German Ensemble Recordings
In record's early stage of development one still was proceeding according to the principle of mechanical recording: voices of famous contemporaries (singers, actors, regents, politicians) and performances on piano or violin by great virtuosos were preserved on sound-recordings as living documents. Tue effect of sound-reproduction had priority to all other factors. Artistic and musical aspects were not considered too important, especially concerning vocal-singing recordings which, from the beginning on, were of considerable significance. Only when methods to refine sound-reproduction had been developed, one started to pay more attention to the listener's musical demands. Still, it must be stated that the attempts to record polyphonic vocal music or bigger symphonic compositions in the "acoustic" period only achieved unsatisfying results. Especially ensemble-recordings show the disadvantages and shortcomings of this era, making the voices often sound chaotic, blurred and totally undifferentiated. The invention of the electronic recording-process and the installation of a natural sound image brought to life a new era in recording history. The piece of music itself gained much importance, the predominance of solo-items was broken. It seems remarkable that soon after having started to record electronically, a considerable number of ensemble-scenes with excerpts from operas by Mozart, Verdi, Wagner and others have been published. There seems to have been a real need to make up for this field that bad been a little neglected; ODEON and PARLOPHON were the first companies to make productions of this kind and together with scenes from "Aida" the "Meistersinger"-quintet, having been recorded in November 1926, was the first to be published. While polyphonic productions in the United States, for example, were listed in the full price category, German productions were sold at the price of solo records, the ELECTROLA-Ensembles even at low price. Today's listeners will take an interest in these recordings for the fact that all artists involved here belong to the "historic" epoch, some of them have not recorded anything else at all. Very often young and yet unknown singers were taken under contract, some of them have gained great reputation later on. The casting occasionally was done in a rather selfwilled way: we can hear the young Ema Berger, for instance, as Countess Ceprano in "Rigoletto" and the baritone Willi Domgraf-Fassbaender in the for him hardly characteristic role of the jailer Rocco. For these reasons this collection will be a most welcomed supplement for many collectors. In addition one must mention the rather peculiar fact that the heyday of ensemble- and duet - recordings was restricted to the era of 78s, for when long-play records were introduced, this field of operatic music became greatly neglected. ...