Iain Burnside


Interweaving roles as pianist and Sony Award-winning broadcaster with equal aplomb, Iain Burnside (“pretty much ideal” BBC Music Magazine) is also a master programmer with an instinct for the telling juxtaposition.  He has performed in recital with many of the world’s leading singers.  His recordings straddle an exuberantly eclectic repertoire ranging from Schoenberg and Copland to Debussy and Judith Weir with a special place reserved for the highways and byways of English Song, as acclaimed recordings of Britten, Finzi, Ireland, Butterworth, Parry and Vaughan Williams have all proved.  In 2014, Delphian released Burnside’s complete Rachmaninov songs with seven outstanding Russian artists.  He also enjoys a close association with Rosenblatt Recitals, both on stage and in the studio, in collaboration with Opus Arte.
For Guildhall School of Music and Drama Burnside has written and devised a number of highly individual theatre pieces.  A Soldier and a Maker, based on the life of Ivor Gurney, was performed at the Barbican Centre and the Cheltenham Festival.  It was also broadcast on Drama on 3 as part of the BBC’s World War One season.  Journeying Boys, developed in association with the Royal College of Music, was performed in November 2013 in the Milton Court Theatre.  His new play Why does the Queen die? received its premiere at the Oxford Lieder Festival in October 2014 and will transfer to London in May 2015. He continues to present Shining Armour, reinventing Brahms's Die schöne Magelone through the eyes of Clara Schumann.
This season, Burnside will give recitals with tenor Robin Tritschler and with baritone Roderick Williams. Burnside and Williams will present recitals of Schubert throughout the UK finishing the season at the Wigmore Hall. Further highlights for Burnside include returns to the Leeds Lieder Festival, Ludlow English Song Weekend, and to Barcelona for recitals as part of the Lied Festival Victoria de Los Ángeles. 
The 15/16 season saw Burnside re-collaborate with Williams giving recitals in Brazil, as well as returns to the Oxford Lieder Festival, the Leeds Lieder Festival, and the Cheltenham Music Festival. In addition to a Rosenblatt recital at the Wigmore Hall, Burnside also sat as a member of the jury for the 2015 Wigmore Hall Song Competition. 
In demand as teacher and animateur, Burnside also works on the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and at the National Opera Studio.  He is International Visiting Artist at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin.

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  • Journeying Boys



Concertgebouw Amsterdam, AMSTERDAM

PURCELL/ BRITTEN Let the dreadful engines of eternal will
GURNEY Desire in Spring
GURNEY On the downs
GURNEY Reconciliation
GURNEY Lights Out
BRITTEN Songs and Proverbs of William Blake, Op. 74
- Interval -

Roderick Williams, baritone

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CD: Delphian

But to call this CD ‘Duet’ is in one small way misleading: there are three vital artists here, not two. The third is, of course, the pianist Iain Burnside. His lightness of keyboard touch, his expertise in balancing and supporting the voices, and his sheer, audible love for this exquisite repertoire are simply matchless. Jessica Duchen, primephonic, 12 May 2016
But to call this CD ‘Duet’ is in one small way misleading: there are three vital artists here, not two. The third is, of course, the pianist Iain Burnside. His lightness of keyboard touch, his expertise in balancing and supporting the voices, and his sheer, audible love for this exquisite repertoire are simply matchless. Jessica Duchen, primephonic, 12 May 2016


CD: Opus Arte

Pianist Iain Burnside is supportive and vivid throughout, especially when suggesting the flitting woodland spirits in Respighi’s Deità silvane. Erica Jeal, The Guardian, 7 January 2016
Iain Burnside ripples with cool precision through accompaniments that might have been drawn from Debussy’s Préludes and Feola matches him in the gentle, flickering lights in her voice. Richard Fairman, Gramophone, February 2016

Nacht und Träume (With Ailish Tynan)

CD: Delphian Records

If this opening instalment of pianist Iain Burnside’s latest project with Edinburgh’s Delphian label is indicative, we are in for a treat as he accompanies a selection of his favoured signers through the Schubert song catalogue.

This album showcases the female voice, not just in the person if Irish soprano Ailish Tynan but also lyrically, with Goethe, Schiller and Sir Walter Scott giving us the thoughts of Gretchen, Amalia and Ellen, which Schubert so eloquently set.

The selection, and sequencing, of the songs is masterly, with little narratives along the way and fresh versions of Ave Marie and The Trout (on which Tynan is especially vivacious) sitting alongside much less familiar lieder. Both musicians are on top form and the communication between them as eloquent as you’d wish, with every note crystal clear. Delphian boss Paul Baxter recorded them in the lovely, and internationally admired, setting of St Mary’s Parish Church in Haddington, East Lothian, and the way he has used the sonority of the space while maintaining an intimacy with the performances is truly marvellous.

A superb disc. 

Keith Bruce, Herald Scotland, 6 December 2015
**** Schubert’s portrayal of women in his Lieder is as far-reaching in mood and colour as in its soulful emotional insights. There’s passion, tenderness, innocence and burning intensity: all, and more, expressed in an art form he made his own.

In this fresh new disc, soprano Aylish Tynan and pianist Iain Burnside delve deep into these “womanly” songs. Tynan captures the essence of each one – from the troubled nun in Die judge Nonne and the noble heroism of Schiller’s Amalia, to the cinematic fluidity of Gretchen am Spinnrade – with wondrous maturity of tone and unwavering intonational precision. Burnside’s pianism is ever-sympathetic, ever-empathetic. Together they are a joy to listen to. 

Ken Walton, The Scotsman, 21 November 2015

Recital with Ekaterina Siurina and Charles Castronovo

La Monnaie, Brussels, 15 April 2015

...l’accompagnement superlatif de Iain Burnside, formidable créateur d’atmosphères...
Bernard Schreuders, Forum Opera, 21 April 2015

Rachmaninov Songs (with Evelina Dobraceva, Ekaterina Siurina, Justina Gringyte, Daniil Shtoda, Andrei Bondarenko, Rodion Pogossov & Alexander Vinogradov)

CD: Delphian

***** the star of the show is undoubtedly Burnside, playing throughout with unfailing intensity and sensitivity: voice and piano are truly equal partners here, and the results are electrifying.
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 27 February 2014

**** Burnside accompanies with his usual tact and intelligence. As a whole, the set is a very distinguished piece of work. Andrew Clements, The Guardian, 24 April 2014

Poème d'un Jour (with Ailyn Perez)

CD: Opus Arte

[…] Iain Burnside, a fine accompanist throughout, comes into his own here, playing Turina's long opening Dedicatoria with tremendous nobility and fire. Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 8 August 2013

A Soldier and a Maker

Barbican Pit, April 2012

...a compelling blend of music-theatre and drama-documentary. Peter Reed, Opera magazine, July 2012

**** Iain Burnside is best known as a pianist, but in A Soldier and a Maker he shows himself to be a playwright of surprising technical skill [...].  With its varied pace, confident line of action and recourse to comic interludes, Burnside’s vivid narrative has a freedom that transcends the normal confines of verbatim theatre.  It is extraordinarily moving.

[…] a production that sweeps the audience towards the terrible desolation of its conclusion, a sadness rendered all the more poignant by the two-hour musical celebration that precedes it.

Mark Valencia, WhatsOnStage, 22 April 2012
**** Burnside interweaves [Ivor Gurney's] bleak biography with some of Gurney's huge output of music and poetry, though most of it is still unpublished. There is some pragmatic telescoping of events [...] but otherwise the play sticks closely to the documented facts of Gurney's life. The pacing is a little uneven, but his remorseless mental disintegration is poignantly caught. His meeting with Helen Thomas, widow of the poet Edward Thomas [...] is beautifully done. Andrew Clements, guardian.co.uk, 22 April 2012

Iain Burnside’s A Soldier and a Maker (the 'Maker' was Gurney‘s choice of word for his role as a poet and composer) – an ingenious combination of play, music-theatre and staged drama-documentary – deals fully with the tragedy of Gurney’s life[.] [...] If anything, the skill with which Burnside has introduced this levelling reality makes Gurney’s story even more moving, and parallel to the sequence of his life’s events is the process by which Gurney’s art has survived him, narrated with extraordinary effectiveness by his sister Winifred.

[...] [The] way in which Burnside lightly evoked any number of elements in Gurney’s life – the type of artist he was, his peers, the uneasy, post-Victorian straining at the emotional seams – is powerfully effective. And, in a very English, ‘blue-remembered’ context of lost this and that, you had a permanent lump in the throat that teetered on the brink of full-scale emotional incontinence. The way the text and Gurney’s songs flowed unselfconsciously in and out of each other was bad enough, the folding in of the songs ‘I’m homesick for my hills’ and ‘This is a sacred city’ loosened the floodgates even more, but there is one specific event, near the end, that was quietly tender and seriously tear-jerking. Judge for yourself.

The simple, haunting designs and seamless direction of a large, multi-tasking cast set the seal on this moving portrait of a very English artist. If you love life, you’ll love this. Highly recommended.

Peter Reed, classicalsource.com, 20 April 2012



Rachmaninov Songs

With Evelina Dobraceva, Ekaterina Siurina, Justina Gringyte, Daniil Shtoda, Andrei Bondarenko, Rodion Pogossov and Alexander Vinogradov