I was reading on line about a lack of cultural inclusiveness on the part of Christmas. Let's see--celebrated around the world by billions of people. Hm. Yeah, that's hardly an inclusive festival. Sounds to me like a members-only affair. We need to fix that.
While we're fixing that, I have yet more holiday shellac to share. And "shellac to share" is one heck of a tongue-twister, at least when I try to repeat it. Anyway, I'm posting things our of order with the time I rip them, so I have to look at the list to see what we've got. So, two recordings of the Trinity Choir doing the same hymns, same arrangement. Only the first (from 1912) is acoustical and the second (1926) is electrical. So it's a rare opportunity to listen to an acoustical side and then hear how it would have sounded with the electrical method. Pretty cool. They're also fine performances.
Bud Roman's Frosty the Snowman is from 1952, according to Discogs, which is two years after Gene Autry made it famous. The flip, The Night Before Christmas, is a reissue of a Record Guild of America side. The recording date was possibly 1948. In fact, I think I have one of the label's picture-disc versions of it, but I recall it's badly damaged. Somebody folded it. Not good.
1950's Christmas Symphony, by Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm Orch., with a vocal by Thelma Gracen and Ensemble, is a wonderful oddity for the season. I have it on a pretty beat-up MGM vinyl 78, but I did some MAGIX tricks, and it sounds okay. Gracen is a good singer--too good for the band, really. (Not to insult Shep, but....) Thelma went on to record for Wing and Verve. She also sang for Jan Garber. Near the start, where there's considerable groove damage, I substituted a portion of the repeated section. I did quick fade-in/fade-outs, and it fools even my ears when I listen to it. This was a major rescue job, but it worked.
Ringing the Old Year Old, from 1911, is a little early, unless we take into account that the disc is 107 years old, in which case it's pretty past due. It was composed by Lillian Currie, who also gave us On a Christmas Morning and Children's Toy March. No luck in finding internet info on her, unfortunately. There's a possible newspaper mention, but I'd have to pay. Love to know something about her, because I really love her "descriptive" pieces. So did Charles A. Prince, apparently.
The charming numbers by Olive Kline and Elsie Baker were apparently from children's songbooks, possibly for school use. The books, I mean. The 78s may have been used in that fashion, too, though the sides--Victor 17869--aren't designated for school use. I repeated Around the Christmas Tree, because it goes by so fast (another clue it may have been for classroom use). The classroom songs of my day were nowhere near this level, musically.
The two Nutcracker selections are cool, because they're well done and very old. Casse-Noisette is the French word for "nutcracker," hence the Overture Miniature credit. The Victor labels use the old spelling of Tchaikovsky--"Tschaikowsky." Arthur Pryor's musicians were extraordinary, as we hear here. I love typing "hear here."
Two more Trinity Choir selections, speaking of excellent musicians. And we have tenor Evan Williams singing The Star of Bethlehem on a murky-sounding disc, especially by 1923 standards. My copy looks good, so it should sound better--it's the Victrola label, after all. Bad day at the pressing plant, maybe. Christmas Chimes is an oddity on the Conqueror (Sears mail order) label. and I gave it 1932 for the year, because of where it falls in the label's discography. But darned if I can find any info on it. There's an earlier Christmas Chimes on this label (from 1927), so maybe this is a reissue with different credits? I did my best to silence the disc's rumble, but there's still some there. The piece was composed by Frederick William Vandersloot, Jr. (1866-1931), whose name is all over my older pieces of sheet music.
The 1911 Victor recording of the German carol O du frohliche, o du selige is a gem. Gorgeously sung, and to one of the most memorable tunes of its type, which, thanks to Wikipedia, I can identify as O sanctissima. An on-line translator tells me that Weimarsches Vokal-Quartett means "Weimar MOORSIH Vocal Quaret." Sure enough, "sches" means "MOORISH" in German-to-English, but why the all-caps, I don't know. The Victor label keeps things simple: "Quartet German." Works for me. The mistimed intro is kind of amusing, with the bell player and organ on two different parts of the page. Did the bells start too early, or the organ too late? It's a little too late to do it over.
Joy to the World is credited to Handel and Isaac Watts on the Trinity Choir 78, though it's now the consensus that Lowell Mason wrote the tune, not Handel. The Watts credit is correct. FWIW, the words to Amazing Grace fit with this melody. They also go with the theme to Gilligan's Island. To fit words to any given melody, you need to know the number of syllables per line. That's the purpose of the confusing Metrical Index included in hymnals. On that note...
To the sounds: Christmas 2018, Part 4
Christmas Hymns and Carols, Nos. 1 and 2--Trinity Choir, 1912
Christmas Hymns and Carols, Parts 1 and 2--Trinity Choir, 1926
Frosty the Snow Man--Bud Roman and the Toppers w. the Hal Lomen Orch., 1952
The Night Before Christmas--The Music Hall Drama Group, 1948?
The Christmas Symphony--Shep Fields and His Rippling Rhythm Orch., v: Thelma Gracen and Ensemble, 1950
Ringing the Old Year Old--Descriptive (Currie)--Prince's Orch., 1911
Merry Christmas--Sleighing Song--Olive Kline, Soprano w. orchestra and Sleigh Bells, 1913
Around the Christmas Tree--Christmas Shoes--Elsie Baker, Contralto w. Orch., 1914
Overture Miniature (From Casse Noisette)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1912
Nut Cracker Ballet (Dance Characteristique)--Arthur Pryor's Band, 1911
The Star of Bethlehem (Adams)--Evan Williams, Tenor, 1923
Christmas Chimes (Chimes with String Quartette, Vocal Refrain; Vandersloot)--Salon Orchestra, 1932?
Joy to the World (Watts-Handel, though it's really Watts-Mason)--Trinity Choir, 1911
Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful (Oakeley-poss. King John IV of Portugal)--Same
O du frohliche, o du selige--Weimarsches Vokal-Quartett, 1911