Say what you will about how poorly the early gramophone served sopranos - from a purely technical perspective, Melba survives as the greatest female vocalist on record. Hers was the most exact trill, the most even scale, the most ravishing phrasing. The 1906 recordings in particular are very good indeed - the aria from Le Roi d'Ys may well be my favourite vocal recording of all. (Okay, I know its meant to be a tenor aria, but if a soprano can sing it like this, why not?) Listen to how she modulates her voice in something as simple as Auld Land Syne. The excessive portamento is not flattered by acoustic recording, but it cannot disguise the beauty of her pianissimo singing.
Melba was a singer in the grand manner, and her aristocratic approach may be out of step with the 21st century. But like all singers on early recordings, an effort must be made to place her in context. For myself, I can listen to this disc over and over. Any young singer today could do worse than to buy this disc and cherish the lessons it contains.