Paul McCreesh

Conductor

"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."

Star Tribune

"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"

The Guardian

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Paul McCreesh is renowned for the energy and passion of his music-making, and an interpretative insight combining ‘musicological inquisitiveness and artistic creativity’ (Gramophone). He gives performances ‘benefitting from years of living with and thinking about a work, constantly evolving his approach to it’ (Opera).

First established as the founder and artistic director of the Gabrieli Consort & Players, he now guest-conducts some of the world’s finest orchestras, including the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Bergen Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Sydney Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Montreal Symphony, New Japan Philharmonic and Verbier Festival Orchestra. He is a former Principal Conductor and Artistic Director at the Gulbenkian Orchestra, Lisbon and served for six seasons as Artistic Director of the International Festival Wratislava Cantans in Wrocław, Poland.

McCreesh is passionate in his determination to broaden and democratise access to the arts, especially amongst young people, and is actively involved in developing new educational initiatives wherever he works. In the UK, he leads Gabrieli’s ever-expanding ROAR project for young singers, many from challenging areas. He is renowned for his ambition in expanding opportunities in musical education for all.

Few conductors rival McCreesh in their breadth of repertoire interests. He is as likely to be found conducting Purcell’s theatre works as Elgar’s symphonies or an a cappella part-song. He is particularly known for his performances of major choral works, especially Britten’s War Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Verdi’s Requiem, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius and Haydn’s The Creation and The Seasons. His thirty-year recording career embraces both pioneering recordings of rarely-heard repertoire and well-known masterpieces, and includes numerous award-winning, benchmark discs; he is widely regarded as one of today’s most influential recording artists.

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A Venetian Coronation, Gabrieli Consort, London Festival of Baroque Music,

St John’s Smith Square (May 2022)

This is familiar terrain for these exceptional musicians, who perform it often and have recorded it twice. They’re taking it to Manchester (12 July) and York (13 July). Go and be transported.

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer****

Bach Easter Oratorio and more, Gabrieli Consort & Players

Wigmore Hall (April 2022)

McCreesh and his musicians performed it wonderfully well. Using just four singers and 19 players resulted in crystal-clear counterpoint, its sheer complexity adding to the elan of the opening sinfonia and chorus.

Tim Ashley, The Guardian****

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.

The Times

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.

Opera Magazine​​

“…a blissful marriage of musicological inquisitiveness and artistic creativity”

David Vickers, Gramophone

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*****​

Filharmonia Poznanska, Haydn London Symphony & Beethoven C Major Mass

(January 2020)

The entire audience was concentrated on McCreesh. Not without reason, as with his entire being he expressed all the musical nuances intended by the composer

Daria Zadrożniak, Ruch Muzyczny

​ 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

(May 2019)

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

(April 2019)

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

(December 2018)

… 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

Repertoire Selection

BERLIOZ

Nuits d'été
Roman Carnival Overture
Symphonie fantastique

BEETHOVEN

Symphonies 1-4, 6-9
Violin concerto in D major

BRAHMS

Serenades 1 & 2 
Symphonies 2 & 4

BRITTEN

Interludes from Peter Grimes
Les illuminations
Nocturne
Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings
Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge

COPLAND

Appalachian Spring
Clarinet Concerto

DVORAK

Cello Concerto in B minor
Piano Concerto in G minor
Symphonies 6-9

ELGAR

Cello Concerto in E minor
Cockaigne Overture
Serenade for strings (Introduction and Allegro)
Symphonies 1 & 2 

HAYDN

Seven last words from the Cross

MAHLER

Das Knaben Wunderhorn song cycle
Kindertotenlieder song cycle
Rückert-Lieder

MENDELSSOHN

Piano Concertos 1 & 2
Symphonies 1-11
Violin Concerto in E minor

MOZART

Ballet music from Idomeneo
Serenades

NIELSON

Clarinet Concerto

PROKOFIEV

Symphony No. 1 (‘Classical’)
Violin Concertos 1 & 2

SCHOENBERG

Verklarte nacht

SCHUBERT

Overture in the Italian style
Rosamunde
Symphonies 1-7

SCHUMANN

Cello Concerto in A minor
Symphonies 1,2 & 4

SHOSTAKOVICH

Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major

SIBELIUS

Lemminkäinen Legends
Valse Triste

STRAUSS

Four last Songs
Horn Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major
Metamorphosen

STRAVINSKY

Concerto in E-flat major (‘Dumbarton oaks’)

TCHAIKOVSKY

Romeo and Juliet
Serenade for Strings in C major
Suites 3 & 4
Variations on a Rococco Theme

VAUGHAN WILLIAMS

Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
Oboe Concerto in A minor

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