Favourite arias and romantic concertos by a pioneer of American operetta.
Born in Dublin, Victor Herbert began his career as a cellist in Germany, playing for Eduard Strauss, for Brahms and Liszt and emigrated to the US as principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera. It was in that capacity that he composed the second of two concertos, written for himself to play which give him a tenuous foothold on the classical repertoire. They were first recorded as a pair by Lynn Harrell on this Decca album in 1986. ‘Herbert was a virtuoso cellist,’ says Harrell, ‘and it shows in the music; he wrote so beautifully for the cello.’ The fillers were character pieces as they are charming, originally for cello and piano, newly transcribed for the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields.
Established in New York, Herbert developed his orchestral and vocal writing and became an early recording artist. He even founded and directed the principal American organisation protecting musical copyright which led to a notorious occasion when, having been presented with a restaurant bill, Herbert gave them a bill back for the unauthorised use of his music all evening. The restaurant refused to pay; he sued and won.
By then Herbert was a composer for Broadway with hits such as ‘Babes in Toyland’ (1894) and ‘The Red Mill’ (1906). ‘Naughty Marietta’ (1910) and ‘Sweethearts’ (1913) followed in time. All these and more are featured on a 1975 Decca Phase 4 album recorded by Salvatore ‘Tutti’ Camarata and ‘his’ orchestra. For an encore, Kiri Te Kanawa sings the big number from Herbert’s 1911 show ‘The Enchantress’.
Cello Concerto No. 1 in D major, Op. 8
Cello Concerto No. 2 in E minor, Op. 30
The Mountain Brook
Lynn Harrell, cello
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Naughty Marietta: Italienisches Strassenlied (The Italian Street Song)
The Red Mill: The Streets of New York
Orange Blossoms: A Kiss in the dark / Mlle Modiste: Kiss me again
The Red Mill: Every Day is Ladies’ Day
Naughty Marietta: Tramp, Tramp, Tramp/Mlle Modiste: I Want What I Want When I Want It
Naughty Marietta: Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life
Babes in Toyland: Overture
Sweethearts: Sweethearts/The Only Girl: When You’re Away
The Red Mill: Moonbeams
Babes in Toyland: March of the Toys
Babes in Toyland: Finale
Kingsway Symphony Orchestra & Chorus
The Enchantress: Art is Calling for Me
Kiri Te Kanawa, soprano
London Symphony Orchestra
CD2: 1–11: FIRST CD RELEASE ON DECCA
Recording Producers: Chris Hazell (Concertos); Tony D’Amato, Raymond Few (Operetta Spectacular); Paul Myers (Art is Calling for Me)
Balance Engineers: John Dunkerley (Concertos); Arthur Lilley (Operetta Spectacular); John Pellowe, Jonathan Stokes (Art is Calling for Me)
Recording Locations: St. Barnabas, Woodside Park, London, UK, 1–3 October 1986 (Concertos); Kingsway Hall, London, UK, July 1975 (Operetta Spectacular); Royal Albert Hall, London, UK, 24 March 1994 (Art is Calling for Me)
Original Decca Releases: 417 672-2 (Concertos); PFS 4354 (Operetta Spectacular); 443 600-2 (Art is Calling for Me)