French baritone Martial Singher (1904-1990) first came to my
attention around a decade ago in recordings of Ravel’s Don
Quichotte à Dulcinée and Ronsard à son âme. Those
were the works’ premiere recordings and were made in 1934 in
Ravel’s presence. The orchestra was conducted by Piero Coppola.
They are available on EMI Classics 7243 5 65499 2 0. These gave
me a firm impression of Singher’s affinity with the French repertoire.
recordings include Stravinsky’s L' Histoire du Soldat
under Stokowski (Artemis) and Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande
under Emil Cooper (Naxos Historical). Also of interest is Singher’s
book, “An Interpretive Guide to Operatic Arias: A Handbook for
Singers and Coaches” (Pennsylvania State University Press),
which succeeds in capturing the inner business of singing and
interpretation to a remarkable degree.
MP3 download of ten recordings made in 1945 is of great significance
for aficionados of singing and French repertoire alike. It adds
greatly to the range of Singher’s available recordings, and
in the space of half an hour offers a thoroughly absorbing traversal
of arias ranging from the all but forgotten Lully and Grétry
operas to more familiar items by Berlioz, Offenbach and Bizet.
Throughout Singher’s affection for the music is evident, as
is his seemingly effortless and beautifully sonorous vocal production,
here matched by insight and idiomatic delivery. I defy anyone
to play these tracks through once and not do so immediately
again. Singher’s approach is so obviously right, and these recordings
are benchmark references in this repertoire.
might think twice about obtaining recordings by download, although
a growing number of source websites are available, not least
those dedicated to young and established artists of today. But
concerns over legality, security of download or sound quality
may remain. In my experience the reservations need not concern
you here. The Pristine Audio Direct website is one of the few
offering historical recordings from a reputable source, backed
by full documentation and guidance on the download process.
Helpful notes are also available on transferring the recordings
to a CD-R for playing on a standard CD player, which is much
to be preferred to computer-based listening. For those that
prefer buying a CD version to producing their own, this option
is available too.
Rose, the man behind Pristine Audio, has done a fantastic job
with the transfer and digital restoration of the tracks. Most
notable is the almost total lack of hiss, achieved without noticeable
dulling down or sacrifice of the top register as is so often
the case. Singher’s voice is full and immediate. So too is the
sound of the orchestra, their playing subtly coloured, attractive
and attentive to Breisach’s straightforward direction.
firmly hope that Andrew Rose will keep bringing such interesting
artists and repertoire into the twenty-first century. I urge
you strongly to visit and keep a close eye on the website (http://www.pristineaudiodirect.com/)
as your MP3/CD player will wait a long time to have it so good