Author Topic: English Tenors  (Read 5160 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3413
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
English Tenors
« on: June 10, 2007, 01:45:05 AM »
I pride myself on being pretty good at recognizing singers' voices. However, this month, Gramophone's covermount competetion is to identify a clutch of English tenors, and identify the odd one out. I am tempted to say the odd one out is Peter Pears, because his is the only voice I recognized. If Pears stands out, it is because, like him or hate him, there is something distinct and individual about his voice. The others all sound remarkably similar. Is this something intrinsic, to the teaching of the English choir tradition, where homogeneity of sound is paramount?

This doesn't really exist in other countries. For instance, if someone were to play for me, in quick succession a group of Italian tenors, say Pavarotti, Di Stefano, Corelli, Del Monaco and Bergonzi, I'm pretty sure I'd be able to work out who was whom. Indeed, I can hear their individual voices in my mind's ear, without having to listen to their records. Thoughts anyone?
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline Guido

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3324
  • 396 CCs
Re: English Tenors
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2007, 02:01:02 AM »
Not in my experience - I can usually tell the difference between those few English tenors that I know.
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

Offline Tsaraslondon

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3413
    • My blog
  • Location: London, UK
Re: English Tenors
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2007, 02:12:25 AM »
Not in my experience - I can usually tell the difference between those few English tenors that I know.

Which few are you thinking of?
\"A beautiful voice is not enough.\" Maria Callas

Offline knight66

  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 10101
  • Location: Edinburgh
Re: English Tenors
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2007, 04:56:05 AM »
I tend to agree that there is a lack of 'face' and individuality amongst the 'English' tenors and those I recognise, I home in on because of their defects. Pears....I shudder frankly. Langridge, gritty, Tear, nasal and acidic, Bostridge, the way he squeezes notes and chops up the legato.

I think Padmore is exceptional, but I am not sure I could tell him from Ainsley or Hill or Arthur Davis or Rendall. Partridge had a very sweet voice, but all these guys do have a somewhat anal delivery, except for Padmore who takes real risks. Anthony Rolfe Johnson is also exceptionally good, but, again, I cannot identify him from many of the others.

I do indeed think we have to blame the English choral tradition and especially Kings and St John's Cambridge, as so many singers emerge from these sources with all their professional contacts on a plate. The old boy network works overtime in this respect.

Mike

« Last Edit: June 10, 2007, 05:44:31 AM by knight »
DavidW: Yeah Mike doesn't get angry, he gets even.
I wasted time: and time wasted me.

Offline Guido

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3324
  • 396 CCs
Re: English Tenors
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2007, 03:39:03 PM »
I forgive Langridge any dodgy recordings - his recording of Deis Natalis by Finzi is absolutely sublime. He was fabulous when he sung Dream of Gerontius with us too.
Geologist.

The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away

Offline yashin

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 202
Re: English Tenors
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2007, 07:19:30 PM »
My favourites are:

Anthony Rolfe-Johnson - excellent Peter Grimes on CD.  Beautiful voice.  Also another great recording with Nagano of Billy Budd. His Captain Vere is terrific.

Phillip Langridge has already been mentioned.  I enjoy his performances of the above Britten roles too.

I very much enjoy listening to John Brecknock who can be heard on La Traviata (chandos) and Eugene Onegine (chandos).  Clear diction and a beautiful voice.

Offline mjwal

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 525
  • Location: Lagorce/France - Berlin
  • Currently Listening to:
    Goehr, Beethoven, William Lawes, Giuffre Trio, Steve Lacy, Eisler
Re: English Tenors
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2007, 05:29:34 AM »
The greatest English tenor by far was Heddle Nash - whose rendition of the Des Grieux "Dream Song" (sic) is magical, quite apart from his unmatched Gerontius.
The Violin's Obstinacy

It needs to return to this one note,
not a tune and not a key
but the sound of self it must depart from,
a journey lengthily to go
in a vein it knows will cripple it.
...
Peter Porter

Offline Susan de Visne

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 32
Re: English Tenors
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2007, 05:46:03 AM »
No-one has yet rivalled Peter Pears for sheer personality, musicality and delivery of text, whether in Bach, Schubert or Britten, and whether you like his voice or not (I do).

The current ones are a bit interchangeable - all efficient, all quite good, but lacking the extra spark - except perhaps for Mark Padmore. He's the one I have the most hope about. Ian Partridge was a pleasure to listen to, but possibly rather limited. I was a big Anthony Rolfe Johnson fan, but although I know about Heddle Nash by repute, I don't remember him.

Offline The new erato

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 15378
Re: English Tenors
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2007, 07:03:39 AM »
The Dudley Moore Pers/Britten parody (available somewhere on youtube) is incredible, and quite deadly to both's mannerisms as singer and composer. Absolutely mandatory viewing.

Offline Susan de Visne

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 32
Re: English Tenors
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2007, 09:23:23 AM »
I agree, the Dudley Moore is very funny.

I should have added Toby Spence and Robert Murray as two good new-ish tenors.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2007, 09:26:09 AM by Susan de Visne »

Boris_G

  • Guest
Re: English Tenors
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2007, 12:50:20 PM »
No one's mentioned John Mark Ainsley, who I think is very distinctive and one of the finest lyric English tenors today. Unlike so many English tenors, his voice has kept its freshness and he has a fine way of projecting text. There's an excellent new album of Finzi songs (some of them surprisingly astringent yet compelling) he's released on Naxos - well worth getting.