Lieder (Partridge, Partridge)
Schubert: Lieder. Ian Partridge (tenor), Jennifer Partridge (piano). Enigma Classics
Young British singers and accompanists are currently competing with the best in Europe, and even in the Lied. The Partridges are not only in the running but well to the fore; yet the present performance though uniformly creditable and often excellent sounds more like national than an all-comers' record. It falls just short of that final dash and drive and finish that would have made it a clear winner. Perhaps there was too much emphasis on team tactics and techniques and not enough on sheer spontaneous exuberance. It might for example be over-concentration that impedes the free flow of Schubert's water music. In the first bars of the first song, Liebesbotschaft, the singer hears a running stream of demisemiquavers and hails it as silver-bright. But here and elsewhere the playing of such fountains is less than crystal clear, and the voice lacks total conviction and freedom both in initial entry and subsequent expression.
The technique is all there, and so is the talent, and so is the essential sense of textual fidelity (though the identifiable Peters edition is not necessarily a reliable rock on which to build, and the Gesamtausgabe or the Neue Schubert Ausgabe are much to be preferred). But like the hero of the most successful performance here, Der Wanderer an den Mond, they are not consistently at ease and at home. For instance, that song displays an effectively defined staccato; but what has become of it in the left hand of An Sylvia, where it should surely sound precisely plucked like a serenader's pizzicato? Again, the warmly expressive quality that imbues the second "kühl" in Bei dir allein ought to have pervaded many snore words in many more songs. A veil or two of reticence remains to be stripped off before the readily detectable beauty and shapeliness of tone and phrasing in voice and piano can effect the fully expressive confrontation that the intimate Lied form demands.
The sound quality is more than adequate and the standard of accuracy in text and translation is uncommonly high.
© gramophone, Jan. 1977 (p. 1168)