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Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis Live in recital 20 February 1963

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This recital, recorded in stereo, captures the sound of both the English tenor as a breed and a particular English tenor at the height of his expressive powers and vocal estate. There have been and continue to be many such, of course, from John Beard to Ian Bostridge, and Purcell and Britten and Ad s have written to their distinctive strengths.

Richard Lewis is now more fondly remembered than well known, for contemporaries left more glamorous recordings, but (as John Steane points out in the accompanying note) on his night, there was no-one to touch Lewis for strength of utterance; nor indeed for sympathy of response to the widest variety of idiom.

One such night is preserved here. A single song-cycle (Britten's On This Island) at the recital's heart; powerfully delivered highpoints from oratorio and opera at its opening and close, and in between, French and English song, brought the closer to us, almost half a century later, by Lewis's own introductions.