Academy of Ancient Music / Rheingau Festival: Handel
"Enthusiastic applause for the charming combinations of sounds with their tangible reverberation and pithy accents… even more brilliant was the Fireworks music…Once the last note had sounded of Handel’s most popular composition, there was no holding back the euphoric audience – the English musicians were greeted with a standing ovation. The 27th Rheingau Festival could not have had a better send-off!"
Rheingau Echo, September 2014
Handel and Haydn / Haydn and Beethoven
“Despite leading a program with no superstar works, guest conductor Richard Egarr lit up Symphony Hall with superstar performances.... he drew a crisp, piquant sound...he created the kind of dramatic and textural contrasts that make Haydn and Beethoven work.”
Boston Globe, January 2014
London Symphony Orchestra / Haydn Creation
“The man at the helm, and the harpsichord too, was Richard Egarr, “authentic” to his fingertips. The London Symphony Chorus stayed large and wonderful...but the orchestra displayed an extra lean bounce…Vivid details continued as Haydn’s oratorio pressed ahead on streamlined modern instruments. Avian flutes chortled with character. No blandness, either, in the brass’s roaring lion and the footfall of “heavy beasts”…Egarr was another bulwark, never choking his harpsichord accompaniments with fussy flourishes, and always keeping his forces united and lithe.”
Times, 4 stars, January 2014
“Egarr's characteristically vigorous direction brought the spheres into harmony… there was plenty of thump and oomph in the large moments, but it was consistently matched with delicate vocal and instrumental shading and detail elsewhere.”
Guardian, 4 stars, January 2014
Academy of Ancient Music / Melbourne Recital Centre: Arne, Purcell, Handel and Gibbons
“Harpsichordist Richard Egarr, the academy's current director, brings outstanding and serene musicianship to their music making that shows that the historical lessons of Hogwood's generation have been absorbed and sublimated and overzealous historicism has been resisted…. And what a glorious mastery over these sometimes-troublesome instruments the musicians display!”
The Age, November 2013
“The closing highlight of its season, however, was the joyously sophisticated erudition of the Academy of Ancient Music under Richard Egarr…”
Canberra Times, January 2014
Academy of Ancient Music / Monteverdi L’Orfeo
“Egarr’s mercurial energy ignited an alert, articulate reading...Darkling, gritty sackbuts, the hieratic twang of a Baroque harp rising through dimly – lit mist, conjured a dream-like Hades in the utilitarian Barbican hall. The subtle use of different continuo combinations always supported but never overwhelmed, the poetry. No modern ensemble can ever replace the brindled textures created by these instruments, expertly played; one thinks of Manley Hopkins’ “Pied Beauty”, which praises “all things counter, original, spare, strange”.
Financial Times, 4 stars, October 2013
“Mercifully 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…”
Independent, September 2013
“Hearing the Academy of Ancient Music under its musical director Richard Egarr and the emotional intensity and narrative clarity with which the singers delivered this favola in musica, the sheer innovative genius of Monteverdi was revealed in all its glory.”
Opera Britannia, September 2013
“…the AAM remained fully committed to the vivacity of Monteverdi’s music, right from the insistent and triumphant tone of the opening ‘Toccata’. The ritornelli and interpolated dances do not always bear any relation to the surrounding drama, but the AAM brought them fully to life without breaking the score’s coherent flow overall. …Altogether this was an unconventional approach to L’Orfeo, but the result was rewarding.”
Classical Source, September 2013
Academy of Ancient Music / Mozartfest Wuerzburg
"A concert that will last in our memory."
Fränkische Nachrichten, June 2013
"Incredible, how much expressiveness and creative power Richard Egarr was able to draw from the historical fortepiano, which usually sounds rather delicate compared to a modern piano. The orchestra provided another climax with a snappy presented finale of Mozart's Symphony in B flat major KV 319."
Main Post, June 2013
Academy of Ancient Music / Bach St John Passion
“The orchestra of the Academy of Ancient Music was led by Richard Egarr, who doubled his conducting with a sensitive accompaniment on the harpsichord. He coaxed playing that was intelligently spun, articulated with precision and propelled to tempi that respected the drama inherent in the work and never dragged. The tonal clarity and exactitude of the opening were a mainstay of the performance as a whole.”
Opera Britannia, April 2013
“Richard Egarr directing from the harpsichord deserves the credit for the line that passed, without overdrive, through Bach’s most electrifying narrative.You couldn’t fault the shapely, word-sensitive phrasing Egarr drew from them in the chorales. The subtle touches he brought to his harpsichord continuo line were echoed by his superb orchestral players; from the knife-thrust of the oboes’ semi tonal clashes in the opening, you could tell this was going to be music-theatre on a metaphysical level.”
The Arts Desk, April 2013
Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Dussek, Beethoven & Schubert
“Richard Egarr always gives value for money, whether he is playing keyboards, conducting, talking, or doing all three at more or less the same time: nobody who witnessed it will ever forget, a few years back, his impassioned outburst about Bach's Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, followed by a furious, blistering performance of the piece in the Recital Room of the City Hall.And on Friday night, in what has become a regular visit to the SCO, he gave that value again in a tight performance of Beethoven's Prometheus Overture and a sparkling, wonderfully-coloured and characterised performance of Schubert's Sixth Symphony, one of those SCO performances where the musicians (and Egarr) just breathe new and ever-more stylish life into the music.”
Glasgow Herald, January 2013
“An evening with Richard Egarr is always a treat. The SCO have made him their Associate Artist as an indication of the closeness of his relationship with them, and he has a wonderful way of bringing out the best in a piece of music you think you know well. Egarr and the orchestra were clearly revelling in the thrill of sharing a new discovery, and Egarr’s trademark improvisatory touches were evident in the way he introduced each movement and busked along to the tutti passages.”
Seen and Heard International, January 2013
Academy of Ancient Music / Vivaldi Violin Concerto in E Major, Dixit Dominus in D and Gloria in D
“Conductor and harpsichordist Richard Egarr, a musical force who could inject chutzpah into a wooden spoon. The 18-piece Choir of the AAM provided hearty, shapely singing in the Dixit Dominus in D and the Gloria in D, and orchestral lines flowed with easy lilt. This wasn't particularly sprightly baroque playing, but it was always stylish and graceful, carried by notably buoyant continuo (local audiences might have recognised the full-bodied, peppy bassoon playing of former SCO principal Ursula Leveaux). And the Dixit's seventh movement, Jubicabit in nationius, contained the first jazzy slides I've ever heard come out of natural trumpets.”
Herald Scotland, December 2012
Australian Chamber Orchestra Tour / Corelli, Castello, Biber, Vivaldi, Mozart & Handel
“There were moments of pure delight, with the deliciously indulgent keyboard trills at the end of the Andante and the extraordinarily delicate pianissimo passages in the finale… an evening of joyous music making.”
Canberra Times, October 2012
“The ACO was in formidable form with Egarr, as versatile as he is gifted, at the top of his game... he was in sublime form at the fortepiano in Mozart's Concerto in A, K414. How utterly different the fortepiano sounds to the modern piano, its subtle, delicate tone light years away from the stridency of which the modern piano is capable. The flawless fluency and buoyancy which Egarr brought to the solo part thoroughly deserved the ovation that greeted its completion.”
West Australian Review, October 2012
Academy of Ancient Music / Christopher Gibbons Motets (Harmonia Mundi)
“Egarr triumphantly shows why Christopher Gibbons, son of Orlando, ranks among England’s greatest composers… Egarr’s delivery of the organ voluntaries is always perfectly paced, either hastening forward or relaxing to draw breath as appropriate. The Voluntary for ye Duble Organ, with its crunchy suspensions – deftly foregrounded by Egarr on a six-stop continuo organ – is particularly eloquent. Equally gorgeous are the string fantasias accompanied by organ. Textures built, melt, and transform as the mood moves from elegiac to ebullient.”
BBC Music Magazine, October 2012
“...The beautifully played and sung sequence [Egarr] has devised for the Academy of Ancient Music and its Choir alternates anthems and motets with organ voluntaries (performed by Egarr) and fantasias for two violins, bass viol and organ. The instrumental pieces are wonderfully imaginative, but it's the choral works that stand out with their startling modulations and expressively charged vocal lines.”
Guardian, July 2012
“The instrumental playing is divine.”
Independent, July 2012
Washington D.C. Recital / J.S. Bach, Haydn, Mozart & Dussek
"Egarr’s distinctive, idiomatic playing did just as much edifying as his spoken comments... each note seemed to have something to say."
Anne Midgette, Washington Post, July 2012
“Egarr played with remarkable facility in his fingers, achieving a broad range of color and sound.”Ionarts
, July 2012
Academy of Ancient Music / Handel Coronation Anthems
“Egarr could be witnessed redefining the concept of expressiveness in Baroque music performance, while the clarity of AAM playing and choral singing were breathtaking.”
Glasgow Herald, June 2012
Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Telemann, Heinichen, J. S. Bach & Vivaldi
“And what better man to inject stylised energy into such repertoire than Richard Egarr, whose indefatigable presence – sitting at the harpsichord with the stool turned side on – ranged from his easeful continuo direction of Orchestral Suites by Telemann and Bach to his effortless ebullience as soloist in Bach’s Harpsichord Concerto in D.”
The Scotsman, April 2012
“Egarr, whose direction of the composer's Water Music revealed an enormous breadth of characterisation, expressiveness, individuality and originality in the music, all delivered by an SCO in super-responsive mode.
... the tireless Egarr, who wears his encyclopedic knowledge and staggering virtuosity equally lightly... Give the Associate Artist a blank sheet, the SCO, and let him do what he wants, I say.”
Herald Scotland, April 2012
Louis Couperin / Complete Harpsichord Works (Harmonia Mundi)
“... die eleganten, majestätischen Stücke, die Egarr mit hoher Anschlagskultur und viel Phantasie verziert, überwiegen. Man hört, dass sich der Brite schon viele Jahremit Louis Couperin beschäftigt hat – und dass er eine Lanze brechen will für diesen Komponisten...”
“Egarr decorates the elegant and majestic passages persuasively, with a highly refined touch and with considerable imagination. One can hear that he has spent many years engaging with the music of Louis Couperin, and that he is ready to go the extra mile in his support for this composer.”
Neue Zuercher Zeitung, March 2012
“…Every note flows with exquisite flexibility and natural spontaneity, in particular in the major pieces, such as the genial and intense preludes, the overwhelming chaconnes in which colour of harmony, melody and dissonance merge into most elegant phrasing, controlled in its most intimate nuances by exploiting all the resources of the instrument: the sound breathes, sings, dances, conquers the listener with every turn, every cadence.”
Eldiadecordoba.es, January 2012
“His performances of the densely ornamented, driven chaconnes and passacailles stand out owing to his grave excitement and command of grandly sweeping gesture. He also displays considerable imaginative variety in the strings of courantes and sarabandes… Egarr’s refined yet colourful approach to the rest of the music, especially the grave and cerebral allemandes is irreproachable... This recording is both a magnificent achievement and a profoundly pleasurable experience.”
International Record Review, January 2012
“An impressive display of imaginative interpretation… Egarr’s playing yields compelling variety and prismatic possibilites in the preludes, dance movements and majestic chaconnes, organised by the performer into well-balanced suites.
…There are two compelling reasons to own this set: it is endlessly entertaining and vibrant music; and… it is presented complete. Louis Couperin derserves the honour of a new, meticulously performed and recorded complete edition, and lovers of the harpsichord repertoire shouldn’t be without one.”
Gramophone, December 2011
“Here, the roles of composer and performer merge, and Egarr’s realisations of these suggestive sketches combine improvisatory flair with a controlled awareness of their underlying structure… Egarr rises to the challenge with playing that is by turns pliant, poetic and balletic.”
BBC Music Magazine, five stars, October 2011
“... Egarr has thoroughly thought out this music, taking the listener over a few structural hurdles and making the music fully comprehensible by pointing up the various musical and intellectual hooks. Aside from that, his interpretation is brilliant in the widest sense of the word; his brilliant manual dexterity goes without saying, but brilliant, too, are his sense of purpose, his instinctive grasp of style, his assured organisation of the material and his immaculate presentation; listen to the lush cascades of ornamentation, the way he revels in the delicious harmonies, and allows space for the dense writing to unfold naturally. Egarr is very good at detailed articulation, and brings out each line without undermining the harmonic structure.
...Egarr has already shown beyond dispute his stylistic competence in both the standard and the more obscure harpsichord repertoire. His hugely artistic and intellectual temperament seems to gain the richest inspiration from the byways of the repertoire: Couperins music is for Egarr a real motivator. And so he plays these phrases with brilliance and yet with a seriousness which is particularly striking as it relates to the French musical tradition, whilst never losing his lightness of touch, thus keeping a delicate balance in his interpretation....”
Klassik, September 2011
“This is a set that should win a lot of new friends for the music of Louis Couperin... Christophe Rousset played two of Louis’s suites at the start of Kilkenny Arts Festival, but the tone and tuning of the two instruments Richard Egarr uses for his complete survey bring an individuality and depth to the sound that simply weren’t possible in Kilkenny. There’s also a greater ebb and flow of tension, especially in the movement and sonic clashes of the rhythmically free preludes (a Louis Couperin speciality), and an impressive slow surge in the chaconnes.”
The Irish Times, five Stars, August 2011
“...wonderfully varied keyboard writing; Egarr revels in the variety, both harmonic and rhythmic, that this music contains, and the interpretative opportunities it offers... genuinely exhilarating and constantly surprising.”
Guardian, July 2011
Boston Early Music Festival / Mixed Programme Harpsichord Recital
“A Suite in F major by Louis Couperin swam in time, in multilayered, fluid tempo, lines drifting in and out of synch, the dance-derived movements less an opportunity for choreography than impressions of it… His exegesis was jaunty and charming; his playing was thoughtful, regal, even a touch melancholy.”
Boston Globe, February 2012
“I was glad that there were so many courantes – those notoriously difficult dances, with their unpredictably shifting meter, are rarely to be heard played so well… To me the most spectacular part of the recital was the Froberger that came before and after the intermission. The ferocious and magnificent Toccata II in D minor…”
Boston Musical Intelligencer, February 2012
Pittsburgh Renaissance & Baroque Society / Mixed Programme Harpsichord Recital
“Egarr showcased a command of the harpsichord that few others have. He improvised filigree and concocted phrasing like a pastry chef. Lightness of touch and creative expressivity abounded. Just as impressive was his ability to embody the physicality of the dances as much as their stylized spirit -- his nimble fingers flying across keys.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 2012
Philharmonia Baroque / Handel, Locke, Purcell, Arne & Lawes
“Egarr’s enthusiasm moved the orchestra to musically narrate dramatic scenes, ripe with epic grandeur… Egarr displayed exquisite control over the emotional direction of pieces, producing dynamic movements with fine-tuned transitions between pristine calms and violent crescendos. The orchestra’s rendition of Matthew Locke’s accompaniment to Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” commenced with quiet violin bows gracefully giving whole notes that hummed with a divine purity. These delicate sounds were directed by Egarr, who gestured with precise gentleness, as if he were carefully crocheting a scarf for the lead violinist. In a flash, the orchestra led the unsuspecting audience into torrents of eighth notes played at a furious pace. The remaining movements were left with a foreboding quality, balanced between deceptive tranquility and cataclysmic intensity.”
The Daily Californian, January 2012
“Egarr is a charismatic, energetic, and musically sensitive performer, who clearly brought a huge helping of enthusiasm to the table. The audience gobbled up every morsel he delivered… Egarr’s appeal extended far beyond these ancillary features. At the root of it was his consummate musicianship."
San Francisco Classical Voice, January 2012
“Arne’s harpsichord concerto abounds with deceptive cadences, almost erratic phrases, and gruff high-energy demands on the soloist. Egarr hurled himself into this rhetorical context with great vigor, first warming up the orchestra as conductor and then merrily galumphing his way through the solo work. The whole affair was as refreshing as it was challenging to one’s usual expectation.”
Classical Music Examiner, January 2012
“In the hands of Egarr, [the harpsichord] becomes variously percussive, mournful, exuberant – all the while pushing the music forward.”
Stark Insider, January 2012
Academy of Ancient Music / Handel Messiah
“… There was nothing routine about this vibrant Academy of Ancient Music performance, thanks primarily to Richard Egarr’s endlessly imaginative direction. He has evidently thought carefully about each phrase, never content to accept a way of doing something simply because centuries of tradition dictate it. But, crucially, it never felt contrived or superficially controversial: every nuance of dynamics, tempo or phrasing was an integrated part of a stylish whole without spoiling the cherished essence.
The chamber-sized ensemble … allowed Egarr a huge amount of flexibility with tempos. He was never afraid to slow down or speed up for subtle emphasis. Initially mildly disconcerting, this constant state of flux ensured a wonderfully fresh listening experience. The chorus of mainly young singers was magnificent, responding superbly to Egarr’s direction without appearing over-drilled…
First and foremost this was Egarr’s Messiah – a triumph that will live in the memory for many a Christmas to come.”
Classical Source, December 2011
Scottish Chamber Orchestra / Bach Christmas Oratorio
“He directed from the harpsichord, firing the first cantata with festive energy, and the overriding sense of musical satisfaction came from his complete integration of orchestra, chorus and soloists… Exploring and exploiting every fine detail of the music, Egarr’s joyous yet sensitive direction never let go for a moment, even to the point of nudging his forces into line using his shoulders while both hands were busy on the keyboard.”
The Scotsman, December 2011
An Evening with Stokowski / Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra
“[Egarr] takes Stokowski seriously, and throws himself whole-heartedly into a richly expressive reclamation of these baroque works. Not only that, but he adds his own transcriptions to Stokowski’s reworkings of works by Bach, Purcell, Cesti and Palaestrina, giving us loving arrangements of Handel’s Water Music and a Ockeghem motet (Intermerata Dei Mater). The crowning glory of this “Evening with Leopold Stokowski” (as the CD is called) is Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slave – a showcase work of Stokowski’s, of which Egarr gives us a fiery rendition as Stokowski would have done.
Richard Egarr, who is known primarily for his improvisatory spontaneity as a virtuoso keyboard player on historic instruments, is also very persuasive as a conductor. He brings to life Stokowski’s transcriptions with a sympathetic attention to detail, and above all with enormous vivacity and an ability to use the flexible tempi to great effect: he does not simply reproduce the musical substance of Stokowski’s arrangements but is also utterly convincing in his recreation of a highly romantic way of performing, and one which is inextricably bound up with a luxuriant wash of sound.
… The orchestra’s ability to react with such flexibility to such a spontaneous exchange of musical ideas is proof of their alert responsiveness. Above all, one can hear to perfection in this wonderfully engineered recording the colourful light and shade of Stokowski’s and indeed Egarr’s arrangements.”
Klassik, July 2011
“This vivid act of reclamation has so much to teach, and to enjoy. It shows that Stokowski’s arrangements were made not only with love but acuity; that their flair and potery may survive beyond his own performances, given the flair and commitment displayed by the Brussels Philharmonic, in which they outshine many ritzier but stiffer rivals (such as Wolfgang Sawallisch and Stoki’s own Philadelphia Orchestra on EMI). It reveals, as Richard Egarr remarks in the booklet, that for all the ‘pure tone’ of historical instruments, ‘one can do just as much justice to that music with other means.’ Most of all it advances the need, no less pressing now than in Stoki’s heyday, for truly recreative interpreters.”
Gramophone, June 2011
“…ce programme passionnant, et l'on entendra avec un plaisir délicieusement coupable.”
“…a passionate programme, to be listened to with deliciously guilty pleasure.”
Le Monde, March 2011
“How does someone who has learnt conducting with Gustav Leonhardt come to love Stokowski’s adaptations of Bach or Purcell? All credit to the harpischord specialist and multi-faceted musician Richard Egarr, for brushing aside such scruples and for audibly revelling in the opulence of the controversial “Stoky“. He grasps the sound-world of Stokowski and his sense of the symphonic dimensions of Bach’s music (among others) and makes it his own. The Brussels Philharmonic from Flanders follow Egarr to a tee, hanging on every gesture, following every gradation of soundm, variation of tempo or change of colour. And Egarr goes one further! He follows Stoky’s example and includes one of his own Handel arrangements: an almost militaristic Water Music – completely in keeping with historical evidence, since in this music Handel was seeking to win over the warmongering King George. This disc will bring tears to the eyes of the purists, but for everybody else it is a feast for the ears!”
MDR, February 2011
“The calorific but translucent sound which Egarr draws from his Brussels players is sheer class…
Dido’s Lament from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas smoulders wildly, aided by throbbing basses, but the highlights are two more obscure works – Cesti’s Tu mancavi a tormentarmi and Palestrina’s Adoramus te, both transformed into wildly emotive laments for massed strings. Egarr also gives his own Stokowski-indpired versions of music from Handel’s Water Music and Ockeghem’s Intemerata Dei Mater, the latter containing some of the most sonorous low wind and brass playing I’ve heard.”
The Arts Desk, January 2011
Dallas Symphony / Bach Brandenburg Concertos
“A joyously busy rendition of the First Brandenburg Concerto opened the concert. Egarr found the wonderful but elusive structural logic contained in the episodic final movement. Still seated at the piano, he produced a delightfully terse reading of the opening movement of the Keyboard Concerto No. 3 in D, along with a beautifully delicate version of the Adagio movement of the same work.”
D Magazine, April 2011
Academy of Ancient Music / Perth Concert Hall / Bach Brandenburg Concertos
"Egarr ensured the orchestra reflected Haydn's musical scene painting with Technicolor brilliance. This was a performance of extreme contrasts, dramatically charged and highly characterised from start to finish."
The Australian, February 2011
“High points included some delightfully fruity horn playing and affectionate renderings of the quirky trios in the first concerto; a jaw-dropping harpsichord solo by Egarr in the fifth; exquisitely despatched clarino work by Blackadder in the second; and some fiery fingerboard gymnastics by violinist Rudolfo Richter in the fourth.“
The West Australian, February 2011
Academy of Ancient Music / Wigmore Hall
“...It was the director and harpsichordist, Richard Egarr, who unblocked my mind to how beautiful a harpsichord can sound. All the honky tonk was gone, all the smashing, bashing monochrome: individual notes disappearing into a sort of tintinnabulant gloop. Egarr brought a kind of playful whimsicality, a quietude: varying tempo, teasing, joking, knowing, full of light and shade.”
Times, February 2011
“Egarr’s delicate embellishments hovered with characteristic poise above the wash of strings, his trickling playfulness with ornamentation and rhythm finding a natural home in Bach’s shapely lines.“
The Arts Desk, January 2011
Recital at Wigmore Hall with Iestyn Davies
“This was an evening of baroque virtuosity from one of the most accomplished countertenors and from quite the twinkliest pair of harpsichord hands in the business.
Add to this the inventive skills of Richard Egarr, improvising, embellishing and tinting every turn of phrase in his accompaniments, and an irresistible musical chemistry is created…
…Egarr climbed up the opening scale with droll understatement, only to tease it into transformation and to delight in its more wayward harmonies. His Handel D minor Suite was a triumph of fancy over form… A delicious unpredictability characterised Egarr’s accompanying.”
Times, January 2011
Tafelmusik, Toronto / Mozart & Haydn
“What Egarr does best is capture the spirit, and he wastes no time and spares no energy to convey it to the orchestra and audience. Nobody would think that an 18th-century fortepiano can render solos more beautifully than a modern concert piano. But played with ease, fluidity and sensitivity that Egarr brings to the keyboard, the fortepiano made an ideal companion to Tafelmusik’s period instruments.
…Egarr’s solo work in the evening’s two concertos — Mozart’s No. 12 and Haydn’s No. 11, both written around 1782 — was notable for his silken keyboard technique and for the elegance in which he switched from following the score and leading the orchestra to improvising freely during the solo cadenzas.”
Toronto Star, December 2010
Academy of Ancient Music / Bach Brandenburg Concertos
“The Academy of Ancient Music, under director Richard Egarr at the harpsichord is one of our leading period music groups – and it showed.
No. 1 was the opener, with its strident horns, and, once they had flexed their muscles and shed a little initial stiffness, they really started to show us their quality, especially the oboes and bassoon. No. 6 is for strings only, rhythmically syncopated, the players relaxed and communicating: sheer delight. Then No. 2, with trumpet, recorder and oboe to the fore. The fiendishly difficult natural trumpet was gloriously joyful, giving the work a freedom and élan which raised our spirits – and the audience to its feet.
After the interval, No. 5, with its spectacular harpsichord cadenza, played by Egarr with polished panache, alongside splendid string and flute accompaniment. No. 3, again all strings and continuo, gave these superb string players a chance to express themselves, and they took it with buoyancy and animation, through to the frisky finale. Finally No. 4, for recorders and violin and strings, played with breathtaking virtuosity and chirpy jauntiness. Suddenly it was over, smiles on every face and a palpable sense of satisfied good humour to accompany the rapturous applause. What music, astonishing in its variety, its colours and its differing textures, each instrument making a unique contribution: and what players.”
Bath Chronicle, October 2010
Das Wohltemperierte Clavier Book 2 (Harmonia Mundi)
“Egarr explores the poetic content of the music with unhurried tempos, generous punctuation and eloquently shaped phrasing. This much is clearly apparent in his reflective account of the C major Prelude with which Book 2 begins. Allowing more time than any competing version on disc, Egarr discloses greater depths in this beautiful piece than his rivals…
…Egarr demonstrates his sensitivity to Bach’s stylistic idiom through his use of ornaments and the rhetoric: the D major Prelude, for instance, is treated here with appropriately gallant panache. Egarr’s rhythmic elasticity heightens Bach’s conversational dimension, welcoming us to the dialogue.”
BBC Music Magazine, November 2010
Gramophone Awards Nomination - ‘Baroque Instrumental’ Category / Handel Trio Sonatas (Harmonia Mundi)
“The interplay between the AAM is Baroque chamber-playing of the very highest order: sincerely conversational, emotive and finely nuanced. Egarr and Crouch are an outstanding continuo team, providing attentive yet uncluttered support to the two upper instruments. Brown and Beznosiuk play together with touching eloquence...: marvellous music-making.”
Gramophone, September 2010
Scottish Chamber Orchestra
“What a firecracker he is. Showman, raconteur, wit, outrageous entertainer, dynamo and spontaneous energiser of music: he does the lot, with style… His Mozart was taut, crisp and stylish… he gave scorching performances of Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture and a total-energy account of the Eighth Symphony, with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra playing like a band possessed.”
Glasgow Herald, March 2010
“It was a concert packed with novel touches, elemental brusqueness and raw energy. If this Beethoven symphony is about making a short, shart point, Egarr made it uncompromisingly, and with a sense of connection that permeated everymoment of this intriguing programme.”
The Scotsman, March 2010
“These are outstanding accounts with impeccable intonation and consistently warm tone at every dynamic level, and excellent balance across a wide stereo spectrum”
BBC Music Magazine, December 2009
“Egarr’s performances of Handel’s Op.7 organ concertos … are fantastically exciting, often surprising, sometimes whimsical, occasionally eccentric, always compelling”
Early Music Today, October/November 2009
“The Academy of Ancient Music are intimate conversationalists, alert to every nuance of Egarr’s abiding wit and pungent repartee”
BBC Music Magazine, October 2009
“Everything sounds newly-minted, bursting with vitality and instinct with risk”
BBC Music Magazine, October 2009
“Egarr’s choice of registrations is consistently delightful and his playing sparkles with vitality and character. The musicianship of the Academy of Ancient Music is outstanding, and their articulate and dynamically shaded playing is subtle and responsive to a sentimental spectrum.”
Gramophone, August 2008
“When I heard that England’s Academy of Ancient Music had hired keyboardist and conductor Richard Egarr, I was absolutely delighted… I’ve been waiting for a conductor like Egarr to come along for some time… it wouldn't be a stretch to call him "the Bernstein of Early Music"… he’s one of the most exciting and delightful musicians of our time.”
USA National Public Radio, March 2008
“Rarely has the Ancient seemed so intrinsic to the Now.”
Louisville Courier-Journal, February 2008
Richard Egarr's 2008 USA Tour with the Academy of Ancient Music
“Academy performs with vigor, virtuosity.
The Academy of Ancient Music has entered a period of revitalization under its new music director, harpsichordist Richard Egarr.”
David Weininger, Boston Globe, February 2008
“The Ancient becomes new again.
There may be ensembles that articulate the pleasures of Baroque repertoire more persuasively than the Academy of Ancient Music, but I highly doubt it. The vast and furious catalog of satisfactions heard last night at St. Francis-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church -- where the British-based AAM played as part of this season's Speed Endowed Concert Series -- was enough to send specialists and lay listeners alike into giddy shivers of delight.
Egarr not only played his instrument with consummate vigor and skill (most notably during J.S. Bach's Harpsichord Concerto No. 7 in G minor, BWV 1058), he urged his 11 colleagues on in a similar imperative. All proved to be terrific advocates.
With their superlative qualities of attack and overall rhythmic acuity, melded to a way of swelling particular phrases with remarkably supple rubato, the AAM members were fascinating creatures of their art. Rarely has the Ancient seemed so intrinsic to the Now.”
The Louisville Courier-Journal, February 2008
“Under the Academy of Ancient Music’s new director, Richard Egarr, the orchestra sound as good as ever, perhaps even reinvigorated and a few degrees sparklier... Egarr could not have hoped for a better way to begin his tenure.”
Gramophone, October 2007
“The Academy of Ancient Music is in world-beating form once more … Egarr and the musicians play with dynamism and warmth which suggests that Egarr's tenure with this band is going to be a rewarding one. Long may it last.”
Gramophone, April 2007
“Spunky, beautifully polished performances”
Times, March 2007
Richard Egarr's March 2006 US Solo Debut
"Egarr, with all his attention to Baroque tunings and aesthetics, had done something remarkable: He made us hear the variations in a totally new, or maybe an old, way."
Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News, March 2006
“This is why nothing can replace live concerts. You can buy the new recording of Bach's ‘Goldberg’ Variations by harpsichordist Richard Egarr, on the Harmonia Mundi label, and hear a note-perfect, brilliantly interpreted version of a masterpiece. Or you can go hear Egarr in person, watching and listening as he completely reinvents the music, lingering here and forging ahead there."
Seattle Times, March 2006
Recital with Steven Isserlis
“Whether through long hours of rehearsal or natural musical chemistry or both, this is a partnership that draws the best from each individual. If at times Isserlis and Egarr seemed like two unselfconscious children playing a game of physical and imaginative complexity beyond the watching adults' comprehension, their programming likewise verged on the cheeky. I don't know but this was an intoxicating debut and I can't wait to hear more from them.”
Anna Picard, Independent on Sunday, July 2002
Portland Baroque Orchestra / Handel Messiah
“Egarr's 'Messiah' was truly an impassioned pairing of opera and prayer. No pokerfaced pedantry here, but interpretation engendered in and expressed through human emotions; no ridiculously racing tempos, but a relaxed, sensual feel for phrasing and mood. Egarr's exuberance, vivid coloring and flexible rhythms were reflected not just by the orchestra but by the PBO Chorus and four soloists.”
Willamette Week, December 2001
“Possibly the Portland Baroque Orchestra's finest Messiah yet. Richard Egarr led with a combination of refinement and vitality, making Handel's music vivid, exciting and acutely expressive of the biblical texts. Egarr is an energetic but controlled conductor, and his good rapport with the ensemble was palpable... Even at low dynamics and gentle tempos, as in the overture that set much of the tone for the evening, there was a feeling of quiet excitement.”
The Oregonian, December 2001
Academy of Ancient Music / Handel
Bei der «Wassermusik», der «Feuerwerksmusik» und vier Krönungshymnen, die Händel für den englischen Königshof schrieb, kommen natürlich Kesselpauken und Barocktrompeten zu ihrem Recht. Doch Egarr und seine Musiker brachten gerade auch die leisen, intimen Momente der königlichen Festmusik zum Klingen.
Die Welt, September 2014
Bach korrekt und lebhaft interpretiert
“Das Wiener Kammerorchester eröffnete seinen Matineenzyklus im Konzerthaus unter dem Dirigenten und Cembalisten Richard Egarr mit vier der sechs Brandenburgischen Konzerte Bachs. Eine gute Wahl. Voll Verve und Spielfreude geht's durch die berühmten Werke. Mitunter bieten die Musiker stupende Leistungen in Sachen Fingerfertigkeit und Bravour... Das Wichtigste ist aber, dass man da einen harmonischen Gesamtklang hört. Herzhaft klingen die raschen Sätze, geradlinig und feinkörnig wird in den langsamen musiziert. Bach korrekt und lebhaft interpretiert.”
Wien Kronenzeitung, October 2002
“Auch Egarr - in Aschaffenburg längst kein Unbekannter mehr - fesselte zur Händelsuite sein Publikum durch eine klug disponierte und mit brillanter Fingerfertigkeit ausgeführte Interpretation, erwiesen sich beide Künstler in den Sonaten als kongeniale Disputanten im Netzwerk polyphoner Meisterschaft. In Klang und Gestaltung so nahe wie möglich und einem einzigen dynamischen Pulsschlag folgend boten sie die Werke aus einem Geist.”
Main Echo, August 2002
Academy of Ancient Music / JS Bach Orchestral Suites
"The rewards are glorious, with Egarr at the harpsichord driving the delightfully clean and springy rhythms, every detail sharply defined, each seperate timbre there for us to enjoy."
The Guardian, October 2014
"In this recording, the Academy of Ancient Music is scaled down to just one instrument per part, to create a sharp, sparkling and unencumbered reading... Egarr's approach allows each instrument to be heard and shine through, and for the brilliance of Bach's writing to be exposed and enjoyed afresh."
Album of the Week, Classic FM, October 2014
Wigmore Hall Live / Purcell, Gabrieli, Clarke, Blow: Winner of Gramophone Award in Recital Category
"There's a rough and tumble to the interactions of Richard Egarr and his musicians that transforms this recording into something at once authentic and contemporary. This is superb music-making without affectation"
Gramophone, November 2014
Academy of Ancient Music / JS Bach St John Passion
“Richard Egarr gives his musical personality free rein in this St John Passion. The interpretation is fresh and full of life, rich in nuance and contrast throughout. Egarr seizes the many dramatic moments hidden in the St John Passion, whilst returning again and again to tonal beauty. Thus he creates an outstanding and harmonious interpretation without any real weakness.”
Klassik.com, May 2014
“the chuntering orchestral disquiet and smooth choral lines of Egarr’s reading give it a sympathetic, aching kind of tragedy…feeling the wider compassionate message of the Passion…. An almost Mahlerian penetration…A distinct character of its own…Egarr is good at using his 16-voice chorus to release the music’s natural line and warmth. That and its humanity.”
Gramophone, March 2014
“‘This is a tremendously energetic St John Passion. The choruses dancing along with a vitality which recalls the secular roots of many of the chorale melodies, the solos delivered with arresting fervency, and the orchestral playing crisply athletic…The Choir of the AAM is drilled to a state of almost frenetic virtuosity which explodes dramatically in some highly charged crowd scenes in Part 2, while the Academy of Ancient Music itself is on cracking form…Other unforgettable moments include the opening chorus – ‘Herr, unser Herrscher’ – where the bustling activity from orchestra and chorus seems to be lovingly embraced by a pair of oboes, as if the whole world is held in the arms of God as great life-changing events begin to unfold, and the spitting venom of the crowd – both choral and instrumental – as they breate Pilate in the brief ‘Schreibe nicht ‘Der Jüden König.’.
Musically, then, this is a splendid performance which leaves the listener exhausted both physically and emotionally. Coupled with an absolutely gorgeously presented hard-cover booklet containing some fabulous photography and some thought-provoking essays, it would seem to be a pretty safe choice for anyone looking for a first-rate recording of the St John Passion.”
International Record Review, May 2014
Handel / 8 Great Suites (Harmonia Mundi)
“supple in his phrasing, and selecting tempos that feel unerringly correct…. While that Passacaille is as virtuosic as any you will find on disc, it is in the more sensitive, slower music that I believe Egarr especially shines... Every note receives its due regard both in the immediate phrase and the overall structure of each piece. It is playing of a high order, from a musician who clearly loves this music and wishes to share what he’s discovered with others… Highly recommended.”
Fanfare Magazine, June 2014
“With this recording Egarr has reinforced his position as a Grand Master of the Baroque keyboard.”
5 stars, Fono Forum, May 2014
“Where Handel boldly leads, Egarr heroically follows. But he never nurtures virtuosity for its own sake. Indeed many of his tempos sound initially almost cautious, but that’s to facilitate Egarr’s ace: his ability to embellish with unstoppable panache.
Whether in the whirlwind ‘Phantasticus’ elaborations of the D minor Prelude, or the tender butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-its-mouth A major ‘Allemande’, Egarr is the versatile man for all Handelian moods. Daring and full of insight, this invigorating release goes straight to the top of the class.”
BBC Music Magazine, February 2014
“The bright timbres complement his lavish ornamentation, as rococo flourishes and delicate traceries alike are enhanced by a scintillating clarity.”
Early Music Today, March 2014
Academy of Ancient Music / Birth of the Symphony: Handel to Haydn
“…crisp, spirited, full of imaginative detail with fizzing harpsichord contributions from Richard Egarr. Each example sounded more engaging, more deeply expressive, than the last. Suddenly we seemed to have arrived. The work which spoke so clearly was Haydn's Symphony No.49 in F minor, "La passione". Since Haydn has always been considered the father of the symphony, the disc had done its job well.”
Guardian, September 2013
“virtually unalloyed pleasure… bold and fiery, though there is ample tenderness…thrilling precision…They relish the youthful swagger of the Mozart and the baleful intensity of La Passione (Haydn)…. One of the most powerful and disturbing performances on disc...”
Gramophone, November 2013
He and the AAM play this masterpiece (Haydn) with both subtlety and drama…This is a masterly account : crisply articulated, with transparency of texture and really clear, confident wind playing…this is Classical symphony playing of the highest order”
International Record Review, November 2013
“A striking success... Expertly led by harpsichordist Richard Egarr, and superbly played, it programmes an attractive selection of symphonies by five 18th-century composers to illustrate the title 'Birth of the symphony'. The contents prove enjoyable both in sequence and as historical display case.”
BBC Music Magazine, October 2013
“Standards are crisp, spirited, full of imaginative detail with fizzing harpsichord contributions from the AAM's Music Director, Richard Egarr... I listened 'blind'. Each example sounded more engaging, more deeply expressive, than the last.”
Observer, October 2013
“This enjoyable bird’s-eye view of the symphony’s mid-18th-century development confirms that the famous names are justly celebrated... the great discovery is Mozart’s First Symphony, K16... a work hinting at the inventiveness and playfulness, the richness of texture, that are to come.”
Sunday Times, October 2013
"This is something special, a carefully planned programme going from the Sinfonia of Handel's Saul via Richter, Stamitz and Mozart's first symphony to reach Sturm und Drang Haydn... Egarr draws vibrant, vividly characterised performances from his players, and the recording is excellent. Five stars."
Classical Music Magazine, October 2013
"Egarr’s harpsichord continuo bubbles away in the background, never letting the pace slacken... The orchestral ensemble is tight and focussed... The best music comes last, in the form of Haydn’s Symphony No.49 in F minor. It’s dark in places — the slow opening movement full of repressed anguish, but the fast music erupts with volcanic energy. Thrilling, uplifting stuff.”
The Arts Desk, October 2013
Bach Six English Suites (Harmonia Mundi - BWV806-811)
“After robust, earthy Purcell and delicately characterful Louis Couperin, Richard Egarr's Bach English Suites are carefully controlled, polished, thoughtful and reserved ... Egarr's tempi can be recommended as canonical to students of this music. His preludes unfold with excitement and virtuosity but never feel rushed or forced.”
Philip Kennicott, Gramophone, March 2013
“Harpsichordist Egarr's reading of Bach's English Suites recaptures the infectious conversational quality of his recording of the Brandenburg Concertos with the Academy of Ancient Music.This time the musical partnership is with the listener. From the elegant formality of the A major Suite to the quasi-orchestral flamboyance of the A minor, Egarr is good company. A remarkable cycle played with pungent physicality and generous wit”
Independent, January 2013
“This is yet another fine release from one of the most consistently stimulating keyboard artists recording today.”
International Record Review, January 2013
“Egarr displays an extraordinary tonal range, from harp-like resonance to transparency. The best harpsichord recital of these Suites on disc.”
BBC Music Monthly, January 2013
Academy of Ancient Music / Bach Brandenburg Concertos
“The new Egarr-AAM Brandenburgs really blow. In a good way. They blow centuries of library dust off these pieces …Egarr & Co. are in it to win it”
Stereophile, June 2009
“…a hot traversal of Bach’s Brandenburg.”
The New York Times, June 2009
“a recording you must hear …the playing is revishing.”
BBC Music Magazine, June 2009
“…your jaw might drop at the virtuosity.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2009
Academy of Ancient Music / Handel Organ Concertos Op.4
“Here, Egarr conducts the Academy of Ancient Music while playing the organ. But he's also a versatile artist on all kinds of keyboards: historic organs, harpsichord, fortepiano, and modern piano. He plays music from many eras, and has a remarkable gift for combining subtle musical gestures with forward–moving, irrepressible rhythms.
While I've admired Egarr's recordings for some time, he's even better in person. His recent performance with the Portland Baroque Orchestra was one of the most exciting musical evenings I've had in years. The way he communicates with audiences reminds me of Leonard Bernstein's ability to engage listeners without talking down to them. He also matches Bernstein's onstage charisma, so it wouldn't be a stretch to call Egarr "the Bernstein of Early Music."
I've been waiting for a conductor like Egarr to come along for some time — a conductor who pursues historical authenticity but allows himself an emotional involvement often avoided by many other early-music specialists. While he has wonderful technique, he's much more than a virtuoso of finger work; Egarr is a virtuoso of nuance, of dancing rhythms and sparking melodies. He's one of the most exciting and delightful musicians of our time.”
Tom Manoff, NPR Music, March 2008
"Egarr gives wonderful, insightful, technically solid performances, tending to Handelian authenticity with his free, fancy, and liberal use of ornamentation, enlivened with a real ‘in the moment’ improvisational feel. ... the whole production, from Egarr's notes to the vibrant performances, has an air of good spirits and ensemble camaraderie, a situation that Handel himself certainly would have envied."
David Vernier, Classical Today, March 2008
"In every musical choice he makes, Egarr fashions fresh accounts of works that often play as stodgy standoffs between pompous organ and dutiful band. In a variety of moods, these pieces come off as engaging exchanges and advancements of musical ideas."
Rating: Outstanding - Wild Applause.
Steve Winn, San Francisco Chronicle, March 2008
"The orchestra (which Mr. Egarr conducts from the keyboard) finds the bucolic heart of the composer as only an English group can. Mr. Egarr displays brilliant finger work and high spirits in the organ solos. He has retained just enough of his rhythmic capriciousness to keep things interesting."
Lawson Taitte, Dallas Morning News, March 2008
Winner of the Midem Classical Music Award for Handel Organ Concertos Op. 4
“Richard Egarr receives the Midem Classical Award in the Concerto category for his recording of Handel Organ Concertos op 4 on harmonia mundi.
A critical and popular favorite, the recording landed in the top five on Billboard’s Classical Chart, made Critics’ Best of 2008 lists, including that of NPR Performance Today’s Fred Child who noted Egarr's “light speed” improvisation. BBC Music magazine wrote, “there is a freshness and sense to what (Egarr) does which becomes more apparent with every hearing” and Gramophone rejoiced, “his playing sparkles with vitality and character.” Perhaps International Record Review summed it up best: ‘These elegant and characterful performances are simply too good to miss.’
Organ virtuoso Richard Egarr delivers a stirring rendition of George Frideric Handel's last published set of instrumental concertos. The andante opens with Egarr's exuberant flourish on the organ, answered with equal verve by the orchestra. Heard in this andante is the essence of the collection: Egarr's exciting command of the technical and emotional elements of these concertos, underpinned by the stellar performance of the Academy of Ancient Music.”
Philip Van Vleck, Billboard, August 2009
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