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February 7, 2012

Birthday greetings to Stuart Burrows, a tenor of rare gifts

Vocal music fans invariably have a list of singers they feel are not sufficiently appreciated. Topping my list is Welsh tenor Stuart Burrows, who celebrates his 79th birthday Feb. 7.

When I first started getting interested in classical singers, I picked up one of his albums on a whim -- the name meant nothing to me, back in my terribly uninformed days -- and I was hooked at first sound. The velvety tone, with its hint of sweetness; the seemingly effortless legato; the unerring tastefulness -- these are the qualities that most define Burrows (and elude so many vocalists today).

Here, as a birthday salute, a sample of the tenor's artistry -- a performance of "Il mio tesoro" that can, I believe, be mentioned in the same breath as the long-cherished one by John McCormack (the breath control during the coloratura run is marvelous); and two popular 19th century ballads that, again, Burrows delivers with great elegance:

Posted by Tim Smith at 9:59 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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