First up for members choice is Neil Corning a well known and respected
aficionado in the McCormack World........... Neil hails from Peabody MA
and many of the members will remember him for the talks he gave during
the International and Galway weekends.
1. Mother Machree Top of the list for me is the 1927 version. I played it many times for my mother and since her death have worn out several copies playing it in her memory.
2. The Old House A recording that captures McCormack's deep rooted ability to touch the heart and the meanings at the base of it all.
3. When Irish Eyes are Smiling In a different vein; his rendering of this song transforms it to the highest aspect and the truest meaning of a "lilting Ballad". No other singer comes close! Which of course is true with most of his interpretations. I often find myself asking "Why do I listen to anyone else?
.4. Crucifix A non McCormack I always have to include is a duet of Richard Crooks and Lawrence Tibbet. It is the Crucifix by Faure. Both of these singers had beautiful voices and in my opinion were at the top of their respective classes. This duet (unreleased) is simply magnificent! the voices blend and soar together so perfectly. For Victor not to have published this recording is a crime against music!!!!
5. The lass with the Delicate Air The Gwen Cately version of this song with its wonderful coloratura singing makes Galli-curci sound like a boy. It is a record to be played several times at first hearing to be sure you really heard what you thought you heard the very first time.
6. Toreador Song This song from Carmen, as sung by Lawrence Tibbet with its resonance and sheer power, phrasing and continuity is quite amazing.
7. Mary Shaw How could I forget this exquisite song by Father Sidney McEwan? With its heavenly singing and sung so hauntingly it is almost out of this world. I first heard it on a trip to Scotland and could not believe what I had heard. It is one of those discs that you have to play over and over again to really hear all its nuances. Just exquisite singing by a God given voice.
8. The holy City No list of mine could ever be complete without Richard Crooks solo of The Holy City. It is magnificent. I always play these record to show novices truly great singing. Of course I believe that Crooks had the most beautiful tenor voice God ever gave. He was capable of such power, yet beauty and the most wonderful shadings of his voice.
9. Giovannetza The Giovanni Martinelli version on disc is absolutely breathtaking!!! None of the so called modern tenors could sing with the power and passion that Martinelli had. He was a great dramatic tenor. Since he left the stage there has been no one to replace him. He had 33 seasons at the Met!!!
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Of Welsh and Irish extraction Bernie has for many years lived in Ajax, Ontario. He is a life long McCormack collector and a great source of knowledge on the tenor. On a recent visit to his homeland he was kind enough to share some of that knowledge when giving a presentation for the membership at the present Count John McCormack's restaurant in Dublin.
1. Kathleen Mavourneen (1927) This to me is John's greatest recording. Even my two great friends who were giants of McCormackism in the USA Jimmy Sheehan and the late John Teeling agreed with me. Schneider is also in his glory on this recording. His touch is just amazing.
2. A Necklace of Love (1934) This brings back happy memories of my own family when they were children.
3. When You and I were young Maggie (1919) This great Canadian song must have been the most recorded song of all time. I have twenty eight different versions of it but John's is by far the best, the acoustic one that is. The 1925 electric recording can't touch it.
4. Ben bolt (1914) This item brings tears to your eyes. As the late Bertha White once said to me, Bernard; this has to be the greatest thing John ever recorded. Bertha gave many presentations of John to many clubs in Toronto. I taped all the items for her programs. She was a wonderful lady and was an honorary president of the John McCormack Society of Ireland.
5. Come into the Garden Maud (1915) Once looked upon as a comedy item on the English stage around the turn of the century. John's wonderful recording left the stage comics looking for something else to put in their act. A very demanding song which I don't think anyone else could handle. The breath control on it is amazing.
6. Il Mio Tesoro (1916) No doubt everyone is aware that John's version of of this aria from Don Giovani is by far the best. Many of the great singers attest to this.
7. Friend O'Mine (1934) This is indeed the true meaning of friendship. As the late great Peter Dawson who recorded it once said, a true friend is everything you need in life.
8. Sweetly she sleeps my Alice Fair (1934) A wonderful example of how the Foster classic should be sung. Again Schneider excels with his magic touch on piano.
9. Just for today (1929) (The film version) This is much better than the 1926 recording in my view. Bertha White also thought so. She had me record it to play at her funeral. I also had to type out the words for her so she could have some copies printed to pass around at the funeral service.
10. Love's old sweet song (1927) This takes me back to my childhood years. On cold Winter Saturday nights the old folks would get together taking turns at each others houses for a few drinks and a sing song. Everyone concerned after a few drinks thought that they were a John McCormack or a Peter Damson. The most popular song they always came up with was these great old standard. John's version? Untouchable. Schneider? as always, classic.
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John Scally (Scotland)
The Editor of this website. Hails from Dumfries in Scotland.First became interested in McCormack about ten years ago. No real McCormack favourite's as such - Just enjoys listening to McCormack sing as only McCormack can. Only claim to fame; was denied entry to the McCormack Society's get together in Dublin for the international weekend - a tale still dined out on in certain Dublin circles.
1. Mignon: In Her Simplicity (1908) A lovely record, historically important because at the start of his career McCormack was possible as famous for this air as he later became for I Hear You Calling Me
2. Terences Farewell to Kathleen One of his most moving of interpretations. Listening to McCormack singing this song makes it so easy to picture the scene of the poor Irish lad resigned to losing his Kathleen and desperately trying to recall the right words for the occasion.
3. To The Children (1924) (Rachmaninov) with Edwin Schneider at piano and violin obligato by Fritz Kreisler. A beautiful example of John McCormack's voice at this point in his career. His superb artistry brings out the full poignancy and meaning of the words in this song. The last phrase 'The love of the father protect you' is deeply moving and express what others can only feel.
4. Mary Shaw Sung by Father Sidney MacEwan who became a great friend of the tenor. McCormack never recorded this song but did include it in some of his recitals. Originally the song only had one verse and presumably was considered to short to record. MacEwan had a second verse added and subsequently recorded it.......... Beautifully sung by one of the greatest ever interpreters of Celtic Music.
5. The Irish Emigrant (1928) ( Lady Dufferin) Another very moving interpretation of an Irish song. Sung with the feeling and skill that only Mccormack could employ.
6. I Hear You Calling me McCormack's best selling record. Recorded a number of times at various stages of his career. Just great singing. Requires no further comment.
Macushla (1911) (MacMurrough) The work of a mastersinger. One of his best recordings.
8 The Cloths of Heaven a fine interpretation of Yeat's lovely poem; most beautifully sung.
9. O soave fanciula 1914 La Boheme: (with Bori) Again as on so many occasions McCormack produces the unflawed performance. I rate this among his best operatic recordings.
10. Off to Philadelphia (1941) In the hands of McCormack this song makes real the extremely moving and emotional sentiments of the man emigrating to America, leaving friends and family behind, and like the character we shed a silent tear at the poignancy of the situation. This is a masterly performance from a singer who is certainly past his prime but very much in control of his fading resources
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