Robin Blaze

Countertenor

"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

"There was counter-tenor magic from Robin Blaze"

The Times

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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 has worked 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 Purcell’s The Fairy Queen with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston and at the Tanglewood Festival, Purcell Odes at the Berlioz Festival with The King’s Consort, Handel’s Messiah with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with the Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra, performances of Bach Cantatas and Pergolesi’s Salve Regina with Florilegium at Wigmore Hall, a recital with world-renowned lutenist Elizabeth Kenny at Carnegie Hall, and Robin also continues his collaboration with the BCJ with concerts in Japan.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

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, bachtrack.com

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

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

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, TribLive.com

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, theartsdesk.com

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.

markronan.com

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

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, classicalsource.com

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

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

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

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, bachtrack.com

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, Toronto.com

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

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.

Bachtrack

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. 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

Bach Cantatas Vol. 47, Bach Collegium Japan/Suzuki

January 2011

...in 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

Ades

The Lover in Winter

Bach

Christmas Oratorio
Cantatas (All)
Magnificat
St Matthew Passion
St John Passion

Castello

Exultate Deo

Grandi

Amo Christum
Ave Maris Stella

Handel

Messiah
Saul

Marini

Jesu, Dulcis Memoria

Monteverdi

Iam Moriar

Rigatti

Cum Invocarem

Rovetta

Salve Regina

Robin Blaze Opera

Britten

A Midsummer Nights Dream (Oberon)

Handel

Jeptha (Hamor)
Ottone
Rodelinda (Bertarido)
Teseo (Arcane)
Semelen (Athamus)
Theodora (Diddymus)
Xerxes (Asrsmenes)

Monteverdi

Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria (Umana fragilitá)

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