Just over a month on from our latest Handel blockbuster, and we’re still trying to catch our breath, such has been the critical acclaim that greeted us upon our return to the UK. Since 2013 our annual operatic foray reveals masterpiece after masterpiece in Handel’s vast output, all-star casts (and voices of the future). But more than this, the orchestra prove their pedigree time and time again. This is indeed a golden age for The English Concert. But don’t take our word for it, take a look at our reviews.

‘First, the bad news: one will have to wait until April next year to hear The English Concert and conductor Harry Bicket bring another Handel opera to Carnegie Hall. And that is indeed unfortunate, because their Sunday performance of Rinaldo was so wonderful that the pain of its concluding was nearly as acute as the pleasure of its hearing’ – New York Classical Review

‘In fact, one can’t say enough about the splenors of The English Concert under Bicket. At every turn, it seemed, they brought more colors and virtuosity to the music than we have any right to expect, whether in grand solos or the most minor phrase. A few notables among them were Tom Foster on harpsichord (in a spectacular solo that Handel wrote for himself to perform), Tabea Debus on recorder, oboes Katharina Spreckelsen and Hannah McLaughlin, bassoonist Alberto Grazzi, violin leader Nadja Zwiener and violist Alfonso Leal del Ojo.’ – Broadway World

‘The audience clearly appreciated what it had just witnessed, giving the performers the type of reception more normally reserved for rock stars and Barenboim Ring Cycles.’ – MusicOMH

‘The other main character was the orchestra itself. The English Concert stands out from other period instrument groups for the lovely, light sheen of their sound, and their blend of instrumental timbres, an emulsification heard mostly in modern instrument ensembles. There is plenty of character in the playing, but it comes through a sense of sophisticated musicality, rather than just tone color…

They are also virtuosic, and this is a virtuosic score for everyone, singers and instrumentalists.’ – New York Classical Review

‘Now we sit reverentially in awe of the music, which includes some of Handel’s best. The English Concert and Harry Bicket, its artistic director, are as lively as any of the period bands. Bicket’s Handel sits satisfyingly midway between the delicate baroque playing of some and gutsy, driving rhythms at the opposite extreme.’ – Financial Times

‘in arguably one of the most memorable performances of any opera in 2018, The English Concert came in with a superstar cast and conquered in a big way…
Upon reflection for this review, I found myself unable to find any example of such comprehensibly brilliant playing from any ensemble in any opera in recent memory. Under the confident baton of Sir [sic.] Harry Bicket, every single note was a jewel, carved out with impressive craftsmanship and adoring art. You couldn’t help but marvel at the consummate beauty of every phrase, every gesture refined and polished (apologies but you might cross those two words a lit in this review).’ – Operawire (New York)

‘Bicket’s band steals the spotlight’ – The Arts Desk

The opera is full of showpieces for the orchestra, from the trio of recorders in Almira’s Act One aria, to the repeated use of trumpets and the spectacular solo in Armida’s final Act Two aria, not to mention the moments when Handel lets the bassoon off the leash, freeing it from the confines of the bass part. The musicians of The English Concert seized all these opportunities with bravura glee.’ – Planet Hugill

‘The place was packed for a concert performance of Handel’s opera “Rinaldo.” It was the latest in a series of nearly annual Handel performances at Carnegie by Harry Bicket and his English Concert ensemble; since 2013, this has become a beloved ritual for many.’ – New York Times

‘This was probably the most persuasive and animated Handel opera performance that The English Concert has given at the Barbican to date, even compared with the other magic opera, Orlando, in 2016, so here’s hoping that this is a tradition to which Handelians may continue to look forward.’ – Classical Source

‘overall, this was an afternoon to remember for all times at one of the world’s most fascinating venues. The English Concert is slated to return in 2019 with a concert showcase of “Semele.” We’ll be there.’ – Operawire (New York)

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