John Mark Ainsley


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Decades: A Century of Song Vol. 2 1820 - 1830

Decades: A Century of Song Vol. 2 1820 - 1830


Malinconia, ninfa gentile

Ma rendi pur contento

Vanne, o rosa fortunata


Skazhi, zachem

Ne iskushay menya bez nuzhdi

Moya harfa

Loewe, C:

Der Erlkönig, Op. 1 No. 3 (Goethe)

Herr Oluf "Herr Oluf reitet spät und weit", Op. 2/2


Minnelied im Mai 'Holder klingt der Vogelsang', Op. 8 No. 1


Le lac


Auf der Bruck, D853

Im Frühling, D882

Aus 'Heliopolis' - I D753 (Mayrhofer)

Gondelfahrer, D808

Auflösung, D807

Ellen 1-3, Op. 52

Der Winterabend (Es ist so still), D938

Die Taubenpost, D965A (D957 No. 14)



John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Luis Gomes (tenor), Robin Tritschler (tenor), Anush Hovhanissyan (soprano), Sarah Connolly (mezzo), Christopher Maltman (baritone), Malcolm Martineau (piano)

The second volume in this major recording series, across which a host of world-renowned singers draw listeners, decade by decade, through a century of song, from 1810 to 1910. Each volume features a carefully planned, varied programme performed by household names, whilst the series overall creates a comprehensive survey of song right through the nineteenth century – an invaluable teaching asset, as well as a joy for listeners.

Includes songs from Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Russia, by Vincenzo Bellini, Mikhail Glinka, Carl Loewe, Felix Mendelssohn, Louis Niedermeyer, Franz Schubert and Robert Schumann.

The three principal singers for this second volume are mezzo Sarah Connolly, tenor John Mark Ainsley and baritone Christopher Maltman, who are joined by tenors Robin Tritschler and Luis Gomes, and Armenian soprano Anush Hovhannisyan, accompanied by the series’ creator, pianist Malcolm Martineau

Of special note is Sarah Connolly’s performance of Schubert’s three ‘Ellen Songs’, including a glorious rendition of the classic ‘Ave Maria’, Christopher Maltman’s vivid portrayal of Goethe’s ‘Erlkönig’ in Loewe’s setting, and John Mark Ainsley’s beautifully crafted renditions of songs by Schubert, Schumann and Mendelssohn

Extensive presentation includes 64 page booklet with authoritative liner note in three languages by renowned song expert and series consultant Prof Susan Youens, with full texts and translations.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Vivat - VIVAT114



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Sullivan, A: HMS Pinafore

Sullivan, A: HMS Pinafore

Elizabeth Watts (Josephine), Toby Spence (Ralph Rackstraw), John Mark Ainsley (Sir Joseph Porter KCB), Andrew Foster-Williams (Captain Corcoran), Hilary Summers (Buttercup), Neal Davies (Dick Deadeye), Gavan Ring (Bill Bobstay), Barnaby Rea (Bob Becket), Kitty Whately (Hebe), Tim Brooke-Taylor (narrator)

Scottish Opera, Richard Egarr

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here, and Katherine's exclusive interview with Richard Egarr here.

Richard Egarr conducts the Scottish Opera in Gilbert and Sullivan’s much-loved nautical comic opera: HMS Pinafore. Performed and recorded live at the 2015 Edinburgh International Festival to a sold out audience, the story unfolds with additional narration from comic actor and broadcaster Tim Brooke-Taylor. Heading up a cast that reads like a ‘who’s who’ of the opera world are John Mark Ainsley, Elizabeth Watts and Toby Spence.

The well-crafted, yet light-hearted story unfolds on the HMS Pinafore as Josephine, the captain’s daughter, falls in love with a lowly sailor (Ralph Rackstraw) despite arrangements by her father to marry Sir Joseph Porter. Sir Joseph is a perfect caricature of Britain’s class system of the day – a pompous and splendidly incompetent man. Nevertheless, this likeable character decrees his liberal views and inadvertently encourages a couple in love to reject social conventions and elope. A tale of British silliness, filled with British humour, ends happily for all characters.

Egarr applies his extensive knowledge of period performance practice to recreate the sound and style typical of the late nineteenth century, a first for a Gilbert and Sullivan recording. HMS Pinafore is rich in comic burlesque, sending up theatrical and operatic conventions and parodying the Italian opera of the day. The tongue-in-cheek writing is apparent from the opening chorus and the music is equally rich in comic pastiche and styles; ‘For he is an Englishman’ is one of the greatest master-strokes.

Climb aboard the HMS Pinafore for a hugely fun seafaring romp!

“There’s a tremendous sense of affection and conviction from all involved, and never a suggestion of anyone condescending to the material...Egarr brings out some wonderful orchestral detail which I’d never noticed before (particularly in the big ensembles), and phrases everything with such line and lyricism that any sense of that ‘rum-ti-tum’ autopilot which often repels Gilbert and Sullivan's detractors is kept consistently at bay.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 20th May 2016

“Gilbert's satire...still resonates, and was a gift for Sullivan's talent for parodying Italian opera. That and its native tunefulness keep the score fresh, as this Scottish Opera performance under Egarr, recorded live at last year's Edinburgh International Festival, happily reminds us.” Sunday Times

“It sounds like everyone involved was having a lot of fun. Richard Egarr, for example: who knew that he was such an affectionate Savoyard?...It was clearly one of those occasions where everyone plays off each other, and with a cast like this, the results are never less than engaging.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2016

“The whole presentation is well-rehearsed and the orchestra is excellent. It was nice to see that Scottish Opera follow the D’Oyly Carte with the need for excellent diction… . In many a recording we find there are woodwind lines that fail to come across, but here there is absolute clarity from every section.” MusicWeb International, June 2016

“[Egarr proves] himself a natural for this repertoire; the whole thing bounces, sparkles and smiles, with Scottish Opera's orchestra playing with the insouciant grace that is such a crucial element of operetta style. The cast is splendid...Elizabeth Watts is a gorgeous Josephine, Andrew Foster-Williams makes a perfectly proper Captain Corcoran and Hilary Summers's warm contralto is nicely suited to Little Buttercup.” Sunday Telegraph, 5th June 2016 ***

“Richard Egarr brings springy energy to the score...Elizabeth Watts's Josephine has a mischievous touch.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

20th May 2016

Presto Discs of 2016


BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - August 2016

Linn - CKD522

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Mozart: Il re pastore, K208

Mozart: Il re pastore, K208

Sarah Fox (Aminta), Ailish Tynan (Elisa), John Mark Ainsley (Alessandro), Anna Devin (Tamiri) & Benjamin Hulett (Agenore)

Classical Opera, Ian Page

Classical Opera continue their recording cycle of the complete operas of Mozart with 'Il Re Pastore' – a youthful work that shines with the richness of its orchestration, its inexhaustible melodic inspiration and its dazzlingly ingenious score.

“we have accomplished singers here who negotiate the occasionally tricky music with fluency and poise. John Mark Ainsley (as Alexander the Great) is a commanding presence...It is a rare delight that real 'display' cadenzas are improvised by the singers at all appropriate points, and that the orchestra is directed with commendable style.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2016 ****

“the complete work needs performances as well balanced, lively and affectionate as this one.” CD Review, 10th October 2015

“Mozart’s delightful early opera comes up fresh as new paint in this fleet, beautifully-recorded new set. Fox and Tynan are perfectly matched young lovers and Ainsley is achingly moving as the old king. Orchestral playing is sparkling and pristine. This modestly-priced set now leads the field on CD.” Classical Music, December 2015 *****

“It is hard to imagine hearing another performance as convivial and life-affirming as this. The Orchestra of Classical Opera play supremely well...Page’s unobtrusive pacing of the pastoral mini-drama and sage weighting of orchestrally accompanied recitatives pull the listener along gently.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2015

“this piece is all about the music and the performance, and Ian Page puts his cards on the table straightaway in an overture that crackles with life … This is an excellent performance and a superbly produced recording … This is my first encounter with the Signum Classics Mozart series, and I am completely sold” MusicWeb International, 1st December 2015

“the work can’t help being beautiful, and it’s performed with energy and spirit by Ian Page and his lively forces. The three sopranos, Sarah Fox (Aminta), Ailish Tynan (Elisa) and Anna Devin (Tamiri), vie with each other in graceful singing.” Sunday Times, 11th October 2015

“The whole thing – which, for completists, includes an extended, concert version of Aer Tranquillo as an appendix – sounds poised and elegant under Ian Page’s tasteful and slightly anonymous direction, with a neatly expressive orchestra and a strong cast headed by Sarah Fox’s gleaming, supple-sounding Aminta and John Mark Ainsley’s more self-consciously regal Alexander.” The Guardian, 15th October 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2015

Signum Classical Opera - SIGCD433

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Brahms & Schumann: Lieder

Brahms & Schumann: Lieder


Dein blaues Auge, (No. 8 from Acht Lieder und Gesänge, Op. 59)

Meine Liebe ist grün, Op. 63 No. 5

Der Schmied Op. 19/4

Ständchen, Op. 106 No. 1

Wir wandelten, wir zwei zusammen Op. 96/2

Wie Melodien zieht es mir, Op. 105 No. 1

Wiegenlied, Op. 49 No. 4 (Lullaby)


Gedichte der Königin Maria Stuart, Op. 135

Lieder und Gesänge aus Goethes Wilhelm Meister, Op. 98a

Ich denke dein, Op. 78, No. 3

Hoch, hoch sind die Berge, Op. 138, No. 8 (from Spanische Liebeslieder)

Familien-Gemälde, Op. 34 No. 4

So wahr die Sonne scheinet, Op. 37, No. 12

Ich bin dein Baum, Op. 101 No. 3

Ann Murray (mezzo-soprano) with Malcolm Martineau, Hester Dickson, Benjamin Appl, John Mark Ainsley & Johnny Langridge

Brahms & Schumann: Lieder sees Dame Ann Murray, one of the great vocal artists of the past decades, return to the recording studio to perform a personal selection of Lieder.

Brahms & Schumann: Lieder, Ann’s first solo album in over a decade, will be her final Lieder recording and a fitting way to draw her long and distinguished recording career to a close.

Still a regular fixture on the opera circuit, Ann’s voice remains impressive. Following a Brahms recital at Wigmore Hall earlier this year, The Times stated: ‘Her still-penetrating mezzo was the highlight of the evening. Murray really sings through Brahms’s cantabile lines while losing nothing in theatrical awareness.’

It is difficult to imagine a singer who inspires greater affection and admiration than Ann Murray DBE. With Malcolm Martineau at the piano, this beautifully balanced programme sees Ann perform some of her favourite works by Schumann and Brahms.

The recording features Malcolm Martineau (piano) Benjamin Appl (baritone), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Johnny Langridge (tenor & Ann’s son) and Hester Dickson (piano & Malcolm’s mother).

Ann Murray performs regularly with the Glyndebourne Festival, English National Opera, the Royal Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, New York and has been a regular guest at the BBC Proms.

A founding member of Graham Johnson’s organization, The Songmaker’s Almanac and a Jury member for the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2009 and Song Prize, Ann Murray is a lover of song and has been acclaimed worldwide for her own performances.

In the 2002 Golden Jubilee Queen's Birthday Honours Murray was appointed an honorary Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. She is an Honorary Doctor of Music at the National University of Ireland and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.

“Murray has the art of increasing the tension without raising the volume...And given every encouragement by Malcolm Martineau's deft pianism, she brings a coquettish charm, without winsomeness, to the song of the flighty actress Philine, first cousin to Strauss's Zerbinetta.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2015

“Murray has announced that this wil be her final Lieder recording. If indeed it proves to be so, she will be going out on a high. Her voice is obviously mature, but still in good trim...her artistic intelligence and commitment are as apparent as her skilful balance between words and notes...[Martineau] accompanies with his usual expertise and authority” BBC Music Magazine, June 2015 ****

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Linn - CKD443


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Britten: The Rape of Lucretia

Britten: The Rape of Lucretia

Sarah Connolly (Lucretia), Christopher Maltman (Tarquinius), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Bianca), Mary Nelson (Lucia), Leigh Melrose (Junius), Clive Bayley (Collatinus), Orla Boylan (Female Chorus) & John Mark Ainsley (Male Chorus)

English National Opera, Paul Daniel (conductor) & David McVicar (stage director)

Sarah Connolly's 'outstanding' (The Guardian) portrayal of the wronged Roman noblewoman, written originally for Kathleen Ferrier, lies at the heart of David McVicar's powerfully stark production for English National Opera as 'an everyday sort of woman who could be living at any time or place.' Her nemesis is the arrogant Tarquinius of Christopher Maltman, 'who made the air tingle with danger' (Financial Times). Filmed by the BBC at Snape Maltings during the production’s premiere run at the 2001 Aldeburgh Festival.

Hugely acclaimed Aldeburgh/ENO production from 2001.

Britten’s “chamber opera” was premiered at Glyndebourne in 1946, representing a stylistic departure from the grander Peter Grimes the previous year.

Based on the legend of Lucretia who is raped by the Roman tyrant Tarquinius but kills herself rather than live with the shame.

Contains scenes of a sexual nature.

Extra features: Cast gallery.

Running time: 120 minutes

Subtitles EN/FR/DE/JP/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“The main cast delivers a superlative response from start to finish, headed by baritone Christopher Maltman's bull-like Tarquinius and mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly's harrowingly intense Lucretia...Top-flight instrumental playing enhances an impressive release.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2014 ****

“McVicar typically finds clarity and purpose amid the opera's convoluted story-telling...Connolly's performance sets a standard that's perhaps as important to The Rape of Lucretia as Jon Vickers was to Peter Grimes. Daniel makes every note count in this ultra-spare score.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

“Ainsley is superb...Melrose as Junius brilliantly brings out the weakness of character...Bayley's Collatinus is nobe of bearing and deeply touching both vocally and physically...Connolly is quite simply magnificent as Lucretia, taking the audience with her throughout...superbly well sung, played and acted.” International Record Review, February 2014

“[Maltman] gets right into the physicality of the role, projecting himself forward with all the character’s lascivious selfishness...Connolly makes a wonderful Lucretia, too. She is dignified and noble throughout...In many ways the greatest revelations come from the Male and Female chorus, both excellently sung. Add in the expert playing of the ENO chamber ensemble and Paul Daniel’s intelligent conducting, and you have a winner on your hands.” MusicWeb International, 12th March 2014

Blu-ray Disc

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Opus Arte - OABD7135D



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Finzi, Britten & Holst: Works for Choir and Orchestra

Finzi, Britten & Holst: Works for Choir and Orchestra


Deus in adjutorium meum (Psalm 70)

Chorale after an Old French Carol

Cantata Misericordium, Op. 69


Requiem da Camera


Psalm 86

Psalm 148

Alison Barlow (soprano), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), David Hoult (baritone), Stephen Varcoe (baritone), John Alley (organ)

The Britten Singers, City of London Sinfonia, Richard Hickox

Gerald Finzi dedicated his Requiem da camera (1924) to the memory of his teacher, Ernest Farrar, who was killed on active service in September 1918. Finzi was devastated by the loss, and here in the second and fourth movements, in particular, he offers his own sedate impression of the war, in which ploughboys-turned-soldiers glimpse their last of England before the music, landscape, and innocence are lost in the gathering darkness. Finzi later rewrote the third movement, but the instrumentation of the new version was left incomplete. With the blessing of the Finzi family, the orchestration was completed by Philip Thomas on the basis of extensive surviving sketches, and the complete work was first performed in 1990.

Also on this disc are three works by Benjamin Britten. In Deus in adjutorium meum, the composer sets Psalm 70 in Latin for unaccompanied mixed voices. The work was written for the 1945 production of Ronald Duncan’s play This Way to the Tomb. During the 1980s, many short pieces which Britten had originally written as part of his extensive music for radio and theatre, and which were subsequently forgotten, reclaimed their place in the limelight. The Chorale after an Old French Carol is one such work, the words deriving from A Christmas Oratorio which W.H. Auden had written for Britten to set. Cantata misericordium marked Britten’s fiftieth year, Britten premiering it in 1963.

Gustav Holst wrote Psalm 86 and Psalm 148 in 1912 before he achieved his breakthrough as a composer. As Director of Music at the St Paul’s Girls School, Holst wrote this work for the inauguration of the school’s new organ in 1910, using a favourite hymn tune from Cölner Gesangbuch of 1623, set to a Biblical paraphrase of Psalm 148.

Hi-Fi News wrote of this disc when first released: ‘The choice of a small choir gives these pieces a sense of intimacy and yet one of intensity; there’s a feeling that Richard Hickox had inspired everyone to enthusiasm for his mixed programme.’

Chandos Classics - The Hickox Legacy - CHAN10783X



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Mozart & Brahms: Requiem

Mozart & Brahms: Requiem


Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45

Lynne Dawson (soprano), Olaf Bär (baritone)

Schütz Choir of London

Begräbnisgesang, Op. 13


Requiem in D minor, K626

completed by Duncan Druce

Nancy Argenta (soprano), Catherine Robbin (contralto), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Alastair Miles (bass)

Schütz Choir of London

Masonic Funeral Music in C minor, K477

Schütz Choir of London

“this is an enjoyable traversal of the [Mozart Requiem] score, with plenty of character and many points of illumination.” MusicWeb International, 5th August 2013

Building a Library

Also Recommended - February 2016

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Erato Veritas - 9125662

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Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music

Vaughan Williams: Serenade to Music

and other works

Vaughan Williams:

Serenade to Music

Elizabeth Connell (soprano), Amanda Roocroft (soprano), John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Martyn Hill (tenor), Maldwyn Davies (tenor), Anne Dawson (soprano), Linda Kitchen (soprano), Alan Opie (baritone), Gwynne Howell (bass), Sir Thomas Allen (baritone), Sarah Walker (mezzo-soprano), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo-soprano) & John Connell (bass)

Five Mystical Songs

Sir Thomas Allen (baritone)

Fantasia on Christmas Carols

Sir Thomas Allen (baritone)

Flos Campi

Nobuko Imai (viola)

“Performances like these don’t come along very often; each one is an absolute winner, and with rich, atmospheric recording quality the satisfaction is of a very special quality” CD Review

“Strongly recommended!” Fanfare

“Profoundly moving” Gramophone Magazine

“Sometimes heard as a full choral work, the Serenade to Music takes on its greatest beauty in its original version for sixteen soloists. Matthew Best's soloists are certainly up to the task here, with some big names in the ranks and a sound that beautifully sits between choral and soloistic singing styles. Thomas Allen is a moving and believable soloist in the Five Mystical Songs; after just a few bars of the first number, Easter, I was convinced.” David Smith, Presto Classical, June 2014

Hyperion 30th Anniversary - CDA30025



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Janacek: From the House of the Dead

Janacek: From the House of the Dead

Staged by Patrice Chéreau

“Presently the only DVD version of Janácek's last opera, and it's a good one - even if it doesn't match the Scottish Opera/Welsh National staging many will remember.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2008 ****

“As in all his productions and films, Chéreau's directing turns everyone into such complete and natural actors that the descriptive term "acting" seems almost redundant. Boulez… treading the finest balance, as did Janácek, between reported emotion and outright passion.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2008

“The collaboration of director Patrice Chéreau and Pierre Boulez gave rise to possibly the finest Ring Cycle on film and their partnership bears comparable fruit in this bleak, apocalyptic production of the composer's last opera.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, May 2014

GGramophone Magazine

DVD of the Month - November 2008

DVD Video

Region: 0

Format: NTSC

DG - 0734426

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Handel: Messiah (highlights)

Handel: Messiah (highlights)

Regis - RRC1260



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