Saturday, March 20, 2010

Philip Langridge (1939-2010)

(Langridge doing Comfort Ye from Handel's Messiah with Neville Marriner and Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Everything's here...the gorgeous vocal sound, the impeccable English elocution, the unshakable enthusiasm always controlled by the most sensitive musical intelligence.)

My favorite English Tenor (yes, I have a favorite English tenor, I conduct near Brickskellar on Sundays if you want to beat me up) sadly passed away after a very quick battle with cancer. Langridge had all the intelligence of Peter Pears before him and Ian Bostridge after, but without that weird reedy quality generally associate with both of them (it's a bit like listening to Beeker sing opera). Not only was his voice far richer but he was far more versatile - imagine Peter Pears singing Janacek or Ian Bostridge singing Wagner, or for that matter Mark Padmore singing Birtwistle. And still moreso, he seemed indestructable. I watched the Met's broadcast of Hansel and Gretel (one of the few pieces I really hate with an abiding passion) just so I could watch a 70-year-old Langridge play the part of the Witch. Needless to say, at nearly 70, he stole the show - turning the Witch into a veritable Julia Child doppelganger.

(Julia Child eats children...I always thought it would be Martha Stewart)

That someone so vigorous so recently could pass away was shocking. He had just given a 70th birthday concert two months before for which Birtwistle wrote him a new piece. But thankfully Langridge will live on in many wonderful recordings and films, anybody who doesn't get the big deal about classical singing owes it to themselves to look up his performances.

(Kicking Benjamin Britten's ass in his 60's.)

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