Ian Bostridge is perhaps the best-known English tenor to emerge since the death of Peter Pears. He has become closely associated with the art song repertory, as well as with the music of Benjamin Britten. Bostridge was born on December 25, 1964, in London. Before becoming a singer, he obtained his PhD in history and philosophy from St. John's College of Oxford. However, reaching the finals of both the Kathleen Ferrier and Richard Tauber competitions and winning the 1991 National Federation of Music Societies/Esso Award proved decisive in moving him toward a career in singing. The Young Concert Artists Trust gave him a financial grant to develop his career, and he debuted at Wigmore Hall in London in 1993. One of his most important early recitals was in 1994 at the Purcell Room, where he gave a highly acclaimed performance of Schubert's Winterreise. In the same year, he made his first appearance at the Aldeburgh Festival. Since then, he has become strongly associated with the music of the festival's founder, Benjamin Britten. He made his first New York appearances in 1998 at the Frick Collection and in 1999 at Alice Tully Hall. In 1998, he debuted at the Munich Festival in L'incoronazione di Poppea. His debut with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra was in 1999. His operatic debut was in 1994 at the Covent Garden Festival's production of Britten's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 1995, he sang his first solo recital at Wigmore Hall and increased his European recital presence with appearances in Lyon and Cologne. His debut with the English National Opera was in Mozart's The Magic Flute in 1996, and he was acclaimed for his seductive portrayal in Britten's The Turn of the Screw at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. In 2010, he sang in the premiere of Henze's Opfergang, a setting for voices and orchestra of a poem by Franz Werfel. He is in much demand as a recital singer, and in that capacity, has sung on several volumes of Hyperion's epochal complete Schubert song collection (including the recording of Die schöne Müllerin). He has also issued recordings of Robert Schumann's Dichterliebe, songs of Reynaldo Hahn, a program of little-known Britten songs, and one volume of Jecklin-Disc's set of the complete songs of Othmar Schoeck. Three Baroque Tenors, music written for the era's famous voices (all of them sung by Bostridge himself), was released in 2011. Bostridge's concert repertory recordings include Bach's Magnificat and St. Matthew Passion, Handel's Israel in Egypt, Stravinsky's Cantata, most of the Britten orchestral song cycles for tenor voice, the Mozart Requiem, Finzi's Die Natalis, Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, and Michael Nyman's Noises, Sounds, & Sweet Airs. The year 2016 saw two significant Bostridge album releases. One, Songs of Our Ancestors, was a duo with guitarist Xuefei Yang and featured both Western and Chinese repertory (and led to an Asian tour by the pair). His operatic recordings include A Midsummer Night's Dream, Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, and Thomas Adès' The Tempest. Bostridge's album of orchestral Shakespeare songs with conductor Antonio Pappano was honored with a Grammy award for solo vocals in 2017. In 2020, Bostridge, accompanied by Pappano, issued a recording of Beethoven's songs and folksongs, in celebration of the composer's 250th birthday. Bostridge has earned at least 15 Grammy nominations, with three wins, along with a variety of other top classical prizes, as well as designation as Commander of the British Empire. Switching to singing did not put an end to Bostridge's academic writing, and those two aspects of his career have reinforced each other. His 1997 book Witchcraft and Its Transformations did not touch directly on music but achieved a wide general readership. He has written two books on music, A Singer's Notebook (2011) and the much-praised (and much-translated) Schubert's Winter Journey: Anatomy of an Obsession (2015). Bostridge married writer, editor, and publisher Lucasta Miller in 1992, and the couple have raised a son and a daughter.
© Joseph Stevenson & James Manheim /TiVo
© Joseph Stevenson & James Manheim /TiVo
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Classical - Released October 18, 2010 | Warner Classics
Fans of the Three Tenors should be warned that Three Baroque Tenors has virtually nothing in common with the Pavarotti/Domingo/Carreras phenomenon. There is only one tenor here, Ian Bostridge, singing repertoire originally composed for three early 18th century tenors with extraordinary but very different gifts: Annabile Po Fabri, Francesco Borosini, and John Beard. Almost all of the arias are from operas or semi-operas, and while a few are somewhat familiar, most of the selections are obscure, and several are recorded here for the first time. It would have been easier to discern the three singers' individuality and idiosyncrasies had the pieces for each been grouped together, but there is no discernible rationale for the order of the program. It takes a close reading of the program notes to try to sort out which arias were written for which singer, and not all the pieces are accounted for, so the unique premise of the album is undercut by poor packaging decisions. The coloratura tenor is a voice type that had not even existed at the turn of the 18th century, and it was the virtuosity of Fabri, Borosini, and Beard that emboldened composers to write music for tenors that was as challenging as anything they wrote for women or castrati. With his agile, light voice, Bostridge is probably as well-equipped as any living tenor to tackle this daunting repertoire. He has the coloratura facility and breath control to spin out long lines, and he gives them intelligent, shapely contours. Borosini's voice extended down through typical baritone range, and Bostridge handles even those arias with assurance and solidity. One of the most fascinating things about the album is the juxtaposition of two settings of the same text, "Forte e lieto," the first by Francesco Gasparini in 1719 and the second by Handel in 1724, both written for Borosini's unique gifts. Handel's is certainly the more musically sophisticated, but Gasparini has a visceral emotional charge that Handel's lacks. Obscure arias by composers like Francesco Conti, Antonio Caldara, William Boyce, and John Galliard are reminders of the richness, subtlety, and dazzle of the troves of unexplored Baroque vocal music. Bernard Labadie and the English Consort are simply superb, providing nuanced and delightfully spirited accompaniments. © TiVo