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MARCH, 1928

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IHAVE been interested to note the patriotIc unani·· mity with which Madame Austral's performance has been extolled above Madame Leider's performance in these magnificent Valkyrie records published by His Master's Voice- I don't feel I can use the abbreviation H .M.V. on this monumental occasion. I may be wrong, but I should have said that Madame Leider's performance was twice as good as Madame Austral's. On the other hand, let me hasten to add that the improvement of Madame Austral as a singer in her last two record s , one RitoTrIn 7: incuor, and the other The Last Rose oj Summer and [{illamey, is quite astonishing; but after these Valkyrie records I feel more than ever conyineed that she is not a Wagnerian soprano par excellence, and I .hope that with this lately acquired emotion added to her exquisite voice she will giv e us some Bellini arias, particularly the much needed new performanc of Casta diva. I suppose that most of my readers have read George Moore's novel, Evelyn I";'nes. My own feeling is that Evelyn sang rather like Madame Austral. I simply refuse to believe that she played BrihmhiJ!le superlativ;ely well. .

Another point in these VatkYl'ie records where I find myself in disagre ement with everybody else is over the singing of the Valkyries' chorus. To me the Valkyries' chorus sounded like a lot of excited schoolgirls -greeting the head mistress-no, not schoolgirls, excited undergraduettes greeting the winner of the putting the weight competition with a rival college. I have never actually met a Valkyrie in the flesh, though during these last two months of unceasing gales I have expected to look out of my window any morning and see one lying dead in the garden . But the Columbia record of the Bayreuth Valkyries has given me a very clear idea of what a Valkyrie ought to sound like, and how anybody can praise these Her Mistress's Voice Valkyries after the Columbia Valkyri es I don't know. However, my readers must understand that my opinion about Madame Austral and the Valkyrie chorus differs from the opinion of every other critic I have read. For the rest of the H.M.V. album I am left without words to express my admiration. Walter Widdop is a much better Siegmund than Tudor Davies was in those records of four years a.gQ, and Frederic Schqff is a Wotan who,