2011 International Tour with Philippe Jaroussky
God's Own Fire – “The Arsenal de Metz was packed to the rafters. What is one to say of the performance of the 14 strings and harpsichord that helped set the Palais Bofill Hall on fire -- along with the divinely bewitched singer? They play standing up, and are quite demonstrative under the guidance of Jeannette Sorrell, a conductor/harpsichordist who manages to be everywhere, plays the harpsichord, and who personally elicits the audience's enthusiasm herself. These winged baroque specialists offered us the surprising and delightful style that they have made their own... Clock-like precision, birdlike lightness, and intoxicating alacrity. Their unleashed impulses made "La Follia" flare up in flames. They pulled us irresistibly into their boundless whirlwind - and we found ourselves happily flying along. It's all fire and flames. The sparks of each musician, and of all of them, turned the Arsenal into a flaming seraglio.”
“It was immediately obvious that the evening would be a party, with fireworks in style. A standing ovation, as rarely happens at the Royal Theatre. The shadow of the American Louis Armstrong was evoked in spirit to perfection by his compatriots from Cleveland, Apollo's Fire Baroque Orchestra, thanks to some dazzling variations on the trio sonata "La Follia". These musicians rejuvenated the baroque for us with the spirit of jazz, and the joy of playing together.... Jeannette Sorrell conducted from the harpsichord with great precision, sensitivity and femininity. The concert was impeccable and the Royal Theatre was full to overflowing. It was one of those evenings that leaves you wanting more.”
“Easily one of the most enjoyable concerts of the season.... Part of the evening’s success also flowed from the sense of artistic collaboration, as Apollo’s Fire here was far more than a backup band. The group without Jaroussky played two Vivaldi concertos on the first half and later pulled out Sorrell’s arrangement of Vivaldi’s “La Follia’’ trio sonata, uncorking it like a Baroque party piece, dashed off from memory. These excellent young musicians take a highly gestural approach to phrasing and bring across their music with an exuberant physicality, like wind through a forest.”
“People… crowded into Emmanuel Church for [Jaroussky’s] concert with Apollo's Fire, Cleveland's premiere period-instrument ensemble, under the tight and lively direction of harpsichordist Jeannette Sorrell. Her positively demented improvisational arrangement of Vivaldi's setting of the famous song "La folia" (Madness) was greeted with almost the same rapture as Jaroussky
“A thrilling program. An enthusiastic audience called the singer and the ensemble back for three encores, each exquisitely rendered.”
“Apollo’s Fire, arriving in town to accompany the French countertenor Philippe Jaroussky at Hill Auditorium last night, proved every bit as alluring as the singer himself. In fact, it could be argued that one of those instrumental selections, Vivaldi’s “La Follia,” was an evening high point. With Sorrell leading from the harpsichord, the ensemble played these variations, based on a “Renaissance pop tune,” with brio and style and more than a hint of the madness the title implies. It was delicious.”
“A... remarkable evening of music took place at Royce Hall [UCLA] last Friday… So much of it is rarely heard on concert stages, and even more rarely with the authenticity and bravura of the Apollo’s Fire baroque orchestra. In the soaring voice and the gripping theatricality of Jaroussky’s performances, and in the dynamic orchestral support of Apollo’s Fire, one could experience a surprisingly convincing aura of what presentations of works such as Oreste, Imeneo and Giustino must have been like. Superbly accompanying Jaroussky, Apollo's Fire also added equally gripping musical moments of their own. Done brilliantly and memorably.”
“Oh, Give Me a Muse of Apollo's Fire…! There are concerts that stick in one’s memory forever. Apollo’s Fire’s joint concert with the spectacular countertenor Philippe Jaroussky, entitled Handel and Vivaldi Fireworks, will be exactly that... The audience went wild after each piece Jaroussky sang. We knew this was an Apollo’s Fire concert to remember.... I believe it might be the beginning of, as they say, a beautiful friendship.”
“Unerring Style from Jaroussky, Apollo's Fire… Dazzling flights of melody, which Jaroussky executed at breakneck speed with flawless accuracy. Jaroussky combines superior musicianship and an unerring sense of style with a superb vocal instrument, a winning combination. Jeannette Sorrell led the mostly young, mostly female and — in every sense of the word — stylish group of string players from the harpsichord.”
“The singing was from start to finish extraordinary - no other single word will suffice. He sang with Apollo's Fire, the baroque orchestra that Sorrell has made one of the finest in the world. This was the first joint appearance of the singer and this orchestra, but it cannot be the last.”
To request copies of the full reviews, please contact Sarah Blue, Marketing Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Comments from the London Press - 2010 . . .
“The U.S.A’s hottest baroque band”
“Apollo’s Fire has forged a vibrant, life-affirming approach to the re-making of early music… European ears have begun to appreciate the blend of intellect and artistry concocted by harpsichordist Sorrell and her colleagues. Their seductive vision of musical authenticity is guided by a shared commitment to honest emotional expression, rooted in period style yet never its slave.”
“An unusually star-studded night at the Wigmore Hall, for one of early music’s better-kept secrets - The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra. Sorrell’s arrangements are gloriously liberal… the whirling strains of [Vivaldi’s] La Folia remade as an infectious group showcase.”
“Visually charged, minutely stage-managed musical theatrics from Jeannette Sorrell and her irrepressible team of musicians… Utterly sensational, every phrase a Baroque curlicue dipped in gold and then embellished still further. Charismatic and boundlessly energetic… this is Baroque music in its unbuttoned state.”
“Under the inspired direction of Jeannette Sorrell, Apollo’s Fire has become one of the pre-eminent period-instrument ensembles, causing one to hear familiar baroque material anew.”
“Apollo’s Fire is one of the brightest lights of period-instrument playing in the United States… arguably the most distinctive in sound and memorable in style. Its trademark qualities: expressive subtlety, exuberance and passion.”
“This swaggering version… makes the most of the variety of instrumental colour Bach so exhilaratingly put on show. Two harpsichord concertos BWV 1052 and 1056 [are] both brilliantly played, as is the keyboard part in the Fifth Brandenburg, by Sorrell.”
“The Midwest’s best-kept secret is finally reaching British ears.”
“A compelling account that can hold its own against any rivals. Exultant… instrumental colours blaze brilliantly.”
from around the U.S. . . .
"The renowned baroque orchestra . . . [plays] with personality and temperament."
"The Cleveland Orchestra has serious competition in the baroque and classical repertories. This period instrument ensemble under the direction of Jeannette Sorrell is consistently accomplished."
"The period-instrument band from Cleveland is renowned for its authoritative snap."
"Apollo’s Fire has developed into one of America’s leading Baroque orchestras, and one capable of competing with some of Europe’s much-recorded bands."
"Led by a brilliant harpsichordist, Jeannette Sorrell, the ensemble exudes stylish energy . . . a blend of scholarship and visceral intensity."
"They were turning people away at the door . . . That unusually large turnout was warranted by the stylishness and boundless verve of Jeannette Sorrell and her musicians."
"Sorrell led a revelatory [performance], with impassioned singing and playing bringing Bach’s [St. John Passion] score to life with contemporary immediacy."
"A stunning achievement . . . It wins out handily over William Christie’s versions and other recent issues."
"Apollo’s Fire is a superb ensemble that pairs vigor with finesse, enlisting period instruments to play baroque fare in a rigorously informed style."
"Sorrell has developed one of the most enterprising and plucky early-music ensembles in the nation today."
"Sorrell and her fine young choir lavish attention on every phrase and inflexion. The exhilaration and sense of discovery is utterly infectious."
"Apollo’s Fire sounds like it’s been playing together for something like forever. Virtuosity runs rampant among the musicians, starting with Sorrell herself."
AT HOME . . . from The Plain Dealer
"The essence of Apollo’s Fire: joy onstage that generates joy in the audience."
"Sorrell and her crackerjack ensemble play with a depth of sound few baroque orchestras on either side of the Atlantic could muster."
"Sorrell’s brilliance was stamped on every aspect of the performance . . . She must be one of the best conductors around in this repertoire."
"Artistic passion, inexhaustible energy . . . and keen musical observations that most performers probably couldn’t imagine . . . "
"Sorrell and her players make contact with music on both visceral and intellectual levels, and the results are intoxicating."
"This was virtuosic artistry in the best sense of the word."
"Stratospheric artistry . . . one of the highlights of the year’s musical season in Cleveland . . ."
"The entire account [of Monteverdi’s Vespers] was an Apollo’s Fire triumph. Sorrell must be one of the best conductors around in this repertoire. In her hands, the glory of Monteverdi’s accomplishment couldn’t have been more radiant or moving."