Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Burns nicht and Kenneth McKellar

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Today is when the Scotch celebrate the birthday of their national poet Robert Burns, and via this Scotch culture in general.

One of the finest exponents of Scottish culture, and perhaps the perfect person to attend a Burns supper during the mid-20th century, was the tenor Kenneth McKellar (1927–2010).

McKellar was, from the late 1950s and for a whole generation, the most widely known singer of traditional (and modern) songs, mostly from Scotland.

He was also one of the best singers ever to have been produced in the British Isles (musically - although not technically - superior to the more-frequently-praised Irishman John McCormack, from the generation before).

So, here is a lovely Burns song from him, My love is like a red red rose:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXX2AJkKJNI

But McKellar was at his best when the voice was most exposed: in Sally Gardens accompanied only by piano, or - even better - unaccompanied in She moved through the fair - which I regard as simply one of the best bits of singing, ever.

McKellar was rated as perhaps the best light tenor in Britain for Handel, Mozart and the like when he left the world of high art to become rich and famous in popular culture (including the Eurovision song contest!).

He was not immune to kitsch.

But the voice and musicality remained unsurpassed.

Truly, one of the greats.

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2 comments:

dearieme said...

Aye. But I prefer both the lyric and the tune on this one.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oBC4fej6jc

bgc said...

Lovely!