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Robin Blaze


  • There was counter-tenor magic from Robin Blaze
    The Times
  • Blaze is an extraordinary interpreter…I don't think I've ever heard such a seductive, limpid beauty of tone that has so much emotion behind it
    BBC Radio 3 CD Review
  • There’s a winning artless quality in Blaze’s singing, which is very welcome in a field of music-making that can often seem a bit precious
    The Telegraph
  • Robin Blaze is now established in the front rank of interpreters of Purcell, Bach and Handel, and his career has taken him to concert halls and festivals in Europe, North and South America, Japan and Australia.  His opera engagements have included Athamas Semele at Covent Garden; Didymus Theodora for Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Arsamenes Xerxes, Oberon A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamor Jephtha for English National Opera; and Bertarido Rodelinda at the Göttingen Handel Festival. 

    He works with many distinguished conductors in the early music field: Harry Christophers, Emmanuelle Haïm, Philippe Herreweghe, Christopher Hogwood, Ton Koopman, Paul Goodwin, Gustav Leonhardt, Robert King, Nicholas Kraemer, Sir Charles Mackerras, Trevor Pinnock and Sir John Eliot Gardiner. His work with Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan has been particularly praised by critics: the two latest CD releases, Bach’s B Minor Mass and the three solo countertenor cantatas, have been described as “heart-stopping” in Gramophone.

    Highlights this season include Umana fragilitá Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria for The Grange Festival, performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and with the Orquesta Sinfonica de Galicia in Spain, Purcell’s The Fairy Queen with the Handel & Haydn Society as part of the Tanglewood Festival, a European tour of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Masaaki Suzuki, performances of Bach Cantatas with the Nederlandse Bach Vereniging, duo recitals with world-renowned lutenist Elizabeth Kenny as part of the Ryedale, Mayfield and Canterbury Festivals and at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building in Oxford, and Robin also continues his collaboration with the BCJ with concerts in Japan.

    • Purcell Songs Realised by Britten
      Champs Hill CHRCD106 (June 2016)

      ‘Sweeter than Roses’, another of Britten’s more interventionist settings, is lovingly treated by countertenor Robin Blaze.
      Richard Fairman, Gramophone
    • Bach Secular Cantatas
      Bach Collegium Japan, Bach Complete Works Volume 6 / BIS (May 2016)

      Robin Blaze produces a gloriously bell-like radiance…One cannot find but solace and satisfaction in the assuaging dialogues of Carolyn Sampson and Robin Blaze.
      Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone
    • Bach Magnificat & Bekennen will ich seinen Namen
      Bach Collegium Japan, Barbican, London (April 2016)

      Bekennen will ich seinen Namen, a single, emollient aria beautifully delivered here by countertenor Robin Blaze alongside the duetting violins of Ryo Terakado and Yukie Yamaguchi, with Suzuki on chamber organ.
      Erica Jeal, The Guardian
      For the consoling “Bekennen will ich seinen Namen”, all that survives of cantata BWV200, mellifluous countertenor Robin Blaze sang to an accompaniment of two violins and continuo, but it proved enough to fill the hall. How well the risk paid off.
      Richard Fairman, Financial Times
      I was transported by the loveliness of the flute solo and captured by the debonair way in which countertenor Robin Blaze delighted us with how “the Lord hath filled the hungry with good things”... Blaze showed timbre that was naturally warm and expressive.
      David Karlin,
      In the cantata “Bekennn will ich”, Robin Blaze’s sweetly assertive falsetto benefited from the even further miniaturised orchestra: two violins, cello and Suzuki at the chamber organ.
      Nick Kimberley, Evening Standard
      The duetting of countertenor Robin Blaze and tenor Colin Balzer in the “Et Misericordia” of theMagnificat was a delight.
      Sebastian Scotney, The Arts Desk
      The ‘Agnus dei’, transcribed from Cantata ‘Lobet Gott in Seinen reichen’ BWV 11 in G minor, was excellently sung/phrased by countertenor Robin Blaze who achieved an impressive dialogue with the conductor.
      Geoff Diggines, Seen and Heard International
    • Handel Messiah, Pittsburgh Symphony
      Heinz Hall (December 2015)

      Counter-tenor Robin Blaze made a superb symphony debut in “Messiah.” His voice is both agile and very well centered and made his arias, such as “But, who may abide” and “He was despised,” high points of the evening. He was also a superb partner with Appleby in the duet “Death, where is thy sting?
      Mark Kanny,
    • Bach St John Passion
      Brecon Baroque Festival, Brecon Cathedral (October 2015)

      Only the soprano, Alison Hill, and alto, Robin Blaze, were confined to their arias: both so good that one waited eagerly for their reappearances, strictly rationed by Bach.
      Stephen Walsh,
    • Handel Orlando (Medoro)
      Wales Millennium Centre (September 2015)

      Robin Blaze’s Medoro – the pure tone of his countertenor an excellent foil for Zazzo – is similarly poised.
      Rian Evans, The Guardian
      The effortless Robin Blaze made much of the character of Medoro.
      Rebecca Franks, The Times
      Individually they were all first-rate:...Fflur Wyn and Rebecca Evans the elegantly twittering and lamenting ladies, Robin Blaze their second-string suitor.
      Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph
      ...the finely sung Medoro of counter-tenor Robin Blaze.
    • Duo Recital with Elizabeth Kenny (lute)
      Totnes Early Music Society, Dartington Hall (June 2015)

      Counter-tenor Robin Blaze was on splendid form, with a voice absolutely tailor-made for music of this period .There was no operatic gesturing, even though virtuosity was there when needed, but simply singing of unfettered sincerity, where the sense of every word and sometimes every syllable was so carefully considered, and conveyed so faithfully.
      Philip R Buttall, Seen and Heard International
    • Handel Semele (Athamas)
      London Handel Festival/Cummings, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London (March 2015)

      Robin Blaze’s flute of a countertenor added grace as Semele’s thwarted fiancé.
      Geoff Brown, The Times
      No such deficiency attended Robin Blaze’s Athamas, whose ever-fresh countertenor was well suited to the innocence of this character.
      Curtis Rogers, classicalsource.con
    • Bach Magnificat, Montreal Symphony Orchestra
      Maison Symphonique de Montréal (December 2014)

      Counter-tenor Robin Blaze combined boyish sound with fine phrasing.
      Arthur Kaptainis, Montreal Gazette
    • Handel Jephtha (Hamor), The Sixteen/Christophers
      CORO (COR16121) (October 2014)

      Robin Blaze performs Hamor’s ‘Dull delay, in piercing anguish’ with subtle finesse and sensitivity for words.
      David Vickers, Gramophone
      Hamor (Robin Blaze) is pure in both voice and devotion.
      Stephen Pritchard, The Guardian
      …his soloists are uniformly good, especially…the nicely contrasted Susan Bickley and Robin Blaze as the tragic Storgè and mellifluous Hamor.
      Richard Fairman, Financial Times
    • Buxtehude Membra Jesu nostri, Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford; Phantasm/Daniel Hyde
      Opus Arte OACD9023D (September 2014)

      Indeed, the singing throughout is well-nigh faultless, with John Mark Ainsley, Robin Blaze and Giles Underwood clearly enunciating the Latin texts while moderating their tone to suit the sonority not just of the choir but the small instrumental ensemble and, where featured, Phantasm’s viols.
      Robert Levett, International Record Review
    • Handel Deborah (Barak), London Handel Festival / Cummings
      St George’s, Hanover Square, London (April 2014)

      The performance was exceptional… Robin Blaze was the strikingly lyrical Barak.
      Tim Ashley, The Guardian
      Most impressive were the counter-tenors: Robin Blaze eloquent as the sympathetic Barak.
      Barry Millington, Evening Standard
      It was a stroke of genius on Handel’s part to make Barak a countertenor as well as Sisera, raising the dramatic stakes in their altercations in Part Two. Robin Blaze ably drew out Barak’s character as a modest and diffident leader of the Israelites, whilst in the opening scene audibly pondering the destiny disclosed to him by Deborah.
      Curtis Rogers,
    • Vivaldi Stabat Mater, The King’s Consort
      Hyperion CDA 66799 (April 2014)

      I think his voice is utterly beautiful and without pretence and fits with perfect mellifluousness with the strings. He finds so much effect in his tone colour and shape of the vowels. [...] With devotional music like this there needs to be a truly straightforward sentiment with it, which I sense all the way through Robin Blaze's performance, and why I love it… Robin Blaze's guileless and beautiful performance comes very close to perfection.
      Caroline Gill, Radio 3’s Building a Library
    • Handel Jephtha (Hamor), The Sixteen/Christophers
      Barbican, London (January 2014)

      Robin Blaze was [Iphis’s] amorous Hamor: their rapturous first-act duet lingered in the memory all evening – a reminder that it is the emotional lives of this young couple that are the ultimate casualty of Jephtha's catastrophic folly.
      Tim Ashley, The Guardian
      Robin Blaze's account of Hamor's first aria, Dull delay, in piercing anguish was surprisingly characterful and full of an appealing and gentle ardour which characterised his whole performance. Blaze's and Bevan's duet in Act 1 was full of charm with the two voices moving finely in concert, complemented by rhythmic interest in the strings. Hamor's aria at the beginning of Act 2, Up the dreadful steep ascending, after he has recounted the outcome of the battle, was sung by Blaze with great technical facility, but he was also very vivid, making the aria seem dramatically valid rather than holding things up. This was also true of On me let blind mistaken zeal, Hamor's reaction to the results of Jephtha's vow, and which Blaze made you feel that the piece really mattered.
      Robert Hugill,
    • Bach Christmas Music, The King’s Consort
      Wigmore Hall (December 2013)

      Kuhnau’s inventive sacred concerto “O Heilige Zeit” brought sensuous solos from Robin Blaze.
      Hannah Nepil, Financial Times
    • Handel Jephtha (Hamor), The Sixteen/Christophers
      Bath Abbey (November 2013)

      Countertenor Robin Blaze as her lover Hamor offered sterling support.
      Rian Evans, The Guardian
      Robin Blaze, Iphis’ suitor Hamor, gave us a remarkably cheerful lively characterisation, in fine clear voice.
      Peter Lloyd Williams, The Bath Chronicle
    • Bach Cantatas Vol. 55, Bach Collegium Japan/Suzuki
      BIS-2031 | SACD (October 2013)

      The glow which suffuses oboe, violin, continuo and Robin Blaze’s alto in the first aria in BWV 69 is captivating.
      BBC Music Magazine
      Its fastidiously prepared arias also mark the remarkable contributions of two important soloists throughout the years, Robin Blaze and Peter Kooij... and even more in the jazz-swung alto gavotte, ‘Kommt, ihr angefochten’, one of Bach’s most galant vocal creations from his later years and suitably shaded by Blaze.
      Jonathan Freeman-Atwood, Gramophone
    • Handel Theodora (Didymus), Brecon Baroque Festival
      Brecon Cathedral, Powys (October 2013)

      Most affecting were [Theodora’s] duets with the elegantly-toned Robin Blaze singing the role of Didymus, the soldier and fellow-Christian who loves Theodora and ultimately chooses to die with her. Their final contemplation of the 'Streams of Heaven' was a blissful union.
      Rian Evans, The Guardian
    • Bach Cantata (Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust), Florilegium
      Wigmore Hall (October 2013)

      Blaze’s vocal phrases were impassioned but controlled, the lines graceful and flowing, the text imbued with meaning without recourse to melodrama.
      Claire Seymour, Opera Today
    • Bach Cantatas Vol. 53, Bach Collegium Japan/Suzuki
      BIS-1991 | SACD (August 2013)

      ...continued in an effervescent duet (‘Herr, du siehst statt gutter Werke’) in which Hana Blažíková and Robin Blaze delectably encircle the returning winds in a chamber quartet performance of remarkable presence and poise.
      Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone
      [Robin Blaze] is in fine voice.
      BBC Music Magazine
    • Purcell Dido and Aeneas (Sorceress), International Wimbledon Music Festival,
      St John The Baptist Church, Wimbledon (November 2012)

      Lastly Robin Blaze: it is hard to find enough superlatives to describe this voice, but he had the necessary evil in his character and his voice was nonetheless beautiful. In the aria “Our next motion”, the top Gs were the best I have ever heard and the word-painting on “bleeds” was superb. Countertenors are often too quiet or overpowering, but none of this with Robin Blaze; he must be one of the leading countertenors of the time.
      Billie Hylton,
    • BBC Radio 3 Record Review “Building a Library”,
      Edition on the Matthew Passion (Broadcast on 7 April 2012)

      That aria, Erbarme Dich has been championed by many countertenors, and on the 1999 Bach Collegium Japan recording, it’s sung with humility and carefully judged timbral control by Robin Blaze. I apologise to commuters on the 08.47 from Didcott to Paddington on the 20th March: the tears were because I was listening to this... [plays aria]...The kaleidoscope of colours that Blaze brings to the vocal line is thoroughly beguiling.
      Jeremy Summerly
    • Bach Cantatas Vol. 50, Bach Collegium Japan/Suzuki,
      BIS-SACD1941 (March 2012)

      countertenor Robin Blaze is on particularly fine form, effortlessly entwined with Gerd Türk above a fruity bassoon in BWV 149, and stealing hearts in BWV 174
      Paul Riley, BBC Music Magazine (5 star review)
      Robin Blaze brings his usual elegance and instinctive phrasing to the long lines of the opening aria of the same cantata [BWV174], warming the ends of the sustained notes with some judicious vibrato and offering plenty of projection without any hardening of tone
      Simon Heighes, International Record Review
    • Handel Messiah, Tafelmusik/Ivars Taurins, Koerner Hall Toronto
      (December 2011)

      The soloists that Tafelmusik chose for the occasion were, to say the least, an impressive group. All four brought strengths to the performance, including clear diction, solid technique and an admirable sense of period style…English countertenor Robin Blaze took to Handel’s roulades very much in stride, with his supple and agile voice. In But Who May Abide and other solos he sang with an innocent, cherub-like quality that was quite charming
      Colin Eatock, The Globe and Mail
      Further adding to the Messianic magic was a power quartet of soloists: soprano Karina Gauvin, countertenor Robin Blaze, tenor Rufus Müller and baritone Brett Polegato. They each, in their own way, sang as if their lives — and souls — depended on every note and word being true
      John Terauds,
    • Handel Messiah, Minnesota Orchestra/Nicholas Kraemer
      Orchestra Hall Minneapolis (December 2011)

      Robin Blaze was a standout, especially on the stark and sorrowful ‘He was despised’
      Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press
    • Bach Cantatas Vol. 48, Bach Collegium Japan/Suzuki,
      BIS-SACD1881 (July 2011)

      Blaze’s vocal style and approach to Bach have matured considerably. His poised and beautifully wrought performance of this aria [...] is simply enchanting…Blaze’s lilting aria [...] is very attractive…Blaze’s flexibility allows him to overcome Bach’s florid coloratura in his aria with aplomb
      Christopher Price, International Record
    • German Sacred Music, Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music,
      St John’s, Smith Square, London May 2011

      Earnest fugues and sober Protestant chorales are what we expect from German composers, but as the evening concert at St John's Smith Square reminded us, a warm Italian breeze was blowing northwards at this time. There were quite a few operatic moments in this programme of German sacred music, alongside some delicious dance rhythms and violin duets. All this was captured with unforced, easy energy by counter-tenor Robin Blaze… a winningly unfussy singer.
      Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph
      a challenging, absorbing and uplifting recital... The concert concluded with one man and a lute, in Krieger's plaintive, eloquently despairing reflection on solitude An die Einsamkeit rendered by Robin Blaze with clear, plaintive, eloquent despair.
    • Hong Kong City Hall - Bach Collegium Japan
      Bach Cantatas BWV 72, 159, 127, 147

      Suzuki had a commanding group of vocal soloists; the fact that they’ve collaborated before ensured familiarity with both the music and Suzuki’s working style. Stepping forward from the chorus for solo spots, Hana Blazikova (soprano), Robin Blaze (countertenor), Gerd Turk (tenor) and bass Peter Kooij sang to crystalline effect, with never a hint of ego obscuring the music', 'the selection of cantatas gave the countertenor most of the limelight. Blaze responded superbly with a musicality that was all the more powerful for its restraint: Ich folge dir nach from Sehet, wir gehen hinauf (BWV159) was truly affecting
      Sam Olluver , South China Morning Post
    • Bach Cantatas Vol. 47, Bach Collegium Japan/Suzuki
      January 2011 BWV27, such is the ringing paradise of the fragrant oboe d’amore and obbligato harpsichord that Robin Blaze’s sprightly and generous singing leaves us relishing the prospect of our passing, as much as embracing ‘the valuable treasure’ of Christ’s imminent arrival.
      Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone Vocal Reviews
      Blaze is totally at ease duetting with oboe da caccia in BWV27.
      George Pratt, BBC Music Magazine Choral&Song Choice
      ...the movement is handled with exceptional sensitivity...They [Blaze, Balzikova and Mizukoshi] bring to their asides a deeply lyrical sincerity...they hover powerfully between recitative and almost aria.
      Simon Heighes, International Record Review
    • Pergolesi Stabat Mater, Salve Regina, Florilegium
      (Channel Classics 29810 July 2010)

      Beauty and technical ease combine in a performance that captures Pergolesi’s subdued reverence. Manahan Thomas’ and Blaze’s voices are a brilliant match. ‘Qui est homo’ sums it up: perfect vocal blending, breathtaking control and a delivery that simulates tearful sorrow.
      Classic fM
      Elin Manahan Thomas, Robin Blaze and Florilegium phrase it beautifully, bringing just the right amount of weight to tension and release. In the fourth section, “Quae morebat”, the pringly rhythm in the strings is skillfully picked up and developed by Blaze.. Excellent performances all round.
      Classic fM
      countertenor Robin Blaze never has sounded better, his timbre warmly resonant, his technique fluid and effortless, his intelligence and thoughtful interpretive manner on impressive display
      Classics Today
      ...a clean but characterful countertenor (...) intimacy with delicacy (...) Blaze takes a resolutely unsentimental approach – poised, intense and often quite husky.
      International Record Review
      (...) Both singers are intensely sensitive(...) Blaze displays his wide and even vocal range in the Salve Regina, particularly effective in the lowest register, sustaining a full-toned falsetto without any hint of gear-change to bass
      BBC Music Magazine
  • Robin Blaze Concert

    • The Lover in Winter
    • Christmas Oratorio
    • Cantatas (All)
    • Magnificat
    • St Matthew Passion
    • St John Passion
    • Exultate Deo
    • Amo Christum
    • Ave Maris Stella
    • Messiah
    • Saul
    • Jesu, Dulcis Memoria
    • Iam Moriar
    • Cum Invocarem
    • Salve Regina

    Robin Blaze Opera

    • A Midsummer Nights Dream (Oberon)
    • Jeptha (Hamor)
    • Ottone
    • Rodelinda (Bertarido)
    • Teseo (Arcane)
    • Semelen (Athamus)
    • Theodora (Diddymus)
    • Xerxes (Asrsmenes)
  • Photos

    • photographer credit: Dorothea Heise
      photographer credit: Dorothea Heise
    • photographer credit: Dorothea Heise
      photographer credit: Dorothea Heise
    • photographer credit: Dorothea Heise
      photographer credit: Dorothea Heise
    • photographer credit: Dorothea Heise
      photographer credit: Dorothea Heise
    • photographer credit: Dorothea Heise
      photographer credit: Dorothea Heise