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Richard CROOKS (1900-1972)
Songs from Operettas, Musicals and Films

Victor HERBERT Neapolitan Love Song; All, Sweet Mystery of Life; I'm Falling in Love With Someone; When You're Away; One Alone
Sigmund ROMBERG Overhead the Moon is Beaming; I Bring a Love Song; You will Remember Vienna
Fred RATH - Mel SHAUER Red, Red Rose
Rudolf FRIMLBrian HOOKER Only a Rose.
Karl MILLÖCKER Without Your Love; If I am Dreaming
Robert STOLZ Just Two Hearts and a Waltz Refrain
Franz LEHÁR Yours is my Heart Alone
Paul LINCKE Adrian ROSS Castles in the Air
Oscar STRAUSS Adrian ROSS I Walked in the Blossoming Garden
Mischa SPOLIANSKY Frank EYTON Tell Me Tonight
Richard Crooks (tenor)
Frank La Forge (piano) with the Victor Studio Orchestra/Bourdon/Daly/Noble/Shilkret
Rec. New York, New Jersey, London 1924-1933
NAXOS NOSTALGIA 8.120639 [64.00]



The name Richard Crooks is that of a light lyrical tenor born in New Jersey of British parents. He rose to fame as a boy soprano performing in a local production of Elijah and by 14 was earning his own living. After military service he continued vocal studies with coach Frank La Forge (who trained Marian Anderson and Lawrence Tibbett). A specialist in oratorio he went on to sing with New York Symphony Orchestra under Damrosch (1922). This led to further engagements and being noticed by the Victor Record Company. He recorded for Victor in New York from 1923 to the mid-1930s. Opera engagements also grew and toured internationally until 1932. His Met debut came in 1933 as Des Grieux in Massenet's Manon. Remembered more for his appearances in Broadway musicals he became America's Richard Tauber. Alongside this he established himself as a regular radio singer and consequently has always been better known in America than in Europe.

With wide compass, his light tone is appealing and one can appreciate why he was so admired. Light vibrato coupled with good breath control allows a pleasing legato. At times I notice that his held notes are not always even. With clear consonants and no affectation Crooks has a good dynamic range and the strength to prevent any forced tops. Try tk.5 I'm Falling in Love from Naughty Marietta (1929) or tk.17 I Walked in the Blossoming Garden from A Waltz Dream (1933) to appreciate the warm tone and delicate delivery of this singer.

The contents of this CD bring back a number of lost favourites from musicals, like The Only Girl and Naughty Marietta (Herbert), The Dubarry (Millöcker), Vagabond King (Romberg) Frau Luna (Lincke-Ross) and Viennese Nights (Romberg).

Of the transfers, these have been excellently carried out by Peter Dempsey with the total elimination of background noise apart from track 2 which is the earliest recording (1924, Red, Red Rose). Victor have always carried a reputation for the clarity of their recordings, but the difference between their 1924 and 1928 recordings, as judged from this anthology, is marked. The use of filters has not veiled the treble frequencies in any discernible way.

The notes (in English only) on the songs are brief, but the background on Crooks is good and well worth reading. Tauber, Tibbett and Whiteman feature in the same series.

Raymond Walker

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