‘If I could tell you’ is the chef d’œuvre of Idabelle Firestone, a name which probably trips more naturally off the American tongue but is rolled around in wonderment by the English. Née Smith, she became Mrs Harvey Samuel Firestone, founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. They were sponsors of the Firestone programmes, catering for a large audience and engaging many of the best-known singers in America. The programmes were somewhat like the Palm Court series in Britain: for the singer an operatic aria and a couple of melodious songs with light orchestral music in between. The American programme had, by stipulation of the sponsors, to open with ‘If I could tell you’. Eleanor Steber was said to be, of all their singers, the one who sang it best.
from notes by John Steane © 2011