Nineteenth-Century French Baritones, Volume 1
Léon Melchissédec, Jean Lassalle, Max Bouvet, and Maurice Renaud
53024-2 (3 CDs) | $54 ($36 for preferred customers)
This set comprises some of the earliest and rarest recordings of French arias and songs, featuring four illustrious baritones: Léon Melchissédec, Jean Lassalle, Max Bouvet, and Maurice Renaud. All of these singers possessed technique and style firmly rooted in nineteenth-century teaching with their careers firmly established during the 1880s. The recordings heard on this compilation were made between 1899 and 1907, many of which are on fragile wax cylinders, which now survive only in the hands of a few fortunate collectors and audio preservation archives. The informative, comprehensive essay by Luc Bourrousse highlights the biographies and legacies of these singers, while discussing the merits of their recordings.
Léon Melchissédec, 1843-1925 was an invaluable member of three Paris companies: the Opéra-Comique, the Théâtre Lyrique, and the Paris Opéra. He is the earliest born French baritone to make authenticated commercial recordings beginning in 1899. Included in this compilation is his first recording, a seven-inch Berliner label disc, a group of Pathé cylinders, three discs for Zonophone, and six-disc sides for the APGA label recorded in 1907-1908.
Jean Lassalle, 1847-1909, was one of the greatest luminaries of the Paris Opéra, was a frequent guest in London, and an honored member of the Metropolitan Opera. Although his recordings were made when he was in his late fifties there is still much to be enjoyed in the way of style and technique. His first recordings were Pathé cylinders dating from 1902, some of which are released here on CD for the first time. Also included are his seven-disc sides for Odeon and two-Pantophone sides made in 1904 and 1905.
Max Bouvet, 1854–1943, began his career in café-concert and operetta. He joined the Opéra-Comique in 1884 remaining there until 1900. He also sang at Covent Garden and enjoyed a long stint at Monte-Carlo. He recorded exclusively for Pathé: cylinders in 1903 and 1904, and discs in 1907.
Maurice Renaud, 1861–1933, was the most internationally acclaimed of our four baritones. His thirty-seven-year career has been well-documented and we have already issued his complete Gramophone Company recordings on Marston 52005. We have now chosen this set for inclusion of Renaud’s extant Pathé recordings.
This compilation is one of our most important releases not only for the rarity of the recordings but more importantly for the understanding of French style displayed by these singers. We hope to follow this with a second baritone volume devoted to Lucien Fugère, 1848-1936, and Gabriel Soulacroix, 1854-1905.