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The Record of Singing, 1899-1952: The Very Best of Vols. 1-4 Box set

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Editorial Reviews

EMI Classics is proud to present two 10-CD boxed sets of The Record of Singing. The first release covers the earliest vocal recordings from 1899 through 1952 (when the era of the 78 rpm shellac record effectively ended), and the second set is from 1953 to 2007 (the introduction of the vinyl LP through the digital era and the CD). Together these 20 CDs offer a breath-taking overview of the past century of classical vocal music.

The recordings from the first box are all taken from the beloved original four volumes of The Record of Singing, issued by EMI on LP between 1977 and 1989 (all tracks have been re-processed at Abbey Road Studios to improve the sound). Divided under headings such as "The Old School," "English-Speaking Singers," "The Emergence of Verismo," among others, the set begins with recordings of enormous historical importance that preserve the art of a number of singers from the so-called "golden age" at the end of the 19th century whose careers largely predated the beginning of sound recording, including Adelina Patti, Lilli Lehmann, Sir Charles Santley, Victor Maurel, Édouard de Reske, and Francesco Tamagno. Then comes a generation of stars whose careers ran parallel to the development of the gramophone, foremost among them being Enrico Caruso and Dame Nellie Melba. The selection of artists includes the great names of the past whose records were found in the collections of all discerning music lovers: Beniamino Gigli, Amelita Galli-Curci, Luisa Tetrazzini, Giovanni Martinelli, Tito Schipa, Jussi Björling, Lotte Lehmann, Lauritz Melchior, and literally hundreds of others.

Because each singer appears only once, these sets allow the listener to compare and evaluate the voices and singing styles of the whole of the 20th century, as well as marvel at the development of sound recording through the years, from the primitive sounds of the earliest shellac discs through the introduction of electrical recording in 1925, the arrival of tape recording in 1949, the introduction of stereo in 1955, right up to the sophisticated refinement of today's digital technology. A must-have for fans of vocal music!

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Ave Maria, for voice & piano (after Bach's Prelude No. 1 from the Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1)
  2. La sonnambula, opera: Act 3. Ah! non credea
  3. L'Été ('Ah! Chantez, chantez!'), for voice & piano
  4. Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), opera, K. 492: Act 3. Sull'aria... Che soave zeffiretto
  5. Les anges pleurent (The Angels Weep), song
  6. Manon Lescaut, opera: Act 1. C'est l'histoire amoureuse
  7. Im mai, song for voice & piano
  8. Hunyadi László, opera: Ah rebéges, a mi vadúl
  9. Mattinata for voice & piano/orchestra
  10. Orphée et Eurydice (French version), opera in 3 acts, Wq. 41: Away with mourning and crying
  11. Simon the Cellarer
  12. Ich grolle nicht, song for voice & piano (Dichterliebe), Op. 48/7
  13. La chanson de Fortunio, operetta in 1 act: Sérénade
  14. Otello, opera: Act 2. Era la notte
  15. Per valli, per boschi
  16. Embarquez-vous?
  17. Martha, opera: Act 3. Chi mi dira (The Porter's Song)
  18. Carmen, opera: Act 1. Habanera. L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
  19. Aida, opera: Act 1. Les mots sacrés
  20. Le jongleur de Notre-Dame, opera in 3 acts: Liberté!
  21. Amour, Amour, for voice & piano
  22. L'elisir d'amore, opera: Act 1. Come Paride vezzoso
  23. Adriana Lecouvreur, opera: Act 1. Bene! Benissimo!
  24. L'elisir d'amore, opera: Act 1. Udite! Udite!
  25. I due Foscari, opera: Act 3. Questa dunque
  26. Hamlet, opera in 5 acts: Act 2. O vin, discaccia la tristezza

Disc: 2

  1. Luna, Lù!
  2. Paride ed Elena, opera in 5 acts, Wq. 39: Act 1. Spiagge amate
  3. Otello, opera: Act 4. Niun mi tema
  4. Andrea Chénier, opera: Act 1. Colpito qui m'avete... Un dì all'azzurro spazio
  5. L'elisir d'amore, opera: Act 2. Una furtiva lagrima
  6. Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades), opera, Op. 68: Act 3. It is midnight
  7. Olga: La via, o Dio... E lo sapevi
  8. Cavalleria rusticana, opera (melodramma) in 1 act: Voi lo sapete, o mamma
  9. La bohème, opera: Act 1. Mimì Pinson
  10. Mireille, opera: O d'amor messagera
  11. La Dame Blanche, opera: Act 2. Ce domaine
  12. Lucia di Lammermoor, opera: Act 1. In tiefem Schweigen
  13. Rigoletto, opera: Act 1. Caro nome
  14. Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527: Act 1. Or sai chi l'onore
  15. Oberon, opera, J. 306: Act 2. Ozean, du Ungeheuer!
  16. Don Giovanni, opera, K. 527: Act 2. In quali eccessi... Mi tradì
  17. Dalibor, opera, JB 1:101: Act 2. Jac je mi
  18. Leggero Invisibile, for voice & orchestra
  19. Dalibor, opera, JB 1:101: Act 1. Blickst du, mein Freund
  20. Die Königin von Saba, opera, Op. 27: Act 2. Magische Töne
  21. Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), opera, WWV 86b: Act 3. Leb wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind
  22. Le Coq d'Or (The Golden Cockerel; Zolotoy petushok), opera in 3 acts with a prologue & epilogue: Act 2. Hymn to the Sun
  23. The Oprichnik, opera: I swear before God and thee
  24. Dobrinya Nikitich, opera, Op. 22: Flowers were blooming

Disc: 3

  1. Iolanta, opera, Op. 69: My Lord, if I offend
  2. Robert le diable, grand opera in 5 acts: Act 3. Le rovine... Suore, che riposate
  3. O give me oblivion
  4. L' Africaine, grand opera in 5 acts: Act 4. Pays merveilleux... Ô paradis
  5. La Coup du Roi de Thulé, opera in 3 acts (surviving score incomplete): Il est venu ce jour de lutte
  6. La reine de Saba, opera: Act 1. Sous les pieds
  7. Monna Vanna, opera: Ce n'est pas un vieillard
  8. Louise, opera: Act 3. Depuis le jour
  9. Antar, opera: Air de l'Oasis
  10. Variations du Carneval de Venise, for voice & orchestra
  11. Adriana Lecouvreur, opera: Act 1. Del sultano Amuratte... Io son l'umile ancella
  12. Manon, opera in 5 acts: Act 3. Ah, mi rendi il tuo cor... La tua mano non è
  13. Isabeau, opera (leggenda drammatica) in 3 acts: Questo mio bianco manto
  14. La sonnambula, opera: Act 1. A te diletta... Come per me sereno... Sovra il sen
  15. La perla de Triana, song for voice & orchestra
  16. Il segreto di Susanna, opera: O gioia la nube
  17. Mefistofele, opera in prologue, 4 acts & epilogue: Act 1. Dai campi, dai prati
  18. I Puritani, opera: Act 3. Vieni fra queste braccia
  19. Carmen, opera: Act 2. Il fior che avevi a me tu dato
  20. Andrea Chénier, opera: Act 1. Un dì all'azzurro spazio

Disc: 4

  1. Ernani, opera: Act 1. Mercé, diletti amici... Come rugiada al cespite
  2. La favorita, opera: Act 3. A tanto amor
  3. Germania, opera: Orsù, finiam... Ascolta, io morirò!
  4. Loreley, opera (azione romantica) in 3 acts: Ah! dunque ei m'amerà
  5. Canzonette, for voice & piano, WoO ('War schöner als der schönste Tag')
  6. Chanson triste ('Dans ton coeur...'), song for voice & piano (or orchestra), Op. 2/4
  7. L'éclair, opera: Call me thine own
  8. Ernani, opera: Act 1. Surta è la notte... Ernani, Ernani, involami
  9. Gianni Schicchi, opera: O mio babbino caro
  10. La bohème, opera: Act 1. Che gelida manina
  11. Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still
  12. Silvana, opera, J. 87: Act 1. So soll denn dieses Herz
  13. Queen of the Earth, song for voice & piano
  14. Morning Hymn, Op 46/1
  15. Before my window, song for voice & piano, Op. 26/10
  16. Il Pompeo, opera: O cessate di piagarmi
  17. Israel in Egypt, oratorio, HWV 54: The Lord is a man of war
  18. Fidelio, opera, Op. 72: Act 1. Abscheulicher!... Komm, Hoffnung
  19. Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), opera, WWV 86b: Act 2. Hojotoho!
  20. Oberon, opera, J. 306: Act 2. Ozean, du Ungeheuer

Disc: 5

  1. Mignon, opera in 3 acts: Act 2. Dort bei ihm ist sie jetzt
  2. Rigoletto, opera: Act 1. Teurer Name
  3. Ariadne auf Naxos, opera, Op. 60-II (TrV 228a) (revised version): Es gibt ein Reich
  4. Wiegenlied ('Träume, träume, du mein süsses Leben'), song for voice & piano (or orchestra), Op. 41/1 (TrV 195/1)
  5. Muss es eine Trennung geben, song for voice & piano (Die schöne Magelone), Op. 33/12
  6. Fidelio, opera, Op. 72: Act 1. Hat man nicht auch Gold beineben
  7. Eugene Onegin, opera, Op. 24: Act 3. Ein jeder kennt
  8. Idomeneo, rè di Creta, opera, K. 366: Act 2. Noch tönt mir ein Meer im Busen
  9. Tannhäuser, opera, WWV 70: Act 1. Dir töne Lob
  10. Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), opera, WWV 86b: Act 1. Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond
  11. Königsballade, ballade for voice & piano ('Euren König')
  12. Die Fledermaus (The Bat), operetta (RV 503): Act 2. Dieser Anstand
  13. Der Evangelimann, opera, Op. 45: Act 2. Selig sind
  14. Die tote Stadt (The Dead City), opera, Op. 12: Act 1. Glück, das mir verblieb
  15. Der Wachtelschlag, song for voice & piano ('Ach, mir schallt's dorten'), WoO 129
  16. Hänsel und Gretel, opera: Act 1. Ra-la-la-la... Ach, wir armen
  17. Das Nachtlager von Granada, opera: Act 1. Ein Schütz bin ich
  18. Die Stadt ('Am fernen Horizonte'), song for voice & piano (Schwanengesang), D. 957/11
  19. Elijah (Elias), oratorio, Op. 70: Herr Gott Abrahams
  20. Le prophète, grand opera in 5 acts: Act 5. Ô prêtres de Baal

Disc: 6

  1. Marienlied, for voice & piano (or orchestra)
  2. The Tsar's Bride (Tsarskaya nevesta), opera in 4 acts: Act 2. In Novgorod
  3. Weine du nicht, for voice, oboe & harpsichord
  4. Arabella, opera, Op. 79 (TrV 263): Act 1. Nacht dem Matteo?
  5. La bohème, opera: Act 1. Man nennt mich jetzt nur Mimì
  6. L' Africaine, grand opera in 5 acts: Act 1. Leb wohl, freundliches Gestade
  7. Der Rosenkavalier, opera, Op. 59 (TrV 227): Act 1. Oh, sei Er gut, Quinquin
  8. Waldeinsamkeit (Solitude in the Woods: 'Gestern abend in der stillen Ruh' '), song for voice & piano, Op. 76/3
  9. Siegfried, opera, WWV 86c: Act 3. Ewig war ich
  10. Zingari in Fiera, opera: Chi vuol la zingarella
  11. I Lombardi alla prima Crociata, opera: Act 1. Te, vergin santa
  12. La forza del destino, opera: Act 4. Pace, pace mio Dio
  13. Siberia, opera: Act 3. Qual vergogna
  14. La fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West), opera: Act 1. L'amore è un'altra cosa... Laggiù nel Solidad
  15. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act 2. Con onor muore
  16. Manon Lescaut, opera: Act 2. In quelle trine morbide
  17. Il Guarany, opera: Act 2. Gentile di cuore
  18. Maori Lullaby for voice & orchestra
  19. Rigoletto, opera: Act 1. Gualtier Maldé... Caro nome
  20. Requiem Mass, for soloists, chorus & orchestra (Manzoni Requiem): Confutatis maledictis
  21. Crispino e la Comare, opera: Fermola!... Dapprima, figuratevi
  22. Falstaff, opera: Act 1. L'onore! Ladri!

Disc: 7

  1. Zazà, opera: Act 2. Buono Zazà
  2. Do Not Go, My Love, for voice & piano (or orchestra)
  3. Werther, lyric drama in 4 acts: Act 3. Tradure... Ah! non mi ridestar
  4. Manon Lescaut, opera: Act 1. Donna non vidi mai
  5. Aprile for voice & piano (or orchestra)
  6. Manon Lescaut, opera: Act 3. Che avvien?... Ah, non m'avvicinate
  7. Adriana Lecouvreur, opera: Act 1. La dolcissima effigie
  8. Le Rossignol, song for voice & piano
  9. Les berceaux, song for voice & piano in B flat minor, Op. 23/1
  10. Une jeune fille parle, song for voice & piano
  11. Sigurd, opera: Act 2. Le bruit des chants... Esprits, gardiens de ces lieux vénérés
  12. La Damnation de Faust, for mezzo-soprano, tenor, baritone, bass, chorus and orchestra, ('légende dramatique') H. 111 (Op. 24): Scene
  13. Aurore, song for voice & piano in G major, Op. 39/1
  14. La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, operetta in 3 acts: Act 2. Dites-lui
  15. La boulangère a des écus, operetta in 3 acts: Les Charbonniers et les Fariniers / Que voulez-vous fair?
  16. Falstaff, opera: Act 2. È sogno, o realtà
  17. Hamlet, opera in 5 acts: Act 2. Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse
  18. Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville), opera: Act 1. I'm the factotum
  19. Hamlet, opera in 5 acts: Act 5. Comme une pâle fleur
  20. Onaway, Awake Beloved for voice & piano
  21. Les contes d'Hoffmann, opera in 4 acts: Act 3. Ha, wie in meiner Seele
  22. La Jolie Fille de Perth, opera in 4 acts: Act 2. She is there... Hear the voice of one who adores thee
  23. Tosca, opera: Act 1. Wie sich die Bilder gleichen
  24. The Lost Chord, song for voice & piano
  25. Der Tod und das Mädchen ('Vorüber, ach vorüber'), song for voice & piano, D. 531 (Op. 7/3)

Disc: 8

  1. Psyché for voice & piano
  2. Theodora, oratorio, HWV 68: Angels ever bright and fair
  3. Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly), opera: Act 2. One fine day
  4. Sigurd, opera: Act 4. O palais radieux!
  5. Turandot, opera: Act 2. In questa reggia
  6. Stabat mater for 2 sopranos, tenor, bass, chorus & orchestra: Inflammatus
  7. Rusalka, opera: Act 3. My hair is golden
  8. Kolybel'naia (Lullaby), for voice & piano, Op. 1/5
  9. Salvator Rosa, opera: Act 3. Di sposo, di padre
  10. La Rondine (The Swallow), opera: Act 1. Chi il bel sogno di Doretta
  11. Louise, opera: Act 3. Depuis le jour
  12. Lohengrin, opera, WWV 75: Act 1. Einsam in trüben Tagen
  13. Carmen, opera: Act 1. Quand je vous aimerai?... L'amour est un oiseau rebelle
  14. Mass in B minor, for soloists, chorus & orchestra, BWV 232 (BC E1): Excerpt
  15. Le roi s'en va-t'en chasse (The King Is Gone a-Hunting), folk song
  16. Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life, song for voice & orchestra (from 'Naughty Marietta')
  17. La Gioconda, opera in 4 acts: Act 2. Cielo e mar!
  18. Hérodiade, opera in 4 acts: Act 2. Ce breuvage... Vision fugitive
  19. Boris Godunov, opera: Act 2. I have attained the highest power

Disc: 9

  1. Scipione (Publio Cornelio Scipione), opera, HWV 20: From the rage of the tempest... Hear me, ye winds
  2. Chanson provençale, for voice & orchestra
  3. Le rossignol des lilas, for voice & piano (from 'Melodies, Book II')
  4. Stornellatrice, song for soprano & piano, P. 69 (from opera 'Re Enzo')
  5. Amor Amaro, for voice & vielle
  6. La Vivandière, opera: Act 1. Viens avec nous
  7. Sensation / L'Amoureuse / Les pas / Capital de la douleur, medley for voice & piano: Sensation
  8. Fidelio, opera, Op. 72: Act 1. O wär' ich schon
  9. Elfenlied ('Bei Nacht im Dorf der Wächter reif'), song for voice & piano (Mörike Lieder)
  10. Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades), opera, Op. 68: Act 3. Es geht auf Mitternacht
  11. Aida, opera: Act 1. Ritorna vincitor!
  12. Arabella, opera, Op. 79 (TrV 263): Act 3. Das war sehr gut
  13. The Consul, opera: Act 3. Mein Kind ist tot
  14. Der Müller und der Bach ('Wo ein treues Herze'), song for voice & piano (Die schöne Müllerin), D. 795/19 (Op. 25/19)
  15. Liederkreis, 12 songs for voice & piano, Op. 39: No. 5. Mondnacht
  16. Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), opera, K. 620: Act 1. Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja
  17. Fidelio, opera, Op. 72: Act 1. Ha! welch ein Augenblick!
  18. Flow, my tears, fall from your springs, for 2 voices & lute (Second Book of Songs)
  19. Khovanshchina, opera in 5 acts, edited by Rimsky-Korsakov: Act 2. Mysterious powers
  20. La Périchole, operetta in 2 acts: Act 1. Ah! quel diner
  21. Dalibor, opera, JB 1:101: Act 3. Ah, whose is the spell?
  22. The Sleeping Princess (Spyashchaya knyazhna), song for voice & piano

Disc: 10

  1. L'elisir d'amore, opera: Act 2. Una furtiva lagrima
  2. Mignon, opera in 3 acts: Act 2. Addio, Mignon
  3. Dicitencello vuje, for voice & piano (or orchestra)
  4. Otello, opera: Act 1. Esultate!
  5. La favorita, opera: Act 3. Leonora!... A tanto amor
  6. Tosca, opera: Act 1. Tre sbirri, una carozza
  7. Don Carlo, opera: Act 4. O Carlo, ascolta
  8. A Life for the Tsar (Ivan Susanin; Zhizn' za tsarya), opera, G. xii: Act 4. They guess the truth
  9. Boris Godunov, opera: Act 2. I have attained the highest power
  10. Werther, lyric drama in 4 acts: Act 3. Mi scrivo qui
  11. Il Trovatore, opera: Act 2. Condotta ell'era in ceppi
  12. Samson et Dalila, opera in 3 acts, Op. 47: Act 1. La notte cadente
  13. Les Pêcheurs de perles, opera in 3 acts: Act 1. Siccome un dì caduto il sole
  14. I Capuleti e i Montecchi, opera: Act 1. O quante volte
  15. Su venite e consiglio, song for voice & piano (attrib. Scarlatti)
  16. Don Carlo, opera: Act 4. Tu che le vanità
  17. Il Trovatore, opera: Act 4. Vanne!... D'amor sull'ali rosee


Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 10, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 10
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: EMI Classics
  • ASIN: B001PPLJAE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,243 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
It is better to clear up the confusing situation a bit. In LP era, EMI released 4 separate LP collections Record of Singing vols 1-4 (13 LPs, 8 LPs vol 4 = total 47 LPs). These boxes are in time order, vol 1 covering earliest recordings, from 1899-, vol 4 ending in 1952. Complete vol 3 (1926-1939) has seen CD format (Emi & Testament) and Emi has released also complete vol 4. In 2009 Emi has released in CD format highlights of vols 1-4 (in 10 cds) and made a new vol 5 only in CD format. This last volume covers period 1953-2007, singers ranging from Tito Gobbi to Rolando Villazón.

Thus cd collectors miss some tracks from original LP volumes 1, 2 and have some duplication with CD highlights vol 1-4 set compared to CD/Testament vol 3 & CD/Emi vol 4.

How much from LP vols 1 and 2 is missed? In highlight set, 2 first complete cds are devoted to period 1899-1919 (vol 1) plus 1st track of cd 3. CDs are 76 and 79 minutes + 3 min track - but seems quite a lot from original 13 LPs is missed. CDs 3, 4 and half of cd 5 are devoted to vol 2. In minutes these are about 74', 76' and about 38' (tracks 1-8) - so once again one can guess a lot of music and singers are left out from original 13 LPs. And the rest of 5 and half cds are duplicated for those lucky ones having both cd format volumes 3 and 4.

I like the original idea of the great LP set very much - to present all major national singing schools from different periods - and one track for one singer, however great she or he is/was. I think it is shame EMI did not make bold decision to have us it all in CD format as well. I would have rather seen also volumes 1-2 separately, complete in cd format, with better leaflets. The idea to add vol no 5 is good.
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For one who has collected recordings of great singers for 50 years from my teenage years, to have such an excellent overview of both familiar and unfamiliar artists (mostly just one item per singer )in excellent reproductions and at a favourable price, is a great bonus. The individual track descriptions are clear, while the accompanying notes are fairly brief but adequate and well-informed. I like the boxed set format - no breakable plastic !
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This is every opera lover's dream come true. All of your favorite singers--plus some--gathered into one package. It's like a party to which you had invited all your best friends of a lifetime. I had preferred that EMI release vols. 1 and 2 (not on CD's), but this is what they gave us. Don't deny yourself this great pleasure. And while you're at it, go ahead and order Volume 5, about the singers after this set.
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There are some great singers today. Among my favorites are Placido Domingo, Thomas Allen, Natalie Dessay, Juan Diego Flores, Rene Flemming, Anna Netrebko, Angela Gheorghiu, Frederica von Stada, Dawn Upshaw. But truth be told, the stars of today have different voice qualities from those of the past.

Perhaps one reason is that the stars of today sing in enormous halls that put a premium on vocal power, often at the expense of sweetness. Another is the recording industry itself that values "note perfect" singing over more expressive chance-taking. Be that as it may, there are charms from past voices that endure.

As one who values music over sound and interpretation over perfection, the singers of the past shed great insight on opera and on the particular selections they perform. This collection, culled from the original series that was once on vinyl, gives an outstanding sample of opera before stereo and digital. I had previously owned the CD of the full volume 4 (which I believe is out of print). I also have Volume 5 which I also highly recommend.

Not everyone is included in this set but it is a delicious treat for the lover of voice for whom the charms of an earlier era still hold fascination.
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