"McCreesh leads an electrifying and fastidiously detailed account of the Britten"
Dallas Morning News
"How do you keep Handel’s great oratorio sounding fresh and relevant..? Hiring Paul McCreesh is one solution."
"The profundity and coherence of McCreesh’s recording sets a new standard"
BBC Music Magazine*****
"McCreesh’s fresh new translation animates the top-class solo singing, while the massed choruses blow the roof off. Glorious"
Paul McCreesh has guest conducted many of the major orchestras and choirs across the globe, including most recently the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Bergen Philharmonic, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, Verbier Festival orchestras, and Berlin Konzerthausorchester. McCreesh also enjoys regular and ongoing collaborations with Saint Paul and Basel Chamber Orchestras.
In 2019/20, he conducted Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 2 and excerpts from Schubert’s Rosamunde with the New Japan Philharmonic, Haydn’s Creation with the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Handel’s Messiah with the Casa da Música Baroque Orchestra & Choir, Haydn’s London Symphony & Beethoven’s C Major Mass with Filharmonia Poznanska, with whom he conducts again this season.
In the previous season, he conducted works by Elgar, Haydn and Brahms with the Kammerakademie Potsdam, a programme of Elgar, Britten and Mendelssohn with the Bamberger Symphoniker, he returned to the Filharmonia Poznanska for some Rossini and Britten, and conducted performances with the MDR Sinfonieorchester at the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and the Basel Chamber Orchestra.
From 2013-2016 he was Principal Conductor and Artistic Adviser of the Gulbenkian Orchestra (Lisbon) with whom he conducted a wide range of music from the classical period through to the nineteenth and twentieth century, focusing in particular on symphonic repertoire, oratorio and opera in concert, working closely with the world-renowned Gulbenkian Choir.
McCreesh has established a strong reputation in the opera house and has conducted productions at the Teatro Real Madrid, Royal Danish Opera, Opera Comique, Vlaamse Opera and at the Verbier Festival, and most recently he conducted Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Bergen Opera, and returned to Vlaamse Opera for a production of Idomeneo.
In 2011, McCreesh launched his own record label, Winged Lion, in collaboration with the Gabrieli Consort & Players, Signum Classics and the Wratislavia Cantans Festival, where he was Artistic Director between 2006 and 2012. To date they have made seven recordings, most recently Haydn The Seasons, released in spring 2017 and lauded by critics: “the communal sense of joy is infectious” (Financial Times) and “Glorious” (Guardian).
This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.
Recording CD: Purcell The Fairy Queen 1692, Gabrieli Consort
Signum Classics SIGCD615 (April 2020)
A fine recording ... scholarly and sensitive... McCreesh and his performers give their impressive all to the miraculous score.
McCreesh’s production rises to the occasion: original voiving, unorthodox continuo, project-specific trumpet design and rediscovered string techniques bring out qualities missing from earlier recordings. Purcell’s hornpipes were never livelier, nor his chaconnes statelier, than in this performance.
BBC Music Magazine (Opera Choice)*****
Impeccable ... McCreesh's labour of love has abundant nuances and transcedent beauty.
Gramophone (Editor’s Choice)
For his work there can be nothing but praise, from the subtle subdued hues produced by his strings, set up and bowed in accord with 17th-century practice, to the gossamer-like touch he brings to so much of the score... McCreesh's Purcell … has no rival.
As always with Gabrieli, the music-making itself is top-notch … recommended in particular for Purcell enthusiasts.
The Classic Review
Paul McCreesh and Gabrieli have become so accomplished at breathing new life into historical works and occasions that it’s difficult to give this latest recording the praise it deserves without becoming repetitive. Their trademark approach to authenticity continues to be a winning formula – recapturing the spirit, rather than the precise letter, of the original – and the performers all flit effortlessly between the narrative’s changes of mood. I can’t think of anyone who could give a better rendition of this Restoration 'feel-good' masterpiece.
David Smith, Presto Classical
Applying the latest research, Paul McCreesh and his forces give a performance of engaging freshness and vitality...
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill*****
Purcell King Arthur, Gabrieli Consort
St John’s Smith Square (October 2019)
Above all, though, this was an evening of joyous, wonderfully elegant music-making. Nine singers shared the songs and choruses between them, a flawless ensemble of equals… The playing, meanwhile, had everything one could wish for in its deftness, grace and lightness of touch.
Tim Ashley, The Guardian*****
Recording CD: Purcell King Arthur 1691, Gabrieli Consort
Signum Classics SIGCD589 (October 2019)
Enter McCreesh and his team. They’ve re-thought not just the score, but the instruments and practices of Purcell’s day. In their King Arthur, choruses are more vibrant, dance rhythms more percussive and solos more delicate than in any previous recording. Above all, McCreesh and his artists make us hear Purcell’s genius for word-setting. …McCreesh’s new performing edition, which contains re-ordered numbers and a finale forged from other works by Purcell, is the catalyst for this intimate, intensely energetic production.
Berta Joncus, BBC Music Magazine
Throughout the opera McCreesh’s speeds are relaxed rather than driven – no bad thing, to my mind, and it results in Dryden’s wonderful poetry being acted with personable clarity, and the lucidity of musical gestures ensures that affection and intimacy are hallmarks of a performance that conveys a humane smile.
David Vickers, Gramophone
Overall, this is a cultivated performance, well sung and played
Richard Fairman, The Financial Times****
Paul McCreesh follows convention by giving us only the musical numbers, but unlike most conductors he gives us a performance benefitting from years of living with and thinking about the work, constantly evolving his approach to it. The result tempts only superlatives, for the new recording is as accomplished and richly satisfying an experience as anyone could hope for... Throughout, indeed, the outstanding orchestral plating is one of the great pleasures of the performance, beguiling or rhythmically buoyant and pointed as circumstances demand.
Brian Robins, Opera Magazine
Purcell's King Arthur, in a crisp and clean new recording of a scholarly new performing edition from the Gabrieli Consort under Paul McCreesh. Don't fear if that sounds a little dusty, because new string articulation, coarser reeds for wind instruments and natural trumpets mean that the music has a vivid and lively personality.
Francis Muzzu, Opera Now****
Recording CD: An English Coronation, Gabrieli Consort
Signum Classics SIGCD569 (May 2019)
A project delivered with McCreesh’s customary attention to detail…it’s a labour of love and sounds it…Incisive in the orchestral works – what scintillating woodwind playing he secures in Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 – McCreesh is at his considerable best in the choral items.
Paul Riley, BBC Music Magazine*****
On his tireless voyage of ceremonial and liturgical reconstruction, Paul McCreesh’s 20th-century coronation anthology is arguably his most ambitious and intricate to date… Well-articulated insights into the rich theatrical dimension of this quartet of coronations work best in the large works, all of which sound spectacular in the ringing acoustic… One can imagine the virtuosity required by every contributor, at every turn, to make this a reality, let alone a dazzling triumph.
Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone
Elgar’s sombre, introspective Coronation March is performed with real style, the articulation crisp, the transparent orchestral sound allowing every detail to register... Experience and innocence collide to staggering musical and sonic effect: listen to this lot in Parry’s I Was Glad or Handel's Zadok the Priest and be amazed at the visceral punch of these forces at full pelt. Girding, anointing, oblation and ‘orb delivery’ are omitted, but otherwise we get a remarkable sense of what being sat in Westminster Abbey must have been like… Walton's Coronation Te Deum is sensational, as is Crown Imperial, these pieces surrounding David Matthews's exquisite, newly commissioned Recessional, which leads straight into his arrangement of the National Anthem. Its second verse features almost 1,000 performers, massed trumpets and bells suggesting Janaček’s Glagolitic Mass. A treat, even for those with republican leanings. Signum’s production values are exemplary, the two CDs presented in a covetable hardback book. Really, really impressive, and fun to boot.
Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk
Paul McCreesh’s reconstruction projects always feel like events; six months on his celebration of the grandeur and grace, drama and dignity of the British coronation remains as moving as it is memorable.
Martin Cullingford, Gramophone
Mozart & Tchaikovsky, Kammerorchester Basel
The impulses he gives to the interpretation with his eloquent hands are perfectly enough.
Gerhard Dietel, Mittelbayerische
Bach St Matthew Passion¸ Gabrieli Consort, Bachkirche Arnstadt
The Gabrieli Consort & Players performed under the thoughtful direction of Paul McCreesh … an admirable unity of song and orchestra, of religious content and musical interpretation emerged. Thus, the St. Matthew Passion, originally intended for religious edification, became a musical treat of the highest quality.
Klaus Ehring, Thüringer Allgemeine
Handel Messiah, Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal
… the delivery of the singers and instrumentalists of the OSM led by Paul McCreesh was quite exceptional … Like that of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and others, the Messiah of McCreesh is not one to exhaust itself in the first part, that devoted to the prophecy of the coming of the Messiah and the Nativity. It reveals itself and is consumed in the second part, that of Passion and triumph, with a radiance that lasts in the third, that of life after death. … With high demands, Paul McCreesh went almost as far as Trevor Pinnock with the Violons du Roy four years ago. And the OSM has been admirable of precision, proving that the eloquence in this repertoire is more a question of rhetoric than of instruments.
Christophe Huss, Le Devoir
Elgar, Britten and Mendelssohn, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra
Margravial Opera House (September 2018)
…the Bamberg [Symphony Orchestra] played the [Mendelssohn Scottish] symphony with a beautiful sound and buoyantly; it makes sense that the conductor contorted himself into the shape of a question mark for the doleful rising cadences; depth, beauty, Scottish fog, dance – the Bamberg [SO] resonated all this
Michael Weiser, Nordbayerischer Kurier
Recording CD: A Rose Magnificat, Gabrieli Consort
Signum Classics SIGCD536, May 2018
Paul McCreesh’s choir is in superlative form for this well-varied programme … The transitions from introspection to elated confidence in Howell’s Salve Regina are beautifully managed by McCreesh and his singers
Terry Blain, BBC Music Magazine*****
...this exquisitely crafted recital of English Marian motets and Magnificats from the Gabrieli Consort and Paul McCreesh. Performances are pristine: carefully balanced and always cleanly tuned, and a more muscular, characterful top line offers a welcome contrast to some of the ensemble’s English rivals. McCreesh’s ear for a contemporary classic is unerring
Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone
The radiant purity of the singing is framed by the depth and clarity of the recording, and the choral virtuosity in the title track at the end of the album is breathtaking.
BBC Music Magazine Awards 2019: Choral Nomination
Bach B Minor Mass, Gabrieli Consort & Players, Holy Week Festival
St John’s Smith Square, April 2018
Paul McCreesh and his Gabrieli Consort and Players brought period-instrument intimacy and chamber-sized vitality to Bach’s B minor Mass.
Fiona Maddocks, The Times
Recording CD: Silence & Music, Gabrieli Consort
Signum Classics, October 2017
The Gabrieli Consort, conducted by Paul McCreesh, sings Stanford’s “The Blue Bird” with such abstracted beauty that enchantment sets in from the opening minutes.
Richard Fairman, The Financial Times****
The Gabrieli's latest themed CD, beautifully produced in all respects, celebrates the concision and intensity of 20th-century British part songs, from Elgar and Warlock to James MacMillan and Jonathan Dove, from the stark (Grainger’s The Three Ravens) to the ethereal (Vaughan Williams’s Rest). The opening song, Stanford’s The Blue Bird, uses a group of sopranos on the top line – apparently as the composer intended – instead of the usual soloist. The effect is arresting, and typical of the attention to text and score demonstrated by Paul McCreesh and his singers in each of these songs ... These miniatures are rich, each in need of proper savouring.
Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian****
The musical care and the easy, unforced shaping of lines from the Gabrielis is all the ornament works like Elgar’s There is sweet music and Howells’s The summer is coming need, and the two Vaughan Williams settings – Silence and Music and the expansive Rest – sit just the right side of sentimentality…The result is a clever mixture of moods – a disc that takes the part-song into the 21st century not only in repertoire but also in style
Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone
Sometimes the best discoveries in music aren’t pieces that you’ve never heard before, but those you have, made new by remarkable interpretations. That’s certainly the case with Stanford’s The Blue Bird, long a staple of the English Choral Repertoire, as sung by the Gabrieli Consort on this new recording. The feeling of partial, hovering detachment conductor Paul McCreesh creates between the gently lapping four-part underlay, and the five sopranos gliding ‘across the waters’ in unison, is magical, creating the special frisson intended by Stanford as he translated a fleetingly wonderful scene from nature into music. Sometimes similar happens in Elgar’s Owls, where McCreesh and his super-sensitive singers distil a gripping sense of mysterious nocturnal rustlings. […] This is a beautifully constructed programme, sung with consummate assurance and self-effacing artistry.
Terry Blain, Choral and Song Choice *****
Mendelssohn Elijah, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Philharmonia Choir
“[The performance] brought the scale and force of Mendelssohn's gestures into spectacular focus. After a portentous opening, the angular orchestral fugue of the Overture led in a straight line to a startling, thrilling choral outburst Help Lord, which certainly gets straight to the point. In the hours that followed the musical precision and balance made absorbing listening… The Sydney Symphony Orchestra bristled and glowed with finesse."
Sydney Morning Herald
Recording: Haydn The Seasons, Gabrieli Consort & Players, Wrocław Baroque Orchestra, National Forum of Music Choir
“…this recording brings [The Seasons] thrillingly to life… Paul McCreesh assembles a massive throng of singers and players, the numbers that might have performed the piece in 1801. And what a noise they make! McCreesh’s fresh new translation animates the top-class solo singing, while the massed choruses blow the roof off. Glorious.”
“This recording is well worth acquiring, to get to know one of Haydn’s most treasurable works
“For the first time this recording aims to present a period performance on an authentically grand scale… Paul McCreesh conducts his own English version, perfectly enunciated by the British/Polish choir, and the communal sense of joy is infectious. The three soloists are first-rate. So is the recording. An uplifting performance all-round.”
The Financial Times
"Substantial choral and orchestral forces captured in sound that is both expansive and immediate."
Recording of the Month, ClassicalMusic.com
“McCreesh clearly relishes the sheer range of colours which the period instruments are able to bring to Haydn's music, this is a recording which is full of colour … by rediscovering the work's essential qualities and not trying for portentousness, McCreesh has enabled me to enjoy the work far more for its own qualities … some period instrument performances simply re-work a piece into a pre-conceived image, but here McCreesh has enabled us to listen to Haydn's The Seasons with new ears.”
“A musical hit from McCreesh”
J.S. Bach Easter Oratorio, Gabrieli Consort & Players
“[the performance] acquired exceptional energy and zest. Every line, every texture could be heard... all felt natural and alive, as if this had to be the sound Bach wanted, on these exact instruments. We can never know absolutely, but if a performance convinces you, the musicians have done their job.
Handel Messiah, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
"How do you keep Handel’s great oratorio sounding fresh and relevant..? Hiring Paul McCreesh is one solution. The English conductor is a choral specialist, and he brought a rare clarity and dynamism to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Messiah...McCreesh’s take on Handel’s masterpiece was bracingly direct and free of pomposity."
Recording: Britten War Requiem, Gabrieli Consort & Players
"McCreesh leads an electrifying and fastidiously detailed account of the Britten. Both choruses and orchestra are absolutely first-rate, and the recording, from performances in three different venues, is almost freakishly lifelike.”
Dallas Morning News
Wagner, Britten, Mozart, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
“McCreesh was a joy to watch, coaxing a dancing quality from the music at every opportunity, floating in place on the first movement and turning the minuet into a foot-stomping mazurka… this Mozart performance bore the earmarks of the kind of fresh, enthusiastic perspective that evangelists for the early often bring to their interpretations."
Symphonies 1-4, 6-9
Serenades 1 & 2
Interludes from Peter Grimes
Cello Concerto in B minor
Cello Concerto in E minor
Seven last words from the Cross
Das Knaben Wunderhorn song cycle
Piano Concertos 1 & 2
Ballet music from Idomeneo
Symphony No. 1 (‘Classical’)
Overture in the Italian style
Cello Concerto in A minor
Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major
Four last Songs
Concerto in E-flat major (‘Dumbarton oaks’)
Romeo and Juliet
Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis