Rayfield Allied Advent Calendar 2021

30 November 2021

Welcome to the Rayfield Allied Advent Calendar 2021!

This year we have seen many wonderful recordings released by Rayfield Allied artists. Join us as we celebrate some of the highlights in our advent calendar, showcasing one recording per day in the run-up to Christmas

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Prayers EP with Amjad Ali Khan and Joe Walsh

Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and sons Ayaan and Amaan Ali Bangash released EP ‘Prayers’ in June this year on Universal Music India, partnering with Eagles rock guitar legend Joe Walsh. Described by Amjad Ali Khan as “my first collaboration with the rock and roll world”, the record unites Indian and western traditions in three spiritual-themed songs, recorded and released in aid of organisations that support healthcare workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It has been such a pleasure and an honor to work on this album with my dear friend, the legendary Joe Walsh. Across cultures, as artists, we can understand and appreciate each other and thereby trying to heal this divided world, and what better way is there to achieve this ideal than through the joy and spiritual nourishment that music brings.” – Amjad Ali Khan

Listen Hope (We Shall Overcome) on Spotify: here

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Songs for New Life and Love with Ruby Hughes and Joseph Middleton (piano)

British soprano Ruby Hughes has devised a song recital, together with her regular Lieder partner Joseph Middleton. The process began in 2018 when the two gave the world première of Helen Grime’s Bright Travellers, a set of five poems charting the interior and exterior worlds of pregnancy and motherhood. Ruby Hughes soon set about planning a programme that would converge with Grime’s music and the themes of new life and of love in all its aspects. The recital is bookended by two song cycles by Gustav Mahler which explore love, grief, loss, and reconciliation through quite different lenses. Completing the programme is Charles Ives – described by Ruby Hughes as Mahler’s ‘musical kindred spirit’ – with a selection of love songs, prayers, and lullabies. Released on BIS, September 2021

Gramophone Magazine Editor’s choice 2021, Presto Music Editor’s Choice Sep 2021 & top 100 recordings of 2021

“Hughes commands attention throughout – there’s no ‘clever’ underlining, no irrelevant tonal refulgence or prima donna posturing. Intense concentration on text and emotional nuance replace them, and dovetail seamlessly with Joseph Middleton’s similarly insightful piano playing.” BBC Music Magazine, Nov 2021

Listen to an extract here: https://open.spotify.com/track...

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Bruch, Vaughan Williams, Barber with Sonoko Miriam Welde

BBC Music Magazine ‘Rising Star’ and Gramophone Magazine’s ‘One to Watch’, Norwegian violinist Sonoko Miriam Welde released her debut album in November 2021. Featuring concertos by Bruch and Barber, and Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending, the disc was recorded with frequent collaborators Tabita Berglund and Joshua Weilerstein, and compatriots at LAWO Classics and the Oslo Philharmonic.

"If there is a better recording of Bruch's G minor concerto, I do not know it... I was amazed from the very first note. Sonoko Miriam Welde gives a fantastic interpretation...The two outer movements are full of energy and the middle one speaks elegantly of real feeling. All tempi are fast, but without putting rhythmic precision from the soloist or orchestra at stake. Such a performance played live in the concert hall, would have the audience up in standing ovations and jubilant excitement."
Martin Anderson, Klassiskmusikk.com

Listen The Lark Ascending here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

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Canteloube: Chants d'Auvergne with Carolyn Sampson, Tapiola Sinfonietta, and Pascal Rophé

As a budding composer in Paris in the 1900s, Canteloube was unable to interest himself in the various musical cliques and currents. Instead, he looked for inspiration in Auvergne in central France, and between 1923 and 1954 he published a total of thirty Chants d’Auvergne, arranged, harmonized, and sumptuously orchestrated. The result is idealized folk music: Canteloube largely respects the melodic line of the originals, but adds instrumental introductions, interludes, and postludes, and gives an important role to the woodwind section. For the present disc, Carolyn Sampson and Pascal Rophé have selected 25 of the songs – ranging from love songs and lullabies to working songs and laments. They perform them together with Tapiola Sinfonietta, bringing sparkle to Canteloube's luxurious scores halfway between the impressionism of Debussy and the bucolic lyricism of d'Indy. Released on BIS, Oct 2021

“…few can match Sampson’s overall sense of exuberant joy in these wonderful songs...The Tapiola Sinfonietta under Pascal Rophé are equally spirited, with shimmering strings and plenty of woodwind...” — BBC Music Magazine, December 2021

Clip Canteloube – Pastourelle, No.1 (https://www.rayfieldallied.com/media/carolyn-sampson-sings-pastourelle-from-chants-dauvergne-canteloube

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Ina Boyle: Songs with Ben McAteer

Ben joins two other Irish singers for this recording taken at Wigmore Hall, completed in less than five hours, and celebrating the lesser-known Irish composer, Ina Boyle.

“The real stand-outs, though, are the two lullabies (‘Sleep Song’ and ‘A Mountain Woman Asks for Quiet That Her Child May Sleep’) and the dialogue ‘Have You Heard News of My Boy Jack?’, sung with moving eloquence by Murrihy and McAteer.” Presto Music

Released August 2021 on Delphian Records – listen to the album on Spotify here.

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Paderewski: Manru with Ewa Tracz

Ewa Tracz sings the role of Ulana in Marek Weiss’s production of Paderewski’s Manru, conducted by Grzegorz Nowak. In addition to this production, filmed live at Polish National Opera in January 2019, Ewa has also sung the role at the National Opera of Ukraine, Lviv Opera, and for her US debut at the Copernicus Center, Chicago.

“In this modern-dress production, all the roles are performed with conviction and the tensions inherent in the piece are painfully exposed. Ewa Tracz realises Ulana’s mix of strength and vulnerability…” George Hall, BBC Music Magazine *****

DVD released August 2021 by The Fryderyk Chopin Institute – watch Ewa sing Ulana’s final aria, 'Gdzie jestes?', on the Rayfield Allied website here.

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Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part & Narrow Sea with Percussion

So Percussion’s close and fruitful collaboration with composer Caroline Shaw resulted in two outstanding albums released on Nonesuch Records this year. In March, the Grammy-nominated Narrow Sea, an “exquisite disc” of settings of 19th-century Sacred Harp texts was released, with “superlative collaboration” of So and Shaw with Dawn Upshaw and Gil Kalish. This was followed by Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part in June, a “glorious, genre-defying” disc of ideas that arose while recording Narrow Sea that were developed and recorded over three days of studio time. With each track a duet between Shaw and a member of So Percussion, inspiration came from wide-ranging sources such as James Joyce, the Sacred Harp hymnal, and ABBA.

“Imaginative and expressive works that glide effortlessly between genres... [the] exquisite disc showcases Shaw’s 2017 Narrow Sea, recorded by its outstanding original performers: Sō Percussion, soprano Dawn Upshaw and pianist Gilbert Kalish.” - BBC Music Magazine - 'The best classical albums released in 2021 so far'

Listen to Narrow Sea, Pt.1 here: https://open.spotify.com/track/4flnchHcYfFtZMWuikP7zk?si=96a14f289fe64431

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Loewe: The Other Erlking with Nicholas Mogg

Nicholas’s debut album with pianist Jâms Coleman, delving into the versatility of Loewe and bringing to light some of his less well-known songs and ballads.

Released December 2021 on Champs Hill Records – listen to the album on Spotify here.

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Prismatic with Stuart MacRae

This intimate and atmospheric album was composed, self-performed and self-produced by Stuart MacRae was released on Bandcamp in June 2021. MacRae plays flutes, harmonium and electronics.

“Haunting, atmospheric, and somewhat otherworldly” Planet Hugill

Listen to an extract here: https://stuartmacrae.bandcamp.com/track/prismatic-i

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Isolation Songbook with Helen Charlston

A set of 15 newly commissioned songs and duets written during lockdown, curated by Helen, as a musical response to the changing world in which we now find ourselves. The composers and poets found inspiration in a huge variety of places: from opening their eyes to their local nature on daily walks to disputes over baking and dreaming of a new normal to returning to nonsense poetry they used to read as a child.

“…a recital that’s hard to resist, at once fresh and profoundly familiar… Also striking is Stephen Bick’s Milton setting ‘On his Blindness’, its elegiac, Tallis-infused lyricism a showcase for the stern beauty of Charlston’s mezzo and her legato phrasing.” Gramophone

Released March 2021 on Delphian Records – listen to the album on Spotify here.

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Handel: The Choice of Hercules & Dettingen Te Deum with Laurence Cummings & Fflur Wyn

This recording is taken from the 2018 Gottingen Handel Festival, conducted by Laurence and featuring Fflur in the role of Pleasure.

“Pleasure was sensuously sung by Fflur Wyn, bringing to bear a pretty but clear and carrying soprano voice, especially attractive in “Turn thee, youth”.”


Released September 2021 on Accent – listen to Come, blooming boy on Spotify here.

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Antiarkie with Pierre-André Valade

Pierre-André Valade conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Ryan Latimer’s first portrait album, released on NMC Recordings as part of their ‘Debut Disc’ series in September 2021. The title track Antiarkie is a tribute and commentary on the characterful music of cartoons with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, equipping a clattering range of percussion to achieve the effect of 'wild and irregular chaos'.

“In Antiarkie, an ode from 2016 to the cartoon soundtracks that served Latimer’s early introductions to instrumental music, the BBC Symphony Orchestra clatters, sparkles and guffaws” Michael Beek, BBC Music Magazine

Link: https://open.spotify.com/track/3yccJc6wZZPb3vVQkLqpKK?si=568909cb3d9f4d3b

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The Path of Life with Ilker Arcayürek and Simon Lepper (piano)

The Path of Life’ is a setting of Schubert songs starting from the joyful sides of life with up and downs and ending in a slower and more profound tone. An unusual program performed by young Austrian-Turkish tenor Ilker Arcayürek, one of the most promising Liedersingers of his generation.

Nominated for OPUS KLASSIK 2021 in two categories - "Solistic vocals of the year - song" & "Young artist of the year"

“Tenor and pianist work seamlessly throughout to produce performances that are wonderfully atmospheric and communicate music and text instinctively and powerfully.” - Gramophone, Aug 2021

Apr 2021, Prospero Classical

Listen Schubert – Der Wanderer here: Der Wanderer, D.489 - YouTube

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'The Well-Tempered Consort - II' with Phantasm on Linn Records

Listen here The Well-Tempered Clavier Book 2: Prelude No. 9 in E Major, BWV 878

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Album Für Die Frau: scenes from the Schumanns' Lieder with Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton (piano)

For the first four years of their marriage, Robert and Clara Schumann kept a joint diary, a project which Robert described as 'a record of our wishes and our hopes, and the means whereby we may convey to one another any requests we may have to make, for which words may not suffice...' In the imaginative recital Album Für Die Frau, Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton combine songs by both composers into something similar – the depiction of a relationship seen through the eyes of both parties. Using the eight songs from Robert's song cycle Frauenliebe und –Leben to poems by Adalbert von Chamisso as the framework, they add songs as well as some piano solos in order to create a fuller and more complex picture. The result seems to suggest that the experiences of our 'Frau' are richer than Chamisso and Robert Schumann imagined: while love, marriage and motherhood dominated much of Clara Schumann's life, Robert's death in 1856 signaled the start of a four-decade widowhood during which she resumed her stellar career as a pianist.

“Amid formidable recorded competition, Sampson is close to the top of the Frauenliebe pantheon...” – Gramophone, June 2021

Released on BIS in Apr 2021.Listen to an extract on YouTube here:

6 Lieder, Op. 13 (Excerpts) : No. 6, Die stille Lotosblume - YouTube

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Bach: The Six Partitas with Mahan Esfahani

On the 28th May 2021, the latest disc in Mahan Esfahani's Bach cycle for Hyperion Records was released, this time of Bach’s Six Partitas published as Clavier-Übung I. The result received widespread acclaim, with critics lauding Esfahani’s interpretive flair, expressive freedom and meticulous scholarship. It marks the second disc in his Bach recording cycle for Hyperion, following the 2019 release of Bach's Toccatas, which was awarded four- and five-star reviews across major publications.

“Mr. Esfahani renders [Bach’s keyboard partitas] with super-charged technical flair and a point of view…The harpsichordist’s performance of the third partita goes from strength to strength: touchingly wistful in the Allemande, stately in the Sarabande and vibrant in the Burlesca.” Sarah Jepson, Wall Street Journal

Listen to an extract on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/VG93I15KYUY

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Fauré Songs vol. 4 with John Chest

BBC Music Magazine Oct 2021 – Choral & Song reviews: Fauré Songs vol. 4 with John Chest: “Signum’s ongoing series of the complete Fauré songs is an utter joy and this latest volume is a tremendously valuable addition…John Chest in L’horizon chimérique finds a fine balance between rich tone and subtlety, a fitting conclusion to Fauré’s vocal oeuvre” Jessica Duchen, recording **** performance ****

Listen to an extract on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRNleLurk-U

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Handel: Rodelinda with Joshua Ellicott

Joshua sings the role of Grimoaldo in The English Concert’s fiery version of Handel’s Rodelinda, conducted by Harry Bicket. You can read more in our news item here. The disc won BBC Music Magazine Recording of the Month in July and was also Gramophone Magazine Editor's Choice.

“Joshua Ellicott’s […] sensitively sung scene of remorse … Highly recommended.”

The Sunday Times (Album of the Week April 25)

Released May 2021 on Linn Records – listen to Io gia t'ami on Spotify here.

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'Und Es Ward Licht' with the Cuarteto Quiroga

This double CD album joining forces with the world-renowned violist Veronika Hagen to depict musically one of the most fascinating periods in music history: the birth and triumph of string quartet as genre.

"It is the Viennese Classical that seems to be the perfect fit for the Spanish Cuarteto Quiroga –not to mention the German violist Veronika Hagen in Mozart's String Quintet –. This double album proves it in abundance: the technically flawless playing, the ideal balance, the impeccable vocals, the pithy, expressive and therefore catchy, the brilliant and muscled, but also refined and subtle playing, which shows the four works from their best side. [...] It sounds just as refreshing, the play of light and dark just as phenomenally elaborated, the vibrato only as expressive curly brace and the beautiful dynamic discourse that proves itself by its subtle character. So much joy in the play, and so many ravishing details." Aart van der Wal in Opus Klassiek ****

Released September 2021 on Cobra Records – listen String Quintet in C major K.515 - 2. Andante on Spotify here.

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Taliesin’s Songbook with Elgan Llŷr Thomas

Taliesin’s Songbook, or Caneuon Taliesin, is an exploration of Welsh song over the last 100 years, from early 20th-century pieces by Morfydd Owen to contemporary works by composers including Gareth Glyn and Rhian Samuel. Elgan Llŷr Thomas sings William Mathias’s ‘Pan Oeddwn Fachgen’ and Huw Watkins’s ‘Eyes look into the well’ from Three Auden Songs, accompanied by Andrew Matthews-Owen, the curator of the collection.

“Wales has long been famed for its vibrant singing culture. This excellent disc of contemporary Welsh song, featuring a glittering roster of Welsh singers, affirms that this tradition is very much alive and kicking. […] Huw Watkins’s mesmerising ‘Eyes look into the well’, sung with haunting beauty by Elgan Llyr Thomas”

Kate Wakeling, BBC Music Magazine ****

Released July 2021 on Tŷ Cerdd – listen to Huw Watkins’s ‘Eyes look into the well’ on the Rayfield Allied website here.

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John Eccles: Semele with Helen Charlston, Aoife Miskelly & Richard Burkhard

The disc won numerous accolades, including BBC Music Magazine’s Recording of the Month (March), Opera’s Disc of the Month and Gramophone’s Editor's Choice (April), and is a finalist in Presto’s Recordings of the Year 2021.

“From her imperious opening entry to her rollicking final aria of triumph, her tone dripping with venomous glee, Helen Charlston does not miss a trick.”


“Aoife Miskelly is luxury casting in the small role of Ino”


‘Richard Burkhard captures Congreve’s sensual yet thoughtful Jupiter, texturing every word.’

BBC Music Magazine (Recording of the Month)

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The Polish Violin: Volume 2 with Jennifer Pike

The second instalment in Jennifer Pike’s odyssey into her cultural and musical heritage features works by Szymanowski, Poldowski and Bacewicz, and was released by Chandos Records in October 2021. It received compelling reviews from critics, continuing the success of the “ravishing” first disc from 2019, with particular praise given for Jennifer’s virtuosity, wide-ranging colours and fine-tuned partnership with pianist Petr Limonov.

Review: "Full of the personality, sensuality and security that characterised the earlier disc... Pike's tone is a rich caramel, with a good hit of salt to bring out the full effect of the complex flavours of Szymanowski's remarkably confident student sonata...This follow-up is just as ravishing as its predecessor" - David Threasher, Gramophone

Link: https://open.spotify.com/track/4jd2cpDoOw8JirdfnXJO85?si=7f5ae9cfb01f4521

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Bach: Ich habe genug. Cantatas BWV 32, 82 & 106 with Matthew Brook & Katie Bray

Matthew Brook takes centre stage in Cantata 82 singing the famed ‘Ich habe genug’ with the Dunedin Consort. This disc was BBC Music Magazine’s Choral & Song Choice in December 2021.

“The soloist is the bass-baritone Matthew Brook, a Dunedin stalwart, who brings a compelling honesty to music and words. …the grainier nature of Brook’s performance, with its moments of vocal vulnerability mixed up in the beauty of it all, has an immediacy that gets to the work’s essence.”

The Guardian*****

Released October 2021 on Linn Records – listen to an extract on our website here.

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Erik Chisholm: Songs with Mhairi Lawson & Michael Mofidian

Mhairi and Michael join with Nicky Spence and Iain Burnside for an album of songs inspired by Gaelic folk tunes of Chisholms’ native Scotland.

“Reflective prayers and laments are given a spring-water freshness by Lawson’.”


Released June 2021 on Delphian Records – listen to the album on Spotify here.

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Variations with Clare Hammond

Clare Hammond’s fifth release for BIS Records, entitled Variations, is an innovative and adventurous disc exploring variations for solo piano from the 20th and 21st century. The critically-acclaimed disc includes Harrison Birtwistle’s Variations from the Golden Mountain, which received its premiere at Wigmore Hall in 2014.

“In a relatively short time, Clare Hammond has established herself as a pianist of impressive abilities who avidly explores repertory of the past century, along with the music of her contemporaries.. this is a richly wide-ranging, deftly chosen programme, exhibiting intellectual curiosity and probity, played by a pianist of extraordinary gifts. Highly recommended.”
Patrick Rucker, Gramophone

Released in February 2021 on BIS Records – listen to Variations from the Golden Mountain on Spotify here.

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