Andrew Kennedy

Tenor

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Leighton: Crucifixus

Leighton: Crucifixus

& other choral works


Leighton:

Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis (Collegium Magdalenae Oxonienses)

God's Grandeur

Give me the wings of faith

Missa Brevis Op. 50

Missa de Gloria, Op. 82, ‘Dublin Festival Mass’: Ite, missa est

Jeremy Cole (organ)

What love is this of thine?

Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis (Second Service), Op. 62

Crucifixus pro nobis, Op. 38

Andrew Kennedy (tenor)


The choral music of Kenneth Leighton is beloved of cathedral and collegiate choirs across the land: immersion in the Anglican tradition dates back to the composer’s earliest years as a boy chorister and combines with a unique adult musical language to create a world at once radical and traditional. And who better to perform it than the musicians of the next generation—Trinity College Choir Cambridge under their director Stephen Layton.

“The writing [in Crucifixus] is at its finest when tenor Andrew Kennedy is singing: his contribution is altogether gripping, and unstintingly committed. There's wonderful quiet singing from the choir in the concluding 'Drop, drop slow tears'...The account of the Missa brevis is if anything even better...[Layton] elicits great subtleties of expression from his young singers.” BBC Music Magazine, Awards Issue 2015 *****

“An excellent disc, one for all lovers of 20th century British music in general and choral music in particular.” MusicWeb International, April 2015

“The Trinity Choir responds to the music’s energetic, often muscly feel, and Stephen Layton’s direction declines to prettify.” Choir & Organ, May 2015 ****

Hyperion - CDA68039

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$14.00

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Britten: The Turn of the Screw

Britten: The Turn of the Screw


Andrew Kennedy (Prologue, Peter Quint), Sally Matthews (Governess), Michael Clayton-Jolly (Miles), Lucy Hall (Flora), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Mrs Grose) & Katherine Broderick (Miss Jessel)

London Symphony Orchestra, Richard Farnes

Released in the Britten anniversary year, Richard Farnes, the Music Director of Opera North who led their critically acclaimed production of 'The Turn of the Screw' in 2010, conducts an all-English cast in Britten’s most ingeniously crafted opera, including Andrew Kennedy, Sally Matthews, and 11-year old Michael Clayton-Jolly in the role of Miles.

Originally scheduled to be conducted by Sir Colin Davis, Richard Farnes was the natural replacement, himself having been mentored by the late conductor.

In 1932, the 18-year-old Britten heard on the radio ‘a wonderful, impressive but terribly eerie and scary play 'The Turn of the Screw' by Henry James.’ Britten’s version of the ghost story, premiered in 1954, is a chamber opera in a prologue and two acts. The opera tells the story of a Governess and a housekeeper, Mrs Grose, who vow to protect two children, Miles and Flora, from the strange happenings that occur in the grounds of their English country house.

“Farnes directs a taut, crisply-detailed account of Britten’s masterpiece. His cast is perfect: Kennedy a slyly seductive Quint; Matthews spot on in conveying the Governess’s growing horror and resolve; as telling a Flora and Miles as any on disc. Excellent Barbican sound.” Classical Music *****

“[Farnes] directs a detailed and well-paced performance in which the collective and individual playing of his chamber orchestra...could hardly be bettered...Listeners (and viewers) are almost spoilt for choice with the many very fine recordings of this opera...but this new one definitely deserves inclusion amongst the best of them” Classical Review

“this vibrant, spine-tingling take on Britten’s Henry James opera owes its success to the late conductor’s replacement [Richard Farnes]. This was his first encounter with the LSO, whose soloists here...are the stars.” Sunday Times, 12th January 2014

“Britten's opera makes its usual harrowing impact...Broderick's darker-toned Miss Jessel contrasts well with [Matthews]...while Catherine Wyn-Rogers's Mrs Grose is faultlessly secure and vivid. Richard Farnes's conducting unfolds the opera at a quite expansive pace with no loss of tensions, although he allows some over-sumptuous moments” BBC Music Magazine, February 2014 ***

“The orchestral performance under Richard Farnes is everything it should be, and indeed as a representation of this chilling score this is a very good performance indeed. That said, it does lack the sheer sense of discovery and horrified engagement that was present in the original Decca recording.” MusicWeb International, 7th February 2014

“It's Andrew Kennedy as the ghost Peter Quint who impresses most...He's a worldly Quint...one whose voice naturally embodies all the necessary qualities to dramatize the childlike appeal of Quint's high-flown poetic language...As the hapless ex-governess Miss Jessel, Katherine Broderick brings a pleasing edge to the part.” International Record Review, February 2014

“there is much to admire, especially in the virtuoso playing of the LSO musicians, but the drama seems underplayed...Still, this is a good cast in an opera that rarely gets a poor performance...Kennedy is an expressive Quint, especially imaginative in the Prologue” Gramophone Magazine, March 2014

“There are two main glories to the performance: the first is Richard Farnes’s conducting of the LSO, which is taut and controlled but evolves at a natural pace....The second is Sally Matthews’ Governess; this is a voice with infinite colours and the soprano knows how to maximise her gift.” Opera Now *****

“A tribute worthy of Sir Colin and a new milestone in the discography.” Diapason ****

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Delius: Mass of Life & Idyll

Delius: Mass of Life & Idyll


Delius:

A Mass of Life

Janice Watson (soprano), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Kennedy (tenor), Alan Opie (baritone)

The Bach Choir

Prelude & Idyll

Janice Watson (soprano) & Alan Opie (baritone)


Bournemouth Symphony, David Hill

Long an admirer of Nietzsches poetry, Frederick Delius composed A Mass of Life while at the height of his powers, blending passages from Also Sprach Zarathustra into orchestral textures of great expressive depth and striking beauty. Written in his final years, the Prelude and Idyll sourced music from a long discarded opera, transforming a story of lust and vengeance into one which emphasizes the transience of life and love. David Hills previous BSO recordings include a perfectly judged Dies natalis by Gerald Finzi (The Guardian on 8570417), while his Vaughan Williams Sancta Civitas (8572424) was described as thrilling a great case for a neglected work (Classic FM).

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

“The singing is suitably majestic for Nietzsche's vision of mankind's destiny...Hill draws some marvellously expressive playing from the BSO, with soloists – chief among them Alan Opie – in magnificent form.” The Observer, 27th May 2012

“Alan Opie, who has the lion's share of the solo music in the work, is almost Wotan-like in his performances...Andrew Kennedy, Catherine Wyn-Rogers and Janice Watson also offer fine lyrical interpretations of their solo parts...This is a must for any Delius Liebhaber and...a marvellous starting point for anyone new to Delius's unique but compelling art.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2012

“Even if you already have those discs, the excellent line-up of vocal and orchestral forces in this new one is well worth investigating, the Bach Choir on fine form and the four soloists sounding thoroughly immersed in their roles...Hill maintains the inner momentum and points up the essential poetry of the piece.” The Telegraph, 7th June 2012 *****

“David Hill's impressive new recording with his Bach Choir (in the original German) boasts confident, ardent choral singing and orchestral playing, and a string solo team - even if Alan Opie, representing the prophet Zarathustra, perhaps makes his points with too much Wagnerian declamation at the expense of line....But listeners tempted by Naxos's bargain price into exploring this work won't be disappointed.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2012 ****

“splendid modern sound, a thrilling choir and orchestra, and, in David Hill, a conductor no less devoted to Delius than his more celebrated predecessor [Beecham]. His soloists are outstanding: Janice Watson, Catherine Wyn-Rogers and Andrew Kennedy sing with clarity and radiance, but the star is Alan Opie, whose lyrical singing is wonderful.” Sunday Times, 10th June 2012

“Even I, congenitally allergic to Delius’s music and Nietzsche’s writing, can scarce forbear to cheer this stunning recording...it certainly celebrates life, especially in this thrilling performance by the Bach Choir, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and quality soloists” The Times, 16th June 2012 *****

“fresh, finely nuanced singing.” Financial Times, 23rd June 2012

“It's a tribute to David Hill and his musicians and technical team that this rolling wave of joy is exceptionally well caught.” MusicWeb International, August 2012

“Hill draws some magnificent playing from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and has a top-class quartet of soloists, most notably baritone Alan Opie (who has the lion’s share of the solo music in the work) who delivers a lyrical and radiant account. The chorus parts are notoriously hard but the members of the Bach Choir rise to the challenges superbly and help produce a really thrilling performance.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 16th July 2012

Presto Disc of the Week

16th July 2012

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - July 2012

Naxos - 8572861-62

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Mozart: Requiem

Mozart: Requiem


Mozart:

Requiem in D minor, K626

Ave verum corpus, K618

Per questa bella mano, concert aria, K 612

& Robert Nairn (double bass obbligato)


Elizabeth Watts (soprano), Phyllis Pancella (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Kennedy (tenor) & Eric Owens (bass-baritone)

Handel and Haydn Society, Harry Christophers

Following the success of the Mozart Mass in C minor last year, CORO is delighted to announce the release of its second recording with Harry Christophers and the Handel and Haydn Society. Celebrated soloists Elizabeth Watts, Phyllis Pancella, Andrew Kennedy and Eric Owens joined Harry and the Society to record Mozart’s Requiem live at Boston’s Symphony Hall earlier this year.

Mozart’s final moments are reflected through this masterpiece of drama, intensity and depth. The mysterious circumstances surrounding the Requiem’s commission (delivered by a ‘messenger in black’ who refused to reveal the identity of the person who had sent him), and the fact it was left incomplete by a dying Mozart, have ensured a continued fascination with the work.

Completed by Mozart’s colleague Süssmayr in 1792, the Requiem is one of Mozart’s most popular and enduring works and one of the most enigmatic pieces of music ever composed.

The CD will also feature Mozart’s Ave verum corpus and the first recording on period instruments of his concert aria Per questa bella mano for bass voice and solo double bass obligato—a piece famous for its fiendishly difficult double bass part, performed superbly on this recording by Robert Nairn.

“[Owens's] instrument sounds magisterial as it rolls along, matching well with the three remaining soloists. Elizabeth Watts is a luminous soprano. Phyllis Pancella can rely on the almost contralto-like qualities of her mezzo. Andrew Kennedy's strong tenor makes a direct human appeal. The choir, too, is well blended and nicely balanced, negotiating the fast passages with impressive neatness. Orchestral playing is both vivid and disciplined” BBC Music Magazine, December 2011 ****

“a tangible excitement and momentum from one movement to the next makes this interpretation far more exciting than many studio recordings...And what a Dies irae this is. Breathless, barely contained, with brisk and extreme changes of dynamics always grabbing you by the hand and dragging you onwards; it is totally compelling...It's the most consistently engaging and propulsive recording of the Requiem I've heard.” Classic FM Magazine, November 2011 *****

“The recording grants welcome clarity to the orchestration, with colle parti trombones particularly audible. Tempi are generally brisk...the performance of [Per questa bella mano] is all one could wish for.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2012

Coro Handel and Haydn Society - COR16093

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Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress

Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress

Recorded live at Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels on 26th & 28th April 2007.


Andrew Kennedy (Tom Rakewell), Laura Claycomb (Anne Trulove), William Shimell (Nick Shadow), Julianne Young (Mother Goose), Dagmar Peckova (Baba the Turk), Darren Jeffery (Trulove), Donal J. Byrne (Sellem)

Symphony Orchestra & Chorus of la Monnaie de Munt, Kazushi Ono (conductor) & Robert Lepage (stage director)

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

Stravinsky’s masterwork The Rake’s Progress, created for La Fenice in Venice in 1951, is based on a libretto by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman, inspired by a series of 18th century prints by William Hogarth. This amazing production from La Monnaie–De Munt ‘jazzifies’ the setting by replacing Hogarth’s sin city, London, with 1950s Las Vegas, turning it into a glittering, cinematic gallery of tableaux vivants inspired by the early days of television. Staged by one of the most visionary theatre directors of our age, the Québécois Robert Lepage, the neo-classical morality tale truly becomes a grand spectacle. Lepage’s visual imagination works its magic superbly, while Kazushi Ono’s energetic musical direction drives the sparkling ensemble to exhilarating heights.

Bonus material:

Interview with stage director Robert Lepage

Behind the scenes & rehearsal footage

Photo gallery

Cast gallery & illustrated synopsis

‘Lepage has forged a reputation as one of the most visionary theatre directors of our age… The Rake’s Progress is heading our way, and it promises to be a highlight of the 2007/8 season.’ Sunday Times

PICTURE FORMAT: 1080i
LENGTH: 74 Mins
SOUND: 2.0 & 5.0 PCM
SUBTITLES: EN/FR/DE/ES/IT/NL

“It seems perverse to place it in Las Vegas in the 1950s, as Robert Lepage has done, with stetsons, risqué revue turns and black-and-white TV … Yet when we arrive at the graveyard scene, and then the incredibly moving mad scene in Bedlam, it is all so wonderful that I felt it had been worth persevering. Musically, it is first-rate.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2008 ****

“Auden first met Stravinsky to discuss the libretto of The Rake's Progress in Hollywood in 1947, and Robert Lepage winds forward his 'clock of fashion' to the time and place of the opera's composition. Hogarth's Gin Alley runs into Easy Street, populated by Vegas hookers, dancers and chancers. The composer-sanctioned division into two halves rather than three acts is a complementary move from the conventions of the opera house to the theater, and what a show we have. Madam, or rather Mother Goose (Julianne Young, bearing a disconcerting resemblance to Julianne Moore), lures the naive Tom onto a heart-shaped satin bed, and the pair literally sink into its folds – before our hero re-emerges, worldly wise and weary, in front of a blow-up Winnebago, and banishes ennui not with mother's ruin but a line or two of Colombia's finest. Andrew Kennedy takes all this in his stride, and his always fresh, appealing tenor ensures we retain our sympathy through Tom's piteous downfall from indolence to insanity, far more so than we are likely to for his operatic model, Ferrando. From Nick Shadow's first entrance under the shade of a Dallas derrick to his flame-capped Broadway nemesis, the parallels are not with Dons Alfonso or Giovanni but rather Alberich. This is largely thanks to William Shimell's ironblack baritone and rasping wit, though lines such as 'That man alone is free who chooses what to will and wills his choice as destiny' certainly strike a Wagnerian ring of mania. The recorded balance is slightly unfavourable to Laura Claycomb in 'I go to him': this is her 'Abscheulicher', but she is no Leonora, and is happiest vocally when she is dramatically downcast. The two crucial scenes, either side of the interval, between her, Tom and Dagmar Pecková's show-stealing Baba are models of ensemble writing and direction, pulling between operatic naturalism and Stravinsky's preferred realism just as Tom is torn between one woman and the other – and all in front of a chorus who change from waltz-time party guests to painfully well observed inhabitants of Bedlam with phenomenal assurance. Doubtless Kazushi Ono must take credit for some slickly cinematic pacing. This is a show to be seen and, down to the witty, period and silent menu screens, a model of its kind.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“This is a show to be seen - Covent Garden is staging it in July - and, down to the witty, period and silent menu screens, a model of its kind.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2008

“Lepage has forged a reputation as one of the most visionary theatre directors of our age… The Rake’s Progress is heading our way, and it promises to be a highlight of the 2007/8 season.” Sunday Times

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Opus Arte - OABD7038D

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$32.75

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Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini

Berlioz: Benvenuto Cellini

Libretto in French with English translation. Sung in French


Gregory Kunde (Cellini), Laura Claycomb (Teresa), Darren Jeffery (Balducci), Andrew Kennedy (Francesco), Isabelle Cals (Ascanio), John Relyea (Pope Clement VII), Peter Coleman-Wright (Fieramosca), Jacques Imbrailo (Pompeo), Andrew Foster-Williams, (Bernardino) & Alasdair Elliott (Cabaretier)

London Symphony Chorus & London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis

This title will not be issued on standard CD. A high density DSD recording (5.0), live at the Barbican, June 2007 Slimline double case & booklet in slip case with notes in English, French & German.

“In Davis's hands, its [the opera's] originality and imagination are fully vindicated. The cast attack the piece with skill and immense vigour. Gregory Kunde rises to the full stature of Berlioz's thinly disguised self-portrait of the artist as romantic hero. Davis's identification with the score brings out the best in his forces, allowing this neglected work to register as a masterpiece.” The Guardian Concert Review *****

“Compared with The Damnation of Faust, Béatrice et Benedict and The Trojans, Benvenuto Cellini has always been Berlioz's Cinderella opera, a strange mixture of farcical comedy and hymn to the supremacy of art. But Colin Davis vindicates its dramatic qualities magnificently in this recording, despite the fact that it derives from concert performances. Its success is partly down to the vibrant playing of the LSO, but also to the way the cast members seem to interact vocally as if they were on stage. And the cast itself, mainly of younger singers, is very fine indeed, led by the resolute Cellini of Gregory Kunde.” The Telegraph, 3rd May 2008

“Conductor and tenor are the joint heroes of this exhilarating release...The American tenor Gregory Kunde doesn’t have the most immediately appealing timbre, but the high tessitura holds no terrors for him, his sung French is good and, even in his early fifties, he manages to counterfeit the youthful braggadocio of Berlioz’s likeable rapscallion. Davis remains the supreme Berliozian of our day, brilliantly evoking the mercurial wit of the comic repartee, the abandoned gaiety of the Roman carnival and the high drama and suspense of the climactic scene in the foundry, for the casting of Perseus...At LSO prices, this is a steal, and anyone who doesn’t know this fabulous score should snap it up.” Sunday Times, 27th April 2008 ****

“The combination of technology and the conductor's unimpaired élanmakes for glowing textures and shattering climaxes.” BBC Music Magazine, July 2008 ****

“Davis and Co give Berlioz's joyous opera all the love and vitality it deserves. In a score that grows and growls from the bottom up, Davis's Berlioz sound comes into its own, certainly weightier than Nelson or Norrington but always watchful as the melodies and cross-rhythms cascade across the barlines.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2008

“this recording outshines Davis’s version of 40 years ago in sound quality and maturity of interpretation. Berlioz’s flamboyant portrait of the Renaissance goldsmith impresses with its sheer vigour and conviction, thanks to Davis’s inspiration...a bargain.” Financial Times

“Davis is a renowned Berlioz interpreter, and this new recording, taken from live performances with the London Symphony, makes the strongest case for this fascinating work” New York Times

“No conductor today excels Sir Colin Davis in Berlioz’s music and this performance of perhaps his most brilliant opera finds him in sparkling form. The American soprano Laura Claycomb is excellent in the coloratura role of Teresa, dominating the performance with her charm and vivaciousness.” Sunday Telegraph

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2008

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Richard Strauss: The Complete Songs 3

Richard Strauss: The Complete Songs 3


Strauss, R:

Nichts, Op. 10 No. 2

Die Zeitlose, Op. 10 No. 7

Die Verschwiegenen, Op. 10 No. 6

Sechs Lieder, Op. 17

Wozu noch, Mädchen Op. 19 No. 1

Schön sind, doch kalt die Himmelssterne, Op. 19, No. 3

Hoffen und wieder verzagen Op. 19 No. 5

Ach weh mir unglückhaftem Mann, Op. 21 No. 4

Die Frauen sind oft fromm und still Op. 21 No. 5

Heimliche Aufforderung, Op. 27 No. 3

Fünf Lieder, Op. 32

Für fünfzehn Pfennige Op. 36 No. 2

Anbetung, Op. 36 No. 4

Winterweihe, Op. 48 No. 4

Winterliebe Op. 48 No. 5

Freundliche Vision, Op. 48 No. 1


Andrew Kennedy (tenor) & Roger Vignoles (piano)

“Andrew Kennedy is an eager, bright-eyed lover: the bloom and the tenderness of the middle range of his voice, in particular, knows just how to bring a luxuriant Straussian intimacy to a song such as 'Seitdem dein Aug' in meines Schaute.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2008 ***

“Hyperion is an old hand at programming attractively playable discs that make up complete Lied editions. Kennedy's selection has the earlier material, with the Opp 17 and 32 groups given complete. Strauss's choice of poets at this stage in his Lied career may not have been as sophisticated as it became but he never chose a text that didn't inspire a clear musical portrait. Especially well pointed are two Des Knaben Wunderhorn songs ('Himmelsboten' and the droll love-onthe- cheap story of 'Für fünfzehn Pfennige') and the dark, serious 'Sehnsucht'. The better-known 'Ständchen' and what Roger Vignoles's notes call the 'ebullient barnstormer' 'Heimliche Aufforderung' are placed cunningly within the recital order.
Vignoles's playing continues to achieve a maximum of freshness and invention and a chameleon- like closeness to his singer's tone and line. Kennedy's voice is young, sweet, fluent and has what some commentators call 'sap'. Greater naturalness (and especially inwardness) will come in his live and later performances of this repertoire. In the meantime, a lot of work and study has gone into this disc and the readings attain a consistently high standard of beautiful music-making.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

“Vignoles's playing continues to achieve a maximum of freshness and invention… Kennedy's voice is young, sweet, fluent and has what some commentators call "sap". A lot of work and study has gone into this disc and the readings attain a consistently high standard of beautiful music-making.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2008

Hyperion Richard Strauss Complete Songs - CDA67602

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Mozart: Requiem in D minor, K626

Mozart: Requiem in D minor, K626


Marie Arnet (soprano), Anna Stephany (mezzo), Andrew Kennedy (tenor) & Darren Jeffrey (bass)

London Symphony Orchestra & London Symphony Chorus, Sir Colin Davis

A high density DSD recording (5.1), live at the Barbican, September 2007

“If you want a traditionally conceived budget-price Requiem, well sung … superbly played and vividly recorded, Davis's performance has much to commend it. ” Gramophone Magazine, June 2008

“…this performance benefits from marvellous sound and shows Davis secure in his tempo choices and bringing that combination of solemnity, grandeur and drama to a work he particularly cares for.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2008 ****

“Davis' approach to the Requiem … contained both tragic grandeur and high drama, with the Dies Irae pointing the way towards the theatrical vividness of some 19th-century settings, but nothing was remotely sentimental of self-pitying.” The Guardian

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Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Beethoven: Fidelio, Op. 72

Sung in German


Christine Brewer (Leonore), John MacMaster (Florestan), Daniel Borowski (Don Fernando), Juha Uusitalo (Don Pizarro), Kristinn Sigmundsson (Rocco), Sally Matthews (Marzelline), Andrew Kennedy (Jaquino), Andrew Tortise (1st prisoner) & Darren Jeffrey (2nd prisoner)

London Symphony Chorus & London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis

“Colin Davis may be almost 80 but he's at the height of his powers … the finest performance of Fidelio I have ever heard … … there was no weak link, nor weak moment, in a dazzling evening” ***** The Mail on Sunday (Concert Review)

A high density DSD recording, live at the Barbican Centre on 23-25 May 2005 Slimline double case and perfect bound 72-page booklet in slip case with notes in English, French and German. Libretto in German with English translation.

“Colin Davis is an interpreter inspired from start to finish …” Opera

“…Colin Davis's conducting of the London Symphony Orchestra and the vocal forces is so impressive that it ranks with the greatest accounts I have ever heard of this work… Christine Brewer is a great Fidelio, her big voice under perfect control, electrifying at climaxes.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2007 ****

“Davis's version is crisp and dramatic...Abscheulicher brings out all [Brewer's] masterly qualities to the full, thanks to her big, firm, creamy voice, perfectly controlled...The rest of the cast sings strongly too, with John MacMaster a clear, bold Florestan” Penguin Guide, 2010 edition ***

“[Brewer] sings here with great beauty. Mr MacMaster removes the role – rescues it, some might say – from Wagnerian thickness. The sound is clear, with the svelteness of a Verdi tenor but steadfast under pressure…Mr MacMaster and Mr Davis ride the music gloriously” New York Times

“Critical superlatives rained on the concert performances of Fidelio last May; this recording made at the time shows they were not exaggerated...MacMaster brings an almost Vickers-like intensity and lyricism. It is at moments like these that Beethoven’s opera is out on its own” Sunday Telegraph

“MacMaster's Florestan is every stave a match for Brewer's powerful, affecting Leonora, with the LSO chorus in especially fine voice as Davis mines the visionary depths of Beethoven's wondrous score” The Observer

“there is an elemental energy to [Davis's] conducting that propels the drama inexorably forward...[Brewer] sings the notes more effortlessly, and with thrilling attack at the top of her range, than any other contemporary Leonore ...Vocally, the big surprise is the sensitively and heroically sung Florestan of the Canadian tenor John MacMaster” International Record Review

“[Brewer] is a glorious voice, lyrical yet capable of ascending thrillingly to climatic high Bs...The other principals are excellent too...Above all Davis's elemental conducting of his superb LSO makes this an outstanding bargain” Sunday Times

“playing of real bite and character that is caught with startling presenceby the recording...Christine Brewer's Leonore is quite exceptional...Mac Master's performance is immensely impressive too” The Guardian

“Davis seems to view the work as an heroic love story instead of a grand pronouncement on freedom and oppression as so many others do. Hence the incredible lyricism of Davis’s account...this version sounds fresh and compelling and fully worthy to mount the steps to the temple of the few greats we have” Audiophile Audition

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Bach, J S: St John Passion, BWV245

Bach, J S: St John Passion, BWV245


James Gilchrist (Evangelist), Matthew Rose (Jesus), Ashley Riches (Pilatus), Elizabeth Watts (soprano), Sarah Connolly (alto), Andrew Kennedy (tenor), Christopher Purves (bass)

Academy of Ancient Music, Richard Egarr

JS Bach's St John Passion is an intensely personal experience, bringing to life the humanity of the passion story. Combining raw viscerality with moments of exquisite intimacy, it was written soon after Bach’s arrival as Kantor at Leipzig’s Thomasschule. Keen to impress a new congregation, Bach produced a setting of the age-old passion story which overshadowed almost every piece of liturgical music the world had previously known. Our recording aims to capture the authenticity and vivacity of the very first Good Friday performance at Leipzig’s Nikolaikirche.

Over the past 40 years the AAM has made over 300 recordings of baroque and classical music, winning Brit and Grammy Awards along the way. This is our first-ever recording of the St John Passion. With a superlative cast including James Gilchrist, Sarah Connolly, Andrew Kennedy, Elizabeth Watts, Christopher Purves and Matthew Rose, and directed by Richard Egarr, this is a landmark project.

“No one could accuse Richard Egarr of skimping in this new John Passion...It's not just the pedigree of the solo line-up that oozes luxury...Egarr whips up venomous indignation for the crowd's joustings with Pilate. Sarah Connolly's 'Es ist vollbracht' is searing...And Elizabeth Watts's 'Zerfliesse, mein Herze' is almost unbearably poignant.” BBC Music Magazine, April 2014 ****

“The pleasures of Egarr’s reading lie not so much in his use of the original 1724 score (less elaborate than Bach’s better-known revisions), and more in his line-up of top-rank English soloists. James Gilchrist is the persuasive Evangelist, Matthew Rose an expressive Jesus and Ashley Riches an effective Pilate.” Financial Times, 16th March 2014 ***

“this is a St John with a distinct character of its own, and whether or not that will appeal is up to the listener. Those who prefer choral singing with sharp-etched attack and refined blend may be disappointed by what they find here...but Egarr is good at using his 16-voice chorus to release the music's natural line and warmth. That and its humanity.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

“Gilchrist [is] a highly articulate Evangelist...Matthew Rose a distinctly human Jesus and Ashley Riches a suitably assertive Pilate...There is some gorgeous solo playing...Musically, then, this is a splendid performance which leaves the listener exhausted...The key word is contemplation, and that is the one thing missing.” International Record Review, May 2014

“Gilchrist as the Evangelist is an incisive and emotional storyteller, capitalising on the drama of the Easter story...If you want a scaled-down, intimate version of this work – the absence of a big choral sound will not suit all tastes – this is recommended.” The Observer, 6th April 2014 ****

GGramophone Awards 2014

Shortlisted - Baroque Vocal

Early Music

AAM Records - AAM002

(CD - 2 discs)

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Special: $22.81

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