london Office 10a Soho Square

London W.1

Edited by


Telephone Gerrard 2136, 2137

Tele&rams Parmaxto, Rath, London

Vo'l. XIII


No. 152


IT is for me a happy coincidence that I should be writing the first editorial of the New Year with the sight of hundreds of records on my shelves which had been packed away in boxes for five years. The pleasure of meeting an these old friends again has been considerably marred by meeting so many of them warped so much out of shape as to be worthless. The damage was done by not removing the discs from the albums of the complete works when they were packed. The result is that I have lost beyond hope of recovery at least fifty albums, and another fifty or so all barely playable. I hope that this example of folly will prevent any reader of THE GRAMOPHONE from ever considering for a moment the possibility of leaving records in albums when he is packing them. The tale of losses is too hideous to be dwelt upon, and the thought of transporting so many hundreds of useless cripples from the Channel Islands to the Outer Hebrides is too bitter to contemplate. Fortunately no optimism was indulged in over the H.M.V. or Columbia albums for twelve discs. From these the records were all taken out, and the actual breakages have been astonishingly few. On .the other hand, the records in the Astra albums were allowed to remain in, and this optimism was justified. So far as I have been able to examine them, not one disc has been broken or warped, and I put i t up to the Gramophone Exchange that they should see about getting these albums made again. I bought the last of the stock about ten years ago, and t.hey are about twenty times as good as any album before or since. Compared with the H.M.V., Columbia, Broadwood, and others of myoid albums, they look as if I had bought them yesterday and inherited the rest from my great-grandfather. They prevent warping. They. prevent breakage. The only minor disadvantage they have is that one side of the record is hidden when i t is in place, but this is so trifling compared with the superiority of the Astra in every other respect that i t is hardly worth mentioning. My friend Mr. Russell of the Gramophone Exchange will remember them, and I really think he should consider putting them on the market again. I have


about a couple of hundred which I suppose cost on an average between the twelve-inch and the ten-inch six shillings apiece. Moreover, these Astra albums are so portable that they can be used as carriers. They are also very compact. Four of them will go to three H.M.V.s.

I t is too early to attempt anything except a few disjointed comments on some refreshed impressions of these old records, and in any case I have not had time since moving into my new house to do much playing of the gramophone. A library of nearly ten thousand books and a collection of what cannot be less than eight thousand records take a good deal of storing away, and i t wiH be weeks before I get them into any order on my shelves. The first comment I have to make is about Caruso and Gigli. I have never really had the slightest doubt about the superiority of Caruso's voice, but i t was not until I played a few of his best early records against the pre-electric Gigli records that I realised the boundless superiority of Caruso in any aspect of a great tenor. Take, for instance, that famous trio from Verdi's 1 Lombardi sung by Caruso, AIda and Journet on a bufT H.M.V. I t is still in the catalogue. Mine is a single-sided disc, but I see that on the present red DM126 the trio from Samson and Delilah sung by Caruso, Homer and J ournet occupies the other side. Caruso is playing the part of Orontes, a Saracen chief who has fallen in love with Giselda, a captive Christian girl; but having been mortally wounded he is dying in the cave of Peter the Hermit on the banks of the Jordan. Urged by Giselda and by Peter himself, played by J ournet, Orontes is converted to Christianity, and this trio records the conversion. Caruso manages to suggest a man in extremis without once spoiling the lovely t imbre of his voice. The singing of J ournet and AIda supports him magnificently; in fact, this record is one of the best to be obtained. Of course, the old pre-electric accompaniment sounds a bit like an accordeon, but what does that matter when three such glorious voices are so perfectly recorded? I commend this record to readers who are looking out for something really special with which to surprise