Saturday, 16 June 2012

Losing the plot

Edison lost the plot and also lost the war of the Phonographs to the ever rapacious Gramophone. A few last futile attempts to record something better than excerpts and transcriptions of chamber music were however made. This wonderful, compelling, artless performance has been left to languish far too long. I don't think anyone has ever attempted to re-issue it, and I have not been able to locate any reviews either, it did however manage to get listed in WERM.

The set has a few pressing problems that I have minimized as much as possible without interfering too much with the sound quality; side joins were also a bit tricky due to rallentandos.   On The New York Trio much of the information I have pulled from the web, various newspapers and journals but big gaps still remain in  my knowledge of this group.

Schubert: Piano Trio in B-flat major, D.898 (Op. 99)
The New York Trio
Clarence Adler, piano Louis Edlin violin  
Cornelius van Vliet cello

Edison Diamond Disc 80899-80901
[18527 B-1-1; 18528 A-1-1; 18529 A-1-4; 18530 B-1-1; 
18531 A-1-1; 18532 A-1-1; 18533 A-1-2; 18534 A-1-4]
Recorded: Thursday 24th May 1928
Coupled: Monday 17th September 1928
Discontinued: Tuesday 31st December 1929

4 Flac files in a .rar file, Here at Mediafire. [about 86Mb]

The New York Trio was founded about October 1919 the original members being Scipione Guidi, violin, Cornelius van Vliet cello and Clarence Adler piano. Scipione Guidi left the trio in 1923, probably due to his commitments as Concert Master of the the New York Philharmonic from 1921 and was replaced by the violinist Louis Edlin. The trio remained with these three players until at least 1929. I believe for the a number of years there was some sort of interregnum as I find no mention of the trio again until 1936 when the group now included John Corigliano as violinist but was not named as The New York Trio.


Cornelius van Vliet

Cornelius van Vliet (1889-1963), the founder of the trio, was born in Holland. He played with the Concertgebouw and later became principal of the orchestras at Leipzig and Prague. He moved to the United States in 1911 to play with the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. He went on to become principal cello with the New York Philharmonic from around 1922 to at least 1928. His time probably coincided with Mengelberg,s tenure as music director. He then became principle cellist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. This could have been prompted by the dispute between Mengelberg and Toscanini which lead to Mengelberg leaving New York in 1930. Van Vliet later taught at the University of Colorado, and retired in 1953.

Aaron Copland & Clarence Adler

Clarence Adler (1886-1969) was born in Cincinnati. He was spotted by Romeo Gorno, a professor at the Cincinnati College of Music, and at the age of twelve Adler was already giving concerts in the South and Midwest of America. By 1902 he realized he needed more advanced training and moved to Berlin where he became a pupil of Alfred Reisenauer, himself a pupil of Liszt and Leopold Godowsky. In 1913 Adler returned to the United States and settled in New York, where he performed with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra under Willem Mengelberg and the New York Symphony under Walter Damrosch. It was probably through these concerts that he met with van Vliet to form the New York Trio. From 1919 Adler became a respected pedagogue and pianist who taught both Aaron Copland and Richard Rogers. He still performed, often on radio, but his main influence was teaching private classes in New York and Lake Placid.

Victor de Gomez (l) & Louis Edlin (r)
Cleveland Symphony Orchestra 1920

Louis Edlin was born in New York in 1889 of Russian-Jewish parents. He began studying at the age of nine with Arnold D. Volpe (1869-1940), a Lithuanian-born American composer and conductor who came to the United States in 1898. Arnold Volpe organized and conducted his Volpe orchestra, a training orchestra in the years prior to WWI and Louis Edlin gained his first orchestral experience there. Eldin moved to Europe in 1906 and first studied at the Paris Conservatoire with the Belgium Guillaume Rémy and then to Berlin from 1909 where he studied with Fritz Kreisler, among other teachers. Returning to New York in 1911 Eldin played in the first violin section of the New York Symphony from 1911 to 1913. In the 1913-1914 season, Edlin become Concertmaster of the Russian Symphony of New York. Then in the next season he became a member of the first violin section of the Philharmonic Society of New York where he stayed until 1919. At the recommendation of the Philharmonic conductor Josef Stransky, Edlin was appointed Concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra where he stayed until the end of the 1923. During his Cleveland years, Edlin taught at the Cleveland Institute of Music and played in the Cleveland String Quartet. In 1923, Edlin returned to New York City and joined the faculty of the Institute of Musical Art (Juilliard) and also that year became a member of the New York Trio. In 1926 Louis Edlin became radio conductor of the Atwater-Kent radio orchestra and later served as a section head of violins and a conductor at the National Orchestral Association, a training orchestra for orchestral musicians in New York City in the 1940s. My last notice of Edlin is from 1951.


I have but meagre information on what the trio performed although the Schubert was in their repertoire from at least 1922. I have tabulated the information I have managed to glean online from various articles and newspapers of all the concerts known to me which can be downloaded HERE [10Kb PDF]


Of recordings I have only been able to trace the Schubert and a live recording from 1953.

Interestingly a different, unpublished? take of the first side [A-1-1] of this performance is available through the Thomas Edison National Park HERE.

A tape held at the Library of Congress of a concert by New York Trio recorded in the Coolidge Auditorium of the Library of Congress, Washington, on Feb. 6, 1953. This includes Mozart trio B flat major, KV502; Beethoven Variations on Ich bin der Schneider Kakadu, op. 121a Beethoven Trio in B flat major, op. 97 and Walter Piston Trio (1935), The Piston I understand was issued on a disc – anyone have that?


The Altenberg Trio web page HERE has the following information on the The New York Trio history.

NEW YORK TRIO (I) [ New York, NY (US) ] (1919 - 1923)
piano: Clarence ADLER * 10.03.1886 Cincinnati, OH (US)† 24.12.1969
violin: Scipione GUIDI 
cello: Cornelius van VLIET * 01.09.1886 Rotterdam (NL)

NEW YORK TRIO (II) [ New York, NY (US) ] (1923 - )
piano: Clarence ADLER * 10.03.1886 Cincinnati, OH (US)† 24.12.1969
violin: Louis EDLIN * 30.09.1893 New York, NY (US) 
cello: Cornelius van VLIET * 01.09.1886 Rotterdam (NL)

NEW YORK TRIO (III) [ New York, NY (US) ] 
piano: Clarence ADLER * 10.03.1886 Cincinnati, OH (US)† 24.12.1969
violin: John CORIGLIANO * 28.08.1901 New York, NY (US)† 01.09.1975 Norfolk, CT (US) 
cello: Cornelius van VLIET * 01.09.1886 Rotterdam (NL)


I ought to say something about Edison. It was unusual to have such a long work recorded over eight sides by Edison so it must have been partly to celebrate the Schubert Centenary and partly to compete against the Cortot, Thibaud, Casals, issue on HMV & Victor.

Edison was losing sales rapidly for the following reasons: a) his sales were concentrated on short popular pieces b) Edison himself vetted all records – he was not too musical and deaf as a post c) hill & dale recordings were not compatible with any other system of reproduction d) the company had made losses since 1924 e) their main clients were outside the cities and almost all rural f) they were late into using electrical recordings – well I could go on but I think you can see where this is headed. The company was wound up in October 1929 and all stock sold or destroyed. The records were issued sometime after the coupling date and from the matrix number I don't think they sold many copies. Three takes were made, A, B and C from which one would be chosen for issue. A mould would be made; and stampers made from that mould: thus A-1-1 equates to take A mould 1 stamper 1. You can see that most of these did not get past the first stamper and those that did may have been due to failures in processing.

Edison Advertisement:

As an addenda I have copied out the blurb in the Edison Supplement for July, August, September 1928.

'Franz Schubert is to-day probably the best known and best loved of all the world's great composers. Yet one hundred years ago he lived and wrote obscure and penniless in his native city of Vienna – a simple, cheerful, generous soul. On November 19 1828, he died there – practically of starvation and almost friendless – at the lamentable age of thirty-one. They found in his room “ a quantity of old music, value $2” now part of the richest single heritage of music ever bestowed upon an astonished world.

'Of the many lovely things that Schubert wrote, one of the loveliest is his Trio in B flat – an exquisite tone-poem, to be approached in loving reverence by musicians – to be heard in thrilled silence by the listener. It is music that speaks of the soul.

'In 1919 three great artists – Adler, Edlin and val Vliet – founded the New York Trio. Nine rich years of ensemble experience have brought to their present performance a perfection of finish and balance which, combined with the music of Schubert, results in beauty almost incredible … Hear this great Trio complete on four records -80898-80901.'

First Edition of the Op 99 Trio, published Vienna 1836

Friday, 8 June 2012

Acoustic organ music with a twist

Probably the first attempt at recording this famous Widor toccata and the Lemmens too for that matter, but what exactly are we listening to?

Charles-Marie Widor 
Symphony for Organ No. 5 in F minor, Op. 42, No. 1 -Toccata

Jaak Nikolaas Lemmens
March Tiomphale
[The beginning of this side is very badly worn] 

Frederick John Easthope Martin Organ

HMV C 461
[7000f & 6990f]
Recorded: Friday 17th January 1913

2 Flac file HERE & HERE Mediafire. [13Mb & 10Mb].

Organ music was all but impossible to record under the acoustic process, the bandwidth restriction gave very unsatisfactory results and it was not until the advent of electrical recording in 1925 that the organ became a reality for the gramophone enthusiast.

A few valiant early attempts were however made. On the 17th of January 1913 an 'English Pipe Organ' was either installed in the Hayes recording studioor the recording equipment was transported to the Aeolian Hall in New Bond Street. Fred Gaisberg was in charge of the recording session that day and he may also have enticed Easthope Martin to record. In all, seventeen titles on twenty-one 12" waxes and two 10" were cut from which fourteen were issued. Designated for double-sided issue on plum label records at 4s [20p] each, the first four of these records were issued in April 1913. I luckily have a copy of the original flyer that HMV produced that month, interestingly the organ on the front bears no comparison to what was actually recorded and the two 'unsolicited letters' quoted are possibly due to the forwarding of sample discs prior to formal issue.

Another two records were issued in 1914 but our record had to wait until July/August 1915 to see the light of day.  About a hundred 'new' double-sided records were published in one go and numbered roughly from C 400 to C 500. They seemed to have been an odd collection of previously available single-sided issues and unused masters issued in order to bolster up the main catalogue for 1916, this was published in October 1915 to be ahead of the Christmas market.

I have re-balanced these two sides as much as I dare and although a good amount of rumble is unfortunately still prevalent I hope you are impressed at how much of the low frequencies Fred Gaisberg managed to record. 

Easthope Martin pedalling a Pianola of the Grieg Concerto in 
1912 with Artur Nikisch and the London Symphony Orchestra
The organist for that day was Frederick John Easthope Martin (1882-1925). Born in Stourport, he studied piano, organ, harmony and studied composition with Samuel Coleridge Taylor, at Trinity College London and then joined the Aeolian Company in London as an organist, pianolist and demonstrator. He wrote a number of choral works, songs, piano pieces and chamber works but unfortunately contracted tuberculosis at quite an early age and died aged 42 at Hampstead in London. More information on Easthope Martin can be found Here and Here.

The above picture I think holds the clue to these records. What we hear is not simply Martin playing an organ but that this is an Aeolian pipe organ, and what we are hearing is Martin's interpretation of Aeolian Organ Roll numbers 466 [later renumbered to 51466] and 52. A modern transcription of this roll can be heard on Youtube HereHaving looked over the 1919 edition of the Aeolian Pipe-Organ - Catalog I see all the items recorded by Martin are included and one can only assume that Martin actually recorded most of these Aeolian Rolls in the first place. I have tabulated the roll numbers to the recording session below. 

So what we appear to have on these recordings are Aeolian Rolls, probably recorded by Martin, who then brings them along to the HMV studio and then interprets his own previous recordings. I have not determined if the idea of recording was to promote the Aeolian Pipe-Organ or not. I don't think Aeolian could have been impressed by the sound of these primitive recordings and their name was not applied to the record labels. Gaisberg and indeed HMV maybe thought otherwise and went ahead and pressed the records for sale.

Martin returned to the studios later in 1913 to record a number of piano pieces under a pseudonym, these maybe Pianola recordings. One other facet to dwell on is that Nikisch was quite keen on the pianola and said 'I recognize it as one of the greatest inventions of the century.' Possibly some sort of introduction was facilitated by Martin to Fred Gaisberg and HMV to record orchestral music with Nikisch and the LSO in June 1913?  

Lastly, as I am getting more than a bit completest here, these are the descriptive notes transcribed from the Aeolian Catalog of 1919:-

466  WIDOR: Symphony No. 5 Toccata (Fifth Movement)
Following out the scheme of departing from the conventional order of symphonic movements the composer has chosen a Toccata for his final movement in this interesting symphony. This movement is, in several ways, the most attractive one of the entire work. Its whole course is stamped with buoyant swing—save the very close—and the theme of the Toccata is most spirited. Widor plunges precipitately into the announcement of this theme, voiced in the high treble; then there enters a bass melody that accents the theme woven by the treble. Gradually the bass assumes importance and volume, and finally it is thundered forth. The very close of this movement and of the symphony is a chorale-like version of the Toccata theme.

LEMMONS: March triomphale
With a curtly expressed theme—one of heroic character—this March auspiciously opens. It impresses the quality, hinted at in its title, upon the listener with the very beginning, and this idea is still carried out further by the crisp, sharply defined rhythm and almost defiant character of the succeeding section. The music rises now to a climax, and at the crest of this emotional wave there is trumpeted forth the first section of the March most brilliantly. After this the music grows gradually more subdued, and dies leisurely away, but the initial mood is fully restored by the jubilant chord upon which the work ends.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

In the Year of Jubilee

Well I thought I should do my bit for jingoism, being a staunch republican, the European variety that also equates to being a liberal, it is all a bit awkward.

Anyway music should be above such things....we hope...

Stanley Marchant (1883-1939) 
Te Deum laudamus. 
Composed for the King's Silver Jubilee Thanksgiving Service 
at St. Paul's Cathedral on Monday, 6th May 1935.

Choir of St Paul's Cathedral
Dr. Stanley Marchant Organ

HMV C 2752 
[2EA305-2 &2EA306-1]
Recorded: Monday, 6th May 1935

1 Flac  file HERE at Mediafire. [ 21Mb].

As this recording is taken from the actual Thanksgiving Ceremony, and first performance, I have not topped and tailed it. The running order is as follows if you want to skip to the music!

Lord's Prayer [0:02]
Te Deum, [0:58] 
Blessing [6:51]
God save the King [7:09]

Stanley Marchant is not a very familiar name and very little of his music has ever been recorded. I have taken the following biographical information from Grove, although this is more or less culled from the Musical Times obituary notice, extracts of which I have placed within square brackets:-

Stanley Marchant at the St Paul's organ
 'Sir Stanley Marchant, (1883-1949) English church musician, teacher and composer. He won a Goss Scholarship to the RAM, where he took prizes in composition and organ playing [the 'Battison Haynes' Prize for composition, and the 'Robert Newman' prize for organ-playing]. In 1899 he was appointed organist of Kemsing Parish Church. He moved to Christ Church, Newgate Street (1903), and then to St Peter's, Eaton Square (1913). He was made an FRCO (1902) and took the DMus at Oxford (1914). 

 'An association with St Paul's Cathedral had begun in 1903, with his appointment as second assistant [Not many years after this his devoted and loyal friend Sir George Martin, then organist at St Paul's, died, and Charles Macpherson, the sub-organist, took his place. Therefore in 1916 Marchant almost automatically became Sub-Organist and Master of the Choristers at St. Paul's. Then followed a tragedy in the early and lamented death of Macpherson. The Dean and Chapter realizing Marchant's exceptional intimacy with the music of the Cathedral appointed him, the 'Goss Scholar', to add his name to his eminent predecessors: Goss, Stainer, Martin and Macpherson. The grand traditions of St. Paul's were more than maintained by him, and the beautiful choral services were still a model for the world, not to mention those inspiring Lenten Services, when Bach's Passion Music (the St. Matthew or the St. John) was sung with such insight and moving reverence.] , and in 1927 he was made organist at a time when the building was partially closed for restoration.

 'He conducted the reopening ceremony (June 1930) and the thanksgiving service for the silver jubilee of King George V (6 May 1935), composing for each occasion a Te Deum. In 1914 he was appointed a professor at the RAM, where he became warden in 1934 and principal in 1936, relinquishing his post at St Paul's. He was then elected King Edward VII Professor of Music at London University (1937), knighted (1943) and made chairman of the council of the Royal School of Church Music (1947). In addition to anthems, canticles and other liturgical music he composed secular choral pieces, organ works and songs. Marchant's music, the finest of which was inspired by ceremonial occasions at St Paul's, is well crafted, though conservative in idiom, and shows the influence of Stanford and Parry. The choir library at St Paul's holds his complete choral works.'

[To his work as Principal of the R.A.M. he devoted great earnestness and the whole benefit of his long experience and many gifts. Of these gifts one of the most outstanding was his magnetism, which drew out the best from others. This was most apparent in his dealings with colleagues ; he placed implicit trust in them, and their trust in him never faltered, nor was ever misplaced. During this happy time many knotty problems were solved and 'concert pitch' was soon arrived at without friction or disturbance. It is very difficult to write of Sir Stanley and his life's work without exaggeration, for he had, in a quiet way, great powers of administration coupled with a most attractive personality. It was fine to see his wrath on occasions of injustice, or of conceited inefficiency-these brought his temper to the boiling point ! But, to my mind, his finest trait was his unyielding determination, and the heroic silence with which he bore for years the most crippling attacks of arthritis. Though it was a heavy handicap, no one ever heard him complain. However, all is not lost, for he has left his indelible mark on his Alma Mater which future generations will do well to try and emulate].

Probably this very 'conservatism' has done for him.

St Paul's Jubilee Service 6th May 1935

The Te Deum came at the closing of the Jubilee service held for George V and is the last of a set of three records that HMV issued of the event. HMV would have arranged with the BBC to record the service from their land-lines but before the BBC commentary was overlaid and broadcast to the Empire. In order to make a commercial issue the recording engineer first recorded the service on several recording machines which overlapped from one side to another. These would then be pressed and the sections that they wished to be issued were then dubbed on to new matrices.  This was all a bit tricky but by 1935 they had become quite adept at producing good results.

As can be seen above, a rather pretty 'sunburst' label was issued for the HMV Jubilee records. The company also produced a number of similar labelled issues - quite a few of which I seem to have, clearly succumbing to the royal influence -below are the pages from the 1938-39 HMV catalogue that list the rather odd celebratory material. 

My post title by the way comes from In the Year of Jubilee, a novel by George Gissing, well worth reading.