Exemplary performances from broadcasts, live concerts, and archival sources not in general release


Clarke’s “songs” are quite often dialogue-scenes, theatrical narratives, or monodramas, and The Seal Man is all three at once. This extraordinarily urgent performance—by a baritone, Clarke’s favorite voice—is probably as close as we are likely to come to the blazing theatricality and thrilling diction of John Goss, one of The Seal Man‘s earliest and greatest exponents. (See our Gallery for an illustrated sample.) The piano is a coequal protagonist, as it should be, remembering that Clarke customarily worked with the likes of Arthur Rubinstein and Myra Hess. Newby and Lepper see to it that every syllable and tone is not only achingly clear, but also fully in line with Masefield’s text, including the external narrative frame, the backstory, and the heartbreaking little sequel that Clarke only implied.


James Newby, baritone, and Simon Lepper, piano,
Northern Ireland Opera Festival of Voice 2020,
First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street, Belfast, 30 August 2020, courtesy BBC Radio 3.
Copyright © 2020 BBC.
Simon Lepper (l) and James Newby (r), offstage