<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Caruso / Viennese/ 1912

Arias from La Traviata, Il Guarany, Carmen, Il Duca d'Alba, Le Cid, La Reine de Saba, Macbeth and La Boheme; Ingemisco from Verdi Requiem; other music by Szulc, Tosti, Pennino, Ciociano, Denza, Leoncavallo, Franck, Di Capua, Rotoli and Adam
Enrico Caruso, tenor; with Alma Gluck, Emmy Destinn and Frances Alda, sopranos; Mischa Elman, violinist; various orchestras and conductors
NAXOS 8.110750 (B) (ADD) TT: 78:14

Music of Johann Strauss II, von Suppé, Zeller, Millöcker, Kálmán, Ziehrer, Lehár, Heuberger, Dostal, and Stolz
Charles Kullmann, Jussi Bjoerling, Hjördis Schymberg, Elisabeth Schumann, Julius Patzak, Franz Völker, Marcel Wittrisch, Elsa Kochhann, Lillie Claus, Gitta Alpár, Herbert Ernst Groh, Richard Tauber, Dusolina Giannini, Joseph Schmidt, Richard Tauber, Anni Frind, Jarmila Novotna, and Hilde Gueden
NAXOS 8110292 (B) (ADD) TT: 61:48

The Phonographic Yearbook—1912 "Waitin' on the Levee"
ARCHIHONE ARCH 9003 (F) (ADD) TT: 66:56

Here are two more handsome collections from Naxos offering the collector superb recordings of the past beautifully remastered and at budget price. The Caruso CD is the 9th in their complete series of the famed Italian tenor's recordings and sounding better than ever. All recordings on this filled CD (78:14) were made 1914-1916. He is joined by soprano Alma Gluck in an excerpt from La Traviata, Frances Alda in two excerpts from Carmen, and Emmy Destinn in an except from the seldom-heard Il Guarany by Gomes. Of major interest is inclusion of one of the rarest of all Caruso recordings, the "coat" aria from Act IV of La Boheme. In 1913 when the bass De Segurola had a throat infection resulting in his voice being gone by the time of his big aria, Caruso sang it for him—and later recorded it not for public distribution but to give to a few select friends. As usual in this series, detailed recording dates and other information is included.

Viennese Operetta Gems is a treasure indeed. You'll hear twenty Viennese favorites sung by leading singers of the time including Julius Patzak, Richard Tauber, Franz Volker, Elisabeth Schumann, and Marcel Wittrisch recorded from 1927-1940. The latest is Hilde Gueden's excerpt from Lehar's Paganini which was recorded in 1949. The exquisite from Johann Strauss II's Gypsy Baron recorded in 1938 by Jussi Bjoerling and Hjördis Schymberg is sung in Swedish, the only non-Viennese element of this superb CD. Transfers and "Digital Restoration" were accomplished by Peter Dempsey, another expert in this field.

The Archiphone CD is rather like a history lesson. All of these acoustic recordings, made from 1911-1912, were very popular at the time. The 24-page CD booklet (English only) connects most of the songs with historic events. Much time is devoted to the sinking of the Titanic in April 14, 1912 and the fact that American popular music of the time was played on board as the ship sank after leaving Queenstown on its maiden voyage. Some passengers who were lucky to be in lifeboats reported they heard Alexander's Ragtime Band played just before the Titanic disappeared under the sea. Music on this CD includes performances by Al Jolson (Ragging the Baby to Sleep, Snap Your Fingers), Harry Macdonough (Down by the Old Mill Stream), Elsie Baker (I Love You Truly), Ada Jones and Billy Murray/Walter Van Brunt (Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee, I'm Afraid, Pretty Maid, I'm Afraid), Fred Van Eps (Red Pepper - A Spicy Rag). Harry Lauder (Roamin' in the Gloamin') and the American Quartet (Oh, You Beautiful Doll, Moonlight Bay, The Ragtime Violin, Everybody Two-Step). Opera stars are also represented: Enrico Caruso (Love is Mine), and Alma Gluck/Louise Homer (Whispering Hope). There's a description of each of the 24 tracks with informative related comments. Transfers throughout are superb. A touch of nostalgia indeed, one of many CDs on Archiphone, a label devoted to early American sound recordings—and does their task to perfection.

R.E.B. (August 2003)