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The Three Disc Symphonion & Other Victorian Musical Boxes

Album Summary

>Anonymous, Music Box : Symphonion (three-disc)
>Anonymous, Music Box : Le Crois & Co. 'Mandolin, Harp, Piccolo, Zither' cylinder box
>Anonymous, Music Box : Polyphon (24 1/2-inch disc)
>Anonymous, Music Box : Paillard, Vaucher, Fils cylinder box
>Anonymous, Music Box : Nicole Freres interchangeable cylinder box
>Anonymous, Music Box : Regina (15 1/2-inch disc)
>Anonymous, Music Box : Work(s)
Composer
Notes & Reviews:

The English label Saydisc has devoted a significant part of its catalog to high-quality recordings of vintage mechanical instruments, covering a wide range of machines thanks to its long association with the now dispersed Roy Mickleburgh Collection. One of the very best of Saydisc's collections of this kind is The Three Disc Symphonion & Other Victorian Musical Boxes, an early (1984) CD compilation of recordings made of various devices in the Mickleburgh and Tony Sheriff Collections made between 1965 and 1983. The star of the show is the three-disc symphonion named in the title, a gigantic music box made around 1900 that is shaped like a grandfather clock, and when its front door is closed, appears to be one. However, the clock mechanism is only in the head of the cabinet; the rest contains three 13" discs that work in concord, playing different elements of an arrangement. You can use "A," "B," and "C" discs to get the full orchestration, or just three copies of an "A" disc to get the most basic arrangement, only SUPER LOUD. That is the basic premise of this compilation, focusing on machines that make use of multiple elements -- two or three combs, overlapping discs, external attachments as a drum or even a zither -- to deliver highly sophisticated arrangements of the popular fare usually heard on music boxes. The arrangers who designed the punched-out discs or pinned cylinders that served as software for these devices really understood the capabilities of their instruments. The anonymous piece that opens the second medley of tunes played from the cylinder box by Paillard, Vaucher & Fils is scored in a multi-dimensional manner that makes effective use of negative space and alternating voices, not only to provide a novel effect, but also to enhance the quality of the composition.

About the only thing wrong with The Three Disc Symphonion is the slight variability of the sound -- understandable owing to the long historical compass of the source recordings -- and, in reviving this CD after a lengthy period of unavailability, it is a pity that Saydisc did not return to readdress the content. Much of the titling and information about pieces probably reflects how they appear on the source software -- the three-disc symphonion's "Liberty Bell" is -- as any fan of Monty Python's Flying Circus would know -- more properly "The Liberty Bell," a march by John Philip Sousa. Fanciers of sacred song, however, will recognize the first of the "three unidentified titles" on the Nicole Freres interchangeable cylinder box as the once-popular hymn "Safe in the Arms of Jesus." Apart from these things, no one with even a middling interest in "old-time" mechanical instruments can fail to be impressed with the great variety of machines and tunes compiled on Saydisc's The Three Disc Symphonion & Other Victorian Musical Boxes. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis



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Works Details

>Anonymous, Music Box : Symphonion (three-disc) :: Tuxedo Polka / Old Folks at Home / After the Ball
  • Running Time: 2 min. 45 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Le Crois & Co. 'Mandolin, Harp, Piccolo, Zither' cylinder box :: Monastery Bells (Lefevre) / Cuckoo's
  • Running Time: 2 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Polyphon (24 1/2-inch disc) :: Bedouin Love Song / The Empire and the Tivoli / Vienna Hearts March
  • Running Time: 6 min. 33 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Paillard, Vaucher, Fils cylinder box :: "Cavatina" from Barber of Seville (Rossini) / Unidentified mel
  • Running Time: 3 min. 49 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Symphonion (three-disc) :: Darkies' Dream / "Tyrolean" from William Tell (Rossini) / Gavotte d'Amour
  • Running Time: 2 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Nicole Freres interchangeable cylinder box :: Three unidentified melodies
  • Running Time: 2 min. 53 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Regina (15 1/2-inch disc) :: Sailor's Hornpipe / Hail Smiling Morn / Hunting Song / Danse du Ventre Po
  • Running Time: 3 min. 44 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Symphonion (three-disc) :: The Last Rose of Summer / Liberty Bell / "Intermezzo" from Cavalleria Rusti
  • Running Time: 2 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Work(s) :: Ten-air cylinder box with drums and bells
  • Running Time: 5 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Polyphon (24 1/2-inch disc) :: Alpine Stars / The Rat-Catcher's Song / "Love, Love" from The Geisha
  • Running Time: 5 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Paillard, Vaucher, Fils cylinder box :: Unidentified melody / The Tide / Unidentified melody
  • Running Time: 3 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Symphonion (three-disc) :: Paradise Alley / The Blue Danube / O Promise Me
  • Running Time: 2 min. 44 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Anonymous, Music Box : Work(s) :: Symphonion (11 3/4-inch disc)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic