Press and reviews

Welcome to our press and reviews page, which contains a selection of the media's praise for the Avison Ensemble's recordings, concerts and activities.


English Concerto concert, The Sage

The Concerto in England – Handel and His Contemporaries

The Sage, Gateshead, Friday 9th October 2015

North Eastern Baroque with the Avison Ensemble

The brightest star in the firmament of British 18th century music was unarguably George Frederick Handel, and his light burns so brightly that it often overwhelms our sight of other composers, especially those who worked outside the world of London theatre. The Avison Ensemble (the clue is in their name) have long championed the work of the 18th century Newcastle musician Charles Avison, and their concert in Hall Two of Sage Gateshead – amazingly, their first in this venue – gave us a taster not just of Avison, but of other composers with North East connections.

It was only right that they should begin with Avison, and his Concerto Grosso in D Op 6 no.9 was an absolute joy. The Baroque formality of the opening bars soon gives way to a playfulness that was enhanced by the Avison Ensemble’s delicate sound, and their light touch. Throughout the concert nothing was ever overdone, or unnecessary: we heard quiet, intimate playing that sang through the melodies, their ornaments were slipped in tastefully, without any showiness, and the faster solo passages were consistently delivered with an easy grace.

John Garth, John Stanley and William Herschel made up the other less-known British composers in the programme. Garth spent his life in County Durham, was a friend and musical collaborator of Avison: it seems that between them, they organised all the musical life of the North East. Cellist Richard Tunnicliffe introduced Garth’s Cello Concerto no. 5 in D minor by describing it as “tuneful and accessible, a piece that should be in the repertoire of all young budding cellists”, and it was indeed straightforward and unassuming, but lifted from being mundane by the affectionate, happy ensemble playing and Tunnicliffe’s silky solo lines.

William Herschel must rank alongside Handel for fame and name-recognition, although not as a composer, for today he is remembered for his outstanding contribution to astronomy. He was first a musician though, and spent some time living in Sunderland, teaching music and playing violin in Avison’s orchestra. Like much of the music on the programme, the influence of the many Italian musicians who worked in London and the general fashion for Italian music was clear; in Herschel’s case it came through in the faster solo passages, and in the tremolando bass line, delivered with quiet power by Richard Tunnicliffe and Jan Zahourek’s violone. Soloist Pavlo Beznosiuk delivered clean, unaffected playing, even through the most energetic writing, with an charming pianissimo solo in the middle Adagio.

In addition to his duties on the harpischord, Roger Hamilton gave us two enjoyable organ concertos. The Op.10 no.2 concerto shows that there’s more to John Stanley than that Trumpet Voluntary; two lively movements with a ceaselessly bubbling organ part clearly showed Stanley’s own skill as an organist, and Hamilton played with obvious enjoyment and verve. Earlier we had heard him playing Handel’s Organ Concerto no. 8, a piece probably written to serve as interval music during a performance of Handel’s Saul, and this modest piece ensured that for most of the concert, the other composers weren’t upstaged by Handel. Hamilton provided a thoroughly well-fitted improvisation at the required point and brought spontaneity to Handel’s own written-out improvisations.

I spent most of the evening riveted by the degree of communication and trust between the eight players, and this meant that they were able to bring a lot of freedom to the way they played. This came through particularly as they worked their way around Hamilton’s improvisatory passages in the Handel, and also meant that they were utterly unperturbed during the Handel Concerto Grosso that closed the concert, when one player suffered hand cramp and Joanne Green stepped across and seamlessly took over the trickiest bits. Things do go wrong in live music and the Avisons’ gracious handling of this was an example to us all.

Having had all this unknown British music, it must be said that the Avison Ensemble undermined their point somewhat by concluding with one of Handel’s magnificent Op.6 Concerti Grossi (no. 11 in A), a piece that outshone everything else on the programme for its grand structure and the complexity of the counterpoint. There was so much to enjoy in the playing too: the interplay between the soloists and the full group; the effortless fluidity of their tempi; Pavlo Beznosiuk and Caroline Balding’s dancing duet; and the light bounce of the staccato bowing by all the strings in the opening.

In the end though, the point that the Avison Ensemble really made with this concert is that modest music played with charm, affection and respect can be just as enjoyable as the great masterpieces. Handel may eclipse the others overall, but all are worthy of having their music played alongside his.

Jane Shuttleworth, 10 October 2015,


John Garth

Accompanied Keyboard Sonatas Op. 2 & 4

On Divine Arts  - 2 CD set and downloads

  • 'The recording is excellent, as it needs to be, in order to do justice to the top-drawer musicianship on display from these fine players.' INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW
  • 'There is never a dull moment here ... a highly entertaining set of discs.' MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL
  • 'In short, this is fine music with an excellent performance.' FANFARE MAGAZINE
  • Featuring Gary Cooper  (harpsichord, spinet, square piano & organ)
  • World premiere recording

Arcangelo Corelli

Church Sonatas Opus 1 & 3

On Linn Records - 2 CD set and downloads - Studio Master | CD Quality | MP3

  • 'The illustrious five players of the Avison Ensemble offer shapely readings, phrasing beautifully and making the most of every nuance.' THE SUNDAY TIMES
  • '... performances of captivating freshness, vitality and impressive depth of understanding.' INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW
  • '... musically affectionate, stylistically expert performances.' AUDIOPHILE AUDITION


Arcangelo Corelli

Chamber Sonatas Opus 2 & 4

On Linn Records - 2 CD set and downloads - Studio Master | CD Quality | MP3

  • 'The Avison Ensemble continue their stunning Corelli anniversary recording project ... beautifully understated, and allowing the music to speak for itself.' GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE
  • 'The Avison Ensemble captures their essence in graceful, finely controlled performances – by turns lyrical, fleet, playful, imbued with an effortless style.' BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
  • '... the virtues of the Avison group are once again on full display here; the players achieve a sparkling liveliness that few other groups seem to manage with period strings.' ALLMUSIC.COM

Arcangelo Corelli

Violin Sonatas Opus 6

On Linn Records - 2 CD set and downloads - Studio Master | CD Quality | MP3

  • 'This is an immensely enjoyable release.' GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE
  • '... these astounding performances [are] something truly special.'  INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW
  • '... idiomatic, thoroughly polished performances ...' THE STRAD
  • CD of the Month April 2013


Arcangelo Corelli

Concerti Grossi Opus 6

On Linn Records - 2 CD set and downloads - Studio Master | CD Quality | MP3

  • '... the sense of ensemble is faultless and, in the faster movements, breathtakingly impressive.' GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE
  • '... this album is certainly a celebration of [Corelli's] colourful music.' CLASSIC FM
  •  '... I keep coming back to this one for the warmth and the sheer joy of the playing ...' BBC RADIO 3 CD REVIEW
  • Classic FM Drive featured album, 8th - 12th October 2012
  • Nominated for MusicWeb International’s Recordings of the Year 2012

Corelli concerts, Kings Place

Corelli at Christmas: La Folia concert and Concerti Grossi concert

Kings Place, London. Friday 28 and Saturday 29 December 2012

'A pleasure of this concert was that everything performed was a rarity, but the principal pleasure lay in the Avison Ensemble’s sheer excellence. Their period instrumentation – two violins, a cello, an archlute, plus an organ or harpsichord – was perfectly suited to the Kings Place acoustic, and the works were wittily introduced.

It was ear-opening to hear pieces by Stradella, Domenico Gabrieli, and Giovanni Romano, while Corelli’s Trios were a reminder of what a trail-blazer he was, above all in his setting of ‘La folia’ which Rachmaninov was to rework so magically two centuries later.'  THE INDEPENDENT


Antonio Vivaldi

Violin Concerti Opus 8 including The Four Seasons

On Linn Records - 2 CD set and downloads - Studio Master | CD Quality | MP3

  • '... one of the most vibrant, authentic and involving recordings of Vivaldi’s violin concertos I’ve heard.' CLASSIC FM MAGAZINE
  • '... this excellent UK-based ensemble showing why it is rapidly gaining respect as one of the finest period-instrument bands of our time ...' INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW
  • 'This is another excellent recording ... I shall certainly be returning to it frequently.' MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL
  • BBC Radio 3 CD Review Disc of the Week, 19 November 2011


George Frideric Handel

Concerti Grossi Opus 6

On Linn Records - 3 CD set and downloads - Studio Master | CD Quality | MP3

  • '... the Avison Ensemble really triumphs in conveying a sense of occasion and musical opulence. Magnificent!' INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW
  • '... here is a very special, brilliant, three-disc set, which is just bursting with vigour, wit, style, refinement and some juicily characterful playing ...' THE HERALD
  • '... a landmark SACD, sumptuously recorded, that one should not hesitate to acquire.' OPUS D'OR
  • Shortlisted for the Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2011 - Baroque Instrumental category
  • Awarded an Opus d'Or Award 2010
  • Awarded Best Recording 2010 by High Fidelity Magazine
  • Ring of ClassiqueInfo award
  • Nominated for the 2011 International Classical Music Awards
  • Music Web International Download of the Month, July 2010
  • Released on Linn Records - Gramophone Magazine Label of the Year 2010

Charles Avison

Sonatas for Harpsichord Opus 5 & 7

On Divine Arts  - 2 CD set

  • '... remarkable as much for the glories of the music they contain as for the brilliance of the Avison Ensemble's playing ...' INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW
  • '... performances and music come together in a wholly splendid way in this disc, one which advances Avison's cause still further.' MUSICWEB
  • '... the performances by the Avison Ensemble are worthy of the music they play, being both suavely urbane and stylistically astute.' FANFARE MAGAZINE
  • Featuring Gary Cooper (harpsichord)
  • MusicWeb recording of the month November 2010
  • Final release in the Avison Ensemble's complete recording of Avison's orchestral and chamber music
  • World premiere recording


Charles Avison

Trio Sonatas Opus 1, Keyboard Sonatas Opus 8

On Divine Arts  - 2 CD set

  •  '... played here with relish and charm by the four members of the Avison Ensemble ... a most desirable release.' INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW
  • 'This is a captivating collection of sonatas, which is given outstanding and expressive performances.' MUSICWEB
  • 'The strings create a superb, well-blended sound, and offer a wide range of tonal colours and variety ...' THE CONSORT
  • World premiere recording

Beethoven concert, Kings Place

Beethoven's Triple Concerto, Fourth Piano Concerto

Kings Place, London. Thursday 26 March 2009

'So praise be to the Avison Ensemble last night at Kings Place, and a performance that made the Triple Concerto come alive as a concert experience. It was a performance that was made by the intimate relationships created among the soloists - violinist and director Pavlo Beznosiuk, pianist Alexei Lubimov and cellist Richard Tunnicliffe - and with the ensemble. The Avison Ensemble's performance revealed the piece for what it really is: an amplified piano trio, with the orchestra beefing up the textures but often reduced to no more than generic accompaniment. Best of all in the Avison's performance was its sheer sense of fun. The Avisons playing was exciting, physical, and improvisational. In the Triple Concerto, I'd take them over Karajan and the Russians any day.' THE GUARDIAN


Charles Avison

12 Concerti Grossi after Scarlatti

On Divine Arts  - 2 CD set

  • 'This is exemplary baroque string playing, and at its most tasteful.' THE CONSORT
  • '... this eponymous ensemble is clearly made up of very gifted musicians whose corporate and individual artistry is impressive. Strongly recommended.' MUSICAL OPINION
  • 'A thoroughly enjoyable and technically first class recording of the Twelve Concerti Grossi ...' MUSICWEB
  • BBC Radio 3 Essential CD of the Week, 7 - 11 November 2011

Charles Avison

12 Concerti Grossi Op 9, 6 Concerti Grossi Op 10

On Divine Arts  - 2 CD set

  • 'The concerti tumble out like pristine toys from a long-locked cupboard.' CLASSIC FM MAGAZINE
  • 'The overall exuberance of the performance and the quality of the ensemble is utterly winning ... this double-CD set is a mine of varied and exciting music.' THE CONSORT
  • 'These are exceptionally stylish 'period' performances and are ideal ambassadors for the promotion of this neglected composer.' CLASSICAL SOURCE
  • Classic FM Disc of the Week, 24 August 2008
  • World premiere recording


John Garth

Six Cello Concertos

On Divine Arts  - 2 CD set

  • 'Memorable music, persuasively performed, richly recorded and among the most rewarding releases of the year.' INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW
  • 'I heartily thank Richard Tunnicliffe and the Avison Ensemble for bringing these works back to the English public.' THE CONSORT
  • 'The performances are excellent, with Richard Tunnicliffe irresistibly mixing grace and virtuosity.' MUSICWEB
  • Featuring Richard Tunnicliffe (cello)
  • Selected for Fanfare Magazine's Hall of Fame
  • World premiere recording

Charles Avison

12 Concerti Grossi after Geminiani

On Divine Arts  - 2 CD set

  • 'They must surely be one of the finest baroque ensembles now in existence.' EARLY MUSIC NEWS
  • 'The performances of this immensely appealing set of concertos are outstanding. An exceptional issue in every way.' GOLDBERG EARLY MUSIC MAGAZINE
  • 'This two-CD set is a delight from start to finish. The playing is brisk and light, the textures clear and the overall ensemble well nigh perfect.' INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW
  • World premiere recording


Charles Avison

Six Concertos Op 3, Eight Concertos Op 4

On Naxos  - 2 CD set

  • 'They play Avison’s music with crisp precision and lively bounce, giving it an apposite stylishness.' MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL
  • 'These performances  present them with affection, respect and a refreshing absence of turbo-Baroque eccentricities designed to grab the attention.' GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE
  • '... they play their chosen composer with wit and style.' MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL
  • World premiere recording


Charles Avison

Twelve Concertos Opus 6

On Naxos  - 2 CD set

  • This is an important release for all lovers of 18th-century English music ... heartfelt performances of these pieces. A voyage of discovery.' BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE
  • 'Played as vibrantly and freshly as it is here, by this expert ensemble from Avison’s own city, one cannot help but respond to the vitality of the writing…' THE PENGUIN GUIDE TO CLASSICAL MUSIC
  • '... these 12 original, fresh-minted works, which bounce with vim and vigour in the hands of this excellent ensemble.' THE OBSERVER
  • World premiere recording