London Offiu : 10.&., Soho Square;
Edited by COMPTON MACKENZIE
TELEPHONE: Regent 7977, 797S.
Parmaxto, Westcent, London.
XRIL was a good month for records. The publication by Columbia of Chopin's Second Concerto alone would have made i t memorable. Madame Marguerite Long seems to me ideally suited to give us good gramophone records, and I hope that she will not pass across the gramophone stage l ike a ghost in Rioha1'd III and not be seen again. This album of four light-blue discs with the Mazurka (Opus 59, No.3) on the eighth side is a treasure, and the recording of the Orchestre de la Societe du Conservatoire, Paris, conducted by Philippe Gaubert, is a triumph. I suppose the Conoerto is open to every kind of criticism; but i t is all so beautiful and passionate and so full of youth's romantic dreams that construction does not seem to matter, and with a sympathetic pianist, who is not trying to turn Chopin into a business magnate all the time, the result is extraordinarily pleasant. Might we not have some more of Mozart's piano concertos soon ~ I heard a most delicious one being played, and extremely well played, by a woman on Radio Paris the other day.
After being separated by illness from any gramophone except my H.M.V., and any wireless except my Halycon portable, I have been listening with new ears to the performances of the old Balmain pagoda and the big electrical machine. The latter, owing to a variety of Circumstances, has not yet been brought to i ts proper state of efficiency, and the home-made electrical supply has been giving trouble. Still, even in i ts present state, i t is as good as most commercial electrical reproducers I have heard, and i t is therefore of some significance to note that, in my opinion, the old Balmain pagoda, supported by a Virtz sound-box, gives a truer reproduction of music than the electrical machine. In this the London editor agreed with me. The difference between the ool legno on the Balmain and on the electric machine was startling. The strings, of course, one expected to be better, but the piano is better too. Another interesting discovery I made was that the S,",T altone needle, which on my H.M.V. declined to behave itself with Columbia records, behaved impeccably on the Balmain, and I have no doubt that the secret of good results from a vValtone needle is alignment. I must, however, pay a tribute to the H.M.V. model which was played to me a great deal while I was i l l in my bedroom, the old Balmain pagoda being too much of a monu.ment to drag upstairs. So, as far as I can make out, I am back where I was when in the early days of THE GRAMOPHONE I wrote about romantic and realistic sound-boxes.
vVhen I wrote my notice of the Caruso record in the SundcLY Pictorial I did not know that i t was actually the last we shall get, and that Tosti's Good-bye is indeed the great tenor's good-bye. The other side holds the aria Deh! Ch'io ritorni from L'Ajrioana, and the vessel by which he sailed was Charon's dark boat. The gramophone owes more to Caruso than to any body. I t was he who sustained i ts reputation through those long years in which no progress seemed to be made in recording. In the July and September numbers of 1924 I wrote at length in THE GRAMOPHONE of all his records and, good though this record is, i t would be a pity to judge him by any of his later records, except perhaps the Largo of Handel. He was at his lyrical best in the records he made about 1908.
I feel inclined to put forward four vocal records in the Parlophone l ist of this month, and challenge anybody to produce four as good in any other bulletin of the past.
Conchita Supervia, who made a great succeSS at her appearance over the radio, sings the melodious Connais-tu le pays? from Thomas's Mignon in Italian, and with Bettoni The Swallow Duet. She is evidently a very fine actress, she has a voice of wide range, her personality is intensely vital, and that vitality is communicated to her records. This is a Parlophone Odeon disc. The other Odeon disc this month is a magnificent record of Ninon Vallin in Solveig's Song and Chant Hindou from Sadko, with a good violin obbligato by Raoul BaI-thalay. Besides these two absolutely first-rate records by women singers, Emmy Bettendorf gives us one of