Liederkreise opp. 24 and 39 (Robert Tear, Philip Ledger)
At long last we seem to have a whole British lieder school of younger singers and pianists who can challenge comparison with the rest (and best) of Europe. The records of some companies are more impressive than others. Argo in particular has long been noted for its enterprise. But I fear that this particular ship has been somewhat spoiled - for a spool of tape, it seems.
Philip Ledger is usually on the credit side of the balance. His expression is aptly shaded, e.g. in Mondnacht and Zwielicht. But his playing is so thoughtful that it sometimes seems over-deliberate. In particular Frühlingsnacht is hardly tempestuous enough for its theme. lf only the piano could have sounded a little less careful, and the voice rather more so, these might have been very fine performances. Some of Robert Tear's singing, such as the high rising contours of Berg' und Burgen, is sensitively shaped to the sense of the words. But having thus asserted his right to be judged by the highest standards, he all too frequently fails to attain them. To cite just two examples: the rhythm of Wehmut sounds sadly awry to me, and so does the articulation in Waldesgespräch. In these and other songs. I felt that just one more take might have achieved complete acceptability. As it is, we are too often given the penultimate in lieder-interpretation.
The Musical Times, Feb., 1974 (p. 139) © the estate of eric sams