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Musical World

Paul McCreesh

  • Conductor


Paul McCreesh press reviews

“It’s an awesome sound … and McCreesh maintains that theatrical level of drama...a performance that really does reinvent one of the greatest works in the choral canon.”
The Guardian on Haydn’s Creation
Kammerorchester Basel / Delius, Dvorak, Elar with soloist Sol Gabetta
“McCreesh set a gentle tempo, and deployed a delightful variety of dynamics and tone colours, whilst allowing the brass section to shine through with their fantastic mix of colours. In contrast, Dvorak's seventh symphony in D minor was all about life. The musical themes, structure and mood seem to have come naturally to the Bohemian composer. The violas and cellos opened this rich symphony quietly, skilfully building the tension. McCreesh gave a clear structure to the full-bodied composition, and brought out both the overall phrasing and the lyricism of individual passages. The passages in the major key shone through, and the dance-like passages were treated with a sensitive rubato, reminiscent of the legendary rubatos of which Dvorak was reputedly so keen. The orchestra showed a steely energy in the fortissimo passages, as the musicians willingly pushed themselves to their limits.”
Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, April 2010

“Dvorak's seventh symphony gave [Kammerorchester Basel] the opportunity to play in a relatively large formation, whilst still imbuing the piece with all the riches of chamber music. Paul McCreesh was like a magician, bringing his precise mental image of the piece, with all its richness of tone colours, to life.”
Kölnische Rundschau, April 2010

Münchener Kammerorchester / Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schoeck
“The sensitively performed slow introduction to young Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s Symphony No.9, played without a need to over-emphasise every last detail, revealed what an exciting concert this would be.

The expectations raised in the overture were fulfilled in the sparkling first movement, and exceeded in the sharp contrapuntal Andante section. British conductor Paul McCreesh, founder of the Gabrieli Consort and conductor of Rolando Villazón’s Handel CD, had prepared the Münchener Kammerorchester faultlessly.

… Mozarts’ Symphony No.20 summed up the qualities of the evening: the playing was full of colour and rich variations of light and shade, without the brute force which so often takes over in historically informed performances.”
Abendzeitung, May 2009

“Notes appeared out of nowhere and slowly took shape; gradually overlapping and entering into every-changing rapports with one another. The introduction to Mendelssohn’s Symphony for Strings no. 9 in C major had an inner tension which gripped the audience in the Prinzregententheater, and seemed to drag them right into the centre of the action. The Münchener Kammerorchester under Paul McCreesh kept this short passage hovering in the ether, held in a fragile but unbroken equilibrium.”
Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 2009

Teatro Real Madrid / Handel Tamerlano (DVD release on Opus Arte)
“Conductor Paul McCreesh calls George Frideric Handel's 1724 Creation one of the greatest operas of the 18th century. Here, in a year-old live performance, he makes glorious work of the orchestra of the Teatro Reál in Madrid and an excellent cast that includes tenor Placido Domingo.”
John Terauds, The, April 2009

“Tamerlano’s four-hour length is buoyed by the vigour with which Paul McCreesh conducts the meaty, non-Baroque house orchestra of the Teatro Real... A fine production of a very fine opera."
The Times, February 2009

Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra / Haydn Die Jahreszeiten
"... Haydn, the eldest of the Viennese Classics, received a magnificent tribute from the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra under the direction of another famed early-music expert, Paul McCreesh.

... The prosaic and lengthy text can make listening to Die Jahreszeiten a test of patience. Conductor McCreesh cannot be faulted for this: he was able to make the performance into a dramatic experience."
Frits van der Waal, Volkskrant, January 2009

“Full-blooded, brilliant Jahreszeiten with Paul McCreesh

... The Dutch Chamber Orchestra gave a magnificent performance of the sequel [of Die Schoepfung]: Die Jahreszeiten, conducted by Paul McCreesh.

…Even though this time the forces of the choir and orchestra in Die Jahreszeiten were considerably smaller than in 1801, McCreesh did not compromise on the grand and exalted, the spectacular and the brilliant. In his vision, Die Jahreszeiten are a match for Die Schoepfung. The orchestra was allowed to indulge itself under the command of orchestra leader Gordan Nikolic, one of the most high-spirited musicians on earth. And the excellent soloists - soprano Camilla Tilling, tenor Mark Padmore and baritone Andrew Foster-Williams - were allowed to use their big, expressive voices freely."
Kasper Jansen, NRC Handelsblad, January 2009

“Programming around centenaries can have its pitfalls, but any excuse to perform this great oratorio is very welcome. Especially under the direction of a seasoned early music conductor like Paul McCreesh. He was able to elicit ever changing, delightful sounds from the choir and orchestra…

…the result is overwhelming…

…With his tall stature he calmly conducted the cheerfully tinkling pianoforte, beautifully integrated with the delicate sound of the string section."
Kees Arntzen, Trouw, January 2009

Basel Chamber Orchestra / Weber, Mendelssohn & Berlioz
“Much-loved and familiar though all these works may be, each was performed in the freshest possible way. The string playing was daring and virtuosic. Intonation faltered occasionally in the Mendelssohn, but it was always responsive to McCreesh's committed direction.”
The Guardian, February 2008

Gabrieli Consort and Players

Gabrieli Consort and Players / Handel Jephtha
“…at last week’s performance of the oratorio Jephtha, Handel’s last major work, it was the drama at the heart of the music that set the evening alight… McCreesh, as always, was a galvanising force … fortified by additional singers from the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir, his excellent Gabrieli Consort and Players had extra punch.”
Richard Fairman, The Financial Times, June 2009

Gabrieli Consort and Players / Haydn The Creation (Archiv)
“Informed speculation, inspired direction and a collective sense of occasion combine to make this recording amongst the most compelling Creations in the discosphere.

This is no routine run out of a choral warhorse. Rather, Paul McCreesh and company dare to let Haydn’s vivid score off the leash to pursue its joyful take on created nature.

Above all, McCreesh conjures up a cogent, highly personal reading that sounds refreshingly alive and genuinely struck by the wonder of Haydn’s creativity.”
Classic FM Magazine, opera and vocal disc of the month, June 2008

“This recording of Haydn’s great oratorio is sung in English, but with a difference. Paul McCreesh has made changes to the standard English text, ironing out its awkward or obscure moments, and has also altered Haydn’s recitatives to fit.

One of the perennial delights of the work is the illustrative detail of the results of God’s creation – the beasts, birds, creeping things and so forth – that Haydn depicts with such imagination and yet an almost childlike sense of wonder.

Most important of all is McCreesh’s own commitment, which combines a keen sensitivity to sonority – the Representation of Chaos is awe-inspiring – with an ear for detail and a firm yet flexible approach to tempo. The results are exceptional, overtaking even John Eliot Gardiner’s striking version on the same label.”
BBC Music Magazine, disc of the month, May 2008