The Edward German discography

The 1918 HMV Merrie England
HMV Album Cover
Queen Elizabeth Edna Thornton
The Earl of Essex Charles Mott
Sir Walter Raleigh John Harrison
Walter Wilkins George Baker
Silas Simkins Ernest Pike
Long Tom Edward Halland
Big Ben George Baker
Bessie Throckmorton Bessie Jones
Jill-all-alone Edna Thornton
The May Queen Bessie Jones
Kate Edna Thornton
Conductor: Sir Edward German 
Recorded: March and April, 1918
Composers' recordings of their own works have always been considered special. Poor Arthur Sullivan died a decade too soon, or perhaps we would have had a recording or two of something other than just his voice. German, being Sullivan's younger colleague, lived long enough to commit his major compositions to records.When this recording was re-issued on LP in 1978, The Gramophone [February 1978, (Vol. 55), pg. 1477] wrote:
"What is immediately striking about [these recordings] is the way in which they parallel the progress of Elgar's early recording career. Perhaps one should not go on to labour the fact that, whereas Elgar went on to remake most of his recordings in the electrical era, German was presumably not asked to do so. Five years Elgar's junior, German was still conducting in the late 1920s; but his only electrical recordings were a couple of records on the Metropole label. A request to remake Merrie England for Columbia in the 1930s came too late (he had conducted the work for the BBC in 1928); but apparently the neglect of his music had by then caught hold.... Cast one's mind beyond sixty years of crackle and the limitations of the acoustic recording process, and one can hear too what exceptionally fine performances these are — performances that bring out the charm, fluency and flexibility of the music. German was obviously justly famed as a conductor of his own music. This is evident not least on the three sides devoted to an almost complete version of Merrie England. Crisp, committed singing combines to make this a performance that make one wish that modern recording techniques had been available to capture it." 
Through some generosity of Chris Webster, I was finally able to hear the Sounds-on-CD reissue. The tempi 0f the 1918 recording are fairly quick, and the opera is nearly complete. Only one verse of "That Ev'ry Jack" is given, and the drinking song "The Sun in the Heavens" is shorn of its second verse. Oddly, the "Big Brass Band" number was not recorded - Walter Wilkins has been effectively cut out of the second act entirely! Also, any music from his awful play of "St. George and the Dragon" is absent. "Robin Hood's Wedding" has only three verses. I can tell that there is no "chorus" - it is merely the principals singing as a mini-chorus. They really needed another woman to balance it, and also to prevent vocal crossing in the Act 1 Finale.
Webster's transfer is very good, although the hiss and crackles are still present. He also includes two bonus tracks of intro music for Nos. 2 and 3, and 11 and 12. Apparently they were used to close each side, and if they were left in for the reissue, their function would simply be lost on a modern listener. So they are included as bonus tracks at the close of the first disc.
Issue History
1918 HMV 78rpm D18/28 Eleven 12" double-sided discs
1978 Rare Recorded Editions LP RRE 168/9 Also includes selections from Tom Jones conducted by the composer, and selections from that opera and The Emerald Isle with the Coldstream Guards Band conducted by Lt-Col. J. MacKenzie-Rogan.
1999 Sounds on CD CD VMC 201 Also includes 1931 Columbia Abridged Recording
Recording Details
1 Introduction: Rustic Dance and Jig (Light Opera Orchestra)
2 Opening Chorus, pt. 1: Sing a-down, a-down (Full Chorus)
3 Opening Chorus, pt. 2: Now choose me two men (Jones) ...Duet and Chorus: We are two proper men (Baker, Halland)
4 Song and Chorus: O, where the deer do lie (Thornton)
5 Song and Chorus: I do counsel that your playtime (Baker)
6 Quintet: Love is meant to make us glad (Thornton, Jones, Mott, Pike, Halland)
7 She had a letter from her love (Jones)
8 Duet: Come to Arcadie (Harrison, Jones)
9 Song and Chorus: The Yeomen of England (Mott)
10 Long live Elizabeth (Full Chorus)
11 Song and Chorus: O, peaceful England (Thornton)
12 Song and Chorus: King Neptune (Baker)
13 Finale, Act I, pt. 1: It is a tale of Robin Hood (Thornton, Jones, Baker, Halland)
14 Finale, Act I, pt. 2: We are four men of Windsor (Thornton, Jones, Harrison, Baker, Pike, Halland
15 Finale, Act I, pt. 3: My troth is plighted (Thornton, Jones, Harrison
16 Opening Chorus: The month o' May (Thornton)
17 Quartet: In England, Merrie England (Thornton, Jones, Mott, Pike)
18 Quartet and Male Chorus: The Sun in the Heavens (Thornton, Jones, Mott, Pike)
19 Duet: It is the Merry Month of May (Thornton and Harrison)
20 The English Rose (Harrison)
21 Duet and Chorus: Two merry men a-drinking (Mott, Pike)
22 Waltz Song: O, who shall say that love is cruel (Jones)
23 Song and Trio: When Cupid first this old world trod (Mott with Thornton, Jones, Pike)
24 Finale, Act II: Robin Hood's Wedding (Thornton, Jones, Mott, Pike & Chorus)
contributed by Marc Shepherd
Sounds on CD album cover
Other recordings of Merrie England