James Baillieu

Described by The Daily Telegraph as “in a class of his own”, in 2012 James won a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Fellowship Award and a Geoffrey Parsons Memorial Trust Award.  He was selected for representation by Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) in 2010. He is an International Tutor in Piano Accompaniment at the Royal Northern College of Music.

© Kaupo Kikkas


Born in South Africa, James studied at the University of Cape Town and the Royal Academy of Music in London with Michael Dussek, Malcolm Martineau and Kathryn Stott. He was appointed a Hodgson Junior Fellow in 2007, a Professor of Piano Accompaniment in 2011, and awarded an ARAM in 2012.

An accomplished chamber musician, soloist and accompanist, James collaborates with singers and instrumentalists including Lawrence Power, the Heath Quartet, Mark Padmore, Sir Thomas Allen, Dame Kiri te Kanawa, Pumeza Matshikiza, Allan Clayton, Jacques Imbrailo, Ailish Tynan and John Mark Ainsley.  Venues include Wigmore Hall, Berlin Konzerthaus, Vienna Musikverein, Bridgewater Hall, National Concert Hall Dublin and the Bergen, Spitalfields, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Bath, City of London, St Magnus, Norfolk & Norwich, Brighton, Verbier and Aix-en-Provence Festivals.   As a soloist he has appeared with the Ulster Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra and at the Petworth Festival with the Wiener Kammersymphonie.


Performance Schedule


  • 09 May 17 Recital, Lise Davidsen Rosenblatt Recitals
    Wigmore Hall
    More info  

    “”There’s an endearing conflict to Davidsen’s stage presence- funny, warm and thoughtful when talking about her repetoire, instinctive when interacting with Baillieu (musically sensitive as ever)….”
    Alexandra Coughlan, The Arts Desk, 10 May 2017

    “It was uplifting, though, to hear her in big songs by Grieg and Sibelius with James Baillieu at the piano valiantly striving to match the singer’s resplendent outpouring of tone.”
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 10 May 2017

  • 18 Apr 17 Heimat CD Sony Classical
    Sony Classical
    More info  

    “But we also have the disarming, twinkling simplicity of Reger’s ‘Des Kindes Gebet’, as well as Adolf Strauss’s suave ‘Ich weiss bestimmt’, presented with a gentle pathos and sophistication that quietly underlines the tragedy of its having been composed in Terezín – here, as throughout, the piano-playing of James Baillieu is superb.”
    Hugo Shirley, Gramophone, 2017

    “Accompanying Appl- who responds to texts and their implications with ease – is pianist James Baillieu. His way with Schubert’s Seligkeit is exemplary, he captures the bitter-sweet tinge of Reger’s Des Kindes Gebet to perfection and provides a wonderful bed of sound for Schreker’s astonishing Waldeinsamkeit. Throughout, Baillieu provides himself in harmonically elusive textures, his Schubert Nachstuck finds him spinning a carpet of twilight. A real winner.”
    International Piano Magazine, July 2017

    “His Schubert, Brahms and Wolf are impressive, thanks partly to James Baillieu’s finely judged piano playing…”
    Erica Jeal, The Guardian, 9 March 2017

    “…but mostly these performances are mellow in sound, engagingly expressive and skilfully accompanied by James Baillieu.”
    Richard Fairman, Financial Times, 10 March 2017

    “Baillieu is an imaginative and insightful partner, and the recording does full justice to a winning project.”
    Guy Weatherall, Rheingold, 24 March 2017

    “Saluons en revanche la prestation du pianiste James Baillieu. De son toucher léger et élégant, il répond à merveille au chant nuancé du baryton créant ainsi un superbe climat d’intimité et de complicité.”

    We welcome the performance of the pianist James Baillieu. His light and elegant touch perfectly matches with the nuanced singing of the baritone. He creates a perfect intimate and complicity atmosphere.
    Andreas Laska, Res Musica, 29 May 2017

    “Ein eindringliches Recital gleichwohl, auch dank des exzellent Klavier-Partners James Baillieu.”

    “An impressive recital, also thanks to the excellent piano partner James Baillieu.”
    Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 15 May 2017

    “Dennoch gelingen Benjamin Appl und Begleiter James Baillieu Äußerst intensive interpretationen, beispielweise mit ‘Ich weiß bestimmit, ich werd’disch wiedersehen’ …”

    “Nevertheless, Benjamin Appl and his companion James Baillieu succeeded in the extremely intense interpretations, in particular in ‘Ich weiß bestimmit, ich werd’disch wiedersehen’…”
    Die Rheinpfalz, 14 March 2017

  • 06 Mar 17 Recital, Tara Erraught
    Wigmore Hall
    More info  

    “At last, with The Shepherd on the Rock, Plucha could do more than embroider and noodle. He and James Baillieu spread before us a landscape of desolate beauty …
    Finally, unavoidably for a lyric mezzo, Rossini: an insertion aria for Rosina in The Barber of Seville. With Baillieu at his most hushed and keenly responsive…”
    Peter Quantrill, Arts Desk, 8 March 2017

  • 13 Feb 17 Recital, Kathryn Rudge
    Wigmore Hall
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    “James Baillieu showed why he is the heir apparent to such luminaries of the world of ‘accompanists’ … even with the piano lid fully raised Baillieu never once over-powered his soloist, yet there was not a gesture that was not defined with crystalline eloquence and when he took the opportunity to indulge in powerful expressive utterance, it was always with the utmost taste and composure.”
    Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 13 February 2017

  • 29 Jan 17 Recital, Tim Mead
    Wigmore Hall
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    “Baillieu had some lovely illustrative moments in the piano, such as the galloping horses, and the climax was thrillingly vivid.”
    Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill, 30 January 2017

    “James Baillieu, who has decisively and rapidly established himself as a remarkably astute accompanist, was on magnificent form – just to hear his playing in the Roe or in Britten’s ‘O Waly, Waly’ gave you an idea of his calibre, and he really clicked with Mead.”
    Peter Reed, Classical Source, 30 January 2017

    “Baillieu, with his warm sound and empathetic ear, is one of our favourite pianists these days. His playing reminds us of something Steven Blier said about the job of the accompanist, how it’s like taking a singer by the hand and leading them down a hallway of doors. At each door, the pianist opens it for the singer, and asks if they want to go in; if they do, they join them enthusiastically, and if they don’t, the pianist simply invites the singer through the next door. Baillieu has a knack for creating a soloistic phrase out of a singer’s intent; he follows, without losing his autonomy.!
    Jenna Douglas, Schmopera, 30 January 2017

  • 23 Oct 16 Recital, Jamie Barton
    Wigmore Hall
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    “… she could then release a final magnificent inundation over Sibelius’ hyper-romantic Flickan kom ifran and Var det en drom, ably supported by James Baillieu’s rapturous pianism.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 24 October 2016

    “The beauty of the phrasing was remarkable, and was complemented in ‘Ständchen’ (Serenade) by Baillieu’s initial lightness of touch and subsequent depth of sentiment.

    ‘A les je tichý kolem kol’ (And all the wood is silent all around) was one of the highpoints of the recital; Baillieu’s falling arpeggios dripped with aching languor and there was a veiled quality to both the vocal line and the accompaniment that, while injected with greater definition as the song progressed, suggested a world beyond. ”
    Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 24 October 2016

    “Baillieu opened Cuando tan hermosa os miro with stylish Iberian flourishes before Barton entered in dramatic fashion…

    Baillieu brought enormous charm and lightness of touch to the serenading accompaniment in Ständchen …

    Baillieu gave us some exquisitely delicate playing in the opening section of Säv, säv, susa while Barton moved seamlessly from dreamy lullaby to stirring recitative…”
    Robert Beattie, Seen and Heard, 26 October 2016

    “Her pianist James Baillieu was subtle and supportive throughout, whether in the energy surge of Brahms’ “Meine Liebe ist grün”, a faultless headlong dive, or the intriguing quirky postludes to the Charles Ives songs.”
    Sebastian Scotney, The Arts Desk, 26 October 2016

  • 27 Jul 16 Three Choirs Festival
    Gloucester, Marcus Farnsworth
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    “…Finzi’s Earth and Air and Rain, with pianist James Baillieu’s expressive playing setting the seal on their interpretation. This recital also saw the premiere of Matthew Martin’s Sonnets of Petrarch, setting three poems which reflect on the transience of life and the consolation of the death. Martin’s piano-writing betrayed his organist background, but Farnsworth and
    Baillieu invested the whole with a palpable intensity.”
    Rian Evans, The Guardian, 28 July 2016

  • 05 Jan 16 Recital, Heath Quartet
    Wigmore Hall
    More info  

    “Baillieu’s outstanding musicianship in the Elgar Piano Quintet was another story. Supplying both the sensitivity and virtuosity required, he was at one with the strings here in playing with breathtaking unity of purpose.

    ‘…all five players found the profound depth and warmth at the heart of one of Elgar’s greatest masterpieces.”
    John Allison, The Telegraph, 6 January 2016

  • 31 Dec 15 I Heard You Singing
    Opus Arte
    More info  

    “Tenor Ben Johnson, light-voiced and lyrical, with high notes to make you swoon, and pianist James Baillieu, alert and responsive, are ideal duo partners…”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 10 January 2016

  • 04 Dec 15 Recital, Iestyn Davies and Allan Clayton
    Wigmore Hall
    More info  

    “Plaudits should also go to the excellent pianist James Baillieu, who contributed much to the make-up of the programme and accompanied with an unassertive sensitivity and imagination that illuminated every aspect of both music and text.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 5 December 2015

    “…Canticle II: Abraham and Isaac’, which these wonderful singers and their excellent accompanist James Baillieu turned into white-hot drama.”
    Michael Church, The Independent, 5 December 2015

    “There was keen intelligence in the programming, an ear for subtle literary and musical connections, and significant personal investment… into the commission of Nico Muhly’s Lorne ye my Liking. There was also some of the most sheerly beautiful singing and playing to be heard from this generation of musicians.

    ‘…Canticle I: My Beloved is Mine, its rhapsodic, guileless descriptions of perfect love traced sweetly by Clayton and Baillieu.”

    Anna Picard, The Times, 7 December 2015

  • 30 Nov 15 Highgate International Chamber Music Festival
    St Anne's Church
    More info  

    “…with the star accompanist James Baillieu at the piano…”
    Etcetera, 27 November 2015

  • 27 Sep 15 Wigmore Hall 1: 27 September 2015
    Wigmore Hall
    More info  

    “Neven and James Baillieu’s collaboration and sense of Schubertian style were unerring here, and came into even sharper focus in ‘Augenlied…

    In a full survey of Schubert’s songs, someone had to perform all 26 verses of ‘Der Taucher’ and it fell to Neven and Baillieu; in some ways, it’s as much a tour de force for the pianist as for the singer, given how much he has to do to suggest those turbulent waters, about which we hear so often. Baillieu negotiated the challenging phrases with aplomb, especially the depiction of the final doomed dive.

    The highlight of the recital’s second half was a finely judged ‘Ganymed’ with especially gripping playing from Baillieu in the final section…”.

    Melanie Eskenazi, Music OMH, 28 September 2015

  • 27 Aug 15 Schubert Southwell Festival
    Southwell Minster
    More info  

    …”James Baillieu —a featured artist in the coming Wigmore Hall season —throwing off the virtuoso piano writing
    with insouciant ease and shaping Schubert’s songlike melodies with the instinct of a natural singer’s accompanist.”
    Hugh Canning,, 6 September 2015

  • 28 May 15 Recital
    Wigmore Hall
    More info  

    “James…managed to be both restrained and unfailingly sensitive to his soloist and endless inventive with the musical details, all of which were communicated with clarity and elegance”.
    Claire Seymour, Opera Today, 5 June 2015

  • 18 May 15 Brighton Festival
    More info  

    “In a sublime partnership of true musical minds, Benjamin Appl and James Baillieu presented a programme of stunning sensitivity for their Festival recital at All Saints.”

    “There was a natural perfection in Bailleu’s performance that made technique disappear to become part of a larger whole.”
    Louise Scweitzer, The Argus, 18 May 2015

    “I loved this intelligently balanced programme of Liszt, Rubenstein, Dvořák and Schumann songs.”

    “Ballieu and Appl, masters of delicacy, had no problem making the generous church acoustic ring even with the quietest tones, almost silence. Their encore, Richard Strauss’ ‘Morgen’, with its yearning introduction, promise of happiness and blissful melancholy, gave perfect closure to this exquisite recital.”
    Andrew Connal, The Latest, 15 May 2015

    “This whole concert was full of delightful contrasts. Playful, passionate, world-weary, James Baillieu’s masterful programming could not have been more varied or enchanting. The exuberant encore, ‘Love Went A‑Riding’ by Frank Bridge, made a stunning climax.”
    Andrew Connal, The Latest, 06 May 2015

  • 08 Apr 15 Rosenblatt Recital
    Wigmore Hall
    More info  

    “…impressed by the stimulating fare provided by these two young and prolific artists…”
    Richard Nicholson,, 8 April 2015

  • 15 Feb 15 Myths of Eastern Europe
    Perth Concert Hall
    More info  

    “…these concerts which have highlighted some marvellous music from the Balkans and beyond, thanks to pianist James Baillieu and his guests. This Sunday, it was Baillieu and the Heath Quartet whose performance of music by Martinu, Bartok and Szymanowski made it an afternoon to remember.”
    The Courier, 18 February 2015

  • 02 Feb 15 Love's Old Sweet Song
    Champs Hill Records
    More info  

    “…well supported by James Baillieu and the pair treat each song with the same care and sense of seriousness.”
    Robert Hugill,, 28 February 2015

    “Outstanding performances of every piece; I loved every minute of it…if you like exceptionally thoughtful music-making, this album is for you….Baillieu’s playing is warm and supportive.”

    American Record Guide, October 2015

  • 12 Jun 14 Recital with Benjamin Appl
    Musikfest Kassel
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    “Ebenso am Erfolg beteiligt war der vorzügliche Pianist James Baillieu, der mit glasklarer Präzision eine reiche Palette vom impressionistisch Glitzernden bis hin zu markanten Impulsen ausspielte. Einen weiten Bogen spannten die „Lieder über das Fortkommen“ mit ihren Bildern, Gefühlen und Reflexionen.”
    Von Georg Pepl, Hessische/Niedersächsische Allgemeine, 13 June 2014

  • 01 Feb 13 Britten Canticles
    Signum Records
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    “The expressive nuance of James Baillieu’s piano accompanying is reminiscent of Britten’s own.”

    Hilary Finch, BBC Music Magazine, July 2013

  • 01 Jul 13 Opus Arte Vocalise
    With Adam Walker
    More info  

    “James Baillieu provides accompaniments with just the right degree of often gentle support, balanced with the flute to perfection.”

    Gramophone, July 2013

  • 01 Apr 11 Recital with Marcus Farnsworth
    Wigmore Hall
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    “Marcus Farnsworth had earned his Winner’s Recital but he was upstaged by his prodigiously gifted pianist. James Baillieu is surely the leader of the new generation of accompanists and will no doubt occupy the elite position currently held by such as Graham Johnson, Julius Drake, Malcolm Martineau and Roger Vignoles.”

    Classical Source, April 2011

  • 01 Sep 09 Wigmore International Song Competition
    Wigmore Hall
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    “James Baillieu is in a class of his own, he is in the Gerald Moore/Graham Johnson bracket, a remarkable pianist.”

    The Daily Telegraph, September 2009

    “The Pianist’s Prize was awarded to that magician of the keyboard James Baillieu…”

    Musical Pointers, September 2009

  • 01 Jan 09 Recital with Allan Clayton
    Wigmore Hall
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    “…Expertly accompanied by James Baillieu.”

    The Daily Telegraph, January 2009

    “James Baillieu, showed sensitivity and disarming simplicity in his approach to four of Hugo Wolf’s Eichendorff Lieder, before turning to Schumann’s setting of the poet in his Op 39 Liederkreis.”

    The Times, January 2009