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Reviews ACADEMY OF ANCIENT MUSIC
 

Musicomh.com 22/04/2019: Handel’s Brockes-Passion @ Barbican Hall, London
“This was a superb performance from the AAM… from the chorus, who layered their various lines extremely well, to the oboe playing of Leo Duarte that accompanied many arias, there were delights at every turn… it is highly likely that AAM’s work will lead to an enormous revival of interest in a piece that would seem to appeal to our modern mind-set…”
“Robert Murray was an authoritative Evangelist and Cody Quattlebaum, Bass-Baritone a charismatic Jesus, while Ruby Hughes and Rachael Lloyd made strong soprano and mezzo-soprano contributions respectively. Tim Mead was an excellent Judas and Gwilym Bowen an effective Peter, while Nicky Spence – tenor’s powerful tenor and Morgan Pearse – Baritone’s brilliant bass came to the fore in their various roles. The highest accolades, however, go to Elizabeth Watts for demonstrating such consistency and feeling over what is a notably large sing for the Daughter of Zion.” Sam Smith – Review in full

Operatoday.com  20/04/2019 : Handel's Brockes-Passion
…The AAM soloists and instrumentalists communicated the musical drama and feeling with compelling commitment and power… ..Translator Moritz Grimm retained the astonishingly graphic, often quasi-erotic, conceits of Brockes’ text which abounds with explicit imagery…
…Elizabeth Watts sang with tremendous poise and presence… Gwilym Bowen – Tenor was a superb Peter… Nicky Spence – tenor’s Faithful Soul bristled with rage, the lovely warmth of his tenor winning empathy for his indignation; Judas’ recitative and aria of self-castigation was superbly sung by countertenor Tim Mead. As Pilate, Caiaphas and the Centurion, Morgan Pearse – Baritone sang with firmness and resonance. Ruby Hughes’ fresh, strong soprano and clarity of line conveyed the passionate faith of her Faithful Soul while the exchanges between Rachel Lloyd’s Mary and Cody Quattlebaum, Bass-Baritone’s Jesus were persuasively sincere and human… Claire Seymour - Review in full

The Arts Desk 20/04/2019: Brockes-Passion, AAM & Egarr - Fleshly Handel for our earthbound times
Neglected oratorio offers a seasonal alternative to Bach
 “Handel’s Passion… has an earthiness, an urgency to its telling.. With a recording from the same forces shortly to be released and [Leo] Duarte’s edition as a jumping-off point, will further performances follow? I certainly hope so.”
“The Choir of the AAM were as crisp as the band under Egarr’s direction, with special mention for solos from leader Bojan Cicic and oboist Leo Duarte, whose new edition also enabled this project.”
“…no fewer than nine soloists give Handel’s narrative first-person immediacy… Cody Quattlebaum, Bass-Baritone’s warm and all too human Jesus… pleaded for mercy with disarming simplicity and restraint – a yielding foil to the chilly, metallic beauty of Tim Mead’s Judas. Gwilym Bowen’s bright, agile voice emerged with new fragility, bringing out the brittle, impetuous quality of this disciple… Faithful Soul Nicky Spence – tenor… erupting first into thrilling rage before later floating tenderness on the very surface of his glorious beast of a voice… Elizabeth Watts made much of the verbal drama of the Daughter of Zion…” Alexandra Coghlan - Review in full

Planethugill.com  19/04/2019: Remarkable revival: the Academy of Ancient Music presents Handel's Brockes Passion in a new critical edition
“A Handel rarity rediscovered in a richly evocative performance” ... “The Academy of Ancient Music performance was strongly cast… this was a terrific achievement“ ... “Elizabeth Watts made a strong case for the Daughter of Zion… Her two final arias in Part One were wonderful, and both paired her with Leo Duarte’s solo oboe to powerful and consoling effect… Robert Murray brought a strong dramatic sense to even the smallest utterance and his performance was highly compelling… Cody Quattlebaum, Bass-Baritone[gave a] finely lyrical and inward account of this very human Jesus… Nicky Spence – tenor brought great rhetorical strength to his role… Tim Mead made a strong Judas… Ruby Hughes [gave] a performance which powerfully identified with the character’s reactions… her final contribution was a striking accompagnato where the music really did react to the drama of the words. Gwilym Bowen – Tenor’s Peter drew a lot of the dramatic action in Part One, with Bowen creating a very human character and it was in moments like this that we experienced Handel the dramatist.” Robert Hugill - Review in full

The Guardian 9/12/2018: A thrilling first Messiah of the season
…With the Academy of Ancient Music providing fiery orchestral colour, this Messiah rocked along with breathtaking fervour, but left space for contemplation too. The arrival of the angel to the surprised shepherds (“And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them”) had fearful radiance; the bass aria “Why do the nations so furiously rage together” was sung with charging, urgent anger. The chorus, impeccably drilled, exploited that exciting transition from the dark harmonies of “Since by man came death” to the explosive, redemptive brilliance of “For as in Adam”.
This first Messiah of the season was a winner. Fiona Maddocks- Review in full

Musicomh.com  29/11/2018 : Academy of Ancient Music / Collins @ Milton Court Concert Hall, London
This was a perfectly balanced concert from the Academy of Ancient Music, conducted by Michael Collins, …
Salieri’s Symphony in D major, ‘Sinfonia Veneziana’ of 1786 - …The playing was characterised by outstanding precision, which in itself allowed all of the lines to come through and enabled, at times, the clarity and stridency of some sections of strings to contrast well with the dreamy flow of others. Sam Smith – Review in full

Agrippina at Grange Festival  - June 2018 – some reviews
The Telegraph
- …The Academy of Ancient Music under Robert Howarth brought Handel’s tremendous score to life with surpassing vividness…  Ivan Hewitt - Review in full
The Guardian - "The Academy of Ancient Music play with sensuous clarity" Tim Ashley - Review in full
Classicalsource - The continuo section in particular wisely and skilfully ensures an unflagging pace in threading the recitatives through the vocal numbers so as to keep up an engaging sense of momentum. Howarth points up dramatic moments with appropriate expressive emphases with the AAM bringing out the colour of the score without making it seem incongruous."  Curtis Rogers – Review in full
Bachtrack - …Under Robert Howarth’s energetic direction, the Academy of Ancient Music breathed plenty of life into Handel’s early masterpiece … David Truslove - Review in full
Independent - ... lovely playing from the Academy of Ancient Music…  Michael Church - Review in full

The Guardian 26/02/2018: Bachfest – Thunderbolts, a lovers' stand-off and moments of the sublime

The Academy of Ancient Music under Christian Curnyn supported the heavenly pairing of singers Keri Fuge and Tim Mead in an Italian-flavoured programme
…Under the guest directorship of Christian Curnyn at the harpsichord, the AAM had set the tone of the evening with a beautifully calibrated performance of Corelli’s Concerto Grosso in D, Op 6; Fuge’s Ah! Che Troppo then found a comparable balance of instrumental clarity and expressive tone. Rian Evans - Article

Independent 12/10/2016 : Purcell's The Fairy Queen - "the evening was a delightful succession of phantasmagoric tableaux"
"The Academy of Ancient Music’s presentation of Purcell’s fantastical semi-opera The Fairy Queen is the stuff of dreams"
… Iestyn Davies’s superlative counter-tenor, revealing his acting chops still in very good order in “No, no, no, no kissing at all”; Gwilym Bowen a charismatic young high tenor beside fellow tenor Charles Daniels’s clean timbre; bass Ashley Riches, a Radio 3 New Generation artist, swaggering with great panache as the drunken poet, while late stand-in soprano Rowan Pierce gave a heart-piercing account of “O let me ever weep”. Underpinned by the Academy’s informed musicianship – as vibrant in its fanfares as it was sensitive in its pianissimos – the evening was a delightful succession of phantasmagoric tableaux, …- Cara Chanteau - Full article

Classicalsource.com 10/10/2016: Purcell’s The Fairy Queen – Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr
…From the beginning there was an idiomatic charm in the AAM’s approach to the dances and instrumental interludes. The musicians contrived a chameleonic ability to alternate between the earthier numbers such as a ‘Hornpipe’ and the ceremonial ‘Symphony’ opening Act Four, and a more refined elegance for Act Five’s ‘Chaconne’. They provided equally characterful, but not obtrusive, support in the vocal and choral numbers, such as the silvery texture of the strings for the description of ‘Night’ in Act Two. - Curtis Rogers - Full article

Cambridge-news.co.uk 27/07/2016 : A packed St John's College Chapel audience is enthralled by JS Bach.
Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major.- …The AAM is a class act. Its exquisite timing and virtuosity have made it one of the best inheritors and communicators of some of the greatest music ever written, and it was obvious from the pleasure on the faces of performers and audience alike that there could be no better way of spending two hours than in sharing appreciation and admiration for this wonderful legacy of the past. - John Gilroy - Full article

www.classicalsource.com 30/09/2015: Academy of Ancient Music/Richard Egarr – Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria with Ian Bostridge, Barbara Kozelj & Elizabeth Watts
…The AAM’s contribution, however, was not routine, but drove the production with an ideal dramatic pace, and offered a wide palette of instrumental colour despite the small ensemble used (a dozen players). Richard Egarr’s lead from the harpsichord was conspicuously animated. - Curtis Rogers

www.nytimes.com 11/08/2015 The Academy of Ancient Music Tackled Mendelssohn at Mostly Mozart Festival
Was that really the Academy of Ancient Music, playing so roughly, almost raucously at times, in Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony on Sunday? Yes, it was, and it was thrilling.
Sunday afternoon, it was the English maestro Edward Gardner leading the orchestra in a program of Mendelssohn at Alice Tully Hall as part of the Mostly Mozart Festival, and he elicited real electricity in the playing. ….he challenged the Academy players with fast tempos, and they responded with hard-driving performances vividly evoking turbulent seas and changeable climates. ….the performance was everywhere atmospheric and exciting. The ovation at the end of the afternoon was suitably raucous, but alas, it produced no encore.  - James R. Oestreich

www.birminghampost.co.uk 13/07/2015: Academy of Ancient Music at Cheltenham Town Hall
Mendelssohn's Symphony no.3, the 'Scottish' ….Its reading here was compelling and dramatic. Horns rasped nobly amidst an orchestra which responded enthusiastically to a work which Gardner unfolded with a glad awareness of its magnificence. - Christopher Morley          

www.limelightmagazine.com.au 4/05/2015: Bach Orchestral Suites
…There is also a conscious move away from breathless tempi to relaxed natural speeds that still move forward. Short cellular phrasing is replaced by longer flowing lines. These changes are unexaggerated so don’t expect the stodgy tempi of yesteryear’s non-specialists; Egarr’s choices are mostly ideal, …, the excellent playing and characterful tonal colours are a delight in themselves. …An intimate and warm recording… - Arnold Warwick

 

www.volkskrant.nl 29/01/2014 : CD Händel to Haydn - Briljante, enthousiasmerende vertolkingen
…Deze verrukkelijke stukken uit een ten onrechte in de schaduw gebleven zone uit de muziekgeschiedenis beleven briljante, enthousiasmerende vertolkingen onder handen van Richard Egarr, die in 2006 Academy-oprichter Christopher Hogwood als muzikaal leider is opgevolgd. - Frits van der Waa

www.concertonet.com 31/01/2014  Andreas Scholl & Academy of Ancient Music
…Si la vedette a été volée à Scholl, tête d’affiche de ce concert, c’est certainement par l’Academy of Ancient Music, ensemble d’une rare cohésion alliant à la virtuosité la plus impeccable un grand sens de la religiosité et qui, sous la direction de son premier violon, Pavlo Beznosiuk, a sauvé plus d’une fois ce concert d’un flottement dans la qualité de ses solistes. -  Olivier Brunel

www.limelightmagazine.com.au 18/11/2013: Early music royalty in a program of English music to raise the spirits.
…The AAM are impeccable of intonation (which cannot be said of all such bands) and very, very stylish. Ornamentation is effortless and executed with precision and a sense of total ensemble. Overture to Saul -.. showed so clearly the direction in which the music of the later Baroque was headed. The richness of tone and the AAM’s exquisite dynamic shading showed again why this stylish 40-year-old ensemble are well worth turning out for. - Clive Paget

www.independent.co.uk C030/09/2013 : Orfeo, Academy of Ancient Music/Egarr
Monteverdi’s “Orfeo” was the perfect work for the AAM’s fortieth anniversary, … the singers managed to combine plausible but minimal movement with performances of such quality that, with Richard Egarr’s chorus and players in top form, the opera came across with its power undimmed. - Michael Church

www.musicomh.com 31/05/2013: AAM/Hogwood @ Barbican Hall, London

Händel – Opera Imeneo : …The star of the evening was the Academy of Ancient Music itself.  …Christopher Hogwood sculpted the music to perfection, making it sing in its own right, and the output felt ‘symphonic’ in the sense that the subtle hues and rhythmic variations he elicited revealed better than ever the opera’s range of textures and overarching form.
…with ultimately good solo performances combined with an orchestra playing at an exceptionally high standard, the result was a truly superb night of Handel. - Sam Smith

www.theartsdesk.com 30/03/2013: Bach St John Passion - World-class soloists lead an operatic take on the Passion that changed the musical world
…a perfect line-up of soloists makes: a St John Passion that flows like a river without rocks in the middle is a rarity. ...Part Two held us at the same level. And then came the daring silences, ushered in with the release of the great alto aria “Es ist vollbracht”. It was projected unforgettably with the now-familiar poised anguish and monumental triumph only Sarah Connolly can convey in equal measure, rendered more intimate still by equal partner Reiko Ichise’s hypersentitive viola da gamba playing. What followed remained on the same exalted plane. …, there was also the searing dynamic range of that wonderful soprano Elizabeth Watts in “Zerfließe, mein Herz”, AAM woodwind in plangent tow.…. The subtle touches he brought to his harpsichord continuo line were echoed by his superb orchestral players;…- David Nice

www.classical-music.com 26/03/2013: Academy of Ancient Music - St Matthew Passion in Cambridge's King's College Chapel
…Last night’s performance of Bach’s great masterpiece in King’s College chapel was about as honest a rendition as I can remember, one that spoke to its audience with open-eyed wonder and amazement at the music being performed and at the scenes being acted out. …Last night’s drama, however, came from the countertenor and soprano soloists (Andreas Scholl and Sophie Bevan) who provided the emotional core to our relentless journey to Jesus’s tomb, aided by superb playing from the Academy of Ancient Music under the steady baton of King’s College Choir’s director of music Stephen Cleobury. - O. Condy

www.classicalsource.com 26/09/2012:  AAM & Richard Egarr at Barbican Hall
Handel: Coronation Anthem – Zadok the Priest
…under Egarr’s direction, the AAM is playing extremely well. In this opening concert the musicians displayed accuracy, fluidity and tightness of ensemble and brought out many nuances…. Throughout the evening, Egarr found malleable qualities in his musicians, bending them into well-graduated changes of mood and speed. …The singing of the Choir of the AAM was an embellishment added to the instrumentalists. …. Their tuning was impeccable. ….The AAM will make a fantastic addition to the Barbican’s music programme, offering plump, vivacious, colourful interpretations…. -  Hannah Sander

www.oblivionsoave.wordpress.com 4/07/2012 : The Academy of Ancient Music schittert
The Academy trad gisteravond op in Amsterdam met muziek van Purcell, Vivaldi, Albinoni en Händel. Onder leiding van de vrolijke en hyperactieve Egarr schitterde het orkest, met twee excellerende hoboïsten en trompettist David Blackadder. De baroktrompet is een berucht instrument met intonatieproblemen, maar Blackadder slaagde erin soepel en zacht het duet aan te gaan met de Zweedse sopraan Lisa Larsson.

 

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