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 424-A
11. LOHENGRIN: Da voi lontan (In fernem Land) (Wagner) 5:12
3 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 429-A
ELEONORA DE CISNEROS [mezzo-soprano]
12. LA FAVORITA: O mio Fernando (Donizetti) 5:22
11 April 1911; New York, unpublished wax master 606-A
MARIE DELNA [contralto]
13. ORFEO ED EURIDICE: Che farò senza Euridice (Gluck) 4:08
19 March 1910; New York, unpublished diamond disc test pressing 118-B
14. LES TROYENS À CARTHAGE: Chers Tyriens (Berlioz) 5:22
4 June 1912†; London, unpublished wax master 1143-B
 
CD 2
 
MARIE DELNA [contralto] (continued)
1. SAMSON ET DALILA: Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voix (Saint-Saëns) 6:14
5 June 1912†; London, unpublished wax master 1141-B
2. WERTHER: Werther! Werther! Qui m’aurait dit la place [Letter scene] (Massenet) 6:40
5 June 1912†; London, unpublished wax master 1142-A
ANDRÉS DE SEGUROLA [bass]
3. IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA: La calunnia (Rossini) 5:21
October 1910√; London, unpublished wax master 362-A
4. LA SONNAMBULA: Vi ravviso, o luoghi ameni (Bellini) 4:17
October 1910√; London, unpublished wax master 358-B
MARIA GALVANY [soprano]
5. LA SONNAMBULA: Son geloso del’zeffiro errante (Bellini) 5:52
with Umberto Macnez, tenor26 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 402-B
6. Aria e variazione, op. 64 (Proch) 4:06
20 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 398-A
7. L’ incantatrice (Arditi) 4:41
21 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 410-A
HEINRICH HENSEL [tenor]
8. GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG: Mime heiss ein mürrischer Zwerg (Wagner) 6:50
28 March 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 623-B
GIUSEPPE KASCHMANN [baritone]
9. DINORAH: In questo loco ... Sei vendicata assai (Meyerbeer) 5:46
2 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 428-A
10. OTELLO: Credo in un Dio crudel (Verdi) 4:40
31 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 423-A
11. Extase (Hector Salomon) 4:54
2 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 426-BNote: The Edison documentation has composer as “Wieniawski”
PAOLA KORALEK [soprano]
12. IL TROVATORE: Infida, qual voce alto! (Verdi) 4:35
with Carlo Albani, tenor and Oreste Benedetti, baritone5 July 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 761-B
13. AIDA: Pur ti reveggo (Verdi) 5:18
with Carlo Albani, tenor4 July 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 759-B
14. FAUST: Signor, concesso sia all’umil vostr’ancella [Church scene] (Gounod) 6:22
with Pompilio Malatesta, bass and chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden7 July 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 765-B
 
CD 3
UMBERTO MACNEZ [tenor]
1. IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA: Ecco ridente in cielo (Rossini) 5:09
31 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 422-A
2. MARTHA: M’appari (Flotow) 3:51
3 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 432-A
3. LES PÊCHEURS DES PEARLES: Mi par d’udir ancora (Bizet) 4:35
31 October 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 421-A
4. L’AMICO FRITZ: Ed anche Beppo amò … O amore, o belle luce (Mascagni) 4:00
3 November 1910†; London, unpublished wax master 430-B
MARIE RAPPOLD [soprano]
5. LOHENGRIN: Einsam in trüben Tagen (Wagner) 4:50
July 1910√; Paris, unpublished wax master 195-C
6. TANNHAÜSER: All’mächt’ge Jungfrau (Wagner) 5:34
July 1910√; Paris, unpublished wax master 204-A
7. AIDA: Ritorna vincitor (Verdi) 6:05
July 1910√; Paris, unpublished wax master 205-A
8. OTELLO: Già nella notte densa (Verdi) 5:42
with Leo Slezak, tenor7 April 1911†; London, unpublished wax master 607-A
Note: The final minutes of this duet were recorded on a ten-inch master, which no longer exists.
DOMENICO VIGLIONE-BORGHESE [baritone]
9. PAGLIACCI: Si può? [Prologo] (Leoncavallo) 5:16
12 June 1912; London, unpublished wax master 1145-A
CAROLINA WHITE [soprano]
10. AIDA: Ritorna vincitor (Verdi) 6:31 
18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished wax master 239-B
11. AIDA: Fu la sorte (Verdi) 6:37
with Eleonora De Cisneros, mezzo-soprano 18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished diamond disc test pressing of master 182-A
12. HÉRODIADE: Sul mio sen la nutrice ahimè! … Egli e bel come il ciel (Phanuel, sans cesse je cherche ma mère ... (Massenet) 6:32
18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished wax master 269-A
13. MEFISTOFELE: L’altra notte in fondo al mare (Boito) 5:56
18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished wax master 222-B
14. CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA: Voi lo sapete o mama (Mascagni) 3:41
18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished wax master 221-A
15. MADAMA BUTTERFLY: Un bel di vedremo (Puccini) 4:37
18-22 July 1910; Paris, unpublished diamond disc test pressing of master 220-A
 
CD 1: Accompaniment: All tracks accompanied by orchestra Languages: Italian [1-13]; French [14]
CD 2: Accompaniment: All tracks accompanied by orchestra Languages: French [1-2, 11]; Italian [3-7, 9-10, 12-14]; German [8]
CD 3: Accompaniment: All tracks accompanied by orchestra Languages: Italian [1-4, 7-15]; German [5-6] 
All discs in this collection are twelve-inch recordings except for Celestina Boninsegna’s published ten-inch disc, CD 1, track 7 

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