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French Connections

John Mark Ainsley & Malcolm Martineau


‘Friendly Persuasions … was John Mark Ainsley's best performance of the night, measured and just the right side of intense.’ - Intermezzo

“John Mark Ainsley [has] absolute control and superb diction.’ - BBC Music

‘… John Mark Ainsley's soaringly beautiful tenor.’ - The Independent

• John Mark Ainsley's cleverly constructed recital highlights the personal and musical connections of four of the twentieth century’s best song writers: Britten, Poulenc, Heggie and Berkeley.

• The breadth of repertoire showcases Ainsley’s range, expansive vocal colour, expressive voice and exceptional understanding of text.

• Accompanying Ainsley is Malcolm Martineau, to whom Heggie's Friendly Persuasions is dedicated.   The American composer pays homage to Poulenc with four imaginative songs, each of which recreates in miniature a transformative friendship in Poulenc’s life.

• In 2008 Ainsley and Martineau gave the world premiere performance of Friendly Persuasions at Wigmore Hall, London.

• The recital also includes three works by Poulenc: Fancy, Bleuet and Tel jour telle nuit, a beautifully conceived and shaped cycle; considered Poulenc’s greatest vocal work it is reminiscent of the great cycles of a century earlier such as Winterreise or Dichterliebe.

• Despite French heritage and fluency in the language Berkeley’s friendship with Britten led him to set verse by the English poet, W.H. Auden instead.   His Five Poems are some of the best of their kind; a cohesive and satisfying collection, Berkeley perfectly captures both the fanciful and reflective elements of Auden's poetry.

• Auden in turn re-introduced Britten to the works of John Donne, which Britten went on to set in his Holy Sonnets; darkly moving and highly demanding, they are among his finest work.

• John Mark Ainsley has appeared with the world’s greatest orchestras and conductors, including the London, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco Symphony orchestras, the London, Berlin, Vienna, Rotterdam and New York Philharmonic orchestras, with Sir Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink, Sir Charles Mackerras, Kurt Masur, Sir Roger Norrington, Sir Simon Rattle and Claudio Abbado.

• In opera he has sung at Glyndebourne, Covent Garden, Netherlands Opera, San Francisco Opera, La Scala, the Deutsche Staatsoper and the Aix-en-Provence, Munich, Salzburg and Berlin Festivals.

• Ainsley won the 2007 Royal Philharmonic Society Singer Award and is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music.

• Malcolm Martineau is recognised as one of the leading accompanists of his generation, working with many of the world’s greatest singers.

Berkeley: Five Poems of W.H. Auden, Op. 53
  1. Lauds (Among the leaves the small birds sing)
  2. O lurcher-loving collier
  3. What’s in your mind, my dove, my coney
  4. Eyes look into the well
  5. Carry her over the water

Poulenc: Tel jour telle nuit
  6. Bonne journée j’ai revu qui je n’oublie pas
  7. Une ruine coquille vide
  8. Le front comme un drapeau perdu
  9. Une roulotte couverte en tuiles
10. À toutes brides toi dont le fantôme
11. Une herbe pauvre
12. Je n’ai envie que de t’aimer
13. Figure de force brûlante et farouche
14. Nous avons fait la nuit

15. Poulenc: Fancy

16. Britten: Fancie

Heggie: Friendly Persuasions
17. Wanda Landowska
18. Pierre Bernac
19. Raymonde Linossier
20. Paul Éluard

21. Poulenc: Bleuet

Britten: The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Op.35
22. O my blacke Soule!
23. Batter my heart
24. O might those sighes and teares
25. Oh, to vex me
26. What if this present
27. Since she whom I loved
28. At the round earth’s imagined corners
29. Thou hast made me
30. Death, be not proud

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