Reviews

Sunday Times

“The three composers find their perfect interpreters in Wilson and the Sinfonia of London, who luxuriate in Ravel … and make a persuasive case for Pounds’s third symphony. Berkeley’s Divertimento is the real find … balletic fluidity, astringent strings and skittish inventiveness.”

The Arts Desk

“Sinfonia of London continues to turn-out turn out hit after hit. But the factory metaphor doesn’t do justice to the humanity at the heart of the project. The repertoire is chosen carefully, but is all clearly stuff Wilson loves, and the crafting of the releases, from preliminary scholarly research to the performances and engineering in the studio, shows artistry and musicianship of the first rank.”

The Guardian

“Peerless … fast becoming one of Europe’s elite orchestras. Ravel’s Tombeau de Couperin played with impeccable virtuosity and a sense of weightless clarity. Chandos’s commitment to Wilson and the Sinfonia of London, and their chosen repertoire, deserves celebration.”

iNews

‘I can’t remember another concert that has had me in tears simply because I’d never imagined this music could sound like that. And we’re talking Rachmaninov’s ubiquitous Piano Concerto No. 2, newly scrubbed up, radiant and heroic. Wilson elicited from his Sinfonia of London a fieriness and richness that felt like the sonic equivalent of bathing in Chateau Margaux. The filigree detail of Lili Boulanger’s D’un matin de printemps and William Walton’s tense, visionary Symphony No.1 bookended an unforgettable Prom.’

All Music

Fanfare Magazine

‘I have nothing but praise for the performances … Wilson scores one bullseye after another.’

Stereophile

‘Simply Wonderful’

Limelight

‘Wilson and his Sinfonia produce a top pick in this luscious score’

The Absolute Sound

‘The Sinfonia of London could not be bettered, nor could the flawless casting, right down to the smallest roles and the rousing chorus. But Wilson himself – leading, guiding, supporting, controlling it all, with incomparable joy, energy, style, panache and conviction – is the real star here … A landmark in American music theatre, it now at last has, after 80 years, the landmark recording it has long deserved. This is the most important new release of the year, not to mention the best.’

 

Gramophone Magazine

‘John Wilson’s revelatory production of this landmark musical arguably gets as close as possible to what Broadway patrons most likely heard on opening night 80 years ago, with every piece of music intact in its original orchestration. A meticulous, vibrant, stylishly sung, splendidly engineered and historically important release.’

The Guardian

‘Generations will thank John Wilson for this glorious recording. Ravel’s ballet is infused with Hollywood golden age lushness by the conductor’s outstanding hand-picked supergroup. Astonishing detail … playing so tight it seems the whole thing might burst.’

Gramophone Magazine

‘For my money this is the finest recorded Daphnis for a generation.’

BBC Radio 3

‘Such a powerful, cinematic sound … the sheer virtuosity of the playing. I’ve never heard the choral introduction to part two sung with such projection, focus and discipline … there’s a balletic, propulsive energy to everything … a seriously potent package.’

Financial Times

‘The delicacy and detail of this performance put it in the top class, and the Sinfonia of London can stand comparison with the top international orchestras. Wilson’s series of recordings for Chandos has hit a new high.’

The Arts Desk

“Superlatively played, and completely worth its place in the pantheon of recordings entirely on its musical, and not just musicological, merits. [The choir’s] first entry, emerging from a subterranean opening, is immense, and brilliantly recorded: I got it blaring out of my speakers at full whack. They are also hauntingly beautiful in the introduction to Part Two. Enough. I could wax lyrical about piece and recording for another 1,000 words but need actually only say this recording is a must-have for existing Ravelians, or the Ravel-curious.”

HRAudio

‘A triumph for all concerned … Truly outstanding … A joy from start to finish.’

Presto Classical

‘Wilson truly does have ‘rows and rows of the finest virtuosos’ at his command … his willingness to play the long game and unleash the Sinfonia of London’s trademark swooning string sound only at the very last minute really pays off … A word too for the superb (wordless!) contribution of the Sinfonia of London Chorus in their recording-debut. Yet another feather in Wilson and Sinfonia of London’s now lavishly-accessorised cap.’

The Sunday Times

‘John Wilson is the most exciting British conductor since Simon Rattle…his Sinfonia of London sets the gold standard – an orchestra of generals that takes the unfashionable, the obscure, the overlooked, and makes it unmissable.’

The Guardian

‘Everything is played with such energy and purpose … brilliant precision … the reflective moments of the score are treated with equal care.’

Mail on Sunday

BBC Music Magazine

‘this exceptional, hand-picked ensemble has already won its spurs both live and on recordings, and the players do not disappoint.’

Financial Times

‘For the sound of Broadway in the 1940s, this recording has the field to itself.’

Gramophone Magazine

‘Sinfonia of London and their conductor were born for this music and they execute it with aplomb. The recording, like the playing is immaculate…Highly recommended.’

Gramophone Magazine

‘every single second infused with immense care, love and belief in its place as a pivotal 20th-century work…The precision is hair-raising as those blistering violins go all hoedown on us at the start of the orchestra. Rhythm, rhythm, pulsing rhythm.’

The Times

‘The Sinfonia of London has become one of the hottest tickets in town…Wilson has a thorough understanding of how to make this [Walton] symphony thrill, and his musicians were right there with him, every note of the way, in a high-stakes, electrifying performance.’

iNews

John Wilson and the Sinfonia of London can sell out the Royal Albert Hall, hold a capacity crowd so rapt that nobody claps between movements, and leave music critics ready to die of joy. Last night, they did it again….a performance of the kind I thought we could only hear in our dreams.’

The Telegraph

‘Possibly the most exciting and gifted conductor working in Britain today…Wilson’s genius as a conductor consists in the utter confidence he inspires in his players, but also in his intense attention to detail.’

The Guardian

‘Every twitching nerve in the first movement [of the Walton] was pumped with drama. The angry second movement and the flute’s song of loss in the third were soaked in passion. Wilson’s fierce attention to dynamic contrasts made other performances seem lazy by comparison.’

The Guardian

‘Wilson’s concerts were structured around two orchestral monuments, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances and Elgar’s Symphony No 2. Each showed the dazzling quality of this orchestra. The strings have a solid, powerful energy, each player bobbing up from their seat with exhilaration as they play, bows lifted high….The lyricism and individuality of the woodwind, the potency of the brass, the commitment of every player, combine to make this orchestra one of the best ensembles anywhere, with Wilson the catalyst.’ 

The Arts Desk

‘With transformative daring and dash…Sinfonia graced [Aldeburgh] with two typically exhilarating performances.’

Presto Classical

‘yet again I must express my amazement at the quality and beauty of the string sound that Wilson achieves with his orchestra. The initial chord of the Vaughan Williams shimmers in a way that few other recordings can match… The thought that Wilson puts into programming these albums is quite remarkable.’

The Guardian

‘A new release from John Wilson and his Sinfonia of London has become a red-letter day in the recording calendar. As ever, the brilliance of the playing makes this essential listening, the precision and attention to detail alive and exhilarating. The entire disc holds the attention, but the last movement of the Elgar, urgent and impassioned, has you on the edge of your seat: a tour de force.’

The Daily Mail

‘In recent times, the musicologist and conductor John Wilson and his hand-picked studio orchestra, Sinfonia of London, have emerged as one of the world’s outstanding recording ensembles…just a few weeks into 2023 Wilson is back with another tip-top issue, this time of British string music.’

Limelight Magazine

‘Few film soundtracks these days can compare with Hollywood’s heyday, and few soundtrack albums have ever sounded as good as this. Anyone with even the slightest interest in the period needs this magnificent recording.’

The Sunday Times

‘this lovely celebration of classic Hollywood film scores is delivered with deep care and affection by Wilson and his dependably excellent players…many gems.’

Gramophone Magazine

‘A sumptuous sound world from a conductor and his ensemble who, album after album, impress and delight, making us relish the details of scores and the very art of recording afresh’

The Financial Times

‘All blaze to life in these performances from Wilson and Sinfonia of London, silver-screen heroes for a new generation of film music lovers’

The Scottish Mail on Sunday

‘Unmissable for anyone who loves topclass orchestral recordings’

The Daily Mail

‘Beyond doubt the best executed and most insightful recording that Ireland’s music has ever received…to be greatly admired.’

Yorkshire Times

‘What a treat! The superb coupling of John Wilson and Sinfonia of London raising the profile of an unjustly neglected composer…The ensemble delivers every time under Wilson’s baton. There are copious examples to highlight the technical brilliance, the meticulous playing, measured dynamics, perfect tempi and sheer beauty of the musicianship.’

New York Times

‘What a fine and stimulating recording this is….Perhaps nobody since Barbirolli has been able to make strings sing like Wilson. Schreker’s Intermezzo here has a sheen to it that is intensely delicate one minute and impossibly sumptuous the next. Strauss’s Metamorphosen has rarely had such an agonizingly drawn out, lovingly burnished performance as this.’

MusicWeb International

‘It’s so good I’m starting to wonder whether they can put a foot wrong…This is the most intense searching performance of Metamorphosen that I’ve heard on disc since Karajan’s 1980’s recording. That’s thanks to a fairly astonishing symbiosis of the conductor’s vision and the orchestra’s playing, combined with first class recorded sound. Altogether this disc is a total treat.’

The Times

‘The victory is due to the conductor and string players’ panache, both in the Strauss and its well-chosen companions….the musicians soar with passion through the most aching of long-limbed melodic lines…whatever the mood, the Sinfonia’s tone stays full-blooded and refulgent, just like Chandos’s recording.’

Limelight

‘Luxurious and luminous, sensuous and sleek. Brilliantly recorded by the Chandos team, this dazzling orchestral program is painted in full technicolour.’

Classical CD Choice

‘…the eloquence of Wilson’s performances – subtly nuanced in the more reflective pieces and rhythmically incisive elsewhere – are unmissable. Another absolute winner for these artists.’

BBC Music Magazine

‘This superbly played and sumptuously recorded disc from the Sinfonia of London and John Wilson amply demonstrates the profound benefits of trusting Ravel. Has ‘Ma mere L’Oye’ ever sounded more gorgeous or affecting? Every nuance of ‘Laideronnette’ is carefully crafted with no sense of fussiness, while the easing into the final shimmering climax of the fairy garden is judged perfectly, the spacious surround sound giving lustre to the iridescent colours.’

The Sunday Times

‘Wilson’s crack, handpicked orchestra responds to his refined, meticulous baton with playing of ravishing textural beauty, rhythmic elan and, in the repeated refrain of Bolero, cumulative power. An outstanding collection leaving the listener wanting more.’

The Times

There’s no shortage of action or Frenchness in John Wilson’s Ravel album, comprising many of the composer’s top orchestral hits, superbly played by Sinfonia of London.

The Arts Desk

What’s not to like here? John Wilson’s orchestral anthology boasts incredibly alert and refined orchestral playing, plus vivid SACD sound. It’s superb…this radiant score is performed with heartfelt affection and an irresistible sense of fun. The effect is thrilling.

Financial Times

A desirable disc in more ways than one…Virtuosity is again the key to the performances, though not of the most obvious kind. Rather than blazing brilliance, we get fleet speeds allied to delicacy, detail and finesse…This is fleet and lithe music-making of just the kind we know Ravel liked.

The Daily Mail

This is just ravishing, marvellous and truly captivating…one of the finest Ravel albums of recent years. Everything about it is good: the repertory, the new editions, the playing of John Wilson’s hand-picked Sinfonia of London and Wilson’s own understanding of the composer, based on his work as a musicologist, as well as his exceptional gifts as a conductor….I’m only giving it five stars because I’m not allowed to award ten.

Music Web Internationl

‘Le Loup is transparently recorded and luminously orchestrated music…Limpid, beguiling music and music-making’

Classical Music Daily

‘This music will delight all who hear it – both the ballet and the woodwind pieces. The orchestrations in the woodwind pieces are masterful and I think they add significantly to the colour of the original works. The soloists and orchestra are as fine as you could ever want to hear. This is a fantastic disc.’

The Arts Desk

‘Wonderful stuff, handsomely played and recorded here…the couplings are exquisite. Each is wonderfully realised and impeccably performed.’

Gramophone Magazine

‘It’s outings on disc are rare, so Wilson’s recording is more than welcome. As one might expect, it’s flawlessly done, scrupulously paced and played, with Dutilleux’s often extraordinary colours and textures beautifully explored…The [soloist] performances, digging deep into the subtleties of Hesketh’s instrumentation, are first-rate.’

BBC Music Magazine

‘John Wilson seizes on the opportunities to bring out the vivid colours of Dutilleux’s score, with the brass blazing superbly and every rhythm alive with meaning. No less striking is the music’s lyricism, phrased by Wilson with great tenderness…’

Financial Times

‘bewitchingly played and imaginatively directed by Wilson…this disc of early works by the fastidious French composer Henri Dutilleux succeeds beyond expectation.’

Financial Times

“… the players do not half go for it. This is the most exhilarating of recordings, arguably the first to rival Britten’s own … [Music for Strings] is a superbly wrought piece, delivered with the panache that is a trademark of the whole disc.”

The Sunday Times

“Wilson’s handpicked band play with a depth of sonority and variety to challenge the greatest ensembles … an original and fabulously well-played album, dazzlingly recorded.”

The Turn of the Screw

‘…a brilliantly conceived, haunting affair with an outstanding cast, inventive direction and a perfectly executed score played by the Sinfonia of London under John Wilson…a line-up of significant soloists in their own right – quite simply superlative.’

BBC Music Magazine

“Wilson and his hand-picked band of musicians continue to strike gold with almost anything they turn their hands to. In taking on this oft-recorded set of orchestral favourites, they set a new benchmark. Wilson’s handling is full of nuance, resulting in performances of light and shade, but mostly joyful exuberance.”

The Guardian

“Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, with its poise, angularity and gleam, receives a virtuosic performance from this ace ensemble … playing of immense technical flair.”  

Presto Classical

“Right from the determined opening bars of Britten’s Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge, it’s clear that this too is an exceptional album. What most impresses is not only the effortless manner with which the players dispatch their flurries of notes, but how they respond just as magnificently to every nuance of dynamics and articulation: I can’t recall many other ensembles who, like a flock of birds moving as one in the sky, are able to adapt and adjust so quickly and single-mindedly.” 

BBC Radio 3: Record Review

“…Scintillating string playing, somehow both lush and with real immediacy, Wilson drawing razor-sharp responses from this crack team of players. You can hear so much detail in the beautifully made recording as well – you feel the bows on the strings, the rich bass … it’s brilliant …”

Bliss Society Journal, Robert Matthew-Walker

“I have never heard string orchestral playing of this quality for many years – either on or off a record. It is of a quality that goes beyond virtuosity (of which it has, in spades) but is suffused with that element of commitment to the music – a belief in its inherent value – that is wholly exceptional in music-making today. Wilson and the Sinfonia of London deliver here far and away the greatest performance I have ever heard … no other performance – not Karajan with the Philharmonia or Britten himself with the English Chamber Orchestra – is as good as this one.” 

Gramophone Magazine

“Once again John Wilson draws the most glorious sound from his hand-picked orchestra, lavishing care and devotion on repertoire that could have been written for him.”

The Arts Desk

“Astonishingly good … bold, confident and extrovert, this is thrilling.”

Mail on Sunday

“dazzling … some of the finest string playing ever put on disc by a British orchestra.”

The Spectator

“The strings rear up, there’s a flash of steel from the trumpets, and ten seconds into Respighi’s ‘Feste Romane’, you can already tell that things are about to get physical. It’s the heft of the sound that floors you — the gut punch of a 100-piece orchestra darting through Respighi’s Technicolor sonorities with the silken grace of a puma  … The quiet passages have a tactile, perfumed softness that you won’t hear from any other orchestra.” 

MusicWeb International

“This is a fabulous disc. John Wilson puts these scores across with a dramatist’s flair but also with a scrupulous ear for detail. His hand-picked orchestra plays superbly from start to finish. The big moments are absolutely thrilling, but just as exciting are the many passages of quiet subtlety; these are all delivered with unfailing sensitivity.”

“I’m struggling to think of an orchestral recording that has impressed me more … This is a knock-out recording.”

 

 

BBC Music Magazine

“There are dozens of versions of Respighi’s ‘Roman Trilogy’ available, but I’ve heard none better than this. The orchestral playing is magnificent, and its joy and exuberance are a tonic.”

Gramophone Magazine

“This is a high-voltage interpretation, virtuosically  played and strong on detail and drama…as we have come to expect from these forces, the results are nothing if not gripping. 

The competition in this repertory is stiff…but Wilson and his orchestra more than hold their own against their rivals, and perhaps just have the edge over them thanks to Chandos’s superbly engineered recording, which is state-of-the-art, and absolutely stunning.”

MusicWeb International

“I have never heard this music presented with such power and detail and sheer visceral excitement but also with such control and sophisticated balance – it is literally revelatory…. this might just be one of Chandos’ finest feats of engineering ever, showcasing the superlative and sophisticated playing of John Wilson’s Sinfonia of London. A genuine triumph.”

The Sunday Times

“The meticulous Wilson is compelling…he makes the music of all three scores sing with an Italiante accent while encouraging his players to heights of virtuosity. and a rich spectrum of dynamics and colour.”

The Observer

“Deprived as we are of big orchestras, this disc is a joy: massive, audacious and vividly played… Respighi’s best known work – Roman Trilogy – is brought to dazzling new life by John Wilson and his historic recording orchestra.”

The Telegraph

“In Wilson’s interpretation the piece was brought to life for me as never before. Until I heard this I thought there were two truly outstanding accounts of this trilogy: Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra on RCA from 1949; and Riccardo Muti and the Philadelphia Orchestra on EMI from 1984. Now I believe there are three.”

The Arts Desk

“Fritz Reiner’s improbably lush Chicago Symphony version on RCA should be on all shelves, along with this John Wilson disc with Sinfonia of London. You hear stuff that you’ll struggle to notice in other performances. …Sumptuous sonics and good notes, too. Go on – treat yourself.”

The Classic Review

“Wilson navigates changes of meter, key and tempo with ease, creating the clearest visuals in the mind’s eye. The orchestral colours Wilson and co cajole are sheer beauty…A remarkable album to treasure.”

Presto Classical

“With dazzlingly inventive dashes of orchestration and demandingly intricate writing across all sections, these three pieces are the perfect vehicle to showcase the sensational virtuosity on offer from this ensemble. …A thrilling culmination to yet another phenomenal album from John Wilson and Sinfonia of London.”

Classical CD Choice

“This is really something special: astonishingly detailed, spectacularly exciting, delivered with the full-blooded panache that we have come to expect from John Wilson and this orchestra. …Sinfonia of London plays as if their lives depended on it, and tackle the pieces here with a dazzling combination of orchestral finesse and virtuosity.”

BBC Music Magazine

“All the performances are beyond praise and superbly recorded. This is undoubtedly my best disc of the last 12 months”

Gramophone Magazine

“The enthusiasm that Wilson elicits from his orchestra is very much apparent on every track, though what really impresses is the finesse as well as the virtuosity of the playing, the refinement of detail, the subtlety of texture and colour.”

The Guardian

“All of the music requires refined, stylish playing, and Wilson and his orchestra can certainly supply that. Their performance of Debussy’s Prelude lays down an early marker of their subtlety.”

Financial Times

Wilson’s technically brilliant orchestra is in its element and the performances add an extra dash of showmanship to the music’s luminous, sensuous, always totally French sound-world.

The Classic Review

“Ravishing – a performance that balances fragile beauty and fulsome passion. It’s easy to imagine this will be one of my top 5 recordings of the year – urgently recommended.”

The Symphonist

“It’s a very long time since a record gave me so much sheer listening pleasure. Already a contender for Record of the Year.”

The Telegraph

“Delicious from beginning to end, and the performances from Sinfonia of London and John Wilson are wonderful.”

Daily Mail

Terrific…if Wilson and the Sinfonia of London carry on like this, it will become a memorable partnership.”

Sunday Times

This first album is a promise of great things to come. The Symphony emerges as a near-masterpiece in [Wilson’s] flexible hands, fabulously played by the musicians. More, please.”

Gramophone Magazine

“Every phrase speaks; textures are translucent and detailed, and the string sound glows from within. Stirring, thought-provoking and superbly played, this disc is a tonic.”

BBC Music Magazine

“The playing of the Sinfonia of London is astonishingly brilliant, with Hollywood-dream glories in the string tone.”

Classical Source

“Wilson’s most substantial recording achievement to date. Setting new standards in several respects…these scores have surely never been prepared to so exalted a standard.”