Episode 212. Ian Partridge

Episode 212. Ian Partridge



Ian Partridge, the quintessential English lyric tenor, celebrated his 85th birthday in June. I may be a few weeks late in celebrating that event, but my enthusiasm and admiration for this singer has remained at a consistent level ever since I first discovered his voice on a recording of songs by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Partridge, in fact, has left a vast recorded legacy, including work as both a solo concert artist and recitalist and as a member of such distinguished choral groups as Pro Cantione Antiqua, the Purcell Consort of Voices, and the Louis Halsey Singers. His solo repertoire ranged from 11th century plainsong to the thornier musical 20th century idioms of Schoenberg and Britten. This episode samples the vast array of that recorded legacy, including examples from the Baroque period by Bach, Schütz, Handel, and Monteverdi; through art songs by Schubert, Brahms, Fauré, Bax, Gurney, and Warlock. We also hear him live from Covent Garden in his sole operatic role, the Carthaginian poet Iopas in Berlioz’s Les Troyens, and in lute songs and consort music by Campion and Byrd. In all these performances the voice is produced with such ease, the tone so pure and ethereally beautiful, yet never faked or “finessed,” while the interpretations themselves, no matter the musical style, are full of depth, integrity, and subtlety. Here is an enormously satisfying artist who embodies integrity and dedication to his craft. Guest stars include Jill Gomez, Nigel Rogers, Pierre Boulez, Benjamin Britten, Colin Davis, Ernest Ansermet, Norman Walker, Prunella Scales, and the tenor’s sister, pianist Jennifer Partridge, with whom he gave over 400 song recitals.


Frederick Delius

Frederick Delius: To Be Sung of a Summer Night on the Water, Op. 91/2. Ian Partridge, Louis Halsey, The Louis Halsey Singers [1969]

David Willcocks (1919 – 2015)

George Frideric Handel, Psalm 28: The Lord is my strength and my shield (The Lord is My Light [Chandos Anthem No. 10], HWV 255). Ian Partridge, David Willcocks, Academy of St Martin in the Fields [1968]

Grayston Burgess (1932 – 2019), countertenor and founder of the Purcell Consort of Voices

Hermannus Contractus: Alma redemptoris mater. Ian Partridge [as member of The Purcell Consort of Voices] [1966]

PIerre Boulez (1925 – 2016)

Arnold Schoenberg: Geboten gehorchen, die blos das Ohr vernimmt (Die Jakobsleiter). Ian Partridge, Pierre Boulez, BBC Symphony Orchestra [1980]

Ivor Gurney (1890 – 1937)

Ivor Gurney, Edward Shanks: The Singer. Ian Partridge, Jennifer Partridge [1980]

Norman Walker (1907 – 1963)

Georges Bizet, Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges, Jules Adenis [after Walter Scott]: Love’s a flame of fierce desire [Quand la flamme de l’amour] (La jolie fille de Perth [The Fair Maid of Perth]). Norman Walker, Thomas Beecham, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra [live BBC broadcast VI.49]

Pro Cantione Antiqua (Ian Partridge is third from the right in the back row)

Thomas Ford: There is a lady sweet and kind. Pro Cantione Antiqua [Ian Partridge (director and solo), Kevin Smith, James Griffett, Brian Etheridge], Christopher Wilson, William Hunt [1980]

Ian Partridge performing in Victorian costume on a 1982 television program

Scottish Folk Song, arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams: Ca’ the yowes. Ian Partridge, Christopher Bishop, London Madrigal Singers [1970]

Henry Purcell, Thomas Betterton [after William Shakespeare], adapted and realized Benjamin Britten: See, my many-coloured fields (The Fairy Queen). Ian Partridge, Benjamin Britten, English Chamber Orchestra [1970]

Ian Partridge in a still from the 1976 telecast of Saint Nicolas.

Benjamin Britten, Eric Crozier: Nicolas is thrown into prison (Saint Nicolas, Op. 42). Ian Partridge, Russell Burges, Orchestra Nova of London [1976 television production]

Hector Berlioz (libretto by the composer after Virgil): Ô blonde Cérès (Les Troyens). Ian Partridge, Colin Davis, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden [live London 30.IX.69]

NIgel Rogers (1935 – 2022)

Claudio Monteverdi, Ottavio Rinuccini: Zefiro torna e di soavi accenti (Sesto libro di madrigali). Ian Partridge, Nigel Rogers, Jürgen Jürgens, Colin Tilney, Werner Kauffmann, Heinrich Haferland, Hans Koch, Eugen M. Dombois, Michael Schäffer, Helga Rehm, Günter Klein, Gudula Lehmann-Grube, Elisabeth Hahn, Käthe Wagner [1972]

Jill Gomez, Countess of Northesk

Robert Schumann, Moritz Horn: Da klingt sein Lied… Ich weiss ein Röslein prangen (Die Rose Pilgerfahrt, Op. 112). Ian Partridge, Jill Gomez, Pierre Boulez, BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus [live London 9.IV.75]

Heinrich Schütz (1585 – 1672)

Heinrich Schütz: Da nun Herodes sahe, dass er von den Weisen betrogen war (Historia der Geburt Jesu Christi, SWV 435). Ian Partridge, Roger Norrington, Charles Spinks, Keith Harvey, Rodney Statford [1971]

Ernest Ansermet (1883 – 1969)

Johann Sebastian Bach: Kann ich nur Jesum mir zum Freunde machen (Herr, gehe nicht ins Gericht, BWV 105). Ian Partridge, Ernest Ansermet, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande [1967]

Johannes Brahms, Detlev von Liliencron: Auf dem Kirchhofe, Op. 105/4. Ian Partridge (tenor, piano) [BBC recording, first broadcast 20.III.72]

Jennifer Partridge

Franz Schubert, Johann Mayrhofer: Nachtviolen, D. 752. Ian Partridge, Jennifer Partridge [BBC 13.X.71]

The Partridges in concert, Spain 1987

Gabriel Fauré, Louis Pomey: Aubade [L’oiseau dans le buisson], Op. 6/1. Ian Partridge, Jennifer Partridge [1975]

Ralph Vaughan Williams, Fredegond Shove: The Water Mill (Four Poems by Fredegond Shove, No. 4). Ian Partridge, Jennifer Partridge [1980]

Philip Heseltine [AKA Peter Warlock] (1894 – 1930)

Peter Warlock [né Philip Heseltine], William Butler Yeats: The Withering of the Boughs [excerpt] (The Curlew). The Music Group of London [David Butt, Janet Craxton, Hugh Bean Frances Mason, Christopher Wellington, Eileen Croxford] [1974]

Arnold Bax (1883 – 1953)

Arnold Bax (text by the composer, as Dermot O’Byrne): When we are lost. Ian Partridge, Michael Dussek [2004]

Ian Partridge, Richard Burnett, Prunella Scales, rehearsing for their Evening with Queen Victoria program

Prince Albert, Viscount Fordwick (words by Queen Victoria, arranged by Katrina Hendrey) Pretty Baby (from An Evening with Queen Victoria). Ian Partridge, Prunella Scales, Richard Burnett [unknown date]

William Byrd, Philip Sidney: Lord, how vain are all our frail delights (excerpt). Ian Partridge, Phantasm [Laurence Dreyfus, Jonathan Manson, Markku Luolajan-Mikkola, Wendy Gillespie] [2000]

Ian Partridge and Jakob Lindberg, still from a 1985 Norwegian television documentary

Thomas Campion: Never weather-beaten sail. Ian Partridge, Jakob Lindberg [verse 1: 1983] Paul Beier [verse 2: 2015]

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