A tenor, all singers above?
Nick Sales, tenor
Clive Woods, piano
This CD contains the tenor arias from the thirteen extant G&S operas, as well as those from selected other "Savoy" operas, and a couple of Sullivan songs. It is available at http://www.tenorecord.com.
Contents are as follows:
Recital discs are not my favorite genre, but one must surely make an exception for a disc so beautifully sung, by one who seems to have been born to the material. This is a voice thoroughly at ease in a wide range of moods, clear as a bell, and possessing flawless musical instincts. One is immediately struck by the intelligence of Nick's phrasing — he has worked hard on making every word tell. If anything (and this is only a minor complaint), I think that Nick could afford to luxuriate a bit more in the musical climaxes. Certainly he has done nothing here that could even remotely be described as self-indulgent.
The tracks are arranged, not in chronological order, but in a sequence of alternating moods. Clive Woods accompanies sensitively at the piano. There is regrettably no chorus, but I seriously missed them only in a couple of numbers. The CD is attractively packaged — lacking only for a biography of its star!
I have received many reviews, all favorable.
While I may be accused of some bias, I do consider it to be the best example of the genre (G&S artist selection) I have ever heard. The pure beauty of tone coupled with interpretation of the words is unequalled. The only weakness of the disc is the substitution of a piano for chorus sound in some of the songs, e.g. "The Nightingale" from Pinafore and the "Dreamy lullaby" bits of "A wandering minstrel, I," where the struck notes of the piano are bound to fade despite Clive Woods's best endeavours. This however is more than compensated for by the sheer quality of tone. The two artists give a virtuoso performance. The selection of songs and arias includes all that one would expect from a tenor, with many bonus numbers. Of particular note is "Orphus with his lute," which while mildly Schubertian is a fine example of an English art song, and shows off Nick's lyric tenor and Clive's sensitive accompaniment to perfection. The fact we took at least eight takes of the number demonstrates the degree of perfection demanded. There is a healthy selection of Sullivan without Gilbert, and the song order, I'm happy to report, has been decided for euphony of key, mood and tempo rather than the usual chronological order.
Whenever I hear Nick — and I would claim to have heard him more than most — I am thankful I'm an avowedly mediocre bass-baritone because not since Philip Potter in his prime has there been a better G&S tenor. (Of course Nick is more than just a G&S tenor).
If you only buy one G&S CD to take to a desert island this is it! Tenor Nick Sales combines the dramatic power of a Caruso with the lyricism and diction of the very best of the G&S tenors in his new CD "A tenor all singers above?"
There are many remarkable things about this CD, not the least of which is the purity of the interpretations. Nick is one of the least self-indulgent tenors I've encountered, and one of the most tasteful in his choices. What struck me most strongly are the things he did not do. He has completely eschewed interpolated high notes, portamenti, trills, and any other kind of ornamentation that Sullivan didn't write. The music is gracefully flexed but never contorted. He does not draw out the (very well-placed!) high notes in a show-off manner.
The interpretations on this recording are "traditional" but anything but tired, worn, or encrusted; they have the clean freshness of newly sanded wood. As ever, classic simplicity shows its worth. I found myself thinking, "Sullivan's shade must be grinning from ear to ear...."
There are many wonderful moods and colorations, but one of the unusual joys is that Nick's sense of humor comes across very clearly on the recording.
As a G&S pianist myself, I also took great interest in hearing Dr. Clive Woods's accompaniment, which is wonderful, of course.
In addition to the pure listening pleasure this recording will give anyone who acquires it, in my opinion it is also a highly valuable study tool, not just for aspiring G&S tenors and accompanists, but for nearly anyone involved in presenting G&S. So clean and crisp, so warm and alive...a delight in every way!
What a wonderful CD this is. It's sung with brilliance — but better than that, each offering stays within character. So many times, Sullivan's tenor airs and bits are sung à la drawing room — or laid on with tenorocity. Not here. Each item (and all the canon is represented and other Savoy — like my favorite of favorite's "A tale is told" from The Rose of Persia) has charm and variety. And good tempi — I mean, I've heard the Sorcerer airs done to dirge tempi — these are alive and kickin'. The only non-Sullivan selection is from the Hawes's version of His Excellency. And "The Lost Chord" sent (good) shivers up my spine. Excellent recording quality.