…and Simon Keenlyside is incomparable in the arias first sung by Fischer-Diskau

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Britten: War Requiem – LSO Live

…and Simon Keenlyside is incomparable in the arias first sung by Fischer-Diskau.

Michael Kennedy, The Sunday Telegraph, 24 June 2012

Similarly, the marvellous Simon Keenlyside’s first entrance, Bugles sang, saddening the evening air, is wonderfully sung (coupled with some fine solo horn playing from Timothy Jones). Both male soloists kept me captivated at every stage, but perhaps their finest hour is their duet in the Offertorium, where Britten sets Owen’s The Parable of the Old Man and the Young, which tells of Abraham’s intended sacrifice of his son, Isaac. The moment where they sing of the angel appearing in order to prevent the sacrifice is simply ravishing, and sends a shiver up my spine every time I hear it.

James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 7 May 2012
Ian Bostridge and Simon Keenlyside bring all their experience to bear on the passage where two enemy soldiers are reconciled in death, but are equally vivid when jointly recounting the story of Abraham and Isaac.

Financial Times, 28/29 April 2012

Simon Keenlyside, too, is magnificent.

Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 15 April 2012
Macbeth” – Royal Opera House, Covent Garden – Opus Arte DVD
…the superb singing actor, Simon Keenlyside…embodies the tormented character perfectly. He moves alternately stealthily and arrogantly and is alert to everything going on around him. The voice has no trouble with the role’s high tessitura and his phrasing and sense of the Verdian line is peerless. His final aria renders Macbeth a tragic figure.

Robert Levine, International Record Review, April 2012
Songs of War” – Malcolm Martineau – Sony BMG
5 star***** - The great baritone has chosen 29 songs in some way connected with war. Keenlyside includes all the George Butterworth Shropshire Lad songs. His singing of Vaughan Williams’s The Infinite Shining Heavens and Gurney’s In Flanders is beyond praise for its emotional restraint. Finzi’s Fear No More the Heat o’ the Sun is another tour de force of incomparable singing. Malcolm Martineau offers supreme piano accompaniment throughout.

Michael Kennedy, The Sunday Telegraph, December 11, 2011
Top Classical album of the year, No.2 - The British baritone brings youthful vigour and vocal glamour to a moving recital, charting the lives and deaths of young men in songs by Vaughan Williams, George Butterworth, Ivor Gurney, Gerald Finzi and Kurt Weill.

The Sunday Times, December 11, 2011
Butterworth’s Housman setting is a marvel… it is Simon Keenlyside’s impeccable delivery that registers… A sober, intelligent CD, beautifully sung, immaculately accompanied. Keenlyside's sleeve notes are intelligent, insightful and touching.

Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk, November 26, 2011
CD of the week - The Sunday Times
A standout album of war songs that sees British baritone Simon Keenlyside utilize his youthful-sounding voice.
At 52, the British baritone is in peak vocal health, and certainly young-sounding enough to portray the men in their late teens and twenties who leave their homes and loves, never to return, in settings of war poetry or other music by composers such as George Butterworth (1885-1916) and Ivor Gurney (1890-1937), who both fought in the first world war. Keenlyside begins with John Ireland’s beloved Sea Fever, which, as he admits in his eloquent and heartfelt booklet note, is not strictly a war song, but evokes the same sense of a lad venturing into the unknown with the risk of losing love and life. It would be hard to imagine it being better sung: indeed, I can’t think of another baritone who can match him for beautiful tone, nuance of expression and immaculate diction. This sets the tone for a superb programme, incorporating Butterworth’s masterpiece, A Shropshire Lad, whose final song, Is My Team Ploughing? — a dialogue between a dead youth and the friend who has replaced him in his sweetheart’s bed — is movingly sung by Keenlyside, with Martineau wringing out the last drop of pathos in the tear-laden piano postlude. Riches here include Finzi’s Shakespeare setting Fear No More the Heat o’ the Sun, Vaughan Williams’s The Vagabond, Gurney’s In Flanders and two Whitman settings by Kurt Weill, in which regret for the loss of young life mingles with rage. Keenlyside is incomparable here, in one of the song records of the year.

Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, November 13, 2011
Despite the title, most of the songs in this admirable collection are anything but warlike. There is no place for patriotic bombast here; instead, these polished miniatures yearn for a vanished pastoral England and express nobly romantic notions of love, fidelity and the human spirit. Vaughan Williams, Butterworth, Gurney, Ireland, Warlock and Somervell are all represented, but Simon Keenlyside and Malcolm Martineau do not limit themselves to England's whimsical finest, finding room for astringent examples from Ned Rorem and Kurt Weill as well. It's a beautifully judged recording, exquisitely sung; poignant but never sentimental.

Stephen Pritchard, The Observer, November 13, 2011
At the heart of the recital – beautifully vocalised and artlessly characterised by Keenlyside – is Butterworth’s cycle of songs under the title “A Shropshire Lad”. Here the war theme is both poignant and prescient: the A.E. Housman poems set by Butterworth are nostalgic depictions of rural life and young men’s early deaths, which won a huge resonance during the Boer War and later the first world war – the war in which Butterworth himself perished.

Andrew Clark, The Financial Times, November 5, 2011

Schubert Wolf Lieder - Wigmore Hall Live *****
Simon Keenlyside has no peers and few equals among English baritones, and this recital recorded in October last year demonstrates why. With the telepathic Malcolm Martineau as his pianist partner, he sings a generous selection of lieder and chansons by Schubert, Wolf, Fauré and Ravel, several of them about the birds and animals which are his special interest. Thus, Ravel's Histoires naturelles are invested with extra insights. In favourites such as Schubert's Serenade and Wolf's Gesang Weyla's, Keenlyside's velvety tone, expressive phrasing and immaculate diction are an example to all.

Michael Kennedy, The Sunday Telegraph, 22 November 2009

Brahms: Lieder / Schumann: Dichterliebe – Sony BMG
The slightly husky, astringent quality of Keenlyside’s tone is ideally suited to these most full-blown romantic songs, allowing him to give full rein to the emotional outbursts yet still retain a sense of inwardness and restraint. From the first line of ‘Im wunderschönen Monat Mai’ the tone is set – manly without being too muscular, poetic without being maudlin, and always finely interwoven with Martineau’s playing, which scrupulously observes the composer’s wishes and never pushes itself too far into the foreground.

Keenlyside is at his best in the quieter, more-tender songs, especially ‘Hor’ ich das Liedchen klingen’ where his delivery of “Mein übergrösses weh” is poignant without being mawkish. The more tempestuous songs are well served however, ‘Im Rhein, im heiligen Strome’ being especially vivid. Particularly important is how a singer takes the crucial final stanzas of the penultimate song, and Keenlyside does not disappoint, with just enough pressure on words such as “dorthin” and “selig” to hit the emotional targets...

Melanie Eskenazi, The Classical Source, November 2009

TWO masters of their art come together in this exquisite Lieder disc of Brahms and Schumann. That could, of course, refer to the composers themselves.

The Brahms songs here are gripping examples of the Romantic genre; Schumann's Dichterliebe cycle – consummate, soul-searching settings of Heinrich Heine – is no less satisfying.

But the true masters here are baritone Simon Keenlyside and pianist Malcolm Martineau, a performing duo of supreme eloquence.

Keenlyside imbues each song with an uncannily rich clarity, combining emotive passion with stylish delicacy.

He knits the Schumann, despite the brevity of many of its numbers, with arresting cohesion. Martineau's inimitable pianism is authoritative and characterful, supportive, of every subtle nuance explored by the singer. Pure genius.

The Scotsman, 5 October 2009

'My Heart Alone' - Sony BMG
Billed as "operetta's dream couple" on their 2007 German tour, the two Ks offer a programme of solos and duets ranging from "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz", of Tauber fame, to two delectable rarities from Suppé's Boccaccio. Simon Keenlyside, in glorious voice, is by turns dulcet and virile.

Richard Wigmore, The Daily Telegraph, August 2, 2008
Recently partnered in Pelléas et Mélisande, Austrian mezzo Kirchschlager and British baritone Keenlyside are two of opera's hottest properties. Here, in the tradition of such greats as Schwarzkopf, Wunderlich and Herman Prey, they team up for an adventure in the tuneful world of operetta, as symbolised by the delightful title track from Lehar's 'The Land of Smiles'. There's more Lehar, of course, alongside lush lollipops from Kalman, Millöcker, Strauss and Suppé.

Anthony Holden, The Observer, 20 July 2008

'Tales of Opera' - Sony BMG
Patrick O'connor posed the question "Is there anthing Simon Keenlyside can't do?" when reviewing this superlative album. It's a fair point. Keenlyside built his reputation as a singer of Lieder and Mozart operas, and was seemingly being groomed in the Thomas Allen mould. And that kind of voice-type is simply not supposed to be able to handle Bellini, Verdi, Leoncavallo - or at least, not as well. Yet here, Keenlyside reminds us all that as a vocal actor he has no peer. The way he finds new bite and darkness to beef up for the Pagliacci prologue or "Eri tu" from Verdi's Un ballo in maschera is almost as impressive as the way he uses each short aria to suggest an entire, and unique, character.

Gramophone Awards 2007 Volume 85
Classical CD of the Week: Few, if any, contemporary baritones could match Simon Keenlyside's versatility and panache in this, his belated CD opera recital debut...he ranges effortless from the virile exuberance of Rossini's Figaro to the migled anguish and tenderness of 'Eri tu' from 'Un ballo in maschera'. Keenlyside's characterisation is alway vivid and true, while his aristocratic elegance of style should satisfy the most demanding connoisseur...Singing in French, Keenlyside is equally idiomatic in 'Sois immobile' from Rossini's 'Guillaume Tell' and the despairing bravado of Hamlet's drinking song in Ambroise Thomas's opera. In Yeletsky's love song '(Tchaikovsky's 'The Queen of Spades'), the Russian language taps a new, darker spectrum of colours, while his Mozart encompasses an unusually thoughtful Papageno in 'Die Zauberflöte' and the most sensuously honeyed accounts of Don Giovanni's serenade you will hear today.

Richard Wigmore, The Telegraph, 20 January 2007
The exercise is dangerous, but the result is worthy of the highest acclamation.…The voice is “one and undivisable”, the same throughout all the repertoire, brilliantly guided throughout… this is what makes a real baritone.

Diapason, 12/2006, winner of the Diapason d'OR for December
This is the first operatic recital disc of the greatest lyric baritone of our time, indeed on of the greatest of any time. He submerges his personality in the roles he portrays, and does it with virtually unique insight and completeness. Everything is built, however, on superb breath control and a remarkable capacity for colouring the voice, combined with flawless legato, the principles underlying all great singing..... I have heard very few operatic recitals that could compare with this.

Michael Tanner, BBC Music Magazine November 2006
The amazing Simon Keenlyside embarks on a wonderful musical adventure.... He starts with a fizzing account of Figaro's entrance from 'Il barbiere'; as he reminds us 'it's pyrotechnical difficulties can never be taken for granted'. This and Papageno's 'Ein Mädchen' are two light-hearted moments; for the rest it is a question of balancing moods between yearning, anger and despair. On the quieter side are lovely accounts of 'Vision fugitive' from Massenet's 'Hérodiade' and Wolfram's song to the evening star from Tannhäuser.

Patrick O'Connor, Gramophone November 2006 (Disc of the Month - Editor's Choice)
Keenlyside's biggest gift is for telling a story and creating a character. his King Herod smoulders with passion for the teenage Salome in the Massenet and his William Tell is noble and stirring in 'Sois Immobile', a Rossini aria that couldn't be more different from the Barber's Largo al Factotum, which Keenlyside expertly dispatches with unusual virility and bravado...Yet it's the Mozart that takes us straight to the heart of Keenlsyide's skill. On one side, the seductive Don Giovanni, suave and silky in his Act II serenade, and on the other, Keenlyside's greatest creation, Papageno from 'The Magic Flute' - a funny man, yes, but also a real one.

Neil Fisher, The Times 'The Knowledge' October 7 -13 2006

CD Review - Mozart, 'Le Nozze di Figaro' - Harmonia, Mundi
Of the cast, Keenlyside’s Count is most interesting: properly threatening and pleasingly unpredictable.

Anna Picard, The Independent on Sunday, 28 March, 2004
Simon Keenlyside’s Count...is genuinely scary but suave when the occasion demands

Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 2 April 2004
Simon Keenlyside’s Count - truly formidable, yet capable of honeyed suavity - is as charismatic as any on disc.

Richard Wigmore, The Telegraph, 24 April 2004

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