John Mark Ainsley

Tenor

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Donald Swann: Songs

Donald Swann: Songs


Swann, D:

A collection of songs

Roderick Williams (baritone)

Five colourisations of Emily Dickinson

Dame Felicity Lott (soprano)

Two sonnets by Edna St Vincent Millay

Roderick Williams (baritone)

Stopping by woods

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Two poems by Thomas Hardy

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

Four lyrics from In memoriam

John Mark Ainsley (tenor), Roderick Williams (baritone)

Two poems by Christina Rossetti

Dame Felicity Lott (soprano)

Dark rose of my heart

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

An invite to eternity

Roderick Williams (baritone)

The harlot’s house

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

Six songs to poems by William Blake

Roderick Williams (baritone)

Ya vas lyubil 'I loved you once'

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

She is all harmony, all wonder

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

Some people's dreams

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Marguerite

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

A red, red rose

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

It was a lover, and his lass

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

See, dearest, how the rose

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Arcades

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

We'll go no more a-roving

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

Longing

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Oh, why are the roses so pale?

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Old songs of lost love

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

In the mist

Kathryn Rudge (mezzo)

Raiders' dawn

John Mark Ainsley (tenor)

The youth of the heart

Roderick Williams (baritone)

He wishes for the cloths of heaven

Dame Felicity Lott (soprano)

Bilbo's Last Song

Roderick Williams (baritone), Dame Felicity Lott (soprano)


Christopher Glynn (piano)

Read our exclusive interview with Christopher Glynn about the recording here.

Swann but no Flanders: this economically priced collection celebrates the unique talents of a gifted songwriter whose settings of poets from Burns to Betjeman are ripe for revival. The quartet of distinguished singers is luxury casting.

“this is a continually fascinating and diverse selection...The real star of the show is Christopher Glynn, for whom the project has evidently been a labour of love. The detail and colour of his playing (to say nothing of the way he meets the many technical challenges Swann presents with a knowing wink) in the more than two hours of accompaniments is a fine achievement.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2017

“the quality of Swann’s craft is clear and Glynn points up every careful detail of some colourful piano writing...If there’s a real revelation, however, it’s the talent shown by the newcomer of the singing quartet: Rudge, a rising mezzo-soprano with rich tone, who brings more ardour and less archness to the material than her more fêted colleagues.” The Times, 28th July 2017 ***

“There are some surprises: Ainsley delivers a passionate Russian number, I loved you once, a Pushkin setting that wouldn’t disgrace Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninov. The real revelation, however, is the talent shown by the newcomer of the singing quartet: Rudge, a rising mezzo-soprano with rich tone, who brings more ardour and less archness to the material than her more fêted colleagues.” Sunday Times, 6th August 2017

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

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


Bellini:

Malinconia, ninfa gentile

Ma rendi pur contento

Vanne, o rosa fortunata

Glinka:

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

Mendelssohn:

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

Niedermeyer:

Le lac

Schubert:

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)

Schumann:

Sehnsucht


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.

“The singers have been well chosen. Portuguese tenor Luis Gomes is impassioned in Bellini’s small domestic substitutes or operatic arias, while Armenian soprano Anush Hovhannisyan brings vitality and personality to Glinka…Sarah Connolly is grand yet subtly inflected in Schubert, Irish tenor Robin Tritschler dramatic in Niedermeyer’s Le Lac…Malcom Martineau is superb, technically immaculate and consistently imaginative” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017 ****

“the range is wide and unpredictable, embracing seven composers and four languages … [Glinka songs] thrillingly caught by the flame-toned Armenian soprano Anush Hovhannisyan ... John Mark Ainsley brings thoughtful, shapely phrasing … Christopher Maltman, with his histrionic flair and colouristic range, is in his element … tenor Luis Gomes has the right vibrant, Latin timbre … Sarah Connolly’s deliriously impassioned singing … Malcolm Martineau, recorded with welcome prominence, is the most observant and imaginative of pianist partners” Gramophone Magazine, June 2017

“The second instalment in a perceptively assembled and uncommonly interesting survey of art songs” MusicWeb International, May 2017

“It’s a very clever cross-section: it’s taking that decade and going across the continents … it gives you a real snapshot … collating them together, and not necessarily going for the obvious ones, that’s what I love about this collection.” Record Review, 17th June 2017

“Maltman and Connolly’s Schubert performances are beguiling and deliciously nuanced; Hovhannisyan is gorgeously dusky in her Glinka songs; Tritschler is endearing in Louis Niedermeyer’s Le Lac; passion oozes from Gomes’ Bellini arias; Ainsley is light and delicate in Schumann’s rippling Sehnsucht. Martineau’s empathetic pianism is the steadying omnipresence.” The Scotsman, 15th May 2017

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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

Finalist

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - August 2016

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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.

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

“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

“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 ****

“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 *****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - November 2015

Signum Classical Opera - SIGCD433

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Brahms & Schumann: Lieder

Brahms & Schumann: Lieder


Brahms:

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)

Schumann:

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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Mendelssohn: Elijah, Op. 70

Mendelssohn: Elijah, Op. 70


“Herreweghe wipes away layers of Victorian fustiness in this lean-textured, rhythmically incisive performance of period instruments. Effective soloists, lacking the last ounce of drama.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2014 ****

“John Mark Ainsley gives fully of himself, injecting real verve into his arias and many snippets of recitative.” Early Music Today, December 2014

Harmonia Mundi HMHeritage - HMY2921463/64

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Finzi, Britten & Holst: Works for Choir and Orchestra

Finzi, Britten & Holst: Works for Choir and Orchestra


Britten:

Deus in adjutorium meum (Psalm 70)

Chorale after an Old French Carol

Cantata Misericordium, Op. 69

Finzi:

Requiem da Camera

Holst:

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.’

“An example of Holst’s ability to achieve powerful effects with the sparest of means.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2017

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Chandos Classics - The Hickox Legacy - CHAN10783X

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Mozart & Brahms: Requiem

Mozart & Brahms: Requiem


Brahms:

Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45

Lynne Dawson (soprano), Olaf Bär (baritone)

Schütz Choir of London

Begräbnisgesang, Op. 13

Mozart:

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

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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

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Handel: Messiah (highlights)

Handel: Messiah (highlights)


Regis - RRC1260

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