Purcell, Schubert, Schumann, Fauré & Britten
‘Britten the performer’ should really be ‘Britten the pianist’, whom Gerald Moore rated above all song accompanists. These live recordings (1958) over-favoured the voice and were far from ideally balanced; the remastered applause is disagreeably harsh, and the piano distant and under-nourished. Nevertheless, Britten’s sensitive touch and range of colour are everywhere apparent. Pears’s word-centred approach best suits the English songs and Schumann; he was on top form, with a few harsh moments, easily forgiven, and wonderful control. I cannot previously recall hearing them in Fauré, but once adjusted to Pears’s idiosyncratic French, I found this marvellous cycle exciting and moving.