Purcell/Britten

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Purcell/Britten
LABELS: ASV Quicksilva
WORKS: Winter Words
PERFORMER: Ian Partridge (tenor) George Malcolm (harpsichord) Jennifer Partridge (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD QS 6172 ADD (1978/77)
This is a neat and generous recompilation from discs originally published in 1978 and 1977. The Purcell songs – and all the best numbers are there – do sound a little dated, less because of Ian Partridge’s approach than because of the slightly aggressive timbre of the all-purpose harpsichord that George Malcolm plays. One misses, too, the enrichment to which we have become accustomed nowadays of string bass, or indeed the timbral options of lute or organ. Yet the spirit of this music comes through singer’s and accompanist’s veins. Partridge’s reading, with his sister Jennifer at the piano, of Britten’s Hardy cycle, Winter Words, misses the sheer passion of, say, Robert Tear, though the straightforward clarity of his enunciation is a measure of compensation. But I feel this is a performance only in the making, where accuracy takes precedence over the curiously observed spirit of Hardy’s verses.The original analogue sound comes up remarkably well in its new digital incarnation. Stephen Pettitt

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