James Gilchrist


James Gilchrist

Educated at King's College Cambridge, James Gilchrist began his working life as a doctor, turning to a full-time career in music in 1996. Opera credits include Acis, Peter Quint and the title-role in Albert Herring (recorded for Chandos under the late Richard Hickox), whilst his oratorio repertoire covers the major works of Bach, Handel and Haydn. A prolific recitalist, he has won particular acclaim for his collaboration with the pianist Anna Tilbrook: their recordings together include discs of songs by Lennox Berkeley, Finzi and John Jeffreys as well as a 'lively, intelligent, sympathetic account' (The Times) of Die Schöne Müllerin in 2009.

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Love's Philosophy

Love's Philosophy

Knowles, B:

Guitar Concerto 'Visiones de Andalucia'

Orchestra of Opera North, David Angus

Poco Rondo for solo guitar

Eight Songs from Poetry Serenade

James Gilchrist (tenor)

'A Fond Farewell' for guitar & orchestra

Orchestra of Opera North, David Angus

Craig Ogden (guitar)

Read our exclusive interview with Brian Knowles here.

Craig Ogden is one of the great guitarists of our time, and has been a regular fixture in the UK Classical Charts with his albums being among the best- selling classical releases of the year. He is a firm favourite with Classic FM listeners, and this new album will be eagerly awaited by them.

Belfast-born composer Brian Knowles’ concerto written for his guitarist son is infused with Spanish traditional music and atmosphere, and is beautifully written for guitar. Fans of Rodrigo’s famous concerto will immediately be attracted to this new concerto, which also contains a slow movement that has an ability to stay in the listener’s head long after the music has stopped! 'Poco Rondo' was written for Craig, and is a virtuosic solo work that displays his artistry superbly. The 'Eight Songs' for tenor and guitar are settings of Shakespeare, Shelley, Burns, de la Mare and Byron and are sung by James Gilchrist.

Brian Knowles studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1970 he formed the group ‘Saffron’. Brian subsequently became Musical Director of concerts worldwide for Roger Whittaker, many of his songs being performed and recorded by both Saffron and Whittaker. In 2002 Brian’s anthem ‘Jubilee Tribute’ was composed and performed especially for HRH The Queen at the Service of Remembrance and was broadcast worldwide from the Royal Albert Hall.

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Schumann: Song Cycles

Schumann: Song Cycles


Liederkreis, Op. 24

Liederkreis, Op. 39

Dichterliebe, Op. 48

James Gilchrist (tenor) & Anna Tilbrook (piano)

James Gilchrist's latest recording for Linn encompasses three of the greatest examples of the song cycle genre. Moving away from English song into the core Germanic Lieder repertoire,James's expressive tenor voice is ideally suited to showcase the emotional nuances of Schumann s vocal writing.

Liederkreis shows Schumann at his most lyrical and deeply romantic; incredibly Op.24 was his first published vocal composition. Dichterliebe,Schumann's best-known song cycle, is regarded as one of the finest in the German language, notable for its perfect pairing of Heinrich Heine's poetry with Schumann's music.

A prolific and versatile recitalist James has frequently performed Lieder repertoire, most recently Schubert's Schwanengesang and Beethoven's An die Ferne Geliebte at Wigmore Hall. James will return to Wigmore Hall in January 2016, to begin a three-concert recital series spanning two years, performing the Schumann song cycles Liederkreis and Dichterliebe.

James Gilchrist has appeared with many of the world's most prestigious ensembles and under several leading conductors at venues including Wigmore Hall, Snape Maltings and Perth Concert Hall. James is sought after for operatic roles, ensemble performances and as a respected recitalist. On both concert platform and operatic stage, his repertory ranges from Monteverdi to new commissions, and he has appeared with, among others, the Sixteen, the Academy of Ancient Music, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and English National Opera. James has previously recorded works by Gerald Finzi, Ralph Vaughan Williams Kenneth Leighton, Ivor Gurney, Arthur Bliss and Peter Warlock and has uncovered the beautiful songs of Muriel Herbert.

Anna Tilbrook is one of Britain's most exciting pianists, with a considerable reputation in song recitals and chamber music. She made her debut at Wigmore Hall in 1999 and has since become a regular performer at Europe's major concert halls and festivals.

“Gilchrist sets the mood from the start, entering the world of the Op. 24 Liederkreis with a soft touch and confiding tone…in the Op. 39 Liederkreis Gilchrist's light tenor is good at painting the moonlit night of 'Mondnacht' and the more ominous twilight of 'Zwielight'…his Dichterliebe is the cycle of a kindly poet, who…shapes phrases that gently unfurl in the light of a summer morning. In all this he is well supported by the clean-cut, carefully detailed playing of Tilbrook, who modestly leaves any point-making to the singer.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“[Gilchrist and Tilbrook] allow each cycle to unfold naturally, minutely adjusting the spaces between certain songs to allow the ear to absorb what it has just heard…Tilbrook's navigation of the playouts, those final bars in which it seems that Schumann is communicating something too profound for mere words, is unfailingly lovely, her accompaniments clearly articulated and self-effacing…[Gilchrist] is fearlessly expressive.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2015

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Hugh Wood: Wild Cyclamen

Hugh Wood: Wild Cyclamen

Wood, Hugh:

Laurie Lee Songs

DH Lawrence Songs

The Isles of Greece

Wild Cyclamen

Clare McCaldin (mezzo-soprano), James Gilchrist (tenor), Roderick Williams (baritone), Iain Burnside (piano), Simon Lepper (piano)

Composer Hugh Wood is known for his powerfully communicative and lyrical music and this latest release presents a selection of songs spanning his career. They are set to poems by DH Lawrence, Robert Graves, Laurie Lee and Lawrence Durrell, exploring themes of youth, love, lust and longing.

Wild Cyclamen (2006) – a song-cycle from twelve individual, unrelated poems by Robert Graves – depicts the rise and fall of a love affair. Hugh Wood explains: “Graves wrote no such cycle but I’ve dared to construct one. It doesn’t achieve too strong a story-line, but the songs are meant to be sung in a fixed order”.

The DH Lawrence settings (1998) include three poems Lawrence wrote about his days with Frieda in Bavaria and the Isles of Greece (2007) is a compilation of poems celebrating various aspects of Greek life and its people.

The earliest works on this recording are the Laurie Lee Songs (1956-58) written when Hugh was in his mid-twenties.

“Wood is nothing if not a craftsman, and his vocal lines are always skilful amplifications of the text while his idiomatically written piano parts set the voice off to its best advantage” BBC Music Magazine, July 2015 ****

“Wood has produced more than a dozen voice-and-piano works, and here are four: three collections and a song cycle proper. The five Laurie Lee Songs, dating back to 1958, come over with a post-Brittenish freshness.” Sunday Times, 12th April 2015




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Monteverdi: Madrigals of Love and Loss

Monteverdi: Madrigals of Love and Loss




Volgendo il ciel (Ballo ‘Movete')

Thomas Walker (tenor)

Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda

James Gilchrist (tenor)

Or che’l ciel e la terra

Ohimè, dov'è il mio ben (Book 7)

Katherine Watson (soprano) & Anna Dennis (soprano)

Zefiro torna

Ohimè il bel viso (Book 6)

Sestina - Lagrimae d'Amante al sepolero dell'amata

Gramophone Award-winning ensemble Arcangelo (in their first recording as a vocal and instrumental group) presents a selection from Monteverdi’s last three books of madrigals. These ardent and passionate works are microcosms of Monteverdi’s great operas, and among his most celebrated music.

Most of the madrigals of Book 6 (1614) are songs of parting and loss. Book 7 (1619) is entitled Concerto, meaning that all the works it contains require instrumental accompaniment. And Book 8 (1638) introduces the genere concitato—the ‘agitated’ manner that Monteverdi devised to convey the emotions of war, whether physical or psychological. Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda sets an extended passage from Tasso’s epic poem Gerusalemme liberata. Tasso’s text, set in the time of the first crusade, tells of the combat between the Christian knight Tancredi and the Saracen maiden Clorinda. Most of the action of the Combattimento is conveyed by a narrator (Testo—the text), sung here by celebrated tenor James Gilchrist.

“All of Cohen's singers come from the world of opera, and it shows in performances that place the drama of le parole to the fore...But among so much vocal athleticism, it's still the instrumentalists that dominate...Arcangelo's musicians deploy rough-edged expressive risk-taking within a framework of complete stylistic control.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2014

“The first impression given by the opening track on this disc is of enormous energy and breadth. There is some superb singing from the assured and polished tenor Thomas Walker, while even more impressive is the remarkably full-bodied sound and glorious instrumental textures from the dozen players” International Record Review, March 2014

“These are not easy pieces, but the opening ballet swings along with panache, and there is some excellent tenor solo singing in the first section.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 ****

“Of the two emotional foci of the disc, the Combattimento and the Sestina, the former is the more draining listening, thanks to the thrilling, visceral singing of James Gilchrist, in whose narration is summoned up every sword clash, every colour of the night, and almost every exhausted breath. I can’t imagine better performances of the middle-of-the- programme madrigals.” Early Music Today

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Beethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123

Recorded live at the Barbican Hall, London, October 2012

“Performed to perfection and brought into new, terrifying life” – The Times *****

“A daringly coloured account, exuberant physicality... There was hardly a passage that did not show the result of Gardiner’s hallmark intelligence and audacity” – The Guardian *****

“Nothing short of rapid-fire choral entries will do, and the Monteverdi sopranos duly shone in their ecstatic embrace of the stratosphere –The Financial Times *****

This album was recorded live at the Barbican in 2012. It features soloists Lucy Crowe (soprano), Jennifer Johnston (mezzo), James Gilchrist (tenor), Matthew Rose (bass). Sir John Eliot Gardiner offers a daring reading of this piece. The ORR’s performance on period instruments is virtuosic and colourful; the Monteverdi Choir contributes arresting chorus parts. Composed “from the heart”, Beethoven’s epic Mass has been described a statement of highly personal religious faith. It is rarely heard in concert due to the large forces required and the exacting demand it places on all performers.

The album is packaged in a digipack and contains a 36-page booklet with original notes by BBC presenter and music journalist Stephen Johnson.

“Roger Montgomery plays with exemplary nobility and assurance on the natural horn, making fiendish “stopped” notes sound as easy as sleigh bells.” The Times, 7th December 2013 *****

“Gardiner’s intensity of phrasing – speed never the enemy of expression – combines with rapid-fire choral entries and a radiant quartet of soloists to create an incandescent performance” Financial Times, 7th December 2013 ****

“Gardiner’s live 2012 recording from the Barbican is faster and even more radical than his 1990 studio recording, with punchier choral articulation. But it, too, captures the desperate urgency and almost unbearable emotional intensity of this supreme work” Sunday Times, 15th December 2013

“the briskness never undermines the work's moments of transcendent beauty or near-operatic theatricality – the Dona Nobis Pacem has a cataclysmic climax” The Guardian, 2nd January 2014 ****

“I think that the 2012 reading transcends even the 1989 recording. For a start the orchestral playing is excellent...The contribution of the Monteverdi Choir is simply magnificent...The members of the solo quartet are individually excellent and also make a fine team...a powerful and superbly executed account of Beethoven’s choral masterpiece.” MusicWeb International, 22nd January 2014

“Such is the visceral intensity of the music-making, a certain girding of the loins may be required before a second hearing, but isn't that precisely how it should be with a work of this power and magnitude?” Gramophone Magazine, February 2014

“the whole performance is in almost all respects a triumph. The choir and orchestra are superbly drilled, and apart from occasional sharpness in some of the soloists' parts they too are first-rate.” International Record Review, March 2014

“it's not difficult to understand why Gardiner wanted this particular performance perpetuated: fine as the Archiv version is, the new one has an electricity of a kind that's hard to generate under studio conditions.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 *****

GGramophone Awards 2014

Finalist - Choral

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - February 2014

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Bach, J S: Christmas Oratorio, BWV248

Bach, J S: Christmas Oratorio, BWV248

Stephen Layton and the combined forces of Trinity College Choir Cambridge, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and an impressive line-up of soloists present a joyous rendition of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. This six-part masterpiece covers the events of the nativity to Epiphany and beautifully evokes the pastoral atmosphere of the Gospels which is such an important part of the Christmas liturgy.

James Gilchrist has become one of the most admired Evangelists performing today, his limpid, flexible tone and great musicianship bringing the stories thrillingly to life.

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“the playing of the OAE brings great distinction to this recording...Right from the opening chorus of Cantata I one notes clarity and vigour in [the choir's] singing...Gilchrist is an admirable choice as the Evangelist...I found his narration beautifully nuanced, sensitive and characterful...This stylish and committed performance is one that renews again one’s awe at the genius of Bach.” MusicWeb International, 8th November 2013

“the 38 mixed voices of Trinity College Choir [are] very well trained, especially in matters of firm text enunciation...the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment sounds thoroughly at home (David Blackadder gives a very suave trumpet solo in 'Grosser Herr'), and Stephen Layton conducts with care and expertise.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2013

“The fact that the music seems to course through the very veins of the singers and players, not to mention Layton himself, is one of the qualities that make this Christmas Oratorio such a telling, affecting and inspiring experience, judiciously balancing jubilation, devotion and contemplation.” The Telegraph, 28th November 2013 *****

“Layton unwraps it with all due festive pomp and circumstance...In a work incontestably smitten with the alto voice, Iestyn Davies triumphs...Gilchrist's relaxed and lyrical Evangelist maintains the narrative flow...Crisp choral singing and exquisite accompaniment, this is a decidedly welcome addition to anyone's Christmas stocking.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas Issue 2013 ****

“Layton and his orchestral players begin with tremendous verve, but there is infinite variety in this seasoned Bach conductor’s trajectory of the six cantatas with the lively, mixed-voice Trinity choir — singing in excellent German — and elite British soloists...Gilchrist’s Evangelist here could hardly be bettered among his compatriots, incisively declaimed and subtly nuanced.” Sunday Times, 22nd December 2013

“There’s a real sense of jubilation right from the opening chorus; the young mixed-voice choir sing with verve and immaculately crisp diction, and the chorales are phrased with tender loving care...The soloists are also top-drawer...Davies’s limpid alto arias are simply some of the finest accounts on disc.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 2nd December 2013

“An enthralling disc...I was most impressed with the soloists, particularly James Gilchrist’s eloquent Evangelist and Matthew Brook’s resonant bass, and by some brilliant playing from the OAE – their exultant trumpets and timpani open and close the oratorio in a blaze of festive jubilation.” Early Music Today

Presto Disc of the Week

2nd December 2013

Early Music

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My Beloved Spake

My Beloved Spake

Anthems by Henry Purcell & Pelham Humfrey


Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in E minor from Evening Service

O Lord my God


Rejoice in the Lord alway ('The Bell Anthem'), Z49

Hear my prayer, O Lord, Z15

My beloved spake, Z28

O sing unto the Lord, Z44

Remember not, O Lord, our offences, Z50

Jehova, quam multi sunt hostes mei, Z135

Behold now, praise the Lord, Z3

Iestyn Davies (counter-tenor), James Gilchrist (tenor), David Stout (baritone) & Neal Davies (bass)

Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge & St John’s Sinfonia, Andrew Nethsingha

Established in the 1670s, the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge is today one of the finest college choirs in the world, known and loved by millions for its recordings and concert tours. On this album, the Choir and St John’s Sinfonia, conducted by Andrew Nethsingha, perform works by Henry Purcell and Pelham Humfrey. They are joined by four soloists: Iestyn Davies, James Gilchrist, David Stout, and Neal Davies.

Humfrey was an English composer of the seventeenth century, known mainly for his verse anthems. Being well travelled, he produced works that in their vocal character show the influence of Italian music, and in the instrumental writing that of French music. That said, from these major foreign influences Humfrey forged a personal style that is uniquely English. Although as a composer he was generally forward-looking, his music also shows sub-elements of the English Golden Age of yesteryear. O Lord my God, for instance, is influenced by John Dowland’s celebrated Lachrimae Pavan of almost eighty years earlier.

In contrast, the Magnificat and Nunc dimittis were composed simply to be liturgically appropriate, with a text setting that is naturalistic and direct. Humfrey died at the age of twenty-seven, but even at this young age, he exerted a strong influence on his peers, including Henry Purcell, who as a young boy sang treble in Humfrey’s Chapel Royal Choir.

The works by Purcell recorded here range from works written when the composer was in his teenage years (Jehova, quam multi sunt hostes mei being a masterly example) to the crowning glory of the recording, O sing unto the Lord, which Purcell wrote when he was in his thirties, and compositionally on fire. At this stage of his career no other composer could touch him. Instruments and voices sing from the same hymn sheet, form and content are inseparable, past and present musical styles seamlessly intermingle, technique and virtuosity are indistinguishable from each other – and soloists and choir mesh together in a dazzling and life-affirming way.

“The warm continental sound of the boys' voices might sometimes bestow an unexpectedly 'foreign' accent on this music (albeit shot through with imports from France and Italy), but the commitment, intensity and lucidity compels. And Nethsingha has assembled a formidable team.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2013 ****

“It is nice these days to have a chance to hear some of Purcell's church anthems sung by a choir of boys and men...It is in integrated works such as O Lord my God, where the expressive urgency of this choir's soloists can rub off, that the choir is at its best; less successful are the more patchwork pieces” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“Nethsingha juxtaposes such relatively unfamiliar fare with masterpieces including O Sing unto the Lord. He is a committed custodian of the Oxbridge choral tradition, as are his fine soloists” Sunday Times, 2nd December 2012

Early Music

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Britten: My Beloved is Mine

Britten: My Beloved is Mine

Song cycles by Benjamin Britten


On this Island, Op. 11

The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Op. 35

Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, Op. 22

Canticle I - "My Beloved Is Mine And I Am His" Op. 40

James Gilchrist (tenor) & Anna Tilbrook (piano)

The greatly sought-after tenor, James Gilchrist, continues his highly acclaimed exploration of British song with his new recording of Benjamin Britten works.

His 2010 recording of Leighton Earth, Sweet Earth…(laudes terrae) and Britten Winter Words was called ‘outstandingly accomplished’ by Gramophone.

‘On This Island’ is strikingly fresh and Gilchrist sings these beautiful poems with a graceful insight.

Contrasting this opening set, Gilchrist gives a moving and heartfelt performance of Britten’s dark and profound song cycle ‘The Holy Sonnets of John Donne’.

My Beloved is Mine ends with what Peter Pears called ‘Britten’s finest piece of vocal music to date’; a psalm-like poem with energetically evolving rhythms and beautiful harmonies.

James Gilchrist has appeared with many of the world’s prestigious ensembles and under several leading conductors; he recently performed with Retrospect Ensemble for their recording with Linn Records, J. S. Bach Easter & Ascension Oratorios.

James is sought after for operatic roles, ensemble performances and as a respected recitalist.

Anna Tilbrook is one of Britain's most exciting pianists, with a considerable reputation in song recitals and chamber music. She made her debut at Wigmore Hall in 1999 and has since become a regular performer at Europe’s major concert halls and festivals.

“His immaculate diction – in Italian as well as English – is more than ample compensation for a slight feeling that sometimes the vocal lines are treated with just a little too much respect...But Gilchrist's restraint also proves to be the perfect counterpart to Tilbrook's piano playing, which relishes every bit of the athleticism that Britten built into accompaniments that he wrote to play himself.” The Guardian, 2nd August 2012 ****

“Gilchrist is a greatly sensitive interpreter, his tone liquid yet urgent, his diction immaculate and august, his choices admirable.” Sunday Times, 5th August 2012

“Gilchrist, well matched by by Anna Tilbrook's clean-cut playing, offers gentle sensitivity and words that are crystal clear...Well recorded, with a duo that is perfectly matched, this recital has its virtues. Even so, my preference is for a singer with richer vocal resources.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2012

“Gilchrist is as agile as his pianist and evidently attuned to the importance of her role...the mystic union of ground-bass piano with confident vocal line in the concluding 'Death, be not proud' set this interpretation of The Holy Sonnets on a footing with that of tenor Peter Pears and Britten...It's in the most introspective moments...the simple-seeming 'Nocturne' in On This Island, for instance...that Gilchrist's unique artistry is heard to best advantage.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2012 *****

“everything about it emanates thoughtfulness, intelligence and good design...His enunciation is superb throughout...[The Holy Sonnets] are given robust performances. These are full of passion and commitment, and are superbly communicated.” MusicWeb International, January 2013

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Johann Christoph Bach: Welt, gute Nacht

Johann Christoph Bach: Welt, gute Nacht

Bach, J C'ph:

Cantata 'Herr, wende dich und sei mir gnädig'

Aria 'Mit Weinen hebt sichs an'

Wie bist du denn, O Gott

Motet 'Der Gerechte, ob er gleich zu zeitlich stirbt''

Ach, daß ich Wassers genug hätte

Fürchte dich nicht

Aria 'Es ist nun aus mit meinem Leben'

Meine Freundin, du bist schön

This album was recorded live at Cadogan Hall in 2009. It features internationally acclaimed singers, including Matthew Brook, Peter Harvey and Katharine Fuge. It is packaged in a hard back book similar to our other releases. It contains a 48 pages booklet with original notes by Richard Campbell (to whose memory the recording is dedicated), and texts in German, English and French.

The live concert was billed “Six funerals and a wedding”: the pieces evoke the dark theme of grief, as was fashionable in 17th century Lutheran Germany; though the last track “Meine Freundin” is a lighter amorous dialogue The music on this album is in turn dark, poignant, humane and witty It features choral music (motets) as well as solo arias and laments, and two dialogues Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703) - not to be confused with Johann Christian Bach, was Johann Sebastian Bach’s older cousin. A respected composer in his lifetime, he greatly influenced JS Bach’s music making.

“It's as elegantly poised as you'd expect from Gardiner, with the eight singers accompanied in sombre period arrangements by the English Baroque Soloists, in which the violas da gamba seem to weep.” The Independent, 9th September 2011 ***

“His music has a less complex surface than the more familiar oeuvre of Johann Sebastian: it invites contemplation...With soloists of the calibre of Katherine Fuge and Peter Harvey, John Eliot Gardiner and his ensemble have uncovered a treasure trove. Their performances communicate not just skill, but delight in the world behind the music.” Financial Times, 17th September 2011 ****

“This older Bach’s spare textures and bold chromatic effects make him a highly individual voice in this penitential but deeply moving music. Peter Harvey’s bass and Claire Wilkinson’s mezzo shine out from this “choir” of soloists, but Gardiner is the driving force.” Sunday Times, 25th September 2011

“This fascinating collection, based on a concert that John Eliot Gardiner conducted at Cadogan Hall, London, in 2009, covers a good range of Johann Christoph's surviving output. The two five-part motets are intense, slightly dour affairs...the two arias are also haunted by death, though, like most of the works here, the harmonic richness of the music makes them seem anything but lugubrious.” The Guardian, 22nd September 2011 ***

“CPE Bach called Christoph "the great and expressive composer", and here the marvellous Lament (the excellent Matthew Brook) and quirky Dialogue (with its endlessly varied Chaconne) amply bear this out in superb performances by Gardiner's consort. Christian's unusual Requiem is no less striking in its force, but more conventional in its language.” The Observer, 9th October 2011

“Vocal soloists and instrumentalists alike bring JC Bach's intense Lutheran feeling to life, each piece taking the lsitener on an emotional and musical journey. Vocal lines are beautifully and cleanly phrased, with a lovely overall balance of voices...Gardiner's interpretations are as beautifully researched, judged and executed as always.” Classic FM Magazine, December 2011 ****

“Bach of any generation from Gardiner's eminently engaged and engaging forces is self-recommending; yet for its rarity value alone Welt, gute Nacht is as important a release as that of a B minor Mass or St Matthew Passion.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011 ****

“Nearly every piece has a singular gesture or feature that captures the imagination...The vocal soloists acquit themselves well in music that demands utter commitment, although just occasionally the very last degree of refinement and control eludes them...In a cappella formation, however, they offer some of the disc's most memorable moments” Gramophone Magazine, December 2011

“There's not a single weak link here: even the simplest choral harmonizations are loving crafted and the long 25-minute wedding dialogue never flags for a second. Gardiner and his team sound as though they love this music, delivering dramatically inflected performances, which, partly becuase they are live, have that extra edge of emotional and rhetorical reach. The recording is one of the best I've heard on the Soli Deo Gloria label.” International Record Review, November 2011

Early Music

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James Gilchrist sings Leighton & Britten

James Gilchrist sings Leighton & Britten


Winter Words, Op. 52


Earth, Sweet Earth

James Gilchrist (tenor) & Anna Tilbrook (piano)

“Gilchrist's bright, ringing tenor voice is compelling from the first note, but it's the range of expression and unaffected musicality that leave the lasting impression.” BBC Music

“As an interpreter of English song, Gilchrist is often in a class by himself.” The Times

Tenor James Gilchrist adds to his widely acclaimed series of albums celebrating British song with this programme by Kenneth Leighton and Benjamin Britten. Alongside pianist Anna Tilbrook, Gilchrist excels in a programme that includes the first modern recording of Leighton’s Earth, Sweet Earth and Britten’s popular and touching song cycle Winter Words.

Leighton’s Earth, Sweet Earth was commissioned in memory of Peter Pears – tenor and life-long partner of Benjamin Britten. This is the first modern recording of this work since the original recording by Neil Mackie for whom the work was written.

Earth, Sweet Earth requires astonishing virtuosity from both vocalist and pianist; the piano taking on an almost orchestral role in settings of text by Ruskin and Hopkins.

Britten wrote Winter Words for Peter Pears. Set to eight poems by Thomas Hardy, this is the composer’s most popular song set. James Gilchrist emotively conveys one of Britten’s favourite themes: the conflict between innocence and experience.

Gilchrist has established a reputation as the leading figure in English song interpretation following countless concert performances of works by Vaughan Williams, Britten, Purcell, Finzi, Warlock and Leighton.

James Gilchrist is in demand as a recitalist and chorus member and is a regular voice on BBC Radio 3 and a popular performer at the BBC Proms and UK festivals.

Pianist Anna Tilbrook (“An eloquent partner.” Daily Telegraph) displays her substantial talents as an accompanist providing flawless support to long-term performing partner James.

“[Earth, Sweet Earth is] a compelling musical span, and makes great demands on both performers; the piano writing in particular is hugely virtuosic, but Tilbrook meets its challenges superbly. Winter Words...is more familiar territory, and Gilchrist and Tilbrook judge its scale perfectly, making every detail of the musical and verbal imagery precise” The Guardian, 23rd September 2010 ***

“vividly nuanced performances by the British tenor and his regular duo partner Anna Tilbrook. Each word is clear, each pianistic colour brought out. Paired, fittingly, with Winter Words by Leighton's contemporary Benjamin Britten, this haunting disc provides a fierce elegy to our lost Eden.” The Observer, 26th September 2010

“Visionary and lyrical” Financial Times, 25th September 2010

“Gilchrist is an impressively rounded advocate. His enunciation is superb, his melodic phrasing is always wonderfully musical; he can be seductive, but at times there's an eloquent astringency not unlike the late Philip Langridge.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2010 *****

“Gilchrist and Tilbrook are an outstandingly accomplished and sensitive modern combination...the Leighton is a great gift.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2011

“Perhaps most impressive of all in this performance is Tilbrook's profoundly sensitive piano playing. She is a perfectly poised partner to Gilchrist's vocal intensity...Gilchrist is sufficiently his own man to put a stamp of individuality on these songs, which doesn't seek to evoke the Pears style yet still sounds totally right for this music.” International Record Review, December 2010

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