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Nellie Melba Complete Gramophone Recordings, Vol 1 [CD]

Orchestra , Ambroise Thomas , Charles Gounod , Gaetano Donizetti , George Frideric Handel , et al. Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: £6.01 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Product details

  • Conductor: Landon Ronald
  • Composer: Ambroise Thomas, Charles Gounod, Gaetano Donizetti, George Frideric Handel, Giacomo Puccini, et al.
  • Audio CD (29 July 2002)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos Historical
  • ASIN: B00006B1KA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,622 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Mattinata - Tosti
2. Nymphes et sylvains - Bemberg
3. Ah! fors'è lui from "La traviata" - Verdi
4. Follie!...Sempre libera from "La traviata" - Verdi
5. Comin' thro' the Rye - Traditional
6. Se saran rose - Arditi
7. Del ciel demente un riso from "Lucia di Lammermoor" - Donizetti
8. Sweet bird that shunn'st the noise of folly from "Il Penseroso" - Handel
9. Thee, chauntress, oft the woods among I woo from "Il Penseroso" - Handel
10. Goodbye - Tosti
11. A vos jeux, mes amis, permettez-moi de grâce from "Hamlet" - Thomas
12. Caro nome che il mio cor from "Rigoletto" - Verdi
13. Sempre libera from "La traviata" - Verdi
14. Three Green Bonnets - D'Hardelot
15. Porgi amor from "Le nozze di Figaro" - Mozart
16. Si mes vers avaient des ailes - Hahn
17. Donde lieta uscìal tuo grido d'amore (Addio) from "La bohème" - Puccini
18. Chant Vénitien - Bemberg
19. Les anges pleurent - Bemberg
20. Ave Maria - Bach/Gounod
See all 21 tracks on this disc

Product Description

NAX 8110737; NAXOS - Germania; Classica Lirica Recital

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Naxos have now issued all four CDs of the Gramophone Company (British and French) recordings, and the three CDs of Victor (American) recordings. The transfers are by Ward Marston : they are of superb quality, smooth, clear and sweet on the ear.

Melba was not in the first flush of youth when she made her first discs - she was in her forties (and in her mid sixties when she made her last) - and this group from 1904 therefore gives us the best chance to hear what it was in her singing that made her a superstar of the late Victorian age. The recordings are forward and immediate in a way that her later recordings, particularly the Victors, were not, and the singer comes across vividly.

The notes are clear and interesting and contain all relevant data on the records themselves. An historical issue of the first importance, executed to the highest standards, and offered for little money!

post script: it's worth noting the existence of an alternative set of transcriptions Dame Nellie Melba - The First Recordings which draw on the original metal parts of the discs, where the Marston/Naxos issue relies on choice copies of commercial pressings. In some cases the results from the metal parts are substantially better, and so the ABC Classics issue probably now offers the very best opportunity of hearing Melba, albeit at a higher price.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The archetypal diva. 29 Nov 2002
By John Austin HALL OF FAME TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Few singers born as long ago as 1860 are heard in CDs released in 2002. This special distinction belongs to the great Australian diva, Dame Nellie Melba. Naxos Records plan to reissue all Melba’s EMI recordings on 4 CDs, of which this first comprises her 1904 recordings.
Young collectors of voices from the past should bear several things in mind when preparing to listen to this great singer. Firstly, the recordings are technically primitive, the singer usually being accompanied by a piano and the music often severely cut. Secondly, this is singing from a bygone age, when occasional swooping up to high notes was admired. Thirdly, what are heard here are Melba’s first reluctant attempts to commit her singing to the new toy called the gramophone. Already feted by royalty, adored by her public and lauded by critics, she withstood the begging, the flowers, the dinners and the contracts offered by producers until she was tricked into hearing Saint-Saens praise a recording of Caruso. Recording equipment was brought to her London home and the results were a series of recordings at first intended only for her own use. Finally, it must be said that her voice rarely recorded well.
With all this in mind, the listener will discern much that is wonderful. The voice has a special purity. Coloratura is perfectly secure and trilling appears as easy for her as for a bird. The voice has a wide compass: you’ll hear a high D at the close of Handel’s “Sweet Bird”. Some of the interpretations are charming. Tosti’s “Mattinata” has long been a special favourite of mine. Strangely, her diction was never cultured. The Australian drawl of her homeland is almost always evident.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The archetypal diva. 10 Dec 2002
By John Austin - Published on Amazon.com
Few singers born as long ago as 1860 are heard in CDs released in 2002. This special distinction belongs to the great Australian diva, Dame Nellie Melba. Naxos Records plan to reissue all Melba's EMI recordings on 4 CDs, of which this first comprises her 1904 recordings.
Young collectors of voices from the past should bear several things in mind when preparing to listen to this great singer. Firstly, the recordings are technically primitive, the singer usually being accompanied by a piano and the music often severely cut. Secondly, this is singing from a bygone age, when occasional swooping up to high notes was admired. Thirdly, what are heard here are Melba's first reluctant attempts to commit her singing to the new toy called the gramophone. Already feted by royalty, adored by her public and lauded by critics, she withstood the begging, the flowers, the dinners and the contracts offered by producers until she was tricked into hearing Saint-Saens praise a recording of Caruso. Recording equipment was brought to her London home and the results were a series of recordings at first intended only for her own use. Finally, it must be said that her voice rarely recorded well.
With all this in mind, the listener will discern much that is wonderful. The voice has a special purity. Coloratura is perfectly secure and trilling appears as easy for her as for a bird. The voice has a wide compass: you'll hear a high D at the close of Handel's "Sweet Bird". Some of the interpretations are charming. Tosti's "Mattinata" has long been a special favourite of mine. Strangely, her diction was never cultured. The Australian drawl of her homeland is almost always evident.
Bearing in mind that her recordings, when they reached the market, were always in the top price range, and usually on single-sided discs recorded sometimes at variable speeds, Naxos Records and producer Ward Marston offer us the best possible opportunity to hear the great diva at trifling expense.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Souvenir of a legend 29 Mar 2004
By klavierspiel - Published on Amazon.com
Dame Nellie Melba is a prominent name in most histories of great singing. Born Helen Mitchell in Melbourne, Australia (she took her stage name from the city), she rose to become a fixture at London's Covent Garden and other great international houses for three-plus decades until her retirement in 1926. Her name is still synonymous in the vocal world with purity of tone, technical mastery and general vocal health and longevity. Fortunately, she lived well into the age of recording, so that, a century after these first records were made, one can hear for oneself what the fuss was about.
Much of Melba's vocal and musical essence is surprisingly evident on these careful transfers by Naxos of her first, acoustic recordings, made at her home in London in 1904. Of course, today's listener must hear through the crackling extraneous noise (not totally eliminated by the engineers, in favor of retaining fidelity of sound), and accept the fact that early recording technology could not cope either with great volume or extremes of pitch in operatic voices. Dame Nellie's high notes inevitably sound thin, sharp in pitch and without vibrato. The limited amount of time available on the wax cylinders also meant selections were limited in length--fast tempi and haste in execution frequently should be taken as an attempt to get the maximum amount of music available into one recording.
Given all that, one can appreciate on many of these selections the legendary virtues of Melba's singing--her purity of tone, impeccable intonation, perfect trill and facility in coloratura. The recordings with orchestra give more musical pleasure to this listener's ear, perhaps because the somewhat more plush aural background better brings out the essential qualities of the voice. The excerpts from the Lucia and Hamlet Mad Scenes can still thrill today with their dazzling exhibition of bel canto technique. (Curiously enough, she apparently did not have the very highest notes in a coloratura's arsenal, as she does not take the optional high E-flats in either the Traviata or Lucia excerpts. There is absolutely no problem with any other note she chooses to sing.) Moreover, a liquid and finely sustained "Porgi amor" from Mozart's Figaro shows that she did not have to hide behind a shower of coloratura--her ability to shape a legato line bears comparison with the best. What she does not have is any great variety of vocal color or depth of emotion in her interpretations, which makes her Violetta, for example, disappointing to those used to a more dramatic approach. However, Melba lived in an age where that kind of naked emotional display was not the point. This Naxos CD certainly makes it possible to appreciate, at a bargain price, what values Melba *did* epitomize in opera singing of the Golden Age.
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