Technically, Levin is among the top fortepianists, and he plays absolutely ravishingly interpretively as well. – Pizzicato ★★★★★ (AAM043)
‘From the outset, their lively and spontaneous performances promised one of the finest of all recorded cycles.’ – Financial Times (AAM041)
‘AAM are on top form’ BBC Music Magazine (AAM043)
Best Books of the Year 2023 (Classical Music) – Financial Times
Using first-hand testimony from artists, critics, collaborators and supporters, Richard Bratby brings the history of this trailblazing orchestra to life, from its early days to its contemporary achievements.
"If like me you have derived deep and abiding pleasure from the Academy of Ancient Music, then this superb account of how that glorious institution came into being will give you deep and abiding pleasure too. Impossible to read without leaping for your collection or streaming platform and reminding yourself of just how magnificent the AAM was, is, and – we have good reason to believe – will continue to be." Stephen Fry
Founded in 1973 by Cambridge harpsichordist Christopher Hogwood and record producer Peter Wadland, AAM quickly achieved global fame by lifting period instrument performance from the fringes of 1960s counterculture and putting baroque music into the pop charts. However, as the classical record industry faded and 1970s radicals became the 1990s establishment, the AAM faced a new challenge: reinventing itself to meet the artistic, social, and economic conditions of a musical world transformed by its own revolutionary achievement.
Fifty years after its foundation, it’s time to assess the full, trailblazing impact of the Academy of Ancient Music. Author Richard Bratby comments: “Writing the history of such an unusual orchestra presented challenges beyond the purely practical difficulties of using archives during a pandemic. As the Academy celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, it has accrued a rich and complex history as well as an unrivalled discography. The book draws on interviews with a wide range of individuals who played a role in the foundation and progress of the AAM, including Dame Emma Kirkby, Sir Roger Norrington and the late James Bowman CBE. The result – as far as we know – is the first full-length history of a British period instrument orchestra.”
Technically, Levin is among the top fortepianists, and he plays absolutely ravishingly interpretively as well. – Pizzicato ★★★★★
‘From the outset, their lively and spontaneous performances promised one of the finest of all recorded cycles.’ (AAM041) – Financial Times
"AAM are on top form" – BBC Music Magazine ★★★★★ (Performance) ★★★★★ (Recording)
"performed with the skill and scholarly sense of inquiry that always characterises the work of these musicians, and proves a somewhat unexpected delight" – Gramophone
Academy of Ancient Music continues a celebrated project to record Mozart’s complete works for keyboard and orchestra, with this tenth volume of the series. Together with renowned scholar-pianist Robert Levin, and directed by Laurence Cummings and Bojan Čičić, AAM presents the Church Sonata No. 17 alongside the Piano Concerto No. 5 – Mozart’s first original keyboard concerto – both for orchestra and organ. The three K107 concertos are joined by a concerto movement from the music book of Mozart’s sister, Nannerl, believed to have been drafted by Mozart as a young child, and completed here by Robert Levin. The hardback CD package is accompanied by comprehensive notes commissioned specially for the album.
"an unexpected and fascinating soundscape ... admirable, once again" – Le Devoir
"Robert Levin’s playing is exemplary and fascinating because of its naturalness" – Pizzicato
This release is part of the renewal of a landmark project begun in 1993 on the Decca label to record Mozart’s entire works for keyboard. It will be followed by the three final albums of the series later in 2023 and 2024.
Academy of Ancient Music resumes a celebrated project to record Mozart’s complete Piano Concertos, with this ninth volume released after an extraordinary 20-year wait. Together with renowned scholar-pianist Robert Levin, AAM presents Mozart’s Piano Concertos No. 21 in C Major K467, perhaps one of Mozart’s most well-known Piano Concertos and featured in films The Spy Who Loved Me and Elvira Madigan, and No. 24 in C Minor K491, described by Mozart scholar Alexander Hyatt King as ‘not only the most sublime of the whole series but also one of the greatest pianoforte concertos ever composed’.
This release marks the renewal of a landmark project begun in 1993 on the Decca label to record Mozart’s entire works for keyboard. It will be followed by the four final albums of the series later in 2023 and 2024.
These performances are a breath of fresh air – and the resumption of the concerto cycle is a clear cause for celebration. The combination of scholarship and joy in performance, writ large by Levin’s superb improvisations, is in itself a modern-day miracle. International Piano Magazine
marvellously satisfying performances that are always full of surprises … Levin is the leading exponent in recreating the Mozart style on the spot. Throw in expressive playing from the AAM and these performances have plenty of character, the C Major bright and spirited, the dark C Minor foreshadowing the Romantic era. The remaining four discs are eagerly awaited.Financial Times
Academy of Ancient Music, Cambridge Handel Opera Company, Cambridge Early Music and Julian Perkins are proud to present the first professional recording of John Eccles’s Semele (c.1707), a notable early setting of the great English libretto by William Congreve better known in a version by GF Handel from 1744.
The Academy of Ancient Music’s mission is to explore, reveal and preserve the great treasure house of baroque and classical music, and a spirit of newfound discovery runs through all our work. Eccles’s Semele is the next step on this journey, released here on 2 CDs in deluxe hardback presentation with an extensive accompanying full-colour booklet containing scholarly essays, Stephen Fry’s modern re-telling of the story, autograph manuscript images of Eccles’ score, the full libretto text and much more. A fascinating insight into how opera in England might have developed after Henry Purcell’s death had not Handel moved to London in 1712, Eccles’s Semele is the perfect addition to any baroque-music lover’s library.
Jupiter, King of the Gods - Richard Burkhard, baritone
Juno, Queen of the Gods - Helen Charlston, mezzo soprano
Iris, handmaid to Juno - Héloïse Bernard, soprano
Cupid, God of Love - Bethany Horak-Hallett, mezzo soprano
Somnus, God of Sleep - Christopher Foster, bass
Apollo, Sun God and God of Prophecy - Jolyon Loy, baritone
Cadmus, King of Thebes - Jonathan Brown, baritone
Semele, daughter of Cadmus - Anna Dennis, soprano
Ino, sister of Semele - Aoife Miskelly, soprano
Athamas, a prince of Bœotia - William Wallace, tenor
Chief Priest - Graeme Broadbent, bass
Second Priest / First Augur - Rory Carver, tenor
Third Priest / Second Augur - James Rhoads, tenor
Julian Perkins, Director
Academy of Ancient Music
"Reviving one of the forgotten gems of English opera, this first professional recording of Eccles and Congreve's drama is revelatory, bringing out the work's wit, charm and drama" Planet Hugill
''This release marks a significant new chapter in the performance history of Eccles’ Semele. Performed to the very highest vocal, instrumental and scholarly standards, it is simply unmissable.'' Opera Now
"Julian Perkins leads a dozen excellent soloists and the joint forces of the Cambridge Handel Opera Company, Cambridge Early Music and the Academy of Ancient Music … This new version is a real revelation” Les amis d’Ovide
"A real discovery … the documentation is outstanding, with so much context to pore over in the almost 200 page book. But it’s the music that’s the winner. The more I listen to it, the more I love this. What a resurrection it is.” BBC Record Review (30/01/2021)
"Handsomely packaged with copious documentation, this is a recording that by rights should put Eccles on the map." The Times ****
"This isn’t the work’s first recording, but it is the first major one with professional forces, and it’s good enough to put this Semele, and its composer, firmly on the map" The Guardian *****
"With the Academy of Ancient Music, the director Julian Perkins reveals a work that exceeds the superficially attractive, his charged reading embracing high drama and deep emotion. Excellent performances from Richard Burkhard (Jupiter), Anna Dennis (Semele) and the remarkable Helen Charlston (Juno).” Sunday Times
"Semele has become the latest labour of love from the Academy of Ancient Music, whose lavishly packaged, presented and researched new account in partnership with Julian Perkins and Cambridge Handel Opera gives this footnote of a work the passionate advocacy it has long been waiting for." Limelight Magazine (Editor's Choice)
"Anna Dennis is delightful as the ambitious mortal Semele ... Richard Burkhard and Helen Charlston mine some divine comic scenes... The rest of the large cast is excellent and Julian Perkins gets a fizzing performance out of the Academy of Ancient Music, enough to make Eccles seem a rival to Handel"Financial Times ****