The Gramophone, November, 1928
The Utica Jubilee Singers (men's voices, unaccompanied)·
Negro Spirituals, Couldn't hear nobody pray and 0 Mary, don't you weep. 515!) (lOin., 2s. 6d.). The Church Choir, with organ: Lead, kindly Light (Dykes )
and All hail the power of Jesus' Name (Shrub80Ie). 5179 (lOin. , 28. 6d.). I recommended a Vt·ira Jubi lee Singers record in Septemb er , but I don't t.hink I did t,hem full justice. I t is only when sung by negroes (I assume that the Utica Singers are negro es ) that negro spirituals are really alive. And since to h ear them from an unaccompanied chorus is the neares t thing to hearing them" in practice," the Utica. Singers may y et make Robeson have to look to his laUl'els -if indeed they don't a.l ready. One of the astonishing things about their records is t.h e almost perfect clearness of t.he words. A small fault is that intonation occasionally gets a bit ha.phazard, but as i t always comes ba ck perfectly well, one doesn 't worry any more than they do.
The Chw'ch Choir's hymns ha.ve more quiet effects t,han usual, and are altogether up to their sta ndard, except that the attack at the beginning is slightly ragged, the soloist is weak, and the:y sing, incorreetly, " All hail the power of J esu's Name" instead of "Jesus',"
The Emory University Glee Club (n:m's voices, unaccon-_"
panied). Negro Spiritual's, Steal away (Hunteley, arr. C. F. Manney) and Little David, play on your harp (aIT.-?). 1040 (lOin., 3s.) This is a distinctly good reeord-better than the previous ones. But I still don't find them fulfilling the expectations aroused of them by Dr. Dewey's art.icle, nor do I believe that a choil' of white men, whatever their childhood associations, ever could.
St. Stephen's Male Quartet, with organ. Hymns: 'Ihe Day
Thou gavest, Lord, is ended and Rock of Ages (1959) ; Holy, Holy, Holy and The Church's one Foundation (1960). Two lOin., Is. 6d. each. Thi~ is an unusual type of hymn record, and i t is very well done mdeed-son:ewhat on t.he emotional side. The tune will generally be found in an inner part, but though it. is not made to st?nd out prominently one does not. feel there is anything wantmg-probably because i t has teen put in the middle, and a·lso no doubt because the tunes a.re all familiar. The re co rding might, I think, be improved.
Th,e Platoff, Don Cossack Choir (men'svoices, unaccompanied),
m RussIan: Stenka Rasine (" Wolge-'\Volge") and The ~welve Robbers (" Kudjar "). E.I0772 (12in., 4s, 6d.) ThIS seems to be competition for the Cossack Choir \ve've known for some years. As such, this first record n eedn't cause great alarm, t.hough i t should be tak en up by those who collec t every passable record of the type. The music is not among the most interesting; and the soloist seems to me to bellow rat.her, and that without undue care for intonation. But I can easily imagine this Choir's next record being the best ever issued of i ts type.
The London Catholic Choir, with organ, recorded in St.
Etheldreda's Catholic Church, Ely Place, London. Hail ! Queen of Heaven (English traditional melody) and Faith of our Fathers (traditional), in English (4967). Ave Verum (Moza rt) and Ave Maria (attl'ibuted to Arcadelt), in Latin (4968). 0 Salutaris (S. Webbe the younger) and Tantum Ergo (S. Webbe the elder's Motetts or Antiphons), in Latin (4969). Veni Creator (plainsong, arr. Palestrina) and !nclina ad me (Himmel), in Latin (4970). Four lOin., 3s. each. The Don Cossacks Choir (unaccompanied men's voices, in
Russian), conducted by Serge Jaroff: Stenka Rasin (arr. Dobrowen), Kanawka (Tchesnokoff) and Dudka (0 my S haW1n; White Russian folk-song, arr. Serge Jaroff). 9493 (12in., 4s . 6d:). The London Catholic Choir issue is the fu'St I have soon of i ts kind in three yeal'S; and 've can at the leas t rega.rd i t as on the whol e sa.tisfactory, though i t has not the finish and perfection t,hat , say, the 'Westminster Cathedral Choir would have given. Before anything more I must say that the Choir does sing as if i t m eans i t, which can by no means always be said of church choirs. Next" that though I think I have given all the t i t les correctly abov e, the record labels are qnite haphazard; p ractica.ll y everything (excluding the Palestrina-but including the lVIoza,rt!) is la belled " traditional"! The organ, and the lower voices, are apt to be too heavy, also the recording. But the singing on the whole is good, especially of the Mozart, the lovel y Al'cadelt , and the Pa.lestrina. Of the t lme to Hail! Qlleen oj Hea'!:en the most poisonous possible arrange· ment should not have been used. The 0 8alutaQ··is and Tantwln El'go are very slo'\\'- too slow, I think-and might be better phrased; and the Tanttlm El'go should have been sung to i ts plainsong (one of the finest). A whole article might be written on the Palestrina setting of a v ersion of the well-known Veni Cl'eatol'. Notice, at lea st, the splendid harmony of a t ime when harmony is said t.o have been" vague"; also that Palestrina " corrects " the plainsong to get a sharp leading-note at the end. We have at any rate done well in going back on that, nowadays!
The Don Cossacks record is fairly well up to standard; but the pieces are among the less interesting.
SCHUBERT'S MASS IN G.
The Philharmonic Choir, conducted by C. Kennedy Scott.
Soloist.s, Elsi e Suddaby (soprano), Percy Manchester (tenor) and Howa.rd Fry (barytone). H.M.V., D.1478-80 (three 12in., 6s. 6d. each). The musi cal styles of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with (at first) their leanings towa.rds convention and form, and (always) their melodic-ha.rmonic outlook . and direct, dramatic, rather than smooth, contempla,tive expression, were conducive to n either great choral nor grea,t mystical music. Beethoven's Mass in D, iso lated, coming at the end of a host of great instrumental worl,s, is an example of a very great genius rising above aU odds; i t is an exception. Still, Schubert was a great genius, as well as one of the world's chosen favourites; and since h e put much of himself into his l1!Iass in G, this fine recOI'ding of i t is welcome among the Centenary issues. The music sometimes looks ba,ck to Moza,rt, often to Beethoven, and in some of i ts best moments to Bach (though Bach is perhaps an int.erest.ing coincidence). But much, perhaps nearly all, is almost pure Schubert, and the impulsive, singing Schubert is never far away. I
The Kyrie (with Elsie Suddaby as soloist in the Christel has the spirit of the l11ass more than perhaps any other section_ Tllis is on D.1478, with the Gloria., which contains the best soloists' ensemble music (Elsie Suddaby Bnd Howard Fry). The Credo and Sanct11s are on D.1479. On D.1480 are the B enedictus, set for the three soloists, and followed by th e rep etition of the short choral Hosanna (the only bit of fugal work in the whole Mass, and, as might be expected, rather