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 to Ian Bostgridge, and Purcell and Briten and Ades have written to their distinctive strengths.
Richard Lewis is now more fondly remember than well known, for contemporaries left more glamourous recordings, but (as John Steane points out in the accompamying note) on his night there was no-one to touch Lewis for strength of utterence; 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 fro 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.