Bruce Martin is a black-voiced bass-baritone whose immense strength also possesses wonderful finesse. His repertoire encompasses classical and contemporary opera, though he became especially noted for his Wagnerian roles – no-one who saw his Australian Opera performance as Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger will ever forget those performances.
This two-disc compilation features studio and live recordings made here and in South Africa. Most come from the 1970s and ‘80s, though the longevity of his voice is attested by a fine recording of the Mussorgsky Songs and Dances of Death from 1999. The repertoire here is huge, ranging from Mozart to Schubert, Verdi to Wagner, and to the further American shores of Lerner and Loewe’s ‘They Call the Wind Maria’, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and even the Paul Anka rewriting of Jacques Revaux’s ‘My Way’. This is overdue recognition of a special and often difficult career, which seemed crammed with triumphs and disappointments.
Long-time Australian Opera friend and patron Martin Dickson is right when he points to Martin’s fastidious attention to musical detail. What he doesn’t mention is how, despite the study, there seems an almost insolent ease in the way he throws out a well-nigh perfect version of Leporello’s ‘Catalog’ aria from Don Giovanni. That apparent ease is how it should be. It’s the mark of a great artist and there is an abundance of that in this indispensable collection.