Many, perhaps most,
possibly even all Marston’s vocal issues are self-recommending.
That’s because of the comprehensiveness of the enterprises,
the extremely high level of the transfer engineering - even
when the voice is brought forward - and not least the booklet
annotations and discographical information. This latest self-recommending
disc is devoted to the Supervia, volume two.
Naturally there may
be theoretical dissent, given that a number of her records have
been reissued over the years. But there are some intractable and
tough-to-find rarities even in these 1929-30 sides and you’d have
to be something of an assiduous collector to have acquired all
So a warm welcome
is extended to this excellently executed two-disc set, one that’s
pretty much filled to the brim. Supervia’s repertoire here embraces
her favoured Rossini, Thomas, folk songs, zarzuela, aria antiche,
and the famous 1930 De Falla Siete canciones populares españolas
with pianist Frank Marshall; there are Spanish favourites and
arrangements and more besides. It shows her in the round and often
at her very best.
Her Rossini, only
one example here alas, is brilliantly done. Those unfamiliar
with her however will notice immediately the one thing indivisible
from her reputation and that is her highly personal and idiosyncratic
vibrato. Its rapid oscillation will prove an insuperable problem
to the unwary and unsympathetic but collectors know what they’re
getting and this is an edition aimed very squarely at them.
It’s unfortunate that so vibrant a singer as she was teamed
with the straight-backed and dull dog Vincenzo Bettoni in the
Thomas extract. One of her best known recorded cycles was Gennai’s
Canzoncine with her spoken introductions. Everything
about this is delightful – from her lilting and characterful
introductions to the diaphanous wit of the orchestrations. Filastrocca
dell’asino has always been my favourite with Supervia’s
donkey impersonation a treat - albeit her vibrato here and elsewhere
is of the intense rattling variety.
technical peculiarity need not draw one too far from some imperishable
beauties in this collection. Sample the lovely floated tone
in the Delibes Eglogue or the passionate conviction of
the 1930 Barcelona recording of the Falconieri Occhieti amati.
Her aria antiche have a verdant conversational freshness
– the Paisiello in particular – though it’s one garnished with
a full complement of rubati, portamenti and florid vocalising,
Her Grieg is vitiated by the width of her viciously oscillatory
vibrato and her Delibes Les filles de Cadix sees some
imperfectly taken runs – but what personality!
Her de Falla is
really magnificent even when most contentious. With the galvanizing
Spanish pianist Frank Marshall she turns in a performance of
total involvement. The vibrantly communicative element of her
musicianship is not one to be compromised by the recording process
and one can easily extrapolate the nature of her effect in recital
or concert from this March 1930 traversal. There’s electric
vitality in Asturiana, explosive tension in Polo,
and expressive depth and power throughout. The two pieces
from El amor brujo are both exceptionally highly spiced
– maybe a touch too much for timid souls. But her Granados Andaluza
surely brooks little opposition. Interestingly this was
recorded before the voice and piano transcription was published
the following year.
here, as previously noted, are as high as ever. The Marston
marque is one of dedication and quality.