After the success of their debut disc, ‘Voyages’, Mary Bevan and Joseph Middleton present their second recital disc exploring Lieder in German and Italian by Schubert, Haydn and Wolf. The programme is woven around songs inspired by the ‘muses’ of the day, both mythological and divine. It begins with Schubert’s dramatic and reverential settings of sacred German poetry, set alongside his lush emotional portrayals of female characters in the Italian settings. The central section of the disc is then devoted to Haydn’s epic ‘scena’ depicting the famously cruel abandonment of Arianna by her lover Teseo, ‘Arianna a Naxos’. Haydn’s beautiful prayer ‘Geistliches Lied’ takes us back into the world of German poetry and the religious fervour that arose from the collective belief in Christianity which pervaded most art forms of the age. The disc then moves into works by Hugo Wolf, whose stunning settings of devotional texts take the listener right to the heart of the characters; a few of these songs were in fact inspired by paintings. The early moments of Jesus Christ’s life are vividly portrayed here, particularly in songs such as ‘Die ihr Schwebet’, ‘Auf ein Altes Bild’ and ‘Schlafendes Jesuskind’, while the haunting ‘Gesang Weylas’ invites the listener into the world of the mysterious goddes Weyla who wistfully dreams of the shores of her distant homeland. From Ganymed to Christ, Dido to the Virgin Mary, Arianna to St Peter, this recital disc richly illustrates the lives and events surrounding the ‘divine muses’ who inspired these composers.
Mary Bevan (soprano) read Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic at Trinity College, Cambridge, before training at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She became an Associate Artist of Classical Opera in 2010, and is a winner of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist award and the UK Critics’ Circle Award for Exceptional Young Talent in Music.
Her opera roles include Susanna (The Marriage of Figaro), Despina (Così fan tutte), Papagena (The Magic Flute), Yum-Yum (The Mikado), Second Niece (Peter Grimes) and Rebecca (in the world première of Nico Muhly’s Two Boys) for English National Opera, where she is a Harewood Artist, Gerechtigkeit (Die Schuldigkeit des ersten Gebots), Tamiri (Il re pastore), Servilia (La clemenza di Tito) and Emma (Thomas Arne’s Alfred) for Classical Opera, Zerlina (Don Giovanni) for Garsington Opera, Belinda (Dido and Aeneas) for The English Concert, and – for The Royal Opera – Music/ Euridice (Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo) at the Roundhouse and the title role in Luigi Rossi’s Orpheus at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.
Her extensive concert engagements have included Bellezza (Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno) with the Dunedin Consort, a Handel residency with Emanuelle Haïm at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, and Handel’s Messiah with The English Concert and the English Chamber Orchestra, and she has appeared at the BBC Proms, Edinburgh International Festival, Spitalfields Festival and Oxford Lieder Festival. Her recordings include ‘Handel in Italy’ with London Early Opera for Signum Classics, Handel’s The Triumph of Time and Truth and Ode for Saint Cecilia’s Day with Ludus Baroque for Delphian Records, and Ludwig Thuille songs with Joseph Middleton and Mendelssohn songs with Malcolm Martineau, both for Champs Hill Records.
Pianist Joseph Middleton specializes
in the art of song accompaniment and
chamber music and has been highly
acclaimed in this field. Described in
Opera Magazine as ‘the rightful heir to
legendary accompanist Gerald Moore’,
by BBC Music Magazine as ‘one of the
brightest stars in the world of song and
Lieder’, he has also been labeled ‘the
cream of the new generation’
by The Times. He is Director of Leeds
Lieder, Musician in Residence and
a Bye Fellow at Pembroke College,
Cambridge and a Fellow of his alma
mater, the Royal Academy of Music,
where he is also a Professor. He was
the first accompanist to win the
Royal Philharmonic Society’s
Young Artist Award.
Joseph is a frequent guest at major music centres including London’s Wigmore Hall (where he has been a featured artist), Royal Opera House and Royal Festival Hall, New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Park Avenue Armory, Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Konzerthaus and Musikverein Vienna, Zürich Tonhalle, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, Berlin BoulezSaal, Kölner Philharmonie, Strasbourg, Frankfurt, Lille and Gothenburg Opera Houses, Baden- Baden, Philharmonie Luxembourg, Musée d’Orsay Paris, Oji Hall Tokyo and Festivals in Aix-en-Provence, Aldeburgh, Barcelona, Schloss Elmau, Edinburgh, Munich, Ravinia, San Francisco, Schubertiade Hohenems and Schwarzenberg, deSingel, Soeul, Stuttgart, Toronto and Vancouver.
He made his BBC Proms debut in 2016 alongside Iestyn Davies and Carolyn Sampson and returned in 2018 alongside Dame Sarah Connolly where they premiered recently discovered songs by Benjamin Britten.
Joseph enjoys recitals with internationally established singers including Sir Thomas Allen, Louise Alder, Mary Bevan, Ian Bostridge, Allan Clayton, Dame Sarah Connolly, Marianne Crebassa, Iestyn Davies, Fatma Said, Samuel Hasselhorn, Christiane Karg, Katarina Karnéus, Angelika Kirchschlager, Dame Felicity Lott, Christopher Maltman, John Mark Ainsley, Ann Murray DBE, James Newby, Mark Padmore, Mauro Peter, Miah Persson, Sophie Rennert, Ashley Riches, Dorothea Röschmann, Kate Royal, Carolyn Sampson, Nicky Spence and Roderick Williams.
He has a special relationship with BBC Radio 3, frequently curating his own series and performing alongside the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists. His critically acclaimed and fast-growing discography has seen him awarded a Diapason D’or, Edison Award and Priz Caecilia as well as receiving numerous nominations for Gramophone, BBC Music Magazines and International Classical Music Awards. His interest in the furthering of the song repertoire has led Gramophone Magazine to describe him as ‘the absolute king of programming’.