Malcolm Martineau

Malcolm Martineau


• Born 1960


Although most closely identified with Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, with whom he has appeared and recorded to striking effect, Malcolm Martineau has established himself independently among the cream of singers and instrumentalists from the British Isles and beyond. One of a remarkable third generation of accompanists following the great Gerald Moore, Martineau combines a comprehensive technique, unfaltering musicality, and the ability to collaborate at the highest level with artists of widely varying temperaments and approaches. He has wisely made his way in an area of musical endeavor once regarded as highly unpromising and has become something of a star doing so.

Martineau was born in Edinburgh on February 3, 1960. In the British expression, he read music at St. Catherine's College at Cambridge, England. In 1981, he continued his studies at the Royal College of Music, where he primarily worked with Joyce Rathbone, but he also studied with Geoffrey Parsons, that paragon among all other post-Moore accompanists. Engaged as an accompanist for the Walther Grüner International Lieder Competition, Martineau was himself a winner, having been chosen as the best accompanist. He played for the winner of the lieder award at the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 1989, and that event turned out to be unexpectedly fortuitous: the first-place singer was Terfel, and the two artists would subsequently appear together often with the international spotlight trained on them. The following year, Martineau was an accompanist at the Elly Ameling Competition, once again working with the winning artist. At the Britten-Pears School at Aldeburgh, he has accompanied in master classes given by such luminaries as Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Suzanne Danco, Joan Sutherland, Kurt Equiluz, and Ileana Cotrubas. Under his own name, Martineau has presented two important series on song. At St. John's Smith Square in London, he offered a series on the complete songs of Debussy and Poulenc, and at London's venerable Wigmore Hall, he conducted a series devoted to Benjamin Britten's vocal works. Both series were broadcast by the BBC.

Along with appearing at many of the most important British festivals, Martineau has performed at the Salzburg, Vienna, and Aix-en-Provence festivals as well as on tours throughout North and South America. Recitals have taken him to most major European cities, Amsterdam, Paris, Munich, Berlin, and Milan, among them. The list of singers for whom he has provided accompaniment is extensive and multinational: Dame Janet Baker, Felicity Lott, Thomas Allen, Sarah Walker, Frederica von Stade, Tom Krause, Amanda Roocroft, Barbara Bonney, and Anne-Sofie von Otter, among many others. In addition, his performances with instrumentalists are equally convincing. He has collaborated with clarinetist Emma Johnson in both live performance and recording. Examples of Martineau's flexibility in recorded performance may be found in his work with such different artists as Susan Graham and Terfel. With Graham, the accompanist recorded a recital of songs by Ned Rorem, a composer with high regard for both French elegance and American simplicity. With Graham's luminous singing and direct diction, Martineau offers exemplary interplay, neither overstated nor too acquiescent. For the far more extroverted Terfel, Martineau is always responsive to the broad dynamics favored by the singer. In discs devoted to Schubert lieder, English songs, Schumann's Liederkreis, Op. 39, and Ballads and Romances, he supports his singer's vivid interpretations, often finding real magic, especially in the disc devoted to English song. In 2020, he was heard on a live recording of Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin, accompanying Thomas Oliemans.

Martineau received an honorary doctorate in 2004 from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and in 2016, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire.