Tuesday, 22 October 2019

R.I.P. Raymond Leppard (1927-2019)

‘The light of my life,’ Janet Baker once described him. Raymond Leppard's recordings certainly lit up mine – and continue to do so. From his legendary Monteverdi and Cavalli, which still knock spots off much of the allegedly ‘authenticke’ competition, to the twentieth century, Leppard’s music-making was above all characterised an unmistakeable zest for and belief in his art, quite without affectation or concomitant regard for fashion. I only heard him twice in the flesh: once as a schoolboy, in Sheffield, with the Hallé; and once, with his beloved English Chamber Orchestra, in London, in Handel’s Acis and Galatea, with Dame Janet, no less, as narrator (the only time, alas, I heard her, and then only speaking). His sense of joy and humanity,  remained undimmed, not least in a Hallé Enigma Variations to rank with the best. We shall not hear his like again – but we shall continue to listen to his wonderful performances. Let us take a few minutes, as soon as practicable, to do so in his honour.