Reviews for JS Bach cantatas, with Iestyn Davies

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“Davies’s singular gifts of open-hearted expression, reined in to perfection and with no excess or indulgence, are expertly balanced by Arcangelo’s prominent solo musicians.”

February 2017

Director/harpsichordist Jonathan Cohen and his elite period ensemble Arcangelo have shaped this engrossing disc, of three Bach cantatas and two instrumental Sinfonias, around the British countertenor Iestyn Davies. Two of the cantatas (BWV 170, Vergnügte Ruh’, beliebte Seelenlust, with its tender, lullaby-like opening, and BWV 54, Widerstehe doch der Sünde, a spicy, energetic challenge to the devil and all his works) were written for alto voice. The best known of the three, BWV 82, Ich habe genug, was originally for bass voice, reworked for soprano. Davies’s singular gifts of open-hearted expression, reined in to perfection and with no excess or indulgence, are expertly balanced by Arcangelo’s prominent solo musicians. Early in the year, a favourite disc already.

The Observer

 


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‘An ideal and rewarding programme for Iestyn Davies – Countertenor … his words are invariably clear and and he relishes the interplay with Arcangelo’s soloists’

January 2017

”An ideal and rewarding programme for Iestyn Davies … his words are invariably clear and and he relishes the interplay with Arcangelo‘s soloists’

Read more (paywall): http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/classical-j79b29222

Reviewed by Hugh Canning.


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“A partnership between the eloquent Iestyn Davies & the tangy playing of Arcangelo wonderfully led by Jonathan Cohen”

January 2017

“A partnership between the eloquent Iestyn Davies & the tangy playing of Arcangelo wonderfully led by Jonathan Cohen”

Read more (paywall): http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/times2/classical-ann-hallenberg-farinelli-iestyn-davies-bach-dq3spkrkg


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5* review from The Guardian

January 2017

“Davies’s singular gifts of open-hearted expression, reined in to perfection and with no excess or indulgence, are expertly balanced by Arcangelo’s prominent solo musicians.”

More here: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/jan/08/bach-cantatas-iestyn-davies-54-82-170-arcangelo-cohen


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“engagingly vibrant chamber music”

January 2017

‘The disc provides a fine opportunity to hear Iestyn Davies on peak form, joining with Cohen and Arcangelo to make engagingly vibrant chamber music with the voice very much part of the ensemble’

More at http://www.planethugill.com/2017/01/moving-beauty-iestyn-davies-arcangelo.html


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Gramophone Magazine Editor’s Choice, January 2017: “A happy balance between abstract delight and rhetorical flair”

January 2017

“Jonathan Cohen’s invigorating direction of the top notch Arcangelo and Davies extraordinarily questing approach make for a happy balance between abstract delight and rhetorical flair”.

More at (paywall): http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/js-bach-cantatas-nos-54-82-170

 


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“the singing is the main reason to get this disc: sensitive, intelligent, and above all completely enthralling”

January 2017

“the singing is the main reason to get this disc: sensitive, intelligent, and above all completely enthralling.

“The string players of Arcangelo under director Jonathan Cohen playing with gorgeous sensitivity”

“Oboist Katharina Spreckelsen excels in the outer movements <of Ich habe genug>”

“The use of a lute in the continuo group pays rich dividends, subtly enlivening the textures”


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“Can hold up their heads in the most exalted company”

December 2016
John Quinn
MusicWeb International
December 2016

If I say that these recordings of Cantatas Nos 170 and 82 can hold up their heads in the most exalted company—for me that’s Janet Baker and the ASMF conducted by Neville Marriner, on Decca Eloquence 4762684, with Cantata No 159, that’s really all that need be said.

Except that Hyperion are competing with their own very fine earlier recording from James Bowman and the King’s Consort: Cantatas Nos 170, 54 and 169 on CDH55312.

In view of the slightly different couplings and the virtues of all three recordings I can’t pick a winner for you here, though the use of period instruments on both Hyperion recordings and the very fine 24-bit sound on the new release will settle the matter for many readers.


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“Davies is focused on beauty and pathos” 4*/5*

December 2016
Anna Picard
BBC Music Magazine
January 2017
PERFORMANCE
RECORDING
How consoling are Bach’s solo cantatas? Melodies curve over softly dancing bass lines, or are cradled in verdant counterpoint, yet the imagery in Vergnügte Ruh’, beliebte Seelenlust (BWV 170) is of visceral disgust. The laughing figures and extended trill that spring out from the ruminative chromatic exercise of the cantata’s second aria, ‘Wie jammern mich’, are not those of the poor Christian soul who seeks a godly path but those of ‘perverted hearts’ who engage in ‘Satanic scheming’. Even the cheerful resolve of the final aria, with its zippy little twiddles for obbligato chamber organ, is powered by revulsion for earthly frippery.

There’s a curious tension here, though it is somewhat smoothed over in Iestyn Davies’s poised, sober performance. The Satanic glee of BWV 170 is delivered without histrionics, the tone rich and even. Directed by Jonathan Cohen, Arcangelo’s strings have a beautifully firm sound, with plenty of bow and intelligent details from the lute, while oboist Katharina Spreckelsen plays elegantly in this and in the more introspective anguish of Ich habe genug (BWV 82). The flinty figures of Widerstehe doch der Sünde (BWV 54) are less aggressive than those favoured by Lars Ulrik Mortensen but more sharp-edged than those of Ton Koopman, and Arcangelo’s cellos and bass are engaged and expressive throughout. If Davies again seems more focused on beauty and pathos than drama, the Sinfonias from BWV 52 and BWV 174 are pleasingly earthly, with rustic horns.



Reviews for CPE Bach cello concerti, with Nicolas Altstaedt

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BBC Music Magazine Award nomination – CPE Bach cello concertos with Nicolas Altstaedt

January 2017

We delighted that CPE Bach Cello Concertos disc has been nominated for this year’s BBC Music Magazine Awards, in the concerto category.

The BBC Music Magazine website for public vote is now live: http://awards.classical-music.com/ 


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Recording of the Month October 2016, BBC Music Magazine “tight but mercurially creative ensemble”

December 2016
Helen Wallace
BBC Music Magazine
October 2016
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The ability to switch between Baroque and modern playing techniques is considered almost de rigueur among today’s cellists. In truth, only a handful achieve a convincing style in both. Nicolas Altstaedt is one of that elite group: here you would think he was a Baroque full-timer, his approach is so indefinably delicate, the phrasing of C.P.E. Bach’s seductive lines limpid, the recitative hyperarticulate. The tawny warmth of his tone is perfectly attuned to the composer’s sound world; slow movements have an inward grace, while the fast are marked by vivid detail and natural effervescence.

C.P.E. Bach’s three works form a crucial link between the Baroque and Classical concerto form, but stand apart in the mass of 18th-century cello concertos in their unidiomatic originality. (All three sound as well on flute and harpsichord, and it remains unclear which instrument came first in the composer’s mind.)

This means the cello is often singing in its middle and lower rather than its more brilliant treble register, a challenge for any soloist. Here Jonathan Cohen, directing from the harpsichord, and Arcangelo prove inspired partners, lending disruptive energy without ever overwhelming Altstaedt’s often princely lyricism—including his own, heart-stopping cadenza in the A minor Allegro assai, harking back to ‘Es is vollbracht’—and allowing the most intricate solo passagework through the texture. Cohen, a cellist himself, and Altestaedt have worked closely for years, and it shows in their tight but mercurially creative ensemble the former garlanding the solo line in exquisite, apparently spontaneous harmony. Strings add melting support in the A minor’s Andante luminously graceful in Altstaedt’s hands, before entering into dramatic dialogue with the cello. Where others turn the proto-sturm und drang turbulence into something aggressive and hard-edged, here a sense of dance is never distant. This is particularly true in the darkly commanding Adagio of the B flat Concerto which is here intriguing rather than bombastic, an ideal preparation for the manically modulating mayhem of the Allegro.

The recording balance captures all the fiery wit of orchestral-soloist banter, particularly in the capricious B flat concerto, without falsely magnifying the cello. Written later than the others in 1753, the A major Concerto has a breezy amplitude and high-kicking virtuosity that feels almost Haydnesque. While Pieter Wispelwey and the Winterhur Chamber Orchestra (EPR) are perhaps more virile in attacks, where Altstaedt and Arcangelo score is in its poignant Largo. Muted and marked ‘mesto’, they plumb the depths of its secret grief in daring portamenti sobs and an unforgettably dark purity of sound.


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“One of the recordings of the year. Unmissable!”

September 2016

A minor concerto: “dazzling exchanges between soloist and orchestra and fizzing passagework.”

B flat concerto: “Altstaedt and the Arcangelo players bring out all the joy of this music, without ever losing a sense of polished style.”

A major concerto: “…a performance of such exquisite inwardness, attentive phrasing and delicate dynamic shading that it almost overshadows the rest of the disc.”

 


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“zing coming from their actual tone and lucid textural balance”

September 2016

“Nicolas Altstaedt and the sinewy warmth of his 1760 Gigli are a great fit for this often rather wild music … Arcangelo under Jonathan Cohen also breathe the music, capturing the frequent storminess but also bringing substantial dignity, their zing coming from their actual tone and lucid textural balance”



Reviews for “Scene!”, concert arias by Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart and Mendelssohn with Christiane Karg, Berlin Classics

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Gramophone Award finalist 2016

January 2017

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International Opera Awards finalist 2016

August 2016

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Echo Klassik Award 2016

August 2016

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‘Fabulous!’

July 2015

“Karg’s lighter timbre is tested, not uncomfortably, by the range and intensity, but she comes into her own in Mozart’s sublime Ch’io mi scordi di te… Haydn’s Scena di Berenice and Mendelssohn’s Infelice are sung with an intensity to match Janet Baker’s. Fabulous!Read more on Presto Classical.


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Editor’s Choice

July 2015

Our new recording with Christiane Karg won Gramophone’s Editor’s Choice for July! “Singing with style, grace and fiery temperament, Karg brings each of these distraught heroines excitingly, individually alive, while the superb players of Arcangelo – not least the dulcet clarinets – are true dramatic partners rather than mere accompanists”. Read more


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‘Beautifully performed’

June 2015

‘Scene! finds Karg reinforcing her Mozartian credentials while seemingly auditioning for the more dramatic roles she will surely get in the not-too-distant future. Karg’s soprano has a metallic gleam that cuts through the buoyant ensemble playing of Arcangelo, who, directed by Jonathan Cohen, are responsive to all the scenery-chewing moodswings. In Beethoven’s Ah, Perfido, Karg sounds bright and mettlesome as resignation and anger coalesce into resolve, and she is compelling in Haydn’s Scena di Berenice and Mozart’s Ch’io Mi Scordi di Te?, in which she duets with Malcolm Martineau on fortepiano. In Mendelssohn’s Infelice! both Karg and Alina Pogostkina’s solo violin seem far back in the mix in this resonant church acoustic, but the piece is an unfamiliar gem, and it is beautifully performed’. Read more.


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‘Superbly executed’

June 2015

Arcangelo’s new recording featured in BBC Radio 3 CD Review with Andrew McGregor in June, described as “Well planned and superbly executed, with nothing putting Karg beyond her comfort zone, even as she steps into a dramatic fach, which she says is new to her. It’s a wonderfully clear, expressive soprano, beautifully accompanied by Arcangelo”.


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Praise for ‘Scene!’ in the German Press

May 2015

brArcangelo favours a homogeneous,  “classical” rounded sound” – Bayerischer Rundfunk. Read more.

 

 

thN62752CQ“…sensational Ensemble Arcangelo” – Hamburger Abendblatt.
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NDR_kultur“Orchestra and soloist find an ideal balance of lightness on one hand and drama on the other. The recording is therefore always exciting and varied” – NDR Kultur. Read more.

 



Reviews for Arcangelo at the BBC Proms 2016

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“a classy performance with consistently strong playing from all quarters”

September 2016

“Arcangelo gave a classy performance with consistently strong playing from all quarters, ably directed by Jonathan Cohen who led from both the harpsichord and the chamber organ with panache. This year has seen several all-Shakespeare concerts, but I don’t think any will have quite matched this for sheer atmosphere and interest of programme, nor indeed for the sheer relish with which the three singers lept into the various roles.”


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“Liveliness and verve supplied by Cohen and his band”

September 2016

“In the…Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – and the liveliness and verve supplied here by Cohen and his band were far removed from the po-faced performances of some period groups.”

“Such music as the duet “Adonis will not hunt today”, sung here by the freshly glinting soprano of Katherine Watson and warmly resonant baritone of Callum Thorpe, is very sensuous for its time.”

“…the movement director Alessandro Talevi made good use of the cramped space.”



Reviews for Arias for Benucci with Matthew Rose, Hyperion Records

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International Opera Awards finalist 2016

August 2016

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‘Thoroughly entertaining’

September 2015

‘[Matthew Rose’s] voice can certainly be described as having a ‘beautiful, rounded’ quality and it is evenly produced across its range, with an admirable lack of intrusive vibrato. Rose also brings a sense of character to the roles he is portraying (never easy in a recital) … Rose is admirably supported throughout by a rather larger Arcangelo than we usually hear. The wind and brass departments boast some of London’s best period instrument players, who relish the opportunities given them by Mozart’s wind writing. Jonathan Cohen’s direction is notable not only for the sympathetic support given to Rose, but the spirited, acutely observed performances of the overtures to Figaro, Don Giovanni and Paisiello’s hugely successful Il re Teodoro in Venezia’. Read more.


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‘A special sparkle’

September 2015

‘Cohen adds a special sparkle as Rose channels the first Figaro … Hyperion here continues its smart “Arias for…” thematic programming with this tribute to Benucci and has wisely chosen Matthew Rose to convincingly channel the spirit of the original. His dark but nimble tone is ideal for this repertoire, yet not overweight making it fit well within the scale of Jonathan Cohen’s period direction. His musicanship is impeccable, but most importantly he sings ‘on the words’ with subtle changes of colour and emphasis so that the expression is carried across to us with no need for the visuals.’ Read more.


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‘Relentlessly positive and energetic’

September 2015

Arcangelo, under Jonathan Cohen’s relentlessly positive and energetic direction, deserves equal attention, with a personnel list that reads like a who’s-who of the best players in period performance.  In particular, the German oboist Xenia Loeffler’s distinctively sweet tone supports Rose’s idiomatic Mozart singing, fitting together into a performance style whose brightness and ebullience perhaps owes more to Handel than to Mozart, but is none the poorer for it’. Read more.


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‘Clear and well-pointed’

September 2015

‘Taking up Benucci’s mantle, Matthew Rose – billed as a baritone on the CD cover, but (surely rightly) as a bass in the booklet – likewise has a gift for conveying character without compromising vocal quality. His dark, firmly ‘knit’ tone and evenness across his whole range are heard to fine effect in an ombra aria from Salieri’s La grotta di Trofonio, where the sorcerer of the title balefully summons up the infernal spirits (a whiff here of the Commendatore’s music in Don Giovanni). Like Benucci, Rose is deft and nimble in patter while retaining a true centre to his tone, and his Italian words are always clear and well-pointed’. Read more.


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Arias for Benucci chosen as The Sunday Times Culture Magazine’s Album of the Week

September 2015

We are delighted to have been chosen as Album of the Week by The Sunday Times Culture Magazine for our latest album ‘Arias for Benucci’ with Matthew Rose with Hyperion Records. Many thanks to our supporters and to Hugh Canning at the Sunday Times for the great review! Read more.


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‘Hugely impressive’

September 2015

“Matthew Rose gives us generous chunks of the Mozart-Da Ponte operas mingled with arias by Salieri, Sarti and Martin y Soler, which all sound strong, thanks partly to the energised playing of Arcangelo, under Jonathan Cohen’s nuanced direction. Rose is hugely impressive, his deep, robust bass-baritone flexible and expressive, even if it doesn’t have the insouciance that would come from having lighter high notes. In Guglielmo’s duet with Dorabella (soprano Katherine Watson), Rose is perhaps more avuncular than seductive, but he otherwise captures each character succinctly, from Mozart’s schemers to Salieri’s bloodthirsty King Axur to the very different self-importance of Sarti’s Frasconio, who leaps into falsetto as he imagines the women weeping over him. An apt tribute from one fine singer to another”. Read more.


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Reviews for Mozart Violin concertos Nos 1 & 5 & Sinfonia Concertante, with Vilde Frang, Warner Classics

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Echo Klassik Award 2015

August 2016

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‘The orchestral contribution is outstanding’

March 2015

‘Following a number of recordings of Romantic repertoire on Warner Classics, Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang turns her attention from Prokofiev and Sibelius and Tchaikovsky and Nielsen to Mozart. Accompanying is the impressive chamber orchestra Arcangelo directed by Jonathan Cohen, its founder and artistic director. Cohen informs me that Arcangelo play using aspects of period performance practice. Gut strings are fitted and natural horns are included in the complement even if modern oboes are used. Soloists Frang and Maxim Rysanov play instruments fitted with modern strings and set-ups’. Read more.


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‘Their reading of the visionary Fifth is full of daring and imagination’

March 2015

Eloquent and inventive, this recording from young Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang justifies its well-trodden repertoire with energy and insights. The solo concertos are terrific. The First is often seen as slight, but Frang, with an endlessly varied palette of colours, delights in showing us how wrong we are. She melds eloquently with the ensemble and manages to convey an artless simplicity. And the finale dances, twirls and seduces: Jonathan Cohen has chosen his musicians well. Their reading of the visionary Fifth is full of daring and imagination, too, Frang and Cohen pointing up the work’s wilder flights of fancy (particularly in the ‘Turkish’ finale) and, unusually, choosing cadenzas by the great 19th-century Hungarian violinist Joseph Joachim.  Read more

 


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BBC Music Magazine Concerto Choice

March 2015

“The First Concerto is immediately captivating: light, energetic and brightly coloured, setting the scene perfectly for Vilde Frang’s entry … Frang can turn from Skittish to bold in the space of a bar, and there’s nothing gratuitous about any of her decisions”.


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‘Lithe, clean and nimble’

February 2015

4 stars for “lithe, clean and nimble” Mozart concertos with Vilde Frang on Warner Classics & Erato. Thank you Geoff Brown at The Times! Read more


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Album of the week

February 2015

Our Mozart concertos recording with Vilde Frang is Classic FM featured album of the week!

“Frang’s playing is extrovert and confident and still tends to the Romantic, making for an interesting combination with the authentic instrument approach of Arcangelo. Some of the very best versions of Mozart’s timeless masterpieces”. Read more.



Reviews for Mozart violin concertos with Vilde Frang, European Tour

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‘Glorious’

February 2016

Thank you to all our fans who came to see our tour with violinist, Vilde Frang. We received some thrilling comments on our Twitter page:

That concert of Mozart & Haydn was a most congenial way to end the week. Delicious playing too.‘ – Operatraveller

‘Can’t recall when I heard violinist begin like Vilde Frang yesterday. Like music already there, but she suddenly makes you aware of it. ‘ – Dimi Reider

‘Glorious Mozart to end the week with Arcangelo & Vilde Frang’ – KeynoteArtist


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‘An ideal Mozart Orchestra’

February 2016

Arcangelo’s tour to Zurich’s Tonhalle concert hall was extremely well received and we are delighted to be described by Neue Zurcher Zeitung as an ‘ideal Mozart Orchestra’ and a ‘powerful pairing’ with soloist Vilde Frang. Read more.


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‘Stylish and engaging’

February 2016

‘This was stylish and engaging evening. Under Cohen’s relaxed, amiable yet acute direction, all performers seemed vividly involved and were clearly enjoying themselves. Frang is a highly engaging performer who clearly has developed a lovely rapport with the ensemble and it was this which gave the evening its particular qualities.’ Read more.



Reviews for Bach violin concerti, with Alina Ibragimova, Hyperion Records

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Classic FM Drive Featured Album

November 2015

‘This is playing of the highest order. Never clinical or mechanical, Ibragimova’s playing is deft and subtly restrained, swelling at times to pulsating and rich expressiveness.The accompaniment is on a small ensemble of period instruments, warm and well matched to the brilliance of the soloist, with the addition of mandolin at times adding a distinctly contemporary folk-rock feel’. Read more.


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‘A shining example’

November 2015

‘Character-filled, spontaneous performances bring Bach’s violin concertos to life in this attractive new recording by Alina Ibragimova and Arcangelo. Alina Ibragimova is a shining example of the modern young soloist, as happy to adopt period instrument modes and manners as to premiere new works or uncover neglected repertoire ... Her accompanists are the 14 members of Arcangelo, conducted from the harpsichord by Jonathan Cohen. On her Channel Classics recording of Bach Violin Concertos, Rachel Podger made do with an ensemble of six, yet Arcangelo’s sound is by no means congested. Instead, it’s light and airy, while Thomas Dunford’s lute, placed well forward in the mix, has an improvisatory quality that acts as a spur to Ibragimova’s high-spirited virtuosity’. Read more.


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Presto Classical

October 2015

“Alina Ibragimova’s repertoire is nothing if not varied – her most recent CDs have taken in Ysaÿe, Prokofiev, Hartmann and Schubert – but her previous Bach, the solo Sonatas and Partitas, firmly established her as a thoughtful and historically-alert performer of early music as well. Her musical comfort zone seems to know no bounds, and her latest collection of Bach violin concertos only proves this further”. Read more.


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BBC Music Magazine Recording of the Month

October 2015

A strikingly distinctive contribution, albeit subtle and restrained’. Read more.



Reviews for Three Magnificats by JS, CPE and JC Bach: UK and Belgium Tour

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‘Magnificent Magnificats’

October 2015

‘Five star reviews are flowing Arcangelo’s way. It’s easy to see why. Five years after it was founded by Jonathan Cohen, the quality of this zestful ensemble just keeps soaring’. Read more.


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‘Magnificent’, ‘thrilling’, ‘utter perfection’!

October 2015

Arcangelo are delighted with the compliments on our latest performance of Three Bach Magnificats at St John Smith Square. Here’s what some of our supporters had to say on Twitter and Facebook:

“Arcangelo it was a GREAT concert! Such a great group with J Cohen!”, Matthew Rose

“Thrilling Bach Magnificats”, Andrew Holden

“Once again Arcangelo was utter perfection! And what a brilliant idea for a programme. The CPE was a revelation”, Stefano Who

“LOVED Arcangelo concert this eve at St Johns Smith Sq! 3 #Bach Mags…#BachHeaven!”, Beverly Vong

“Thanks for 3 brilliant Bach Magnificats tonight. The consensus seems to be that CPE won in the head to head”, Tina Maxwell

Huge thanks to all who came to watch!


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A ‘top’ performance!

October 2015

‘…Impressive strings, shimmering cellos and fluttering flutes, assisted by blaring brass and emphatic timpani, while the choir tackles the score like a swaying cornfield and the soloists can show their talent, what the American soprano Joélle Harvey and her Dutch colleague and mezzo soprano Olivia Vermeulen did, but also bass Thomas Bauer made a good turn, and tenor Thomas Walker drew the greatest attention with a very weathered performance, while contra Tenor Iestyn Davies opted for precision over sensationalism…there can be no doubt about the performance of the choir, the orchestra and the soloists: top!’ Read more.


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Pergolesi and Bach at the Dresden Arts Festival

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‘High quality and interesting programme’

September 2015

The two singers Grace Davidson (Soprano) and Alex Potter (Counter tenor) delivered a splendid sound, while the instruments provided a velvety surface, and this with great delicacy”. Read more.


Reviews for “Lachrimae” tour with Anna Prohaska, UK, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and Spain

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‘Angelic support of the ensemble Arcangelo’

August 2015

‘With the angelic support of the ensemble Arcangelo, the ravishing soprano Anna Prohaska was able to musically represent the suffering of weeping as you would otherwise hardly imagine’ – Kurier. Read more.

 

 

 

 


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‘Always intent and highly engaged’

August 2015

“This is music which needs a strong sense of personal involvement and personality, and this we got from Anna Prohaska. She is clearly highly responsive to text in whatever language and it was this communicative vividness which came over. She is a very idiomatic artist, using a highly distinctive voice dramatically and with intelligence. She was well supported by Jonathan Cohen and Arcangelo, a group whose playing is always intent and highly engaged”. Read more.


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‘Beautifully eloquent’

August 2015

‘The six instrumentalists of Arcangelo (directed from the keyboards by Jonathan Cohen) provided a range of accompaniments and interspersed some instrumental pieces. The contribution of theorbo player Thomas Dunford was outstanding, alongside excellent support from harpist Angelique Maullon’ – Andrew Benson-Wilson, Early Music Review. Read more.

 


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‘A brilliant group of sound-makers’

July 2015

‘The ensemble Arcangelo, lead by harpsichordist Jonathan Cohen, is composed of a brilliant group of sound-makers, who have the rhetoric of 17th century music at their fingertips. These practitioners of the young generation know exactly when to support the singer with emphasis, and just as well when holding back is most effective’. Read more.



Reviews for Mozart and Haydn Concertos, Hyperion Records

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‘Outstanding in every way’

August 2015

“Under their director Jonathan Cohen, the Arcangelo ensemble is turning into one of the most stylish purveyors of Baroque and Classical repertoire to emerge in recent years … they sound as though they’re having the time of their lives—and the listener does, too! Outstanding in every way”. Read more.


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‘A joy from start to finish’

July 2015

‘There’s nothing dutiful here…Not only is there fine focus to the oboe and bassoon…but every solo line is thoughtfully inflected, as if this were really four solo concertos being played at the same time. You sense the fun they have with the music while never playing fast and loose with the basic pulse. A joy from start to finish’. Read more.


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‘A winning combination’

June 2015

“The programme begins with Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante in B flat (1792) that sees the four soloists (Gringolts, Altstaedt, Bernardini and Whelan) and orchestra revelling in the tunefulness and exuberance of the composer at his best. One can clearly picture the musicians communicating so effectively with one another and it really focuses the ear on the subtleties of the score.

Mozart’s Oboe Concerto (1777) follows. A mainstay of the oboe repertoire, it has attracted surprisingly few decent recordings in recent years. This heartfelt performance given by one of my oboe heroes, Alfredo Bernardini, has to go to the top of the list. Ornamentation aplenty is served with just the right amount of Mozartian inflection and makes for a winning combination.

An equally delightful performance of Mozart’s Bassoon Concerto (1774) given by Peter Whelan concludes proceedings. Poised and balanced, with Whelan’s distinctive tone and sublime musicality on display throughout, it makes for a perfect finale to this fabulous disc”. Read more.


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‘Spirited and affectionate’

June 2015

“A spirited and affectionate performance heard here from the lithe violin of Ilya Gringolts, the sometimes-stratospheric cello playing of Nicolas Atlstaedt, the bucolic oboe of Alfredo Bernardini and the mischievous bassoon of Peter Whelan, with the resplendent ensemble Arcangelo under Jonathan Cohen”, BBC Music Magazine. Read more.


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‘Quirky charisma’

May 2015

‘Soloists get to enjoy the music, their quirky charisma shining through’. Read more.



Reviews for J.S. Bach, Mass in B Minor, Hyperion Records

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‘Spirited and full of character’

March 2015

‘The magniloquence of the opening announces a period instrument performance with some old-style grandeur. The forces of Arcangelo – 20 in the chorus, two dozen in the orchestra – place this performance in the middle rank for size, and conductor Jonathan Cohen has trained all to a high standard. Solo numbers, entrusted to five high-quality voices (not members of the choir), are spirited and full of character. The choruses are taken at sensible speeds, never a hell-for-leather rush as with some period groups, but some of the slower music tends to cloy’. Read more


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Album of the week

March 2015

‘Scholars have always puzzled why Bach, having presented the Kyrie and Gloria of the B minor Mass to Augustus II, the elector of Saxony and king of Poland — almost as a job application at the Catholic Dresden court — went on to expand it to a length unsuitable for liturgical use towards the end of his life, recycling material from earlier works. It stands as Bach’s last will and testament in the field of religious music, and it seems pointless arguing how it should be performed when it was not heard in its entirety until more than a century after Bach’s death. One might expect Cohen’s Arcangelo to opt for minimal personnel – although the trumpety movements suggest spectacular forces – but his choir of 20 can convey the inward spirituality of Et incarnatus est and the laudatory eclat of the Gloria and Et resurrexit with equal efficacy. The excellent high-voiced soloists are Lydia Teuscher and Ida Falk Winland, duetting sensuously in the Christe eleison, and Tim Mead’s rapt alto in Qui sedes and Agnus Dei. Samuel Boden’s lithe tenor and Neal Davis’ solid bass blend ideally with their colleagues’. Read more.


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‘Uncannily atmospheric’

March 2015

‘Jonathan Cohen’s rejection of the generic, within a grand and ravishing overview, is what propels an overwhelming sense here that this reading deserves to be taken very seriously. Quite how in performance one ‘reads’ the span of a piece whose spiritual and intellectual symmetries are potentially so forbidding raises many issues but Cohen’s unforced feel for tactus, initially heard in the prima prattica (the more archaic) movements is revelatory in its coherence: witness the way the second ‘Kyrie’ arches with natural fluidity in a kind of liturgical knowingness. The same can be said, right at the close, in a ‘Dona nobis pacem’ which glows with a broad, valedictory affirmation that Karl Richter would have relished.

This is a performance where character and rich dimension emerge from within a patient and naturally projected vision of Bach’s most celebrated compendium. The work infrequently speaks with such gracefulness, freedom or conviction’. Read more


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‘Spot-on’

March 2015

Arcangelo were reviewed on BBC Radio 3 CD Review with Andrew McGregor: “Jonathan Cohen’s instinct for colour, mood and tempi feels just about spot-on throughout; all soloists are just as good, and a special mention for counter tenor Tim Mead in a delectably slow Agnus Dei, in a recording that allows those celebratory flourishes to shine”.

 


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‘B minor blossoms’

March 2015

‘B Minor blossoms thanks to Cohen’s eclectic choral fusion approach. British conductor Jonathan Cohen has a refreshing lack of concern for apparently ‘sacred’, apparently never to be tampered with, performance traditions that can, and do, leave other performances of the B Minor Mass historically boxed-in. Cohen calmly reconnects us with JS Bach’s actual sacred inner-life … It is telling that Cohen doesn’t make a distinction between instruments and voices – that’s Arcangelo through and through, a unified mass of musicians all after the same goal’. Read more.

 


  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4

Handel’s Finest Arias for Base Voice with Christopher Purves, Hyperion Records

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BBC Music Magazine Award nomination

January 2015

The Arcangelo ‘Handel’s Finest Arias for Bass Voice’ recording with Christopher Purves was nominated for a BBC Music Magazine Award 2014. Thank you to all our supporters who voted for us in the public poll!


Reviews for Love and Loss: Monteverdi, Sestina Madrigals Books 6 to 8, Hyperion Records

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‘Brilliance and fire’

January 2015

‘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. The result is so exciting that Merula’s throwaway Ciaccona for violins and continuo – all quasi-improvisatory brilliance and fire – risks being the best thing here’. Read more.


  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
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‘One of the leading groups in Renaissance performance’

November 2014

‘This recording takes Monteverdi’s later books of Madrigals and fittingly showcases his truly innovative writings of this time. The set is compiled nicely, with contrasting love and loss madrigals sliding effortlessly back and forth, and includes truly beautiful examples of sestina and five-part madrigal. The stunning vocal interplay in the shorter pieces is a true highlight of the album. James Gilchrist sings with his usual strength, tenderness and verve…. But it is Arcangelo who finally cement their place as one of the leading groups in Renaissance performance’.


  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
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‘Total dramatic involvement’

August 2014

Star tenor James Gilchrist makes a guest appearance as an incisive narrator whose total dramatic involvement and subtly nuanced phrasing fully match the instrumentalists’ vivid realisation of Monteverdi.


  • Rate: 3
  • Rate: 3
  • Rate: 3
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Connoisseur’s Choice

February 2014

Arcangelo’s recording of Monteverdi’s madrigals was chosen as the ‘Connoisseuers Choice’ by Classic FM. David Mellor’s verdict: ‘A great introduction for anyone to the music of Monteverdi!’


  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4

Monteverdi Madrigals, Wigmore Hall, London, UK

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‘The full Monte’

March 2014

‘From his vantage point at the harpsichord, Cohen didn’t always need to do much conducting: less evidence of lethargy than scrupulous preparation allied to a pleasure in the freedom of performance. His interpolations of instrumental works from other composers — Merula’s joyous Ciaccona, installed midway through one of Monteverdi’s madrigals at the point where we’re invited to dance, and a trio by Dario Castello — supplied contrasting textures and highlighted the breadth of expertise he had to showcase. In other words, this was the full Monte’. Read more.

  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4
  • Rate: 4

Enchanted Forest Tour with Anna Prohaska, Wigmore Hall, London, UK

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Praise for Arcangelo’s ‘Enchanted Forest’ tour with Anna Prohaska

January 2013

‘Arcangelo, conductor Jonathan Cohen, and soprano Anna Prohaska are half way through their Enchanted Forest tour and arrived at London’s Wigmore Hall on Wednesday 15 January after successful concerts in Vienna, Munich and Frankfurt. The tour is linked to their new CD, Enchanted Forest, which appears in March on the Archiv label. The concert featured arias by Handel, Purcell and Vivaldi, alongside instrumental music by Purcell, Handel and Zelenka. The vocal items included a variety of nymphs and other enchanted creatures, with Handel’s Poppea making an appearance at the end, linked by short instrumental movements. The result was designed, I suspect, to play without a break but such was the audience’s enthusiasm for Prohaska’s performances, that applause was inevitable’. Read more.


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