press quotes

Recording: Korngold / Sinfonia of London / Chandos: September 2019

“At long last, Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Symphony in F sharp has the recording it deserves…Wilson and his Sinfonia of London bring us the work as it needs to sound, yet rarely has: the result packs a devastating emotional punch.”
★★★★★ BBC Music magazine, Recording of the Month

"A radiant new recording. He evokes a great post-war US orchestra – the weighty, satin string tone, the skyscraping brass and questioning woodwinds that you might find on a 1950s Chicago or Philadelphia disc, though Chandos captures a much mellower general ambience. Rhythms are springy and purposeful; the great Adagio really strives, as well as sings, and I’ve rarely heard it probe deeper. Every phrase speaks; textures are translucent and detailed (even at the dizzying speed of the Scherzo), and the string sound glows from within, with portamento very much at the service of expression. Wilson clearly sees Korngold’s Symphony (rightly) as part of the Viennese classical tradition.
The result is both gripping and sincerely moving; and the two short, sad sweet late works that follow the symphony – written by Korngold for amateur orchestras – receive the same whole-hearted commitment and loving care for colour and style. Stirring, thought-provoking and superbly played, this disc is a tonic. Let’s hope it’s not a one-off."
Gramophone, September 2019

"The symphony emerges as a near-masterpiece in his flexible hands, fabulously played by the musicians."
Sunday Times, Album of the Week

★★★★★ “However valuable John Wilson’s back catalogue, this August 30 Chandos issue might just prove to be his most substantial recording achievement to date. It is by my reckoning the tenth commercial release of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s once-neglected Symphony… but it is indubitably ahead of the pack, setting new standards in several respects." Classical Source

"The main work is the Symphony in F sharp, and right from the start, with brooding, restless chords from bassoons, marimba, piano, and strings, it's clear that Wilson is alive to the nuances of Korngold's orchestration; the whole performance is packed full of classy solos, from a quietly searching clarinet in the opening moments, to a ravishing solo flute a few minutes later. Although of course this isn’t actually a disc of film music, the Hollywood sheen of the strings is highly pleasing, and their unanimity of articulation in the more fiendish passages is one of the most notable things about this performance, not least the clarity of attack that they bring to their semiquavers in the last movement."
Presto Classical

Massenet, Cendrillon, Glyndebourne Festival Opera

“...the London Philharmonic Orchestra found the necessary je ne sais quoi and gave a majestic reading of Massenet’s kaleidoscopic score, deftly conjured by the conductor John Wilson.” The Times

“…the London Philharmonic orchestra under John Wilson made sure the action zipped along.” The Telegraph

"John Wilson worked miracles in the pit. Massenet's score can be heavy in places, yet Wilson made sure his singers were never swamped, aided by Glyndebourne's superb acoustics and the dreamy playing of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. If you can take the Freudian psychoanalysis, this staging casts quite a spell." Bachtrack

“John Wilson conducts a light and efficient reading of Massenet’s colourful score. He doesn’t linger on the orchestral details, all beautifully rendered by the London Philharmonic, and restrains the dynamics, putting the music to the service of the stage action, and perfectly complementing Shaw’s evocative fairytale world.” Arts Desk

“There’s top-quality playing from the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the pit, while conductor John Wilson makes an endless delight of the enchanting candyfloss score; and there’s enough magic and fairy dust in the show’s visuals and its overall execution to keep the children in us all happy ever after.” The Stage

Gilbert & Sullivan, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

"Wilson drew miraculous playing from the OAE, which seemed completely at home among the clouds of meringue and piles of whipped cream that Gilbert & Sullivan offer their audiences." Bachtrack

Bax, Walton, Vaughan Williams, BBC Philharmonic

★★★★ "Wilson managed the gusting and surging of the storm so that the orchestra became a force of nature." Bachtrack

Rachmaninov Symphony No.3, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

★★★★ "There was a Hollywood sheen to the string-playing here, and lovely solo work from orchestra leader Laura Samuel as well as from guest first horn Lisa Maria Cooper. The brass again had the last word in the brilliant, sparkling final bars." The Herald

Donizetti, Puccini, Respighi, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

★★★★★ "These were terrifically assured, convincing accounts under Wilson’s determined direction." The Scotsman

Bennett, Gershwin & Walton, Philharmonia Orchestra

“with Louis Schwizgebel a clean-fingered and hugely stylish soloist, it was wholly successful” Classical Source

Gershwin, Porgy & Bess, English National Opera

"It is brilliantly conducted by John Wilson. This is a repertoire he knows inside out, and his passionate advocacy of Gershwin’s idiom...elicits world-class performances from the orchestra and from the international “ensemble”, who sing their hearts out in the big choral scene." The Times

★★★★ "John Wilson, in his first conducting gig for ENO, keeps rhythms pliant, speeds brisk but not too fast, allowing the hit-you-between-the-ears choruses breadth and grandeur." Guardian

★★★★ "thanks to some exceptional playing by English National Opera’s much put-upon orchestra, and the idiomatic, impassioned conducting of John Wilson, it’s Gershwin’s vividly colourful orchestrations that constantly tickle the ear." Daily Mail

"In the pit John Wilson whips up his own storms, galvanising the ENO Orchestra and handpicked chorus so that the tension never lets up. Gershwin’s score, built on the twin pillars of jazz and spirituals, hits you between the eyes" Mail on Sunday

“It pleases the eye, and delivers knock-out choruses, sassy orchestral playing under conductor John Wilson, and heart-warming renditions of the big melodies such as “Summertime”. So a hit is pretty well guaranteed.” Telegraph

★★★★ “Playing under John Wilson’s direction, the orchestra valiantly honours Gershwin’s ambition to combine the drama and romance of Carmen with the beauty of Die Meistersinger.” Independent

★★★★ “With the always inspirational John Wilson conducting the ENO orchestra, the music was in lively hands.” Financial Times

★★★★it’s Gershwin’s music that wins out, played quite brilliantly by John Wilson and the ENO Orchestra.” Bachtrack

★★★★★ “…what ENO can also bring to it is thrilling musicianship, too, with its resident orchestra under the powerful baton of John Wilson, and a truly massive cast.” London Theatre

★★★★And John Wilson’s assured conducting heightens the operatic credentials” Classical Source

Bernstein, On the Town, BBC Proms, London Symphony Orchestra

★★★★ "Conductor John Wilson...joined the London Symphony Orchestra for a concert performance of the Broadway score. What we lost in choreography...we gained in symphonic splendour" Independent

"With John Wilson conducting the London Symphony Orchestra...we had plenty of intrumental razzle-dazzle" Times

★★★★ "the Proms celebrated with a high-octane performance of On the Town by the London Symphony Orchestra superbly paced by John Wilson." Evening Standard

★★★★ "What John Wilson applied last night to make On the Town work...was precisely that classical focus, high on energy and cutting no slack. Never, surely, has the score been better played." The Arts Desk

Bernstein, West Side Story, BBC Proms, John Wilson Orchestra

★★★★ "John Wilson conducted his own orchestra with his customary flair and energy – the street scenes were as snappy as a flick-knife, while the more intimate episodes glowed with romantic ardour." Telegraph

★★★★ "Wilson conducted with white-hot intensity, and the orchestral sound, with its plush strings and big-band brass, sent shivers down the spine." Guardian

★★★★ "John Wilson gave the sense that the score had been worked on, loved, and its strengths, its variety and its myriad influences were to be constantly brought to life...Wilson’s timing and pacing of the score was masterful" The Arts Desk

Britten, Bernstein & Copland, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Aldeburgh Festival

"Wilson’s masterly way with big Britten scores — the Sinfonia da Requiem and Colin Matthews’s new orchestration of the Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo (eloquently sung by Robert Murray) in the first concert; the Four Sea Interludes and Passacaglia from Peter Grimes and the rarely programmed Diversions for Piano Left Hand in the second — revealed a passionate advocate of English classical music second to none." Sunday Times

★★★★★ "the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the baton of John Wilson on top form delivering a sensitive, atmospheric and compelling reading... conducted with flair and preciseness by John Wilson whose personality and confidence not only reached out to his players but also to members of the audience as well." Planet Hugill

"Under the inspired baton of conductor John Wilson, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra delivered a charged and emotional reading. From the violent opening drumbeats the tension never relaxed and brass and woodwind rang out crisp and clear."
East Anglian Daily Times

Elgar & Prokofiev, Sydney Symphony Orchestra

"John Wilson and the Sydney Symphony negotiated the storm-tossed waters of the opening movement with vigour and propulsion... The conductor and orchestra achieved a dignity and even, towards the end of the movement, reminded me of Siegfried's Funeral March from Wagner's Götterdämmerung." Limelight Magazine

Bernstein Stage & Screen, Sydney Symphony Orchestra

★★★★★ "Overall, this concert reminded us that while Bernstein was a populist composer he was by no means lightweight: his music is full of complex rhythms, tricky harmonic shifts, and above all an extraordinary range of orchestral colours. Conductor John Wilson balanced precision and excitement expertly and the orchestra clearly enjoyed working with him." Limelight Magazine

Elgar & Britten, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

“Wilson found a profound, pulsating cohesion missing from previous interpretations. Besides the raw, immediate presence of the opening theme and the caressing gorgeousness of its quick-to-act counterfoil, a contrast that sets the heaving and opulent expressive agenda for the whole work, Wilson insisted on pinpoint clarity of texture.” Scotsman

Copland Orchestral Works 2 (Recording), BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

★★★★★ “Everything about the performances signals a conductor and an orchestra who really believe in the quality of the music they are performing... Wilson manages to bring transparency and buoyancy to even the most massive climaxes.” Guardian

Madame Butterfly, Glyndebourne

“The evening's other big success was John Wilson... shaping the music's ebb and flow as if he had been doing it all his life and revealing countless details... A sensational success.” Opera Magazine

Bernstein, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra

“With laconic gestures he kept rhythms clean and urgent and performed dynamic sorcery... Wilson hammered out the climaxes with accurate savagery.” Opera Today

Vaughan Williams & Holst, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

"This was a performance full of searching and nuance, with Wilson masterfully coaxing fine solos and ensemble-work out of the players and building up to a gloriously life-affirming climax” Bachtrack

British Classics, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

“John Wilson's elegant and encouraging baton on Wednesday was both full-blooded and insightful, generously phrased and perceptively fleet of detail." Birmingham Post

Rachmaninov & Turnage, London Symphony Orchestra

"After the interval came a magisterial, truly great performance of Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony, a work that Wilson seems to have in his system on this showing. Passion and excitement blended with lucidity. There wasn’t a trace of self-indulgence anywhere.” Guardian

From Barber to Broadway, Deutsche-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin

„Mit John Wilson – dieser allerdings ein akribischer, hochpräziser Brite – steht ein Experte am Dirigentenpult, der auch als Musikwissenschaftler und Rekonstrukteur verloren gegangener Musical-Partituren von sich reden gemacht hat. Mit schmissigen Bläserakzenten und sattem Streichersound stellt Leonard Bernsteins „Candide“-Ouvertüre sofort klar: Wir leben, frei nach Voltaire, in der besten aller möglichen Welten, da gibt es keine Zweifel, keine Ab- und Jenseitigkeit." Tagesspiegel

Bax, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, Sydney Symphony Orchestra

"Wilson was very much on his home turf here and extracted a top-notch performance from his forces... Wilson showed why he is noted for building a following among audiences... getting the best out of the Sydney Symphony and producing a performance which evoked all the life and contrasts of a day in the life of a great city in Edwardian times."  Daily Telegraph

"John Wilson had a sensitive ear for expressive gradations of tone, volume and colour in the scores by Arnold Bax and Vaughan Williams.. drawing tension and interest from carefully calibrated quietness and colour... allowing silence and carefully orchestrated quiet sections, etched with astringent woodwind chords, time to build their cumulative effect"  Canberra Times