Richard Lewis: The Great Welsh Tenor
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1750)
1. Recit: So long the memory shall last; Air: While Kedronís brook (Joshua) [4:29]
2. Recit: Deeper, and deeper still; Air: Waft her, angels (Jephtha) [7:46]
3. Air: Would you gain the tender creature (Acis and Galatea) [4:51]
4. Arietta: For ever blessed (Jephtha) [2:05]
5. Recit: My arms! Air: Sound an alarm (Judas Maccabaeus) [3:56]
6. Air: War, he sung, is toil and trouble (Alexanderís Feast) [5:28]
7. Air: Total eclipse! (Samson) [4:33]
8. Air: Whereíer you walk (Semele) [4:32]
9. Recit: Thanks to my brethren. Air: How wain is man (Judas Maccabaeus) [5:22]
Folksongs of the British Isles (trad. arr. Dorumsgaard)
10. Bingo. - sung in English [1:41]
11. Ar hyd y nos (All through the night) - sung in Welsh [2:41]
12. King Arthurís servants - sung In English [1:39]
13. Grad gael mo chridh (Eriskay Love Lilt) - sung in Gaelic [3:39]
14. The Helston Furrry Dance - sung In English [1:52]
15. Dafydd y garreg wen (David of the White Rock) - sung in Welsh [2:54]
16. The foggy, foggy dew - sung in English [3:10]
17. The shuttering lovers - sung in English [1:39]
18. The Maypole Song - sung in English [1:48]
19. I will give my love an apple - sung in English [1:46]
20. O love, it is a killing thing - sung in English [2:09]
21. Buy broom buzzems - sung in English [1:46]
22. O Waly, waly - sung in English. [5:05]
23. Thereís none to soothe - sung in English [2:15].
24. The briery bush - sung in English. [2:11]
Richard Lewis (tenor)
London Symphony Orchestra/Malcolm Sargent (Handel)
Chamber Orchestra/Charles Mackerras (Folksongs)
Tina Bonifacio (harp)
rec. no dates or locations supplied
No Texts
REGIS RRC1375 [79:33]

Richard Lewis was almost as much associated with the role of Gerontius as his great predecessor, Heddle Nash. Lewis went one better than Nash, though, in one respect, recording the work twice, first with Sargent and then with Barbirolli. He also recorded much Handel with Sargent including complete, or as-good-as-complete (for the time) recordings of Israel in Egypt, Acis and Galatea and Messiah. This Regis disc disinters the separate Handel arias album he made with Sargent in 1957, and adds the Folksongs disc made the following year with Charles Mackerras.

The Handel arias were plumped out, bedecked in rich panoply Ė Sargentís own work I assume Ė that even then might have seen as a little over-romanticised. After all, Anthony Bernard, Boyd Neel, Arnold Goldsbrough and Anthony Lewis, amongst others, had been ploughing the field of smaller-scale, more incisively rhythmic baroque performances for quite some time. This, however, was not Sargentís thing, and one must accept the plush, Rolls Royce accompaniments for what they are.

Lewis sings ardently and imaginatively. Sometimes there are over-emphases, as occasionally in the aria from Joshua, While Kedronís brook. Waft her, angels is beautifully done, and it suits the voice, though one canít really be persuaded that he reaches the peaks of intimacy and loss that Nash had before him. For ever blessed, again from Jephtha, is warmly sung, but Sargent tends to jog-trot through War, he sung, is toil and trouble, which is a pity as itís slightly unusual repertoire to sing, for the time, and comes from Alexanderís Feast. Sound an alarm lacks the clarion call of another of his tenorial predecessors, Walter Widdop, who sounds as if he damn well meant it, but Lewis is a touch gentlemanly about it all; itís more of a question than a command.

The Folksongs were arranged by one ĎDorumsgaardí. Suspicious minds might think it was a pseudonym for Mackerras who did quite a bit of this sort of thing at around this time, but it must be Arne Dorumsgaard, who was a prolific arranger and who also composed. An awful lot of British singers essayed this sort of repertoire one way or another; one thinks of Alfred Deller singing I will give my love an apple, for example, or Wilfred Brown who sang David of the White Rock (in English; Lewis sings it in Welsh, very properly as a Mancunian Welshman), and Bingo. Again, though, these Dorumsgaard arrangements, like Sargentís, are a bit broad brush and artful, and are at their best when they simmer down and have the confidence to suggest gently.

Ar hyd y nos (All through the night) is very beautiful, and shows Lewisís unstrained legato; itís taken very slowly. His humour shines through in King Arthurís servants, and elsewhere he sings with sincerity and directness, in English, Welsh and Gaelic. His head voice is put to good effect too, not least in O love, it is a killing thing.

An almost-exactly similar compilation, including the entire Handel arias disc, and almost all the same folksongs, is out on Dutton CDCLP4003. Itís much to be preferred to Regisís release, being more detailed, and with better spatial separation. Thereís also, from time to time, some strange distortion on the Regis Ė notably Sound an Alarm. So if you want Lewis in this repertoire, stick with Dutton.

Jonathan Woolf

If you want Lewis in this repertoire, stick with Dutton.