Allan Clayton

Tenor

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Mozart: Zaïde, K344

Mozart: Zaïde, K344


Sophie Bevan (Zaïde), Allan Clayton (Gomatz), Stuart Jackson (Soliman), Jacques Imbrailo (Allazim), Darren Jeffery (Osmin), Jonathan McGovern (Vorsanger)

Classical Opera, Ian Page

Classical Opera continue their series of the complete Mozart operas on Signum with Zaide – a new completion of Mozart’s unfinished work by conductor Ian Page. Composed during his early 20s, Mozart began work on the opera in Salzburg but later left the work to compose Idomeneo, subsequently leaving no overture or third act. The opera is set in a totalitarian regime where a couple have fallen in love (Zaide and Gomatz), incurring the jealousy of the ruling sultan (Soliman).

“Page’s performance offers firmness and mastery of tempo … As Gomatz, Allan Clayton brings energy and definition to his singing … Excellent sound.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2016 ***

“Classical Opera’s well-rounded interpretation offers a strong advocacy for the treasures within Mozart’s forsaken opera.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“A performance of rare distinction, bringing out all the fizz of the music” MusicWeb International, April 2017

“Page is the hero here. Drawing outstanding playing, he makes every note and inflexion count, his acute perception apparent throughout a performance that crackles with an intensity never achieved at the expense of obscuring orchestral detail or lyrical warmth.” Opera, January 2017

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Britten: The Rape of Lucretia

Britten: The Rape of Lucretia

Recorded live at Glyndebourne Opera House, Lewes, October 2015


Christine Rice (Lucretia), Allan Clayton (Male Chorus), Kate Royal (Female Chorus), Duncan Rock (Tarquinius), Matthew Rose (Collatinus), Michael Sumuel (Junius), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Bianca) & Louise Alder (Lucia)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Leo Hussain (conductor) & Fiona Shaw (stage director)

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

Seventy years after its Glyndebourne world premiere, Benjamin Britten’s first chamber opera is welcomed home with ‘a performance of enthralling emotional power and physical beauty’ gifted with ‘piercingly intelligent, immaculately realised staging and superb singing, acting and playing’ led by ‘Fiona Shaw’s supremely nuanced direction’ and underpinned by ‘febrile playing’ from members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (The Telegraph ★★★★★). The production eloquently and tastefully tackles the difficult subject, which is lent emotional weight by ‘Christine Rice’s grandly sung Lucretia, noble in tone yet tragically vulnerable’, along with baritone Duncan Rock’s ‘forthright’ Tarquinius and the ‘smooth bass’ of Matthew Rose as the caring Collatinus (The Guardian ★★★★).

Running time: 114 minutes

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/JP/KO

Sound format: 2.0LPCM + 5.1(5.0) DTS

“Shaw’s production resolutely avoids anything approaching sensationalism or prurience...Clayton [is] disturbingly involved and involving as the Male Chorus...Though the focus is thrown onto the two narrators, the Roman characters all come vividly to life: Duncan Rock’s hyper-muscular Prince of Rome is as imposing vocally as he is physically...Rice’s warmly sung Lucretia is all vitality and tenderness.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 22nd July 2016

“Its beautifully acted and sung. Rice wrings your heart throughout and her self-lacerating final scenes have a harrowing immediacy” Gramophone Magazine, September 2016

“The DVD is evidence of a work, performances and a production accomplished at the highest level, each component brilliant and compelling in its own right, but here functioning perfectly together to deliver an effect that is simply overwhelming” Opera, November 2016

“The production, set during an archaeological excavation, packs a punch” Financial Times, 29th July 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

22nd July 2016

GGramophone Awards 2017

Finalist - Opera

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

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'Where'er You Walk'

'Where'er You Walk'

Arias For Handel's Favourite Tenor


Arne:

Hark how the hounds and horn (from The Fairies)

Thou like the glorious sun (from Artaxerxes)

Handel:

Esther: Tune your harps to cheerful strains

Sol nel mezzo risona del core (from Il pastor fido)

Ariodante: Sinfonia to Act 2

Tu vivi (from Ariodante)

M'inganna, me n'avveggo (from Alcina)

Un momento di contento (from Alcina)

Alexander's Feast: Happy Pair

Vedi l'ape che ingegnosa (from Berenice)

As steals the morn (from L'Allegro, il Penseroso, ed il Moderato)

Mary Bevan (soprano)

Arrival of the Queen of Sheba (from Solomon)

Solomon: My fair's a garden of delight

Solomon: Softly rise, o southern breeze!

Solomon: Ye southern breezes gently blow

Samson: Let but that spirit

Thus when the sun from’s watry bed (Samson)

Judas Maccabaeus: 'Tis well, my friends...Call forth thy pow'rs

Jephtha: Hide thou thy hated beams

Jephtha: Waft her, angels, through the skies

Semele: Where'er you walk


Allan Clayton (tenor)

Classical Opera, The Choir of Classical Opera, Ian Page

Classical Opera explore a wealth of arias by Handel and his contemporaries William Boyce, John Christopher Smith and Thomas Arne, all of which were composed for the celebrated 18th-century tenor John Beard (1716-1791). For this recording Allan Clayton steps ably into this role, performing alongside the Orchestra of Classical Opera under Ian Page. The disc also features a duet with Mary Bevan, from Handel’s L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato.

“there’s a guileless beauty of tone in Clayton’s Handel … he is a stylish but not slavish Handelian … led by Matthew Truscott, the string playing is reliably silky, well articulated and quick-witted, with musky obbligato solos from bassoonist Philip Turbett and oboist James Eastway.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2016

“Clayton’s tenor has been getting steadily stronger and more muscular over the past few years, and there’s more evidence of that here...with the added bonus of a cameo from soprano Mary Bevan (‘As steals the morn’) and the skilled support of Ian Page and The Orchestra of Classical Opera it’s a very attractive package.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2016

“The outstanding young tenor fulfils his early promise...he phrases with immaculate taste and style.” Sunday Times, 15th May 2016

GGramophone Awards 2017

Shortlisted - Recital

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Signum - SIGCD457

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Insomnia: Aurora Orchestra

Insomnia: Aurora Orchestra


 

Blackbird

John Winston Lennon / Paul James McCartney (arr. Iain Farrington)

I've been high

Peter Lawrence Buck / Michael E Mills / John Michael Stipe (arr. Richard Tognetti)

Britten:

Nocturne, Op. 60 for tenor, obbligato instruments and strings

Allan Clayton (tenor)

Couperin, F:

Pièces de clavecin II: Ordre 6ème in B flat: Les baricades mistérieuses

arr. Thomas Adès

Dean, B:

Pastoral Symphony

Gurney:

Sleep

arr. Iain Farrington

Allan Clayton (tenor)

Ligeti:

Poème Symphonique for 100 Metronomes


Insomnia is the second Warner Classics album from the innovative, imaginative Aurora Orchestra and its Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon. In a typically colourful themed programme it explores the night, its thoughts and dreams and the hazy space between waking and sleeping. Britten’s Nocturne – with tenor Allan Clayton – and Brett Dean’s Pastoral Symphony are juxtaposed with music by Couperin, Ligeti, Gurney, The Beatles and R.E.M.

While its name evokes the dawn, the Aurora Orchestra has chosen to devote its second Warner Classics release to an exploration of a troubled night – its thoughts and dreams and the hazy space between waking and sleeping. The album carries a striking, but apt name: Insomnia.

The Aurora Orchestra, founded in London in 2005, enjoys a reputation for innovation and imagination as well as virtuosity. Under its Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon it introduced the Insomnia concept at concerts in the UK in 2013. As Collon has said: “A big feature of Aurora’s programming over the past few years has been playing around with a consciously eclectic vein of repertoire that can cover all periods, styles and genres ... We like the idea of an album having some kind of narrative and flavour, which is quite unusual for an orchestral CD. It allows for some interesting and unexpected repertoire to appear together, and to be presented in an unusual way.”

At the heart of Insomnia are two major works: Benjamin Britten’s Nocturne for tenor (here Allan Clayton, described by The Telegraph as a “rising star”) and chamber orchestra, which, composed in 1958, sets poetry by such figures as Shakespeare, Shelley and Tennyson; and the Pastoral Symphony by the contemporary Australian composer Brett Dean, which was premiered in Paris in 2001. Dean has described his piece as being “about glorious birdsong, the threat that it faces, the loss, and the soulless noise that we're left with when the birds are all gone”.

In typically enterprising fashion, the Aurora Orchestra has complemented these two central works with music from the 18th century – François Couperin’s keyboard piece Les baricades mistérieuses in a new arrangement by Thomas Adès – and from the 20th century – Ivor Gurney’s song Sleep and György Ligeti’s Poème symphonique (written for 100 ticking metronomes!). Joining them are versions of two pop songs: The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ and R.E.M.’s ‘I’ve Been High’. A bonus track, available from iTunes, is Samuel Barber’s gloriously lyrical song ‘Sure on this shining night’.

The Aurora Orchestra’s first Warner Classics Album, Road Trip, was released in early 2015. Featuring music by Aaron Copland, John Adams, Charles Ives and Nico Muhly, it took listeners, in the words of The Independent newspaper, on “an inspired American journey”. The Guardian wrote: “It is an imaginative and carefully thought out scheme, and certainly becomes a highly attractive package when it’s performed with the panache that the Aurora Orchestra and its conductor, Nicholas Collon, bring to everything.” BBC Music Magazine, which gave the disc five stars and named it Orchestral Choice, noted that: “Nicholas Collon’s young Aurora Orchestra has been creating a buzz on the London musical scene with its brilliant performances and its innovative programming. This America-themed disc, very well recorded, will enhance its reputation ... exhilarating ... a lovely performance, fresh in colouring and crisp in attack ... wonderfully atmospheric.”

It seems that, with the Aurora Orchestra and Insomnia, listeners can look forward to some surprisingly enjoyable sleepless nights …

“[Britten's] phantasmagorical and often lyrically haunting [Nocturne] provides an excellent showcase for several soloists in the orchestra. Clayton is most successful in Middleton's 'Midnight's bell', his imitation of various night creatures sounding sinister rather than queasily fey; and the natural humanity of his singing makes the concluding Shakespeare Sonnet the appropriate culmination.” BBC Music Magazine, November 2015

“Themed around sleep and night, Aurora's programme looks like a musical kleptomaniac's horde…if this were any other group you could dismiss it as gimmickry and move on, but Aurora - joined here by British tenor Allan Clayton - are such persuasive performers, such believers in their musical cause, that it forces you to look and listen again.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2015

“[the Aurora Orchestra] has put a tiger in the tank of London music-making...Clayton’s superbly nuanced interpretation [of the Britten] is perfectly matched by the Aurora players’ virtuosity under Nicholas Collon’s direction...[the Brett Dean is] Not easy listening, but a fascinating ecological protest piece brilliantly executed by the Aurora.” The Times, 7th August 2015 ****

Warner Classics - 2564608223

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The A-Z of Mozart Opera

The A-Z of Mozart Opera


Mozart:

Natus cadit (from Apollo et Hyacinthus)

Amoretti, che ascosi qui siete (from La Finta Semplice)

Diggi, daggi, schurry, murry (from Bastien und Bastienne)

Se viver non degg’io (original version) (from Mitridate, Re di Ponto)

Fra i pensier più funesti (from Lucio Silla)

Geme la tortorella (from La finta giardiniera)

Viva l’invitto Duce (from Il Re Pastore)

Ruhe sanft, mein holdes Leben (from Zaïde)

Andrò ramingo e solo (from Idomeneo)

Konstanze, Konstanze...O wie ängstlich (from Die Entführung aus dem Serail)

Bravo, signor padrone…Se vuol ballare (from Le nozze di Figaro)

Deh! vieni alla finestra (from Don Giovanni)

Di scrivermi ogni giorno (from Così fan tutte)

Ah perdona al primo affetto (from La Clemenza di Tito)

Hm! hm! hm! hm! (from Die Zauberflöte)


Rebecca Bottone, Klara Ek, Martene Grimson, Susan Gritton, Anna Leese (soprano), Cora Burggraaf (mezzo), Allan Clayton, Andrew Staples (tenor), Mark Stone (baritone), Matthew Rose (bass)

Classical Opera, Ian Page

Signum are proud to reissue Classical Opera’s debut CD, ‘The A-Z of Mozart Opera’, selected for Gramophone magazine’s annual Critic’s Choice in 2007. Based on the coincidence that Mozart’s first opera (Apollo et Hyacinthus) begins with ‘A’ and his last (Die Zauberflöte) with ‘Z’, this disc takes the listener on a chronological journey through Mozart’s operatic canon, featuring an aria or ensemble from fifteen of his operas.

“Page and his young musicians have a real feeling for Mozart, and the excerpts...are artfully chosen to make the best case for early Mozart. Even so, the emotional intensity of the great Idomeneo quartet is a bombshell.” Sunday Times, 20th April 2014

“performed with skill and grace under the able direction of Ian Page.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2014 ****

“Leese makes a particular hit of her aria from Lucio Silla, her tone even and clean, yet with a sensuous edge...In ‘Ruhe sanft’ from Zaïde, Susan Gritton’s sweet voice carries through the phrases with elegance and delicacy but without tiptoeing...Matthew Rose brings immediate trenchancy to arias from Bastien und Bastienne and Figaro.” Opera Now ***

“The main interest lies in the early works. ‘Natus cadit’ from Apollo et Hyacinthus is charmingly sung by Martene Grimson and Allan Clayton, and Rebecca Bottone and Grimson find real depth of emotion in ‘Se viver non degg’io’ from Mitridate. The finale to Il re pastore, which with its two tenors and no bass anticipates the Act II finale to Die Entführung, is faultless.” Early Music Today

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Britten: A Ceremony of Carols & St Nicolas

Britten: A Ceremony of Carols & St Nicolas


Britten:

A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28

Sally Pryce (harp), Katherine Watson (soprano) & Zoë Brown (soprano)

St Nicolas, Op. 42

Allan Clayton (tenor)

City of London Sinfonia, Holst Singers & Temple Church Choristers


2013 sees the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth and Hyperion starts celebrating early with this disc of two of the composer’s most popular choral works, both with a Christmas relevance.

The cantata Saint Nicolas tells the story of the original ‘Santa Claus’, a fourth-century saint whose acts—revitalizing three boys who had been pickled by an unscrupulous landlord being among the more dramatic—led to his canonization as patron saint of children and sailors. Britten’s lively setting is distinctly operatic, full of incident and colour—with the story brought ‘home’ through the use of congregational hymns. The part of Nicolas (here sung magnificently by Allan Clayton, already acclaimed as the heir to Peter Pears and Anthony Rolfe Johnson) is one of Britten’s great heroic tenor roles.

A Ceremony of Carols is a setting for treble voices and harp of some of the medieval texts which Britten loved so much, and is heard every Christmas in cathedrals, churches and concert halls throughout the land. This fresh, sparkling performance completes a thoroughly festive release.

“Layton’s soprano and mezzos affect a purity that sounds “boyish”...Clayton’s Nicolas is more youthful-sounding than his predecessors (Pears, Tear, Langridge), but Layton captures the mystery-play-like drama of the saint’s life story.” Sunday Times, 30th September 2012

“A Christmas disc to savour.” Financial Times, 10th November 2012

“Layton’s singers do project beautifully, and their sheer security makes this Ceremony a gorgeous, invigorating experience...The moment when the adult Nicolas (beautifully sung by tenor Allan Clayton) suddenly reveals himself in The Birth of Nicolas will induce goose pimples of delight in sceptical listeners.” The Arts Desk, 17th November 2012

“The young ladies of Trinity College Cambridge Choir here are pleasantly smooth without becoming unctuously so. Yet neither do they lack ruggedness...Clayton is magnificent” MusicWeb International, November 2012

“Layton's flowing speeds underline the dramatic sequence of the carols...All the solo performances are impeccably shaped and harpist Sally Pryce makes light work of the fiendish accompaniments...Clayton makes the role of Nicolas entirely his own. What a glorious voice!...This is a beautiful and deeply affecting recording.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2012

“The clear-toned adult voices of the Choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, highlight qualities in the work often missed when performed by the more usual boys' choir...Perhaps Trinity sound too well-behaved to match the boisterous enthusiasm boys typically bring...[though] the gains in terms of technical assurance and expression make this a welcome recording of a well-loved work.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2013 ****

“The ladies of the choir give a polished and fresh performance with a good amount of purity of sound, while Stephen Layton keeps the tempos moving convincingly. Women rather than boys may not be to everyone’s taste but it is mightily impressive nonetheless. Meanwhile Allan Clayton makes a thoroughly excellent St Nicolas.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 3rd December 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

3rd December 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2012

Hyperion - CDA67946

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Britten: Complete Songs Volume 2

Britten: Complete Songs Volume 2


Britten:

Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, Op. 22

Allan Clayton (tenor)

A Charm of Lullabies for mezzo-soprano and pianoforte, Op. 41 (1947)

Jennifer Johnston (mezzo)

Who are these children?, Op. 84

Nicky Spence (tenor)

The Red Cockatoo (Waley)

Benjamin Hulett (tenor)

Songs and Proverbs of William Blake, Op. 74

Benedict Nelson (baritone)

On this Island, Op. 11

Elizabeth Atherton (soprano)

Dans le Bois

world premiere recording

Elizabeth Atherton (soprano)

Gloriana: 2nd Lute Song

Allan Clayton (tenor)

Chamber Music V

Allan Clayton (tenor)

The birds

Jennifer Johnston (mezzo)

If it's ever Spring again (Hardy)

Robin Tritschler (tenor)

The Children and Sir Nameless (Hardy)

Robin Tritschler (tenor)

Dawtie’s Devotion

Nicky Spence (tenor)

The Gully

Nicky Spence (tenor)

Tradition

Nicky Spence (tenor)

Of all the airts the wind can blow

world premiere recording

Nicky Spence (tenor)

Oh why did e’er my thoughts

world premiere recording

Benedict Nelson (baritone)

The sun shines down (No. 3 from Fish in the unruffled lakes)

Benjamin Hulett (tenor)

What's in your mind? (No. 5 from Fish in the unruffled lakes)

Benjamin Hulett (tenor)

Fish in the Unruffled Lakes (No. 4 from Fish in the Unruffled Lakes)

Robin Tritschler (tenor)

Underneath the abject willow (No. 6 from Fish in the Unruffled Lakes)

Robin Tritschler (tenor)


The second volume in the highly praised survey of all Britten’s songs for voice and piano. As before, the great song cycles rub shoulders with individual songs, and early works. There are world premier recordings here as well.

Malcolm Martineau has gather together the cream of young British singers, and this second volume will be as eagerly awaited and successful as the first (ONYX4071).

Philip Reid’s excellent booklet notes provide an incisive insight to Britten’s song writing – a form of composition that occupied the composer from his earliest compositions through to his last year.

‘This series promises to be a major addition to the Britten discography.’ Gramophone

“It's good to hear four quite different tenors responding to the song-cycles written for Peter Pears, and recreating each one in a totally distinctive way. Allan Clayton's feisty tenor takes on the Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, his voice both heroic and intimate. Nicky Spence's 'Who are these Children?' is the outstanding performance of this volume: he really sells these wonderful settings of the pacificist poet William Soutar, characterising their compassion.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2012 ****

“it is fortuitous that such a range of talented young tenors is on hand...Whoever he is accompanying, pianist Malcolm Martineau is an expert guide. Though other individual recordings may be preferable, this second volume of Britten songs is again greater than the sum of its parts.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2012

“All the singers are supported by Malcolm Martineau's wonderfully characterised accompaniments...Allan Clayton and Elizabeth Atherton give superb accounts of the declamatory Michelangelo Sonnets and the settings of Auden's On This Island respectively, but Nicky Spence seems slightly self-conscious in the Scots dialect of the Soutar songs, and Benedict Nelson doesn't always summon sufficient weight of tone for the Blake cycle.” The Guardian, 24th November 2011 ***

“Listening to this music leaves one in no doubt that Britten ranks among the very greatest song composers, blessed with an unerring instinct for matching word to note and the creation of poetic atmosphere, as well as producing some gloriously singable melodic lines.” The Telegraph, 3rd November 2011

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


“I would happily sit in King’s College Chapel listening to this choir sing for the rest of my days.” (Richard Morrison, The Times)

“Stephen Cleobury’s interpretation ticked all the boxes, with choir and orchestra impeccably balanced and soloists glowing.” (The Independent)

Following the rush-release on CD of the live recording of Handel’s Messiah earlier this year, EMI Classics is now proud to announce the release of the DVD of this extraordinary performance in the magnificent setting of the Chapel of King’s College. The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and the Academy of Ancient Music are conducted by Stephen Cleobury with soloists Ailish Tynan, Alice Coote, Allan Clayton and Matthew Rose.

The DVD of the concert on Palm Sunday 2009 was filmed and produced by Opus Arte.

This Messiah performance was at the heart of the fifth annual Easter at King’s festival and commemorated both the 250th anniversary of the death of George Frideric Handel and the 800th anniversary of the University of Cambridge. The concert was carried via satellite – a first for a live choral concert - and was screened in over 85 cinemas across Europe and North America. Further cinema broadcasts are planned in the US and Canada in November/ December 2009 (maybe in Europe as well), possibly in a 3D version. Further details of these broadcasts will be announced shortly.

The DVD and previously-released CD join the chart-topping CD, England, My England, released in July 2009 and a new live recording of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, to be released in November 2009 as ideal Christmas gifts from the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and EMI Classics.

George Frideric Handel’s crowning masterpiece, his oratorio Messiah, was a hit at its premiere in April 1742 and remains among the most popular works in Western choral literature. A native of Germany, the composer lived in England from 1712, where he was considered one of the leading musical figures of his day. In 1741, the year in which he wrote Messiah, however, Handel found himself on the verge of bankruptcy, depressed and broken following the failure of several of his operas. In London it was even being said that his career as a composer was over.

Not so in Ireland, where the Lord Lieutenant and governors of three charitable organisations invited Handel to Dublin to conduct a performance of one of his works for charity. Having recently completed his oratorio Messiah, the composer decided to use the invitation as an opportunity to present this new work to the world. The premiere – at Neal’s Music Hall in Dublin in 1742 – was eagerly awaited by the Dublin public and the hall was sold out.

Handel based Messiah on a libretto by Charles Jennens that employs verses from the bible to present the life of Jesus. The work is in three sections: the Advent and Christmas; Christ’s passion; and the events told in the Revelation to St. John. While the composer intended the oratorio to be secular theatre, today Messiah is performed equally in churches and concert halls, by professionals and amateurs alike, usually during Lent (prior to Easter) or Advent (prior to Christmas).

The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge is the world’s most famous choir and one of today’s most accomplished and renowned representatives of the great British choral tradition. The Choir dates back to the 1400s and consists of 16 choristers and 14 choral scholars. Its international reputation, established by the radio broadcast worldwide of the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols each Christmas Eve, has been consolidated by regular international tours and by the critical and commercial success of its EMI Classics releases. The most recent releases by the Choir, under exclusive contract with EMI Classics, include England, My England, a patriotic collection of English choral favourites that has been at the top of the UK classical artist charts this summer, the stunning selection of Tudor anthems I Heard a Voice, Brahms’s Ein Deutsches Requiem, Purcell’s Music for Queen Mary with the Academy of Ancient Music, John Rutter’s Gloria, Magnificat and Psalm 150 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Heavenly Voices, in which the Boys of King’s College Choir, in their first solo recording for the label, perform works by Franck, Mendelssohn, Fauré, John Ireland and Patrick Hadley.

The Academy of Ancient Music (AAM), founded in 1973 by Christopher Hogwood, is one of the world’s first and foremost period-instrument orchestras. It takes its name from a London concert society established in 1726 for the purpose of studying and performing ‘old’ music, which was initially defined as music composed at least a century earlier, but soon came to include more ‘contemporary’ composers. The present-day Academy of Ancient Music has performed across six continents and made over 250 recordings, including many pioneering discs under Christopher Hogwood. In addition to making numerous recordings of baroque repertoire, especially Handel, the AAM was the first orchestra to record all of Mozart’s symphonies on period instruments and has since recorded the complete piano concertos and symphonies of Beethoven. It is also recording the Mozart piano concertos with fortepianist Robert Levin and the complete Haydn symphonies. At the start of the 2006-07 season, Christopher Hogwood assumed the title of Emeritus Director and Richard Egarr became Music Director.

“Stephen Cleobury's interpretation … served Handel's piece well….the understanding between the orchestra and the Choir of King's College was remarkable. … the atmosphere in the Chapel, as well as in the cinema, was one of evocative majesty. … Former Young Artist of the Royal Opera Ailish Tynan made Handel's piece shine … One of the finest interpreters of the Baroque repertoire, Coote pushed her expressive power to the extreme. Her engagement with the text was almost surreal … Mimetic camera movements accompanied the singing … providing the audience in cinemas with another level of engagement.” (www.musicalcriticism.com)

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EMI - 2681569

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah


Allan Clayton (tenor), Andrew Foster-Williams (bass), Iestyn Davies (countertenor) & Julia Doyle (soprano)

Polyphony & Britten Sinfonia, Stephen Layton

2CDs for the price of 1

‘No-one, but no-one performs Messiah better every year than the choir Polyphony under the conductor Stephen Layton’ (Evening Standard)

Polyphony and Stephen Layton’s live Messiah at St John’s Smith Square has become one of the highlights of the musical season. The joyful sincerity and urgent brilliance of the performers has brought the familiar story to life again and again. Now this wonderful experience is available on disc, recorded in 2008 for a new release that will surely prove a strong competitor in a necessarily crowded market. Polyphony is joined by the Britten Sinfonia and a quartet of magnificent young soloists – all variously acclaimed as the premier Handel singers of the new generation.

“…underpinned by the incisive modern instruments of Britten Sinfonia, the new release has both a fine sense of style and is full of refreshing insights… Tempos - after a slightly low-key start - are well judged, and the choir, the odd momentary hint of strain aside, sings with an effortless control and well-modulated fluency that takes wing when gutsiness is added to the mix.” BBC Music Magazine, December 2009

“…there is plenty of music-making here that has the lightness, textures and vocabulary of period style, but there is also the spiritual grandeur (and interventionist treatment of the score) of the great Northern choral society tradition. Julia Doyle is a charismatic Angel/narrator... and her embellishment recapitulation of the line "I know that my Redeemer liveth" is spine-tingling. Andrew Foster-Williams's singing is marvellous... Iestyn Davies's... ornamentation in "But who may abide" is masterful for its stylish vocabulary and expressive wisdom... Layton's affection for the oratorio is frequently discernible, not least in the technical and communicative qualities of Polyphony's exceptional singing of the choruses.” Gramophone Magazine, November 2009

“The 16 strings of Britten Sinfonia make the most of Handel’s wonderfully varied accompaniments (their Why do the nations is hair-raising), the 31-strong Polyphony are excellent... and Layton’s direction is vivid and masterly.” Sunday Times, 20th December 2009 ****

Hyperion - CDA67800

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Dove: The Adventures of Pinocchio

Dove: The Adventures of Pinocchio

Recorded live at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London, on 29th February & 1st March 2008.


Victoria Simmonds (Pinocchio), Jonathan Summers (Geppetto), Mary Plazas (Blue Fairy), Rebecca Bottone (Cricket/Parrot), Graeme Broadbent (Puppeteer/Ape-Judge/Ringmaster), Allan Clayton (Lampwick), Mark Wilde (Cat), James Laing (Fox/Coachman), Carole Wilson (Pigeon/Snail)

The Orchestra and Chorus of Opera North, David Parry (conductor) & Martin Duncan (stage director)

Note: This Blu-ray Disc (BD) is not compatible with standard DVD players

Opera North’s enchanting staging of The Adventures of Pinocchio, Jonathan Dove’s 21st opera, is a wittily inventive feast for the eyes and ears. A full-length, through-composed grand opera with 29 characters, a sizeable chorus and a profound symphonic score, it is overflowing with visual delights, and children will love it! A sublime achievement by Martin Duncan and team, this production shines a bright new light on Collodi’s dream-like original story, full of charm, darkness and magic. The superb ensemble stars Victoria Simmonds in the title role, and the orchestra and chorus respond splendidly under David Parry’s vibrant baton. Mastered from the High Definition video recording and in true surround sound, this is a wonderful chance for children and adults to relive an exhilarating theatre experience at home.

Illustrated synopsis & cast gallery.

Interviews with…

The Composer, The Librettist, The Stage Director & The Musical Director

‘What an inspired and exciting opera this is. Gorgeous characters, a busy story rich in incident and an exhilarating mix of music. Delight follows delight.’ The Stage

PICTURE FORMAT: 1080i
LENGTH: 213 Mins
SOUND: DOLBY TrueHD 5.1 & 2.0
SUBTITLES: EN/FR/DE/ES/IT

“curiosity is aroused for adult and child alike from the first notes of Jonathan Dove's lavish and fantastical new opera genuinely for all age-groups. The scary moments are balanced by the joie de vivre of Alasdair Middleton's witty libretto and Martin Duncan's imaginative staging. Onstage virtually throughout, Victoria Simmonds conveys Pinocchio's flitting moods, from unthinkingly selfish to equally thoughtless acts of love, open-eyed enthusiasm to despondent sulks, with charm and verve. Plaudits should also go to the chorus, whose scenes are always visually and sonically spectacular, while the stunning surround sound of the DVD capturing every detail of Opera North's bold undertaking.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2009 *****

“The story of Pinocchio, as told by Carlo Collodi, is best known through the Disney cartoon version, an equivocal movie generally less sympathetic than other Disney features, but giving a graphic if partial view of the story. Jonathan Dove with his librettist, Alasdair Middleton, in this operatic version in two substantial acts gives a much fuller idea of the story starting with the moment when Gepetto the woodman finds a talking log in the forest. Gepetto is about to chop it up when it speaks to him demanding that he preserve it, later demanding that he should bring out the secret it contains, nothing less than the puppet, Pinocchio, who kicks him as his legs appear. Dove tells the story in brief scenes, 12 in Act 1, nine in Act 2, which carry the story on swiftly and effectively, going on to one sequence involving a circus – cue for pastiche circus music – also one when Pinocchio and Gepetto are trapped inside a whale, from which they escape thanks to Pinocchio's cunning in realising that this asthmatic animal is asleep with its mouth open. Generally the scenes follow the development of Pinocchio from rebellious puppet to kind and considerate boy. Dove's writing characteristically is colourful and vigorous, with inventive instrumentation, as when Pinocchio refuses to pull a cart when asked by a stranger, denying that he is a donkey – at which Dove has the orchestra briefly making a hee-haw sound. Dove's sharp, jazzy syncopations add to the attractions of the writing, which is generally easily lyrical. This, believe it or not, is Dove's 21st opera, though few are as long or ambitious as this one, which was written for Opera North and given its premiere in 2007. The performance, filmed live, is excellent, with a cast which includes a number of the singers discovered by the Peter Moores Foundation, and conducted very ably by David Parry, the Foundation's regular conductor. A very welcome issue of a most attractive new opera.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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