Great subject Malcolm.
Eight years ago, I worked on a graduate thesis re: chamber music in early sound recordings. At the time the earliest chamber music recording I could find came from Julius Bloch’s famous trip to Moscow for the Edison lab in Orange, NJ. That would be a Dec. 1894 recording of Anton Arensky’s Trio in D minor, op.32. The original source material comes from the Phonogram Archive of the Institute of Russian Literature of the Academy of Sciences. The composer is at the piano having completed the work only a few month’s before Bloch recorded him. Anatoly Brandukov is the cellist and Jan Hrímalý is the violinist. It’s a pretty dreadful affair sonically, as you might expect, and technically not “early commercial period” although certainly intended for commerce.
Ward Marston, Scott Kessler and Jerry Fabris (who worked with the original source material) released an excerpt of it on, The Dawn of Recording: The Julius Block Cylinders. There is also a considerable amount of additional material from the late 19th-century on this CD set. The earliest pianists and singers recorded were taken down in 1890. Marston Records should still have it. It’s not cheap, but you can get all the recording session details for free on the website.
Other members on the ARSC list serve may know of earlier musical material and I’d be most appreciative if they’d share details. You never know when I might get that thesis beyond a second draft.
> On Apr 1, 2019, at 12:39 PM, Malcolm <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> A friend has inquired about possible CDs that have material on them
> from the earliest days of recording, c. 1895 to c. 1915. I sent him the
> link for the Sooy brothers stint at Victor and he's interested in hearing
> about what he's read.
> I found the narrative wonderful and educational, as did he.
> So what CD would be most indicative of this early commercial period
> in our recorded history?
> Malcolm R
> PS - I will be cross posting, but only to 78L. M