Stephen Barlow
The Rainbow Bear
Composer: Stephen Barlow Other Artists: Michael Morpurgo (text)‚ Joanna Lumley (narration) Date: 2005

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Former Artistic Director of the Buxton Festival‚ a position he held from 2011 to 2018‚ Stephen Barlow’s recent and current projects include La Cenerentola (Staatsoper‚ Stuttgart)‚ MedeéKoanga (Wexford Festival); Les Contes d’Hoffmann (Beijing); Gioconda, The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko, Porgy and Bess, La Bohème, Romeo et Juliette, Die WalküreLa Fanciulla del WestCapriccioRusalkaTristan und IsoldePique DameDialogues des CarmélitesPeter GrimesFalstaffNorma (Grange Park Opera); Will Todd's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Opera Collective Ireland), MacbethLeonoreLucia di LammermoorLouiseJacobinLa Princesse JauneLa ColombeIntermezzoThe Barber of Baghdad (Buxton Festival); Otello (Birmingham Opera Company); The Rape of LucretiaOwen Wingrave (Irish Youth Opera) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Guildhall School of Music).

Stephen was a boy chorister at Canterbury Cathedral‚ and studied at King’s School‚ Canterbury; Trinity College‚ Cambridge (as Organ Scholar) and Guildhall School of Music and Drama‚ under Vilem Tausky. He co-founded and was Music Director of Opera 80‚ and meanwhile was resident conductor at English National Opera‚ also working with Scottish Opera‚ Dublin Grand Opera‚ Opera North and Royal Opera House (TurandotDie Zauberflöte). He was Artistic Director of Opera Northern Ireland from 1996 to 1999. Other UK highlights include The Rake’s Progress (Glyndebourne)‚ The Cunning Little Vixen (ENO)‚ IdomeneoThe Barber of SevilleFidelio and Madama Butterfly (Belfast)‚ Albert HerringFalstaffThe Marriage of Figaro and Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Garsington)‚ Madam Butterfly (Opera North) and Sweeney Todd with Bryn Terfel (Royal Festival Hall).

Engagements abroad include The Rake’s ProgressMadam ButterflyTosca (Vancouver Opera)‚ Capriccio (San Francisco Opera)‚ FaustNabuccoLa CenerentolaTurandot (Florida Grand Opera)‚ Die ZauberflöteCarmenDuke Bluebeard’s CastleRomeo et Juliette (Australia)‚ Madama ButterflyDon GiovanniIl Trovatore (Auckland)‚ ElektraFaust (Seville)‚ The Cunning Little Vixen (Berlin)‚ The Rake’s Progress (Nationale Reisopera)‚ CapriccioI Capuletti e I Montecchi (Sicily)‚ Rigoletto (Tirana) and Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Riga).

In addition to his operatic work‚ he has conducted most of the major UK orchestras‚ and concert appearances have taken him all over the world. In 1997 he was appointed Music Director of the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra. Recordings include Joseph James’ Requiem with Sumi Jo and his own composition Rainbow Bear (with his wife‚ Joanna Lumley‚ as narrator)‚ and has conducted the premières of his opera King in Canterbury Cathedral and his Clarinet Concerto with Emma Johnson and the Ulster Orchestra. As a pianist‚ he has recorded the complete songs of Butterworth‚ Delius and Quilter.

Tristan und Isolde - Grange Park Opera

Barlow’s conducting served the work well with steady tempi, well sustained over the work’s long lines, understanding that Wagner can be trusted to build his climaxes often across several pages of score.

BachTrack (June 2023)

As a musical experience this was mesmerising under the baton of Stephen Barlow with the Gascoigne orchestra. The magnificent cor anglais solo in Act III showed the splendid acoustics of this newly-built opera house, and the whole evening was a musical treat, well worth the short drive down the A3 from London.

The Article (June 2023)

Stephen Barlow vervollkommnet das beglückende Opernerlebnis im Graben. Er führt das Cascoigne Opernorchester, benannt nach dem großen Unterstützer des Festivals Bamber Cascoigne, mit viel Sach- und Fachverstand. Magisch erklingen die ersten Takte, legändar ist deren Wirkung auf die weitere Musikgeschichte. Füllig und mit feinem Tempi steigert sich das Vorspiel vor zum Glück geschlossenem Vorhang. Es bleibt spannend und frisch im Dirigat, wieder beeindrucken die Qualität und Sicherheit aller Instrumente und der Solisten.

Stephen Barlow completes the exhilarating opera experience in the Graben. He leads the Cascoigne Opera Orchestra, named after the great supporter of the Bamber Cascoigne Festival, with a great deal of expertise and expertise. The first bars sound magical, their effect on further music history is legendary. The prelude to the fortunately closed curtain builds up full-bodied and with a fine tempi. Conducting remains exciting and fresh, and the quality and safety of all the instruments and the soloists are once again impressive.

Opera Online (German) (June 2023)

Barlow’s approach to the score is measured, well shaped – almost to a point of danger in the languid opening prelude but then proceeding with unforced, perceptive momentum.

The Observer (June 2023)

The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko, Grange Park Opera

It was performed in a recording under conductor Stephen Barlow, though one would hardly have known it was not live

The Article (July 2021)

Stephen Barlow conducted along to a recording of the BBC Concert Orchestra playing the score, which, although somewhat over-compressed in the theatre, was punchy and atmospheric in its best moments – the music of Lefortovo prison was especially brooding.

OperaWire (July 2021)

It’s well performed by Stephen Barlow and the BBC Concert Orchestra, but not, sadly, live.

BachTrack (July 2021)

Stephen Barlow, more traffic cop than conductor, keeps the cast on track.

The Independent (iNews) (July 2021)

Composing for, Psappha

As conducted by Stephen Barlow this was a more traditional concert in structure, but remained absolutely fascinating in content, with world premieres (plural) rubbing shoulders with established Second Viennese Classics (the Webern String Quartet and the Schoenberg First Chamber Symphony) plus the fascinating addition of Elisabeth Lutyens’s The Valley of Hatsu-Se.

Seen & Heard International (December 2019)

Porgy and Bess, Grange Park Opera

Otherwise the assembled singers bring vigour and lustiness to a choral contribution second to none in twentieth-century opera, while the BBC Concert Orchestra responds with unstinting commitment to Stephen Barlow’s fastidious conducting... few can have succeeded better in reconciling the startling ingenuity of Gershwin’s writing with a need for parity between voices and orchestra – words and music working to the benefit of each other.

Classical Source (June 2019)

In the pit, the BBC Concert Orchestra was in its element, and conductor Stephen Barlow let the brilliance and inventiveness of Gershwin’s score rip without compromising the balance with the singers on the stage above.

Bachtrack (June 2019)

All of this is handled with admirable aplomb by conductor Stephen Barlow and the BBC Concert Orchestra, bringing plenty of pizzazz to the chorus numbers and high colour to the contrasts of charismatic prayer versus violence and murder.

The Arts Desk (June 2019)

Stephen Barlow and the BBC Concert Orchestra bring out all the swagger, the violence and cruelty in this score. And then it ends. A short-lived, sheepish ripple of applause breaks the stunned silence. But one senses that the power of the music has fully involved the audience in this glorious and truly operatic moment.

Critics Circle (June 2019)

...ENO’S orchestra (here under the confident baton of Stephen Barlow)

Opera Magazine (August 2019)

Alzira‚ Buxton Festival

In his last hurrah as artistic director at Buxton‚ the conductor Stephen Barlow was at his enthusiastic best‚ drawing every last ounce of colour from the Northern Chamber Orchestra‚ brass to the fore.

Opera Magazine (September 2018)

The Northern Chamber Orchestra played superbly‚ conducted by Stephen Barlow‚ the festival artistic director.

Derbyshire Times (July 2018)

In the orchestra pit the Northern Chamber Orchestra under artistic director Stephen Barlow‚ hot foot from conducting Roméo et Juliette at Grange Park Opera‚ gave this rumbustious Verdian drama full throttle...

Mark Ronan Theatre Reviews (July 2018)

In the piece Stephen Barlow drew out the fascinating colours and textures of the piece. It might be highly compressed‚ but Verdi’s music is certainly not neglgible and we heard a myriad of ideas coming out the pit‚ finely played by the Northern Chamber Orchestra.

Planet Hugill (July 2018)

The choral singing is consistently strong and Barlow conducts the Northern Chamber Orchestra with grace and panache.

The Guardian (July 2018)

Roméo et Juliette‚ Grange Park Opera

...and the orchestra of English National Opera played for conductor Stephen Barlow with accuracy‚ sensitivity and vigour‚ the evenness and balance of the held wind chords in quieter moments particularly evocative.

The Critics Circle (June 2018)

Barlow lets the score breathe: you can’t pump false energy into these rippling melodies. If there’s any music in which “sit back and enjoy it” is for once allowable‚ bring on Gounod.

The Observer (June 2018)

Stephen Barlow‚ conducting the ENO orchestra‚ is a master-pâtissier in this sort of high-calorie repertoire. He made the score glint‚ layering divided string passages like a millefeuille‚ and paced the climaxes nicely‚ while letting the love scenes breathe and expand.

The Spectator (June 2018)

Owen Wingrave‚ Opera Collective Ireland

The conductor was Stephen Barlow‚ who created a highly effective realization of this rather variable score‚ with Irish Chamber Orchestra playing the reduced orchestration by David Matthews. Barlow achieved a fine balance with his singers‚ in a tricky acoustic‚ and supported their dramatic performances.

Opera Magazine (December 2017)

Medea‚ Wexford Opera

More pleasing were Raffaella Lupinacci as Neris... as well as Stephen Barlow’s conducting.

Opera Magazine (January 2018)

Originally‚ Cherubini wrote “Medea” in French with a large amount of spoken dialogue. This was later revised by a minor German composer called Frank Lachner who replaced the dialogue with accompanied recitatives. In 1909 it was translated into Italian. It is this version of the work that most people will be familiar with‚ owing to the recordings of Maria Callas‚ made in the 1950s. The conductor for this production of “Medea‚” in Italian‚ for Wexford Festival Opera was Stephen Barlow‚ who decided to retain the recitatives but also add a small amount of the spoken dialogue where dramatically appropriate. Furthermore‚ he also decided to revert to the original tempi found in the French version of the work‚ which had also been changed when it had been converted into Italian. Barlow’s justification was that the Italian version was “over-Romanticised” and “horribly slow.” We were‚ thus‚ entertained to a far livelier version of “Medea‚” which indeed did have a leaner and sharper feel to it. The Orchestra of the Wexford Festival Opera produced a wonderful performance‚ which did shed new light on a work for those of us brought up on the Callas version.

Opera Wire (November 2017)

Conductor Stephen Barlow declared their intention to do Cherubini’s original ‘lean‚ sharp and elegantly classical articulations’ justice: and‚ the orchestral playing was indeed incisive and pointed...

Opera Today (October 2017)

Medea is mostly remembered as a vehicle for Maria Callas in the Italian version (sung here)‚ but her Fifties recordings don’t convey why Beethoven should have admired Cherubini so much his influence is clearly detectable in Fidelio. Conductor Stephen Barlow‚ however‚ has dusted off Cherubini’s score‚ reinstated his original‚ much faster tempi‚ and now‚ rinsed clean of earlier heavy-going approaches‚ the work is revealed as a much more lyrical early-classical affair.

The Independent (October 2017)

Is this a reality TV send-up — Real Housewives of Corinth? How does that sit with the controlled ferocity of Stephen Barlow’s conducting‚ or the fluid‚ stylised expressiveness with which Iniesta‚ Romanovsky and Adam Lau (Creon) sculpt their lines?

The Spectator (October 2017)

Die Walküre‚ Grange Park Opera

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra played wonderfully for Stephen Barlow‚ whipping up far more excitement from the pit than one might expect‚ and supporting the singers with sympathetic skill.

MusichOMH (July 2017)

They seemed inspired by the unostentatious musical direction of Stephen Barlow‚ a born Wagnerian – where has this wonderful conductor been all our Wagnerian lives? The musical performance on 5th July was not only a good one but a great one‚ hair-raising‚ lyrical and magisterial by turns and sometimes all at the same time‚ with immense heft and exorbitant power at the climaxes‚ but also many pools of stillness and deep beauty. Notable was the long unison line that comes coiling out of the depths on the lowers strings just before Siegmund begins interrogating Brünnhilde: where will she take him after this death? As with any great performance there were moments when Barlow alone seemed to have the secret‚ as happened with his immense broadening and expansion just after Brünnhilde’s last words. It seemed so right‚ so inevitable‚ it made me think: why is it not always done that way?

Paul Dawson-Bowling‚ Wagner News and The Wagner Experience and Its Meaning to Us. (July 2017)

In the pit‚ Stephen Barlow drew a very lyrical account of the score from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Not that it was without drama‚ quite the opposite‚ and moments like the opening of Act One and the conclusion to Act Two were very dramatic‚ whilst the opening to Act Three was suitably thrilling. But Barlow’s approach seemed to combine a fluidity of pace (this performance never felt slow or stodgy) with an ability to bring out individual details so that there were lots of incidental orchestral felicities and moments like the Wintersturme (which was significantly slower than the surrounding material) showed signs of an intelligent re-thinking. Barlow and the orchestra’s command of the large-scale architecture of the piece was equally fine‚ and there were no moments which dragged‚ each act following its own distinctive arc. Whilst the vocal performances were strong indeed‚ there was a sense that it was Stephen Barlow and the orchestra who knitted the performance into such a satisfying whole.

Planet Hugill (July 2017)

Stephen Barlow did a fine job of accompanying the singers and drew some accomplished playing from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. ..There were a number of highlights but conductor and orchestra were at their very best during the Valkyries’ rampant ‘Ride’ and the incandescent Magic Fire Music conclusion at the end of a compelling Act III.

Seen and Heard International (July 2017)

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under conductor Stephen Barlow captures the urgency and passion of Wagner’s extraordinary score.

The Express (July 2017)

Under Stephen Barlow’s steady direction the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra sounds confident...

The Times (July 2017)

Under Stephen Barlow’s sonically balanced and dramatically sensitive baton‚ the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra gave an iridescent account of the score. Whether unpacking the textural subtleties in wordy exchanges among the gods or riding the wind with the Valkyries‚ they made a thrillingly authentic Wagner sound. It was a treat to hear this accomplished band strut their stuff so close to London.

What’s On Stage (July 2017)

Siegmund had to break a glass case to extract the sword Nothung‚ but the First Act was a triumph‚ thanks in large part to the pacing of Stephen Barlow and the playing of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

The Spectator (June 2017)

Macbeth‚ Buxton Festival

Congratulations to Stephen Barlow for compelling music direction‚ just two days after seeing him conduct Wagner’s Walküre at Grange Park Opera!

Mark Ronan (July 2017)

I do not usually associate conductor Stephen Barlow with radical revisionism in performances but this was the second time within a week he has made me think differently about a work (he conducted Wagner’s Die Walkure at Grange Park Opera‚ see my review) and his performance with the Northern Chamber Orchestra made me listen to the Macbeth anew. In this space there was no need for a large scale bombastic performance‚ and this was richer and subtler than usual. The G&S style oom-pah was still there but it lacked the comedic potential that it often has‚ so that the witches choruses had a vividness. Elsewhere there lovely subtle colourations without the need to be robustly loud. You do not always associate early Verdi with subtlety‚ but we did here.

Planet Hugill (July 2017)

Their pairing – along with Stephen Barlow’s taut‚ atmospheric conducting – carried the whole performance.

The Arts Desk (July 2017)

Perhaps it wouldn’t have seemed quite so effective had it not been for the exceptionally adroit conducting of Stephen Barlow‚ who drew crisp‚ pungent playing from the Northern Chamber Orchestra and encouraged rather than bullied his cast.

The Telegraph (July 2017)

Stephen Gadd gives a gripping‚ raging-bull performance‚ and Kate Ladner is almost as intense — but the real heat in this witches’ cauldron comes from the pit‚ where Stephen Barlow galvanises the Northern Chamber Orchestra to produce some sizzling playing.

The Times (July 2017)

Leonore‚ Buxton Festival

Elsewhere however‚ Beethoven’s immaculately precise composition and the complexity of this ’virtuoso’ version of his only opera was brought out beautifully and majestically in the Stephen Barlow’s conducting of the Northern Chamber Orchestra. It hit all the musical high points as well as the dramatic points.

Opera Journal (August 2016)

All praise to Stephen Barlow whose conducting of the Northern Chamber Orchestra combines ferocity with warmth and grandeur.

The Telegraph (July 2016)

After some “first night” rough edges‚ the Northern Chamber Orchestra met most of Beethoven’s challenges under Barlow’s solid baton.

The Times (July 2016)

La fanciulla del West‚ Grange Park Opera

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra under Stephen Barlow rose to every occasion in opening out Puccini’s greatest score. The opening had a dazzling ’this is show-time’ quality‚ and the detail and transparency of the playing flowed out of Barlow’s superbly intelligent conducting - a remarkable piece of work.

Opera Magazine (August 2016)

Driving the dramatic tension was Stephen Barlow’s urgent direction of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Right from the brief‚ powerful prelude‚ Barlow secured a symphonic sweep from the BSO‚ with Puccini’s continuous score unfolding in clearly structured sections and the various themes subtly but unmistakably pointed up so that the music delineated the drama as much as the action.

Classical Source (June 2016)

Stephen Barlow’s stirring conducting cuts to the heart of the passion and drama inherent in the music.

MusicOMH (June 2016)

Koanga‚ Wexford Festival

...Stephen Barlow with his most spirited conducting...

Opera Magazine (January 2016)

Stephen Barlow arbeitet mit dem Orchester des Wexford Festival Opera die stilistische Vielfalt von Delius’ Musik differenziert heraus‚ so dass es am Ende großen Applaus für alle Beteiligten gibt /// Stephen Barlow worked with the orchestra of the Wexford Festival Opera‚ the stylistic diversity of Delius’ music differentiated out‚ so that there is at the end of big round of applause for all involved

OnlineMusikMagazin (November 2015)

The musical direction was in the hands of Stephen Barlow‚ who managed to hold the audience with a compelling reading of the score. There was a fine performance from the Festival Orchestra‚ particularly in the brass section

Seen & Heard International (November 2015)

Stephen Barlow conducts with flexibility and warmth

Telegraph (November 2015)

Conductor Stephen Barlow pushed the score on apace. Delius proclaimed "I want to tread in Wagner’s footsteps” and‚ although there are no leifmotifs‚ Koanga is highly chromatic‚ through-composed and contains long symphonic interludes‚ none more luscious than the string lines leading into the dawn epilogue‚ so beautifully played here that I didn’t want the chorus to break the spell

BachTrack (October 2015)

Though uneven‚ the score is a good deal better; its finest sections revealing the influence of the African American music Delius had encountered in Florida in his early 20s‚ alternating with other passages possessing an almost Wagnerian intensity. Conductor Stephen Barlow keeps it on the move

Guardian (October 2015)

There is exquisite playing from the orchestra under the conductor Stephen Barlow‚ the veiled strings‚ humid flute and melancholy cor anglais more evocative of the Everglades than the shadowy vegetation of Seán O’Riordan’s projections

The Times (October 2015)

Louise‚ Buxton Festival Opera

Stephen Barlow’s orchestra was finely attuned to the lavish hues of this rambling score...Nevertheless‚ it was good to hear. Where would be without Buxton?

Opera (September 2015)

The performance was generally excellent. Artistic Director Stephen Barlow crafted a performance that moved as best it could‚ despite the drawbacks of some rather laboured libretto (also by Charpentier)‚ and a series of musical styles that would make it difficult for the blind listener to pinpoint a composer – Debussy‚ Wagner‚ Puccini‚ Chabrier‚ it’s all there...In the dry‚ unforgiving acoustic of the Buxton Opera House‚ the Northern Chamber Orchestra played excellently‚ and as the opera evidently calls for a much larger string sound that the Buxton orchestra pit can accommodate‚ they made a valiant effort that truly paid off. With many exposed solos in the woodwind‚ brass‚ and harp‚ the collective effort resulted in a well balanced‚ entertaining performance

BachTrack (July 2015)

Stephen Barlow conducted it like a man in love‚ caressing each phrase‚ and pointing up successive re-appearances of Charpentier’s vaulting youth motif with playful enthusiasm. The Northern Chamber Orchestra responded with both ardour and delicacy‚ only very occasionally – in the throes of passion – overwhelming the voices on stage

The Arts Desk (July 2015)

Lucia di Lammermoor‚ Buxton Festival Opera

...we had strong principal singing and a flourishing sound from the Northern Chamber Orchestra‚ conducted by Stephen Barlow

BachTrack (July 2015)

Musically I had no complaints. Stephen Barlow conducts with urgency and fluency‚ and the Northern Chamber Orchestra and Festival Chorus respond well to him. Those eerie motifs which foreshadow Lucia’s lunacy are cleverly brought out‚ and the singers are skilfully supported

Manchester Evening News (July 2015)

La Bohème‚ Grange Park Opera

Once again‚ Stephen Barlow showed off his skills as a theatre conductor‚ and drew strong playing from the Bournemouth Symphony

Classical Source (June 2015)

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stephen Barlow rightly deserved to be included in the audience’s foot-stomping ovation at curtain down

Daily Echo (June 2015)

Stephen Barlow conducted a vibrant‚ passionate account of the score‚ obtaining committed playing from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and supporting the singers sympathetically

MusicOMH (June 2015)

The Rape of Lucretia‚ Irish Youth Opera

The team of the conductor Stephen Barlow‚ director Michael Barker-Caven...created a superb‚ modern presentation...the Wexford Festival Orchestra supported the singers with subtle and imaginative playing...Thanks to Barker-Caven’s imaginative direction and Barlow’s sensitive conducting‚ Britten’s opera came across with a powerful impact and commendable musicality

Opera (December 2014)

Stephen Barlow elicits all the energy‚ emotion‚ darkness and human questioning of Britten’s music

The Irish Times (September 2014)

Otello‚ Buxton Festival

Though this was a concert performance‚ the Northern Chamber Orchestra were sensibly in the pit‚ which aided the balance in the more coloratura passages. The orchestra provided fine accompaniment with some lovely instrumental solos including a rapturous horn solo in act one. Stephen Barlow conducted with a nice feel for Rossini’s large scale structures‚ keeping the music well paced but providing space for the singers‚ whilst keeping an eye on the wider architecture...This was a wonderfully enthralling performance with some vividly virtuosic singing. And listening to the people talking at the interval it was clear that many were discovering the power of Rossini’s music for the first time. On the basis of this performance I hope we get more Rossini at Buxton

Planet Hugill (July 2014)

Stephen Barlow brought out the drama and lyricism in Rossini’s score in an ideal manner whilst also ensuring that his singers were never overwhelmed

Seen & Heard International (July 2014)

The Jacobin‚ Buxton Festival Opera

At times‚ Stephen Barlow could have treated the dance rhythms with a little more vigour‚ but the Northern Chamber Orchestra played quite wonderfully well for him‚ drawing out Dvorák’s endless stream of melodic invention with much affection. That affection spread throughout the theatre. This is an opera which deserves the occasional outing and Buxton have done Dvorák proud

BachTrack (July 2014)

...nothing interferes with the music‚ which is lustily‚ sometimes imprecisely championed by the Northern Chamber Orchestra and Buxton Festival Chorus under Stephen Barlow

The Financial Times (July 2014)

Conductor Stephen Barlow‚ meanwhile‚ displays the full charm and emotional warmth of a score that is endlessly delightful

The Guardian (July 2014)

Excellent support from the chorus‚ and from the orchestra under the baton of Stephen Barlow‚ who gave huge bounce to the overture and a lovely prelude to Act II. This‚ Dvorak’s eighth opera‚ contrasts young love in a musically rural setting against the coldly smug hubris of ambitious non-entities. Very different from the folk tale ideas in Rusalka‚ this musical gem performed with such a fine cast is well worth the trip to Buxton

Mark Ronan (July 2014)

In the pit‚ conductor Stephen Barlow showed immense sympathy for Dvorak’s score. Much of the scoring is in the composer’s familiar multi-layered textures and Barlow drew some fine playing from the Northern Chamber Orchestra. At the pre-concert talk Barlow‚ in conversation with assistant director Ella Marchment‚ had talked about his fascination with the opera since his first encounter in 1979 with the Chelsea Opera Group‚ and this showed in the radiant performance. Dvorak’s The Jacobin is real festival fare‚ and the fine and engaging performance from the Buxton Festival showed us just why it is important for festivals like this to be able to continue exploring byways

Planet Hugill (July 2014)

Clarity of singers’ diction is useless if it is drowned by an over-loud orchestra. I noticed last year that Stephen Barlow is a conductor who relishes melody and rhythmic vitality whilst achieving clarity in both without excessive decibels. He opened the overture with brio and tempered the orchestra as the back-lit gauze revealed Benda and his flock

Seen & Heard International (July 2014)

Stephen Barlow brings out all the sunny charm of the score‚ buoyantly played by the Northern Chamber Orchestra

The Spectator (July 2014)

Stephen Barlow conducts with smiling grace and the Northern Chamber Orchestra plays with a beguiling lilt: the sum of it is a loving performance of a deeply loveable opera‚ the homely Buxton Festival at its best

Telegraph (July 2014)

Dvorák’s rich and tuneful score was spiritedly conducted by Barlow with the resident Northern Chamber Orchestra‚ reflecting the peasants’ inbred love of song and dance

The Arts Desk (July 2014)

...the reconciling and renewing power of music‚ movingly celebrated by Dvorak‚ is warmly and exuberantly recreated by conductor Stephen Barlow and his cast

The Times (July 2014)

Stephen Barlow conducted a warm-hearted and broadly phrased performance by the excellent Northern Chamber Orchestra

Opera Magazine (September 2014)

Peter Grimes‚ Grange Park Opera

...its stunning pinnacle no doubt the climatic riot scene where elements and humanity combine with powerful menace. Breathtaking. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are tremendous‚ conducted by Stephen Barlow

Daily Echo (June 2014) is a major plus to have the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the pit‚ playing expertly under Stephen Barlow...

Financial Times (June 2014)

una versión enfática en su intensidad y variación dinámica /// an emphatic version in its intensity and dynamic variation

Mundo Clasico (June 2014)

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra played accurately and alertly for conductor Stephen Barlow...the chirpy woodwind and brass that accompanies Swallow contrasted with the soft sheen of the strings playing underneath Grimes

Musical Criticism (June 2014)

The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are tremendous‚ conducted by Stephen Barlow

Southern Daily Echo (June 2014)

...the presence of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the pit ensures a strong musical foundation. Conductor Stephen Barlow has the measure of the piece...

The Stage (June 2014)

...under Stephen Barlow’s direction‚ the impact of this elemental score — the chorus hurling out their shouts of “Grimes” with a force that must have cracked windows in Winchester‚ and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra digging deep into the nitty-gritty of the score — is simply spine-tingling in this small theatre

The Times (June 2014)

Stephen Barlow led a vivid account of Britten’s score‚ alert to its nuances‚ the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra delivering some scintillating playing‚ not least in the Sea Interludes

BachTrack (May 2014)

Stephen Barlow drew punchy‚ abrasive attack from the excellent Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra‚ and the way he folded the score’s big moments into the flow of the drama was exceptional; Barlow really had the measure of Britten’s genius for creating character in music. His pacing of Acts Two and Three was faultless‚ and his handling of the ‘Passacaglia’ was as powerful as I’ve heard it‚ made all the more confrontational by the closeness of the acoustic. I reckon Grange Park has a winner on its hands

Classical Source (May 2014)

Dialogue des Carmélites‚ Grange Park Opera

Un factor decisivo en el éxito de esta representación fue la intensidad y diferenciación de dinámicas y colores orquestales impuestas por Stephen Barlow y la English Chamber Orchestra a esta difícil partitura neo-debussiana /// A decisive factor in the success of this performance was the intensity and differentiation of dynamics and orchestral colours imposed by Stephen Barlow and English Chamber Orchestra this difficult score neo-Debussiana

MundoClassico (August 2013)

The English Chamber Orchestra was in suitably Gallic form under conductor Stephen Barlow‚ creating a big‚ vibrant sound‚ woodwinds in particular delighting in the solo opportunities Poulenc throws their way. Barlow’s pacing was exemplary and he drew some lively string playing from his orchestra

Opera Britannia (July 2013)

La Colombe & La princesse jaune‚ Buxton Festival

It was all festive fun‚ especially given Barlow’s care for detail in his conducting of the Northern Chamber Orchestra and his judicious choice of tempos

Opera Magazine (September 2013)

...the co-operation of such a festival committee‚ patrons and backers that supports the production of rare works is a gift to any artistic director – especially one as imaginative as Stephen Barlow‚ whose powerful lungs have blown the dust from many a neglected score...In both works the orchestra played well and Barlow drew as much from the scores as he was able – what Saint-Saëns left out‚ Gounod more than made up for

BachTrack (July 2013)

The genuinely festive double bill is conducted by Stephen Barlow‚ whose imaginative programming and communicative energy have made Buxton irresistible

Observer on Sunday (July 2013)

La Colombe‚ Buxton Festival

...once again‚ Barlow and the Northern Chamber Orchestra display a perfect French accent

The Guardian (July 2013)

La princesse jaune‚ Buxton Festival

Saint-Saëns’s enchanting score makes clever use of quasi-Japanese musical ideas and comes over with real distinction in the hands of conductor Stephen Barlow

The Guardian (July 2013)

Barlow conducted the Northern Chamber Orchestra briskly and with a real feel for Saint-Saëns’ delightful score‚ amusingly punctuated by faux Japanese-style passages

The Arts Desk (July 2013)

...the Northern Chamber Orchestra‚ happily conducted by Stephen Barlow‚ sparkled throughout‚ basking in Saint-Saëns’s lyric grace and often delicate textures

The Times (July 2013)

Dialogue des Carmélites‚ Grange Park Opera

Those who make the effort to engage are rewarded with the full sensuality of a score that belies Poulenc’s membership of Les Six and harks back to the flowing sounds of Debussy - admirably performed by the English Chamber Orchestra and conducted by Stephen Barlow. Indeed‚ Carmélites is as much an opera for the large orchestra it requires for its gorgeous motifs‚ as it is for the singers with their haunting harmonies...the experience is a unique one

Huffington Post (June 2013)

Another significant contributory factor was the orchestra. Poulenc used it to punctuate and comment on the action‚ to bring a richness to the plainness of the vocal lines. And here conductor Stephen Barlow brought out the best in the English Chamber Orchestra in the pit. Barlow had a good grasp of the piece’s overall arching structure‚ so that we never felt we were getting bogged down in detail. But there was still a lot of detail to enjoy‚ with some fine solo orchestral moments and a rich depth to the orchestration... The ensemble of strong soloists‚ aided by Barlow and the English Chamber Orchestra in strong form‚ created a richly expressive and profoundly moving performance

Planet Hugill (June 2013)

In a small theatre such as Grange Park‚ the glare of this spiritual spotlight seemed even harsher‚ and there were moments when Stephen Barlow’s impassioned conducting became almost painfully loud and violent. But it was right that the screw was progressively tightened and its edges left sharp‚ making the unforgettable final scene in which the nuns walk to the scaffold chanting a Salve Regina as gratingly horrible as it should be

The Telegraph (June 2013)

...mesmerised by this splendid‚ moving production of Poulenc’s opera... Poulenc’s fluid‚ heart-warming score coursing so spiritedly from most of the cast‚ the conductor Stephen Barlow‚ and all of the English Chamber Orchestra

The Times (June 2013)

Les Contes d’Hoffmann‚ National Centre for Performing Arts‚ Beijing

The conductor Stephen Barlow kept a firm but supple rein on the proceedings‚ coaxing idiomatic performances from his singers as well as from the NCPA Orchestra

Opera Magazine (May 2013)

Intermezzo‚ Buxton Festival

...Stephen Barlow‚ the new artistic director in succession to Andrew Greenwood. Barlow brings rich experience and clearly intends to continue the festival’s brave policy of adventurousness...Stephen Barlow has always been a first-rate Strauss conductor and he obtained excellent playing from the Northern Chamber Orchestra

Opera Magazine (September 2012)

Conducting the Northern Chamber Orchestra‚ Barlow revelled in the interludes‚ drawing out those tell-tale Strauss melodies‚ which reaffirm the storyline

Arts Desk (July 2012)

The Northern Chamber Orchestra‚ directed by Stephen Barlow‚ tackled Strauss’ score with aplomb...their performance was splendid

Bachtrack (July 2012)

...the orchestral performance under Stephen Barlow has an easy Straussian authority

Financial Times (July 2012)

The Northern Chamber Orchestra play with terrific dexterity and panache for conductor Stephen Barlow

The Guardian (July 2012)

Strauss’s sumptuous orchestral interludes...led persuasively by Stephen Barlow

New York Times (July 2012)

Stephen Barlow conducts Strauss’s domestic comedy as the opening production of this season’s festival‚ his first as artistic director. Musically‚ the result is a rare treat. Less well known than it deserves to be‚ Intermezzo is notable for its sumptuous orchestral interludes‚ which Barlow delivers with swaggering brilliance. The Northern Chamber Orchestra plays marvellously for him

Stage (July 2012)

Stephen Barlow‚ Buxton’s new artistic director‚ justifies this difficult choice of repertoire with the conviction of his conducting. Aided and abetted by (Janis)Kelly’s Christine‚ he persuades you that Intermezzo is one of Strauss’s ¬operatic masterpieces

The Sunday Times (July 2012)

...Strauss whips up some pretty remarkable musical angst in the course of things. And the 12 instrumental interludes which separate its 13 short scenes are excitingly played by the Northern Chamber Orchestra conducted by the festival’s new artistic director‚ Stephen Barlow

The Times (July 2012)

Queen of Spades‚ Grange Park Opera

...a new star ensemble in the Grange Park pit: for its debut in the venue‚ the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra played this Tchaikovsky score with an authentic‚ gritty Russian string sound‚ haunting woodwind‚ sonorous brass and with tremendous overall fluency. Presiding over them‚ with a sure-paced account of the music and sheer visceral excitement was Stephen Barlow‚ who kept a close eye on things‚ never overwhelmed his singers and excelled in particular in the big choruses‚ stage and pit working meticulously together

Musical Criticism (July 2012)

Conductor Stephen Barlow secures a broad and sharply etched interpretation...above and beyond the qualities of individual performances‚ it’s the ongoing sense of integrated music and drama that raises the evening to distinction

Guardian (June 2012)

Pulsing beneath McDonald’s staging is an equally bold orchestral performance. The Queen of Spades marks Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s Grange Park debut. It’s a big‚ beautiful sound: one that emphasises the thematic connections to Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony but is carefully metred to support the voices (the opera is sung in Russian) by conductor Stephen Barlow‚ most particularly in the sepia-tinted accompaniment to Polina’s air and in the surging despair of Lisa’s aria

Independent on Sunday (June 2012)

Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades‚ directed and designed by Antony McDonald and superbly conducted by Stephen Barlow (why isn’t he at Covent Garden or ENO every night?) was gripping both dramatically and musically. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra‚ playing at the Grange for the first time‚ demonstrated their expertise at Russian music‚ now a mainstay of their repertoire

Observer on Sunday (June 2012)

There’s excellent work from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra - new to the Grange Park pit - while conductor Stephen Barlow marshals his forces with enthusiastic panache

The Stage (June 2012)

Stephen Barlow gets sumptuous sounds from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra‚ appearing for the first time in GPO’s pit

Sunday Times (June 2012)

Stephen Barlow and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra give Tchaikovsky’s glowering score the brooding menace it needs

The Times (June 2012)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream‚ Guildhall School at Barbican

Conductor Stephen Barlow treats Britten’s score with evident respect‚ love and skills. He presents the four different elements in Britten’s writing (that is music for the fairies‚ for the Athenian lovers‚ for the rustics and for the bel canto parody of ’Pyramus and Thisby’) yet he delivers the whole without fragmentation. The noble beauty as well as the sparkling humour of Britten’s score is clearly manifested in Barlow’s interpretation. One wonders why we don’t hear more of Barlow from major opera houses

Musical Criticism (March 2012)

The Complete Delius songbook Vol. 2

...beautifully accompanied by Stephen Barlow...Barlow bringing out all possible impressive follow-up to Stone’s first volume of Delius songs

Gramophone (April 2012)

...the unobtrusive excellence of Barlow’s accompaniments: as a conductor he is of course well used to matching his singers’ particular strengths. Between them they have done Delius proud...a splendid exercise and deserves every success

International Record Review (March 2012)

The Complete Delius Songbook Vol 1

With fresh-minted accompaniments from Stephen Barlow

Financial Times (August 2011)

...supported by Barlow’s sympathetic playing

Sunday Times (August 2011)

It is one element of an impressive enterprise by baritone Mark Stone and pianist Stephen Barlow to record all the composer’s songs. Delights abound...

Yorkshire Post (August 2011)

Rusalka‚ Grange Park Opera

Stephen Barlow brought out many of the scores veiled beauties

Opera Magazine (August 2011)

Musically‚ the score is in the safe hands of conductor Stephen Barlow‚ whose appreciable skills in the romantic repertoire in particular are at last becoming widely appreciated. The expanded English Chamber Orchestra plays marvellously for him

The Stage (June 2011)

Stephen Barlow conducts it with effortless authority. He clearly loves the music to bits without ever letting it go gooey‚ and draws impassioned playing from the English Chamber Orchestra

The Telegraph (June 2011)

It may be the time spent on the Wagner under the same excellent conductor‚ Stephen Barlow‚ which has lent this silvery score its special incandescence. The painfully beautiful woodwind and harp solos make their mark‚ the pacing is good

The Arts Desk (June 2011)

Tristan & Isolde‚ Grange Park Opera

The English Chamber Orchestra‚ under the steady‚ supportive baton of Stephen Barlow‚ swirled and seethed below the singers...the most successful Tristan und Isolde I’ve ever seen

Opera Magazine (August 2011)

The English Chamber Orchestra‚ on magnificent form throughout‚ is conducted by Stephen Barlow...Most strikingly‚ Act II was as overpowering as one always feels it should he but it hardly ever is. All told a great‚ unforgettable evening

The Spectator (July 2011)

...they were encouraged at every step by the conductor Stephen Barlow‚ who in his mid-50s is emerging as a treasure of the English opera scene. His is a light-footed‚ lyrical reading that knows exactly where to place the weight of the music. I cannot remember when I last heard Tristan paced so naturally‚ the threads of each act drawn into a slow-burn‚ overwhelming crescendo

Financial Times (June 2011)

...conductor Stephen Barlow‚ who finds a viable balance between stage and pit...Barlow has achieved authority over the score’s architecture‚ having gained in command following a piecemeal first act. No Tristan will ever be perfect‚ but this bold venture builds into something wholly exceptional

The Guardian (June 2011)

Conducted with dignity and confidence by Stephen Barlow

Observer on Sunday (June 2011)

There was a superb bass clarinet solo at the start and end of Marke’s monologue and the cor anglais in Act III (placed on the opposite side of the orchestra to the rest of woodwind section?) was beautifully phrased. Stephen Barlow’s measured tempi allowed the score to breathe with natural lyricism‚ but at no point did the music drag – partly because the eye was always engaged with what was occurring on-stage. The Prelude was sensibly paced‚ allowing the sense of yearning inherent in the score from that chord (with its own sponsor!) onwards to resonate through its span. Despite its size‚ the slightly harsh acoustic meant you didn’t miss the full orchestral force much as the sound is unleashed from the pit

Opera Britannia (June 2011)

...the musical build is slow but sure. Once the potion has been administered‚ Stephen Barlow drives the English Chamber Orchestra on to a rousing Act 1 finale and then greater and greater strengths. Act 2 rages with passion and there’s much fine playing thereafter

What's On Stage (June 2011)

...the English Chamber Orchestra under Stephen Barlow stays the course and delivers the climactic moments with frightening intensity

Evening Standard (June 2011)

Bruckner 8th Symphony‚ Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana

Sono forse a irretire le musicalissime mani dei direttore stephen barlow‚ che si protendono in ampiezza o si articolano morbide a catturare i suoni. E l’ochestra sinfonica siciliana si flette ai contrasti monta drammatica sul ritmo costruttivo costante di cui Bruckner impregna la sua monumentale Ottavia Sinfonia per poi contrarsi in prosciugate discese. Si presta all’esplosiva drammaticita di deflagranti sonorita la Sinfonia in do minore ma Barlow ha il merito di renderne con equilibrio ed espressivo naturalezza con un’orchestra efficacemente duttile la mobilita dei piani dinamici sottraendo enfasi e retorica. L’intensita non toglie chiarezza all’ampio discorsodi cui il direttore inglese intaglia con continuita I particolari nell’atmosfera teas del primo movimento fra drammatiche espansioni e sommessi ripiegamenti comme nelle brevi oasi serene con vago sentore di nostalgia dello scherzo. Fluttuano vaghe le reminiscenze wagneriane dell’Adagio e vi hanno risalto le alternanze strumentali in un gioco di rimandi. Ilfinale in grandiosita sigla una serata coinvolgente

Giornale di Sicilia (November 2010)

Der Barbier von Bagdad‚ Buxton Festival

Stephen Barlow’s suave conducting

The Guardian (July 2010)

Conducted by Stephen Barlow‚ it reveals defter orchestration and more sophisticated harmony and rhythm

Independent (July 2010)

Stephen Barlow conducts with a smile and a lilt

The Telegraph (July 2010)

Capriccio‚ Grange Park Opera

Assemble a cast like Grange Park have done‚ put them in the hands of an intelligent director who has a point to make but who never labours it‚ add the English Chamber Orchestra (who by the seventh performance were playing Strauss’s gloriously opulent score as if it really meant something to them) – well‚ the result for me was a triumph...I have already praised the playing of the ECO: I should also have added that their conductor‚ Stephen Barlow‚ seemed absolutely in his element in this piece. He let it flow‚ he let it breathe where necessary‚ but he always pushed things forward and he negotiated the various traps in the score with ease. With a work that is not that often played‚ like Capriccio‚ it is often advisable to let conductor and cast run themselves in before seeing a performance. On this occasion‚ I came away feeling that the entire ensemble was on top of their game...for this version of Strauss’s autumnal operatic masterpiece‚ five stars – it really was something very special

Musical Criticism (July 2010)

The relevant ECO (English Chamber Orchestra) players gave a highly charged performance of the sextet‚ and the conductor Stephen Barlow conjured up a generous sound from the band as a whole. Of course‚ you miss those moments of symphonic swoop‚ although the horn serenade in the closing scene hit the spot‚ and Barlow’s connective musicality was more than adequate compensation

Opera Magazine (July 2010)

...musical standards are impressively high

Guardian (June 2010)

Under Stephen Barlow’s calm‚ steady beat‚ the opulent orchestral score unfolds sweetly and clearly

Independent on Sunday (June 2010)

...conducted by Stephen Barlow. His astute grip on Strauss’s endless climactic outpourings ensured revelation rather than excess...What still shines in the memory is the superb musical performance‚ a triumph for Grange Park

Observer on Sunday (June 2010)

The English Chamber Orchestra were nigh on faultless all evening‚ luxuriating in this opulent score. From the beautiful sextet which begins this opera both musically and dramatically (it represents music for music’s sake – in contradistinction to that which swiftly follows‚ namely poetry for poetry’s sake)‚ the ECO held us entranced

Opera Britannia (June 2010)

...conductor Stephen Barlow and the English Chamber Orchestra revel in the intricate beauty of Strauss’ writing

The Stage (June 2010)

English Love CD - Stone Records B001PAWIZE

…excellent support from Stephen Barlow…Barlow’s song is a gently melancholic piece. It sounds completely convincing and it’s also rather lovely in its own right. I’d like very much to hear the complete set…Stephen Barlow seems to make light of the fiendish piano part…In fact all the early songs are well done. Both performers display a light touch for the Dowland pieces and the same is true for the Handel offerings…This is an intelligently planned and well-executed recital…This one is well worth hearing and I appreciate the thought that has gone into the choice of the items included in the programme and the positioning of them within it

Musicweb International (March 2010)

...Stephen Barlow accompanying his (Mark Stone’s) voice with a genuine feeling for tone-colour and shape

Birmingham Post (February 2010)

...expertly accompanied by pianist Stephen Barlow‚ whose widely-spun phrases conjure much drama‚ and sensitively support the singer. Both voice and piano are crystal clear and prominent in this clean‚ close recording: an atmosphere of intimacy pervades the entire programme

MusicOMH (February 2010)

There’s much to admire. Two songs by Dowland are beautifully done and the Finzi songs To Lizbie Browne and I said to Love are mood-perfect. Stephen Barlow is an exceptionally creative accompanist

Yorkshire Post (January 2010)

The Complete Butterworth Songbook CD

For the performance of singer and pianist‚ who work well together‚ and for the chance to hear many songs that most of us will not have encountered‚ I recommend this very well-presented CD

International Record Review (April 2010)

In many ways‚ this is one of the most significant CDs of English Music to have been issued for a long time. In the first place‚ it contains every song George Butterworth wrote‚ which makes it a particularly valuable disc. In addition‚ the performances are all first-class... All texts are included‚ and there are really informative booklet notes as well. To round this off‚ we have - would you believe? - a bonus track of a little piece of film made in 1912 of Butterworth himself dancing the Field Town Morris jig‚ Molly Oxford‚ discovered in the early 1980s. This alone is worth buying the CD for!

Musical Opinion (April 2010)

This release will certainly reward those who seek to get to know Butterworth’s surviving song output; it could not have better all-round advocates. Mark Stone and Stephen Barlow clearly have a great investment in the composer and his music‚ which extends to the handsome booklet‚ with its detailed and illuminating analysis of each song

The Classical Source (April 2010)

CONNOISSEURS’ CHOICE - Wonderful in every possible way

David Mellor‚ Classic FM New CD Show (March 2010)

Stephen Barlow’s accompanying is precise yet unfussy

Metro (March 2010)

A must for anyone into English song... Stone’s clarity blends well with the delicacy of Barlow’s playing... What makes this recording important‚ though‚ is because it includes rarities‚ even Requiesat‚ a miniature based on Oscar Wilde juvenalia which Butterworth makes surprisingly touching...this disc is signifigant

Classical Iconoclast (February 2010)

Stone and his pianist‚ Stephen Barlow‚ treat the songs with intelligence and sensitivity

The Guardian (February 2010)

Otello‚ Birmingham Opera Company

From the moment the orchestra‚ under conductor Stephen Barlow‚ unleashes Verdi’s raging storm‚ we are buffeted by the waves of this opera‚ side by side with the cast‚ marshalled along with the action from place to place‚ yet sometimes‚ like tormented Desdemona‚ becalmed in terrifying isolation

The Guardian (December 2009)

...Stephen Barlow’s lyrical reading of Verdi’s score

Independent on Sunday (December 2009)

There are no polite preliminaries in Othello‚ and this was no exception. The orchestra under Stephen Barlow went straight for the jugular during the opening storm scene‚ their shattering chords emanating from a custom built steel platform‚ courtesy of one of the many sponsors

Musicweb International (December 2009)

...the unflappable and authoritative conductor Stephen Barlow

Observer on Sunday (December 2009)

The Birmingham Opera Company Orchestra under Stephen Barlow‚ unusually not in a pit but high above us‚ played with style‚ tenderness and attack – shades of Edward Downes?

Opera Britannia (December 2009)

...the completely engaged conductor‚ Stephen Barlow

Sunday Times (December 2009)

...Stephen Barlow conducts a firmly controlled and shaped account of the score

The Telegraph (December 2009)

...Vick’s stunning production — involving 250 local singers and dancers as well as professionals and an orchestra on a gantry (Stephen Barlow the cool-headed conductor) — turns Verdi‚ and Shakespeare‚ into a disturbing critique of race‚ identity and cultural assimilation

The Times (December 2009)

Norma‚ Grange Park Opera

...his tight beat kept the tension tingling and the extended exclamatory passages went with a will. The English Chamber Orchestra’s playing had a stylishly Italianate swagger

Opera (August 2009)

A brief word of praise for Grange Park’s roof-raising Norma‚ given in the Hampshire festival’s jewel-like theatre. Stephen Barlow conducted an outstanding performance...

Guardian (June 2009)

Ably supported by Stephen Barlow in the pit‚ the arias‚ duets‚ and trios develop searing momentum

The Independent (June 2009)

He has a good feeling for Bellini’s long paragraphs so that the scenes cohered well into a dramatic whole

Music & Vision (June 2009)

Stephen Barlow’s conducting seeks out all the passion and drive of the score

The Stage (June 2009)

The conductor Stephen Barlow and the English Chamber Orchestra are fiercely engaged from the overture’s first chords

The Times (June 2009)

Rusalka‚ Grange Park Opera

In the pit the English Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Stephen Barlow seemed to enjoy the lyrical opportunities that Dvorák gives his orchestra. This is an opera in which the orchestra plays a strong role. One or two slightly raw phrases suggested the players had not quite got the score under their skins‚ but overall the results were stylish and enchanting. I would not have associated Barlow with Czech opera but he obviously enjoys and understands Dvorák’s complex fairy tale

Seen & Heard International (July 2008)

Stephen Barlow obviously loves the score and extracted fine playing from an enlarged English Chamber Orchestra

Sunday Times (July 2008)

McDonald wins riveting acting performances from Anne Sophie Duprels (Rusalka)‚ Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts (the prince)‚ Janis Kelly (the foreign princess) and Clive Bayley (the water sprite). Stephen Barlow obviously loves the score and extracted fine playing from an enlarged English Chamber Orchestra. A few more strings might have brought lusher textures‚ but this was GPO operating at the top of its game

The Times (July 2008)

In the pit‚ the English Chamber Orchestra balances Dvorák’s dark-hued scoring perfectly under conductor Stephen Barlow‚ and the whole adds up to an inescapably potent realisation of one of the great late-Romantic operas

The Guardian (June 2008) is musically magnificent too‚ thanks to Stephen Barlow’s understated reading of Dvorák’s score

Independent on Sunday (June 2008)

But on the way we have a score of transcendent lyrical beauty‚ marvellously played by the English Chamber Orchestra under the careful baton of Stephen Barlow

The Stage (June 2008)

What clinched the evening was the conducting of Stephen Barlow. He gave the score‚ with its obvious debt to Wagnerian romanticism‚ a weight and urgency more suited to Janácek and the ECO’s playing so Italianate/Broadway in Fanciulla‚ so lyrical and savage here‚ had you on the edge of your seat

The Sunday Telegraph (June 2008)

Stephen Barlow’s conducting draws out all the score’s Tchaikovskian melancholy and Wagnerian grandeur as well as its distinctively Dvorákian lyricism‚ and he is blessed with a cast that any regional opera company in the world might envy

Telegraph (June 2008)

The English Chamber Orchestra under Stephen Barlow give exceptionally strong support. Diaphanous water sounds; rasping lower winds: every detail in Dvorák’s imaginative score glistens...More than enough splendours remain to make this Rusalka a bracing journey into the secrets of the soul

Times (June 2008)

Complete Quilter Songbook Vol. 1 - CD Review

Mark Stone and Stephen Barlow are good advocates of Quilter’s songs – and sometimes much more than that. I don’t think anyone buying this set will be seriously disappointed and I for one look forward to the companion volume in due course…. throughout a substantial programme he (Stone)receives excellent support from Stephen Barlow.

Music-Web International (December 2007))

Falstaff‚ Grange Park Opera

Conductor Stephen Barlow has the measure of madrigalian giddiness and rich melody in Verdi’s last and most lovely score.

Independent on Sunday (July 2007)

Stephen Barlow wisely plays safe in the pit‚ keeping things together rather than racing ahead and losing control.

Telegraph (June 2007)

The conductor‚ Stephen Barlow‚ paces the piece well‚ and obtains some particularly silky playing from the Orchestra of St John’s in the ardently romantic parts of Act III.

The Times (June 2007)

Sweeney Todd‚ South Bank Centre

Immaculately conducted by Stephen Barlow.

The Times (January 2007)

Conductor Stephen Barlow held all together with calm assurance.

Evening Standard (July 2007)

Britten War Requiem

...a brilliant and efficient conductor

Belgrade Borba (November 2002)

Marriage of Figaro‚ Garsington Opera

Stephen Barlow’s fizzing performance.

Mail on Sunday (July 2000)

The conductor was the experienced Stephen Barlow‚ who always keeps Mozart’s brilliant ensembles on the boil‚ and the Garsington Opera on its collective toes.

Sunday Times (July 2000)

The Garsington Opera Orchestra‚ incorporating Guildhall strings‚ sparkles in the Mozart under Stephen Barlow.

The Guardian (June 2000)

Crisply conducted by Stephen Barlow.

Observer (June 2000)

So well conducted by Stephen Barlow.

The Telegraph (June 2000)

Die Entführung Aus Dem Serail‚ Garsington Opera

Stephen Barlow and he accordingly let the score do the talking.

Opera Now (November 1999)

Conductor Stephen Barlow encouraged poignant instrumental playing.

Evening Standard (June 1999)

Conductor Stephen Barlow’s reading is lightly textured and full of yearning refinement

Daily Mail (June 1999)

There was some compensation: Stephen Barlow conducted a nicely shaped account of the score‚

The Daily Telegraph (June 1999)

Stephen Barlow coaxed vital playing from the excellent it-band‚ whose percussion section popped up on stage for the two Janissary marches.

The Express (June 1999)

With Stephen Barlow drawing lively‚ resilient playing from the Garsington Opera Orchestra

The Guardian (June 1999)

Falstaff (Garsington) City of London Festival

Stephen Barlow conducted a nimble production directed by Stephen Unwin‚ in which the work’s humour and humanity were given ample rein‚ yet kept in firm control.

The Observer (June 1998)

Falstaff (Garsington)‚ Aldeburgh Festival

The nimble playing of the orchestra under Stephen Barlow did not preclude moments of real poetry.

The Sunday Telegraph (June 1998)

Falstaff‚ Garsington Opera

It was very well conducted by Stephen Barlow and gamely played by the Garsington Opera Orchestra.

The Guardian (June 1998)

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Katya Kabanova - Grange Park Opera


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The Complete Butterworth Songbook, George Butterworth

Stone Records

Complete Delius Songbook Vol. 1, Frederick Delius

Stone Records

Complete Delius Songbook Vol. 2, Frederick Delius

Black Box

Requiem After J.S Bach, Joseph James

Tall Poppies

The Selfish Giant, Graeme Koehne


The Classical Tribute, Andrew Lloyd-Webber


Peter and the Wolf, Sergey Prokofiev


La Bohème: The Dream Cast, Puccini


The Ultimate Puccini Collection

Sony Bmg Classics

The Complete Quilter Songbook Vol.1 Roger Quilter

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Cello Concertos, Alan Ridout


Kiri, Kiri Te Kanawa, Various


A Portrait of Kiri te Kanawa, Various

London Decca

Kiri! - Her Greatest Hits Live

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English Love - Songs of Passion, Pain & Pleasure, Various

Universal Classics & Jazz

Kiri Te Kanawa - A Celebration, Various

Paul Chihara - Concerto-Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra - LSO