John Potter has a prolific discography reflecting his broad interests and talents as a singer, musicologist, ensemble conductor, and more. Potter's early training was, as many British singers' is, as a choral scholar at one of the country's ancient universities. Later studies, including time with Peter Pears, covered solo vocal repertoire, but he's always been interested in nearly every type of vocal performance, be it jazz, lute songs, or multimedia presentations of new music. Potter was a member of the Hilliard Ensemble from 1984 to 2001, and this, plus his own ensemble Red Byrd (founded in 1989), was the root of his reputation as an expert interpreter of early music. However, he's also been a backup singer for Manfred Mann, Mike Oldfield, the Who, and others. One of the results of this wide-ranging curiosity is the Dowland Project, recordings for ECM in which early music singers and instrumentalists are joined by jazz musicians, giving music of the Renaissance a fresh perspective. Similarly, Potter is involved with the Hyperion label in the Conductus project, programs with accompanying films by Michael Lynch exploring 12th and 13th century music. He's also been part of premieres of many contemporary works by composers like Gavin Bryars, Luciano Berio, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and several young composers from the University of York. Beyond all of this, Potter is a scholar and teacher, editing books about singing, and notably co-authoring A History of Singing, an overview of vocal music from around the world and many eras.
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Classical - Released August 25, 2017 | ECM New Series
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
The fact that Tomás Luis de Victoria was born in 1548, 27 years after Josquin des Prez’s death, must not lead the listener to assume this album presents “disparate” works of a composer from the early Renaissance on the one hand and of a second composer from the late Renaissance on the other. In those times, composers’ works were passed around – often as tablatures for lute and vihuela music – and most importantly, each interpreted them according to their own ideas (particularly because tablatures were unobtrusive regarding rhythms), their instrument’s abilities, and depending on whether they performed alone or in support of a singer… This CD offers a personal interpretation of the works of Victoria and Josquin, as imagined by the voices of singers John Potter and Anna Maria Friman, as well as the vihuelas of Ariel Abramovich, Lee Santana and Jacob Heringman. In order to better highlight the vividness of language in the Renaissance, the latter offers us half a dozen small instrumental “Preludes” scattered across the album, that he improvised in the style of the time, using snippets, accents, suggestions, turns as they were then used. Here is an excellent overhaul of the very concept of “historical authenticity”, as it always remains closely related to the time, instruments, instrumentalists, and the thousands of layers of possible interpretations of Renaissance music. © SM/Qobuz
Classical - Released June 21, 2013 | ECM New Series
Recorded in 2001 and 2008, Night Sessions is the fourth album of the Dowland Project on ECM, drawing on music of the late Medieval and Renaissance periods as raw source material for improvisation. Leader John Potter is joined by Stephen Stubbs, John Surman, Barry Guy, Maya Homburger, and Milos Valent, all experts on antique and modern instruments who create a mysterious dialog between the past and present by crossing boundaries of style and expression. Much of the music they have reworked is anonymous, derived from fragmentary pieces or ancient chants, though there are a few pieces by known composers, such as Joan Ambrosio Dalza, Bernart de Ventadorn, Solage, and Pierre Attaingnant, and their music is also subjected to the group's unpredictable adaptations. This album is not for early music purists or people who like to put their music in neat cubbyholes, because the blending of consort music with avant-garde jazz and experimental vocalizations does not allow for easy categorization. Yet the album works surprisingly well on its own terms, not only because of its compelling feeling of darkness and melancholy, but also because it provides many inventive transformations and surprises that keep the listener thinking. It may be called crossover music for the sake of convenience, but Night Sessions really is sui generis. © TiVo