Accompanists

Joseph Middleton

“Joseph Middleton is a born collaborator…one of the brightest stars in the world of song and Lieder, performing with the likes of baritone Sir Thomas Allen and soprano Dame Felicity Lott” BBC Music Magazine, Rising Stars, Great Artists of Tomorrow

Recipient of the Young Artist Award – 2017 RPS Awards

© Sussie Ahlburg

Introduction

Highly acclaimed pianist Joseph Middleton specialises in the art of song accompaniment and chamber music. He is Director of Leeds Lieder, Musician in Residence at Pembroke College Cambridge and a Professor at his alma mater, the Royal Academy of Music.
Joseph collaborates with many of the world’s finest singers in major venues worldwide, and has an award-winning and fast-growing discography. He is a regular guest at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Vienna Konzerthaus, Zürich Tonhalle, Köln Philharmonie, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Musée d’Orsay in Paris and London’s Wigmore Hall. Recent seasons have also taken him to the Aldeburgh, Aix-en-Provence, Edinburgh, Ravinia, and Stuttgart Festivals.

Joseph collaborates with internationally established singers including Sir Thomas Allen, Ian Bostridge, Sarah Connolly, Lucy Crowe, Iestyn Davies, Wolfgang Holzmair, Christiane Karg, Katarina Karnéus, Simon Keenlyside, Dame Felicity Lott, Christopher Maltman, John Mark Ainsley, Kate Royal, Carolyn Sampson and Roderick Williams. His critically acclaimed discography includes discs with Carolyn Sampson (Radio France’s Disc of the Month & nominated for a Gramophone Award), Ruby Hughes (BBC Music Magazine’s Recording of the Month), Dame Felicity Lott, Amanda Roocroft, Clara Mouriz, Matthew Rose and Allan Clayton. Joseph made his BBC Proms debut in 2016 with Iestyn Davies and Carolyn Sampson.


Performance Schedule

 

From The Green Room

Discography

  • Lost is my Quiet More info  

    Label: BIS Records

    Release Date: 15 Sep 17

    “Carolyn Sampson’s soprano sparkles and Iestyn Davies’s countertenor glides through the air in this compilation, individually and in duet. They sing together with an enjoyment of the music’s ebb and flow that is clearly shared by their pianist, Joseph Middleton.”
    5***** The Guardian

  • STRAUSS 'Through Life and Love' More info  

    Label: Orchid Classics

    Release Date: 30 Jun 17

    Soprano: Louise Alder
    Piano: Joseph Middleton

    Editor’s Choice Gramophone Magazine – August 2017

  • A Verlaine Songbook More info  

    Label: BIS Records

    Release Date: 07 Nov 16

    Carolyn Sampson, soprano
    Joseph Middleton, piano

    Read more here

  • PURCELL : BRITTEN More info  

    Label: Champs Hill (2016)

    Release Date: 01 May 16

    Songs by Henry Purcell, Realised by Benjamin Britten

    Ruby Hughes, soprano
    Anna Grevelius, mezzo-soprano
    Robin Blaze, countertenor
    Allan Clayton, tenor
    Benedict Nelson, baritone
    Matthew Rose, bass
    Joseph Middleton, piano

  • Nocturnal Variations More info  

    Label: Champs Hill (2016)

    Release Date: 01 Apr 16

    Ruby Hughes, soprano
    Joseph Middleton, piano
    Songs by Schubert, Berg, Britten and Mahler

    *Recording of the Month* for BBC Music Magazine & Musicweb International

  • Songs to the Moon More info  

    Label: Signum Records

    Release Date: 11 Mar 16

    The Myrthen Ensemble – DEBUT CD

    Mary Bevan, soprano
    Clara Mouriz, mezzo-soprano
    Allan Clayton, tenor
    Marcus Farnsworth, baritone
    Joseph Middleton, piano

  • Love said to me More info  

    Label: Stone Records

    Release Date: 01 Oct 14

    Caroline MacPhie, soprano
    Joseph Middleton, piano

    Rising-star soprano Caroline MacPhie’s debut solo CD of songs inspired or written by women.

  • You Promised me Everything More info  

    Label: Champs Hill Records

    Release Date: 28 Jul 14

    Vocal and choral works by Cheryl Frances-Hoad

    Artists included on this disc :
    Jennifer Johnston, mezzo-soprano
    Jane Manning, soprano
    Natalie Raybould, soprano
    Joseph Middleton, piano

  • LUDWIG THUILLE: SONGS More info  

    Label: Champs Hill Records

    Release Date: 03 Sep 13

    Sophie Bevan, Jennifer Johnston, Mary Bevan, Joseph Middleton, piano

  • Fleurs More info  

    Label: BIS Records (2015)

    Release Date: 01 May 15

    Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton

    *Gramophone Editor’s Choice (May 2015)*
    *Disc of the Month – Radio France (May 2015)*
    *Recital Award – Gramophone Awards (2015)*

  • This Other Eden More info  

    Label: Champs Hill (2015)

    Release Date: 01 Mar 15

    English poetry and song with Kitty Whately, Kevin Whately, Madelaine Newton, Joseph Middleton and Navarra Quartet

  • Elgar in Sussex More info  

    Label: Champs Hill Records

    Release Date: 26 Sep 11

    This recording contains Elgar’s beautiful Piano Quintet in A minor, Three Movements for Piano Trio and seven songs performed by Felicity Lott and Joseph Middleton, piano.

    Recorded: November 2010
    Venue: Champs Hill, Sussex

  • Tell Me The Truth About Love More info  

    Label: Champs Hill Records

    Release Date: 01 Feb 13

    Amanda Roocroft, soprano
    Joseph Middleton, piano
    Release: February 2013
    Champs Hill Records: CHRCD040
    Venue: Champs Hill, Sussex

    “Joseph Middleton is everywhere a sensitive and imaginative accompanist to Amanda Roocroft, whose intimate, emotionally versatile singing is always engaging”
    BBC Music Magazine, September 2013

  • Canciones, Memories of Spain More info  

    Label: Sonimage

    Release Date: 01 Jul 10

    Clara Mouriz, mezzo-soprano
    Joseph Middleton, piano
    Sonimage SON 10902
    Recorded: 25-28 May 2009
    Venue: Champs Hill, Sussex

  • 07 Nov 17 Recital with Carolyn Sampson
    Frankfurt Opera
    More info  

    “Mit dem Pianisten Joseph Middleton hatte sie nicht nur ihren Programmberater mit dabei, sondern auch einen zuverlässigen Begleiter, der mit seinen mitunter starken Nuancierungen den Liedern zusätzlich Charakter verlieh.”

    “Pianist Joseph Middleton, who is merely just an accompanist but more importantly a reliable companion, helps to characterise the songs.”

    Markus Grundig, Kulturfreak De, 07 November 2017

     

  • 15 Sep 17 Lost is My Quiet (Duets and Solo Songs) Carolyn Sampson, Iestyn Davies & Joseph Middleton
    More info  

    “Middleton… the absolute king of programming.”
    Gramophone: Editor’s Choice, October 2017

    “This is a lovely disc of duets and solos sung by Carolyn Sampson and Iestyn Davies, accompanied by the brilliant Joseph Middleton, already labelled by the New York Times “the perfect accompanist”.”
    Dave Billinge, Musicweb International: Recording of the Month, October 2017

    “They sing together with an enjoyment of the music’s ebb and flow that is clearly shared by their pianist, Joseph Middleton…From the beautifully interwoven Purcell title track to the mellifluous, dirndl-wearing duets by Mendelssohn and Schumann to the bittersweet drawing-room melodies of Roger Quilter, what’s on offer here is beautifully judged.”
    ★★★★★ Eric Jeal, The Guardian, September 2017

    “This is an enchanting recital, combining songs and duets using both English and German texts, by two wonderful British singers and a warmly sensitive accompanist…The gem of the final group by Roger Quilter is Weep ye nor More, Sad Fountains, in which Joseph Middleton’s delicate pianism finely suggests the Elizabethan lute…this absolutely delicious recording.”

    ★★★★★ Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, September 2017

    “Middleton shines in the Schumann settings and as MC in Roger Quilter’s Love calls through the summer night. Sheer delight.”
    ★★★★★ Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 22 October 2017

    “All of this being enhanced by the first rate, sympathetic accompaniment from Joseph Middleton, who was deservedly the recipient of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Young Artist of the Year Award earlier this year…this is unquestionably our CD of the Month for October.”

    iClassical: CD of the month, October 2017

    “The billing promises much, and the performances certainly deliver…Here is a captivating, unhackneyed programme, presented by singers – a double act in a thousand – and pianist with a style and allure it would be hard to beat. No one remotely drawn to this repertoire should hold back…Joseph Middleton fully savours the ingenuity and extravagance of Britten’s piano realisations…Carolyn Sampson’s fleet, smiling ‘Aufträge’, [is] abetted by Middleton’s diaphanous accompaniment. The duets – superior salon music – are all enchanting. With Middleton always an animated partner.”
    Richard Wigmore, Gramophone, December 2017

    Künstlerische Qualität: 10/10

    Klangqualität: 10/10

    Gesamteindruck: 10/10

    “Only a few months after her remarkable “Verlaine Songbook”, English soprano Carolyn Sampson has released yet another extraordinary album…As in the previous song groups, Joseph Middleton is more than just a companion, but rather a stylish and animating partner on the piano.”

    Klassik Heute: Klassik Heut Emfehlung

     

  • 21 Jul 17 Recital with Ruby Hughes
    Music at Paxton
    More info  

    “There was some very sophisticated storytelling here from both singer and pianist, Middleton exquisitely colouring and shading Schumann’s harmonies. The solo piano in the closing bars of the final song was both sweet and sorrowful, and a moving end to the cycle…Britten’s ingenious arrangements bring out in the accompaniment so much of what’s implicit in these well loved tunes, and Middleton yet again showed himself to be a master of his craft, illuminating the songs’ different moods.”
    Miranda Heggie, The Herald, 24 July 2017

  • 30 Jun 17 Strauss 'Through Life & Love Louise Alder's debut disc
    Orchid Classics
    More info  

    Editor’s Choice Gramophone Magazine
    “…love for the composer – and his songs – is vividly articulated at every point throughout this lovely disc…Joseph Middleton’s piano-playing is superb throughout as well, offering perceptive, lively and sensitive accompaniment entirely on Alder’s wavelength – listen to the lilt he brings, for example, to the start of ‘Ich Schwebe’. Orchid Classics’ sound captures both of them naturally…All in all, this debut is a delight.”
    Hugo Shirley, Gramophone Magazine, August 2017

    5*****
    “Alder is beautifully partnered by pianist Joseph Middleton.”
    Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, 25 June 2017

    “Riding a trend for more thematic programmes of German art-song, Alder and her equally accomplished accompanist, Joseph Middleton, chart an emotional journey from youth to love, motherhood to loss, closing with the theme of “release”, which includes two of Strauss’s most glorious numbers, Zueignung and Allerseelen. Alder’s voice floats beautifully over Middleton’s piano…”
    Neil Fisher, The Times, 30 June 2017

    “Joseph Middleton is a superb partner bringing out the richness of Strauss’s piano writing, and aptly complementing Alder. Strauss’s accompaniments are very orchestral and Middleton really does explore their full range of colours and textures.”
    Planet Hugill, 29 June 2017

    “To these she brings vivid interpretative qualities, aided by her superb pianist, who relishes the rippling arpeggios of Ständchen (Serenade).”

    Album of the Week : Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times, 16 July 2017

    “The expressive breadth and immediacy of Middleton’s piano playing is exceptional. Quite a debut all in all.”

    Andrew McGregor, Record Review, BBC Radio 3

  • 14 May 17 Recital with Carolyn Sampson
    Alice Tully Hall, New York
    More info  

    “…the bright soprano Carolyn Sampson and the deft, reliably stylish collaborative pianist Joseph Middleton offered a garland of songs devoted to the theme of flowers to an appreciative Alice Tully Hall. They drew on the program of a well-received joint CD entitled Fleurs…Middleton sounded at home in every style…they won deserved applause.”
    David Shengold, Opera News

    “Through the roughly hour and a half recital, the duo painted an exemplary picture of all that artistry is capable of….

    Favorite moments of the recital included:
    – Joseph Middleton’s perpetual and dizzying accompaniment in Schubert’s “Die Blumensprache.” It was not a solo feature for the pianist, but the constant, rolling arpeggios were hypnotizing.
    Dusk was approaching and the two ended the show on a jubilant finish, flourishing through “Toutes les fleurs“ by Chabrier.”
    James Monroe Števko, OperaWire.com, 15 May 2017

  • 21 Apr 17 Songs of Travel with Henk Neven
    Leeds Lieder Festival
    More info  

    “It was a tremendously persuasive performance, sensitive, thoughtful, and at times deeply moving…Festival director Joseph Middleton provided typically sensitive and mature piano underpinnings and counterpoints to the miller’s joy, doubt, and final plight. Middleton is fast earning his place among the star piano accompanists of today and yesteryear, and it was easy to envisage the pair recording this and other Schubert song cycles on disc. Tonight this partnership reached its apogee in the lullaby that crowns the 20-song cycle, a devastatingly beautiful notion, in which the brook croons a protective song to the miller who now lies submerged on the riverbed. All the nuance and poignancy of this song was brought out by the two performers, who by this stage were in perfect synchrony…a truly transporting opening concert from two marvellous talents…remarkable opening night.”

    Cornelius Fitz, Seen and heard – International, 24 April 2017

  • 26 Nov 16 Leeds Lieder Festival with Sarah Connolly
    Howard Assembly Rooms, Leeds
    More info  

    “This intelligent programme of lieder spanning German Romanticism to a trio of British composers from the 20th century was also the launch for the Leeds Lieder 2017 Festival. This may explain the buzz that was evident in the bar and stalls before the performance began, though this could equally have been in anticipation of the performers. Joseph Middleton, the festival’s Director, was on accompanist duties for the renowned mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, and attendees may have had their palette whetted by their appearance on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune the day before (still available on
    BBC iPlayer). If so, that they would have heard is a delightfully coherent partnership, one where pianist and singer work in total unison whether sensitivity or drama is called for…This was an evening
    filled with lovely moments.”
    Cornelius Fitz, Seen and Heard – International, 30 November 2017

  • 14 Nov 16 A Verlaine Songbook : CD with Carolyn Sampson
    BIS Records
    More info  

    “A Verlaine Songbook CD review – Sampson and Middleton shine…Her partnership with Middleton is inspired, his intelligence always evident, particularly in the adventurous modulations of Fauré’s La bonne chanson, Op 61.”
    4****  Stephen Pritchard, The Guardian, 13 November 2016

    “Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton have turned to Verlaine settings for their new disc…Sampson and Middleton are very much at home in this repertory, frequently functioning as an indivisible unit with sound and sense beautifully fused…Middleton’s playing is marvellously fresh throughout, the thin dividing line between wit and melancholy superbly negotiated…Ariettes oubliées, on the other hand, gets one its finest performances on disc, the slide from eroticism to bitterness immaculately judged. Very fine.”
    Gramophone/ Tim Ashley 

    “Carolyn Sampson and her companion, Joseph Middleton, also show a lot of flair for the various
    moods of the songs. The soprano, which is a series of great British predecessors such as Maggie Teyte and Felicity Lott, who are among the most important interpreters of the French song…The pianist, who is not required as an accompanist, but as an animator – for crucial things are told by the piano,
    while the song often remains in a state of hovering – offers a bravura performance, which is always at the service of the music and the partner.”
    Klassik Heute/Ekkehard Pluta

  • 05 Sep 16 Carolyn Sampson & Iestyn Davies BBC Proms
    Cadogan Hall
    More info  

    “Joseph Middleton supported the singers with a dexterity that matched the joy he had in his playing, a broad smile almost constantly visible.”
    Nick Breckenfield, Classical Source, 5 September 2016

    “Soprano Carolyn Sampson, countertenor Iestyn Davies, and pianist Joseph Middleton gave
    a lunchtime Prom at the Cadogan Hall which was chamber music of the highest
    quality.”
    5***** Michael Church, The Independent, 8 September 2016 

  • 13 Jul 16 Songs to the Moon
    Myrthen Ensemble Debut CD - Signum Records
    More info  

    “An engaging programme, mixing solos by each of the starry young singers with rare ensemble works. Pianist Joseph Middleton excels throughout.”
    4**** BBC Music Magazine

    “Joseph Middleton reinforces his reputation as the finest accompanist amongst the younger generations…Excellent sound, authoritative notes from Middleton and Richard Stokes, as well as texts and translations add to this rewarding nocturnal journey. Well worth exploring.”
    4**** Evan Dickerson, Classical Ear, 21 June 2016 

    “Undoubtedly the star of the evening, though, was the pianist, Joseph Middleton with his sensitivity to the voices and ability to summon up the mood of each piece through deft use of speed, dynamic and colour.”
    Barry Creasy, MusicOMH

    “Middleton is outstanding, his reputation as a rising star among accompanists richly deserved.”
    Tim Ashley, Gramophone Magazine, September 2016

  • 01 May 16 Britten : Purcell CD
    Champs Hill Records
    More info  

    “The colours they bring to the music are unashamedly Romantic and Middleton, who vivid playing is a catalyst throughout the disc, lets himself go in Britten’s scene painting… Champs Hill’s recording
    is also first-rate, giving singers and piano alike tremendous presence…For Britten, this counts as a highly persuasive new release.”
    Richard Fairman, Gramophone Magazine, June 2016 

    “As pianist, Britten developed elaborate accompaniments for them that today seem a little overworked, but it’s fascinating to hear their period style on these two CDs, especially with the
    unifying and responsive playing of pianist Joseph Middleton.”
    Nicholas Kenyon, The Guardian, 10 April 2016

    “Throughout, pianist Joseph Middleton’s playing is exemplary in its unassertive light-touch clarity…”
    5***** Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 21 May 2016

    “The driving force behind this complete survey of Benjamin Britten’s modern realisations of
    Purcell songs is pianist Joseph Middleton… Middleton’s realisation of them is exquisite and sympathetic to the countless dramatic hues evoked by his team of singers.”
    4**** Ken Walton, The Scotsman, 23 April 2016 

    “…Middleton’s playing is precisely coloured and characterised.”
    4**** Anna Picard, BBC Music Magazine, June 2016

    “A fine cast of singers…and don’t ignore the contribution of the pianist behind the collection, Joseph Middleton. Casting is split between six singers and part of the joy is wondering who’s been given what…It’s a really entertaining collection highlighting Purcell’s genius, Britten’s ingenuity, and underpinning it all, Joseph Middleton’s casting design and intuitive piano playing. I love this.
    Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 – Record Review

    “These 40 songs, arias, duets, hymns, and theater pieces offer one delight after another. Wonderfully agile young singers perform adeptly in the period style you would expect in performance of Purcell’s music but with a different thrust in Britten’s ‘realized’ accompaniments…As for the performance, this is just plain gorgeous singing…Middleton, who is rapidly establishing himself as an important member of a younger generation of accompanists, anchors this set admirably.”
    R Moore, American Record Guide

    “Middleton’s contribution cannot be overestimated. His pianism has color, rhythmic definition and sensitivity to the harmonic subtleties provided by both Purcell and Britten.”
    Critics Choice, Opera News, February 2017

  • 01 Apr 16 Nocturnal Variations with Ruby Hughes
    Champs Hill Records
    More info  

    “There is no question, first of all, that we have two major talents here…This is an extraordinary and rather brave CD…Joseph Middleton is a fine musician, technically secure, and fully responsive to Hughes’s, and the composers’, poetic vision…This disc is very special…Something to relish, and a great achievement.”
    Musicweb International – Recording of the Month – Gwyn Parry-Jones

    “Joseph Middleton’s neat and purposeful accompaniments are major assests, and just as Hughes’s singing offers and object lesson in how to bring words and notes together, she and her pianist collaborate as a duo of equals…Each of the performers observes the details of Schubert’s writing…In
    Mahler…Middleton makes a good deal of the accompaniments that feel orchestrally rather than pianistically conceived…A dream debut.”
    BBC Music Magazine – CD of the Month Choral and Song 5* Performance, 5* Recording

  • 30 Mar 16 Recital with Sir Thomas Allen
    Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
    More info  

    5*****
    “…Middleton’s bird-song-like flourishes in Coates’ Bird songs at eventide and control at the ends of songs, and for that matter his seamless entrances into each, were nothing short of brilliant. His playing was fluid and attentive. Their combined music-making was truly evocative of the landscapes and narratives it aims to capture…
    Allen and Middleton’s performance seemed to catalyse a transcendental feeling between composer, composition and performer, creating the illusion that the songs were written for them. Not only this, but the line between vocal and instrumental became blurred. Both performers displayed the ultimate expression of both.”
    Imogen Phoebe Webb, Bach Track*****, 1 April 2016 

  • 11 Mar 16 Gramophone Podcast
    Leeds Lieder Festival 2016
    More info  

    Talking song with a pianist and a singer: a Gramophone podcast
    Gramophone, March 2016

    “The Leeds Lieder Festival is a compact triumph of outstanding art song…Middleton’s contribution
    comprised a meaty recital of Nordic songs”
    Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times

    “What the visionary Jane Anthony founded now has the young and energetic Joseph Middleton as its Director.”
    Richard Wilcocks, Bachtrack

    “Administered by Joseph Middleton (one of the best accompanists I know) and Roderick Williams (the most eloquent of baritones and so damn nice you want to hug him), it was round-the-clock, relentless, but with concerts of surpassing quality.”
    Michael White, Classical Music Magazine

  • 01 Mar 16 Recital with Clara Mouirz
    RWCMD
    More info  

    “Joseph Middleton is a brilliant accompanist – his evident qualities further evidenced by the roll call of singers who have chosen to work with him (it includes Ian Bostridge, Sir Thomas Allen, Iestyn Davies,
    Christopher Maltman, Mark Padmore, Amanda Roocroft and Ailish Tynan)…Turina’s writing in this ‘Dedicatoria’ is a brilliant ‘translation’ of that kind of guitar music and was superbly played by Joseph Middleton.”
    Musicweb International

  • 03 Feb 16 Recital with Ian Bostridge
    Barber Institute of Fine Arts
    More info  

    “…perhaps England’s greatest exponent of Schubert lieder, Ian Bostridge… was accompanied by another award winner, Joseph Middleton…Aided by the considerable keyboard technique of Middleton, the pair progressed together to present a performance that, with an impressive range of dynamics and colour, was both exceedingly intense and sincere…– a great interpretation.
    As the last note died away, Bostridge and Middleton remained motionless. It was over a minute before the enthusiastic applause broke the trance. The execution of the duo of Schubert’s Winterreise had been a magnificent obsession.”
    Geoff Read, Seen & Heard International, 5 February 2016

  • 12 Apr 15 Recital with Sarah Connolly
    Alice Tully Hall, New York debut
    More info  

    “Sarah Connolly, whose superlative matinee on Sunday at Alice Tully Hall had Joseph Middleton at the Steinway, is at the peak of her career…Ms. Connolly and the impressive Mr. Middleton, meanwhile, flaunted their versatility. Opening with Schubert’s three “Ellens Gesänge,” they brought an otherworldly confidence to the “Ave Maria.” Each of five of Copland’s intriguingly varied “12 Poems of Emily Dickinson” had a distinct mood, while in Elgar’s “Sea Pictures” even Ms. Connolly’s breathing seemed part of her supremely noble phrasing. The encores, Handel’s “Ombra mai fu” and Howells’s “King David,” exuded poise and dignity. This was everything a recital should be.”
    David Allen, The New York Times, 13 April 2015 

    “Sunday April 12, 2015 – The final concert in our Great Performers at Lincoln Centersubscription series, this recital at Alice Tully Hall by the English mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly was as fine an evening of song as I have ever experienced; both the singer and her songs stood proudly in my memory-pantheon of great vocal recitals which reaches back to the 1960s when I met Dame Janet Baker and which encompasses such paragons of the lied as Christa Ludwig, Elisabeth Söderström, Jessye Norman, Wolfgang Holzmair, and a host of others…The pianist Joseph Middleton was at the Steinway and was an ideal partner for Ms. Connolly with his sensitive, elegant playing. His mastery of piano/pianissimo gradations provided so many passages of quiet rapture throughout the program…Mr. Middleton’s playing had clarity of detail…A whole catalog of descriptive superlatives won’t do justice to this evening’s performance in which singer and pianist found the poetic heartland of the songs and transported us there with the immersive beauty of their entwined voices…In the final “The Chariot”, she and her pianist again found a perfect rapport, and throughout this set (and the entire evening, in fact) there were passages of entrancing delicacy from the keyboard. At the end of “The Chariot” Ms. Connolly sustained the final note in a remarkable pianissimo that hung on the air: a bit of heaven here on Earth…Most musical performances have peaks and valleys; this evening, Ms. Connolly and Mr. Middleton set out on a plateau high in the musical stratosphere and lingered there til the final note, transporting us out of a troubled world and fortifying us with the generosity and sincerity of their artistry. A great night of song.”
    Oberon’s Grove

  • 01 Apr 15 Recording with Carolyn Sampson
    Fleurs - BIS Records
    More info  

    “The bouquet was Joseph Middleton’s idea, and his fluent and always idiomatic playing accompanies Sampson with glee and grace throughout – first through songs whose English, French, German and Russian texts are all inspired by the rose. Sampson’s soprano luxuriates in the melismas of Purcell’s cool evening breeze, inhabits the passions of Britten’s Pushkin setting, The Nightingale and the Rose and, refreshingly, refuses to over-indulge Fauré’s Roses d’Ispahan.
    This programme is the perfect place in which to showcase Richard Strauss’s four Mädchenblumen, after enjoying the free-flight into paradise of his Der Rosenband. Sampson and Middleton nicely choose Schubert’s bosky, frolicking Im Haine rather than the obvious Heidenröslein. And for Verlaine’s poem Green, they veer away from the well-known Debussy and Fauré settings, heading instead towards a beautifully focused performance of Hahn’s Offrande.
    Poulenc provides the disc’s title-song – and Sampson and Middleton capture its dark, chaste ecstasy as incomparably as they enjoy the exuberance of their final Chabrier Toutes les flours.”
    Hilary Finch, BBC Music Magazine

    “Joseph Middleton is a perfect accompanist.”
    Opera Now, April 2015

    “The English soprano’s latest recital, Fleurs, has her joining that excellent pianist Joseph Middleton to offer an exquisite bouquet of flower songs.
    Roses take precedence, and Purcell’s Sweeter than Roses, dressed up by Benjamin Britten, creates a certain frisson with Sampson’s historically informed singing set against Middleton’s resonantly modern piano. Schumann’s vision of a snowdrop is so moving that one might hope that spring would stay right away, while there is a winning strain of mischievousness running through a Richard Strauss poppy song. For some, the “find” may be the languorous post-Debussian world of Lili Boulanger’s lilacs.
    A number of pieces are less bloom-specific. Sampson catches just the right mix of the becalmed and bizarre for Poulenc’s Fleurs and is suitably wry in a Victor Hugo dialogue between a butterfly and a flower, set to music by Faure.”
    The New Zealand Herald, 21 March 2015 

    “With pianist Joseph Middleton she savours some choice blooms from, among others, Britten, Chabrier, Schubert, Schumann, Gounod and Strauss, her glorious soprano particularly affecting in Fauré’s Le papillon et la fleur and the wonderfully perfumed Les roses d’Ispahan. Middleton plays with dextrous delicacy throughout and brings real virtuosity to Strauss’s Mädchenblumen. Highly recommended.”
    Stephen Pritchard, The Guardian, 29 March 2015 

    Editor’s Choice for May 2015
    “…an imaginatively planned, beautifully executed recital that charms and touches by turns…Carolyn Sampson and Joseph Middleton range well off the beaten track to embrace such rarities as Lili Boulanger’s dreamy, liquescent ‘Les lilas qui avaient fleuri’ and Strauss’s beguiling Mädchenblumen songs…To Schumann’s fragile, self-communing miniatures she brings an ideal delicacy and Innigkeit, not least in the gently floated high notes and magical pianissimo close of the rare ‘Die Blume der Ergebung’. Here and elsewhere Middleton creates limpid, luminous textures and reveals a subtle feeling for Schummanesque rubato…In French song, too, Sampson is in her element, whether in the blithe, seductive grace of Gounod’s ‘Le temps des roses’ or the hothouse torpor of Debussy’s ‘De fleurs’, where she and Middleton respond sensitively to the sultry, shifting harmonies.”
    Richard Wigmore, Gramphone May 2015

    “Sampson and her superb pianist, Joseph Middleton, make a case for a selection of songs that succeed in producing a dazzling range of intimacy and virtuosity…”
    James Naughtie, BBC Music Magazine

    “Sampson’s lovely, uncomplicated tone and palpable sincerity are all one could ask for…
    Marvelously accompanied by pianist Joseph Middleton, who is as sensitive to the expressive demands of a song as to the singer’s interpretative strengths…performances so beautifully sung and accompanied…the recording can be highly recommended.”
    Jason Victor Serinus, San Francisco Classical Voice, 14 July 2015 

    “Highlights of this CD? Every track is a highlight unto itself…Thanks to Sampson’s great artistry and Middleton’s risk-taking approach, everything sounds fresh and vital…a pianist who plays with guts and feeling…the greatness that is this Sampson-Middleton duo.”
    Fanfare Magazine – Lynn René Bayley

    “Sampson and Middleton’s enthusiasm is infectious…It’s a charming recital with pleasant variety, performed with appropriate sweetness and great energy by Sampson and Middleton… Middleton’s playing is stellar…wonderfully delicate, but like Sampson, never sentimental.”
    American Record Review – Heisel

  • 24 Mar 15 Recording with Kitty Whately
    This Other Eden - Champs Hill Records
    More info  

    “She receives terrific support from pianist Joseph Middleton, sensitive to Ireland’s fine writing.  This is a perfectly controlled performance…Kitty Whately builds Herbert Howells’ (1892–1983) King David so well, rising to some very fine moments with exquisite piano accompaniment, limpid and sensitive with mezzo and pianist complementing each other’s textures superbly…After Madelaine Newton’s fine reading of Thomas Hardy’s (1840–1928) The Darkling Thrush we have a song by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924), something of an underrated song composer. Here his La belle dame sans merci has a surprisingly spare opening with Whately finding just the right feel before the music turns brighter picking up rhythmically and with Middleton, finely delivering all the changing moods, tempi rhythms and dynamics…Kevin Whately reads a line from A E Houseman’s Spring will not wait before Joseph Middleton plays John Ireland’s piano piece of the same name, a wonderful idea with this pianist catching Ireland’s elusive sound world so well…Benjamin Britten’s (1913–1976) piano piece Early Morning Bathe is a light skittish piece to which Joseph Middleton brings a lovely rippling quality, full of forward motion and richness of tone…This is a terrific debut disc from Kitty Whately…”
    5***** Bruce Reader, The Classical Reviewer, 24 March 2015

    “Joseph Middleton’s piano accompaniments are equally fine, and he contributes Britten’s horribly hearty solo piece ‘Early Morning Bathe.”
    4**** BBC Music Magazine, Michael Scott Rohan

    “…Middleton’s partnership is exemplary in the entire program. He performs two short solo pieces, Ireland’s impressionist ‘Spring Will Not Wait’ and Britten’s rollicking ‘Early Morning Bathe’, which suggests the invigoration of a cold dip. ‘The Children’ (Macmillan, 1995) is a powerful setting of Scottish poet William Soutar’s anguish at the Spanish Civil War…It is a deeply moving performance of this brilliantly harrowing work.”
    American Record Guide – Shortlisted for Best Disc of 2015

  • 19 Jan 15 BBC Radio 3 Recital with Kitty Whately
    Wigmore Hall, London
    More info  

    “She and her suave pianist Joseph Middleton were at their most winning in the wry or whimsical light comedy of songs such as Die Kartenlegerin and Ich kann’s nicht fassen — deliciously characterised.”
    The Times, Richard Morrison

    “Throughout the cycle Middleton was very much an equal partner, contributing to the intensity with which the songs were projected and characterised, full of vivid emotion.”
    5***** Planet Hugill

  • 30 Oct 14 Love said to me Recording with Caroline MacPhie
    Stone Records
    More info  

    “Vividly stylish and responsive accompaniment from Joseph Middleton enhances this delightful musical menu…beautifully polished miniatures from Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch…all sung by MacPhie with haunting sensitivity and emotional engagement.”
    4**** The Telegraph, Rupert Christiansen, November 2014

    “Joseph Middleton, mit dem sie auch im Konzertsaal häufig zusammen arbeitet, ist dabei weit mehr als Begleiter, sondern mit seinem entschiedenen Zugriff eine Art Motors des ganzen Unternehmens.”
    [Translation: Joseph Middleton, with whom she regularly appears in recital, proves far more than an accompanist, propelling the whole programme with his decisive ownership of the music]
    Klassik Heute

  • 15 Oct 14 Schubert 'Winterreise' with Sir Thomas Allen
    Barber Institute of Fine Arts
    More info  

    “What a privilege for a packed house. Here we were listening to Sir Thomas Allen, one of the finest baritones in the world, accompanied by Joseph Middleton, a sensitive and truly talented young pianist…Middleton discreetly joined forces with lovely phrasing and imaginative, but never overwhelming collaborations. His breathless pianissimos are a joy; achingly sad minor passages contrasting with brief flashes of caressing major sunlight. There was splendid clarity for The Post Coach (but, alas, no letter); more ferocity for a brief storm then a heart-­stopping velvety long introduction for a“pitiless tavern”…A recital to treasure.”
    Birmingham Post, 21 October 2014 

  • 05 Oct 14 Schubert 'Winterreise' with Sir Thomas Allen
    National Concert Hall, Dublin
    More info  

    “The distinguished English baritone Sir Thomas Allen accompanied, with impeccable taste, by his younger compatriot Joseph Middleton. This is a marriage of musical minds serving Schubert with total dedication…While wonderfully understated, Joseph Middleton’s accompaniments are still powerfully meaningful as he follows Schubert’s flowing melodic lines with natural grace. Assertive and incisive, he is continuously in tandem with Thomas Allen’s soul-searching insight into Müller and Schubert.”
    The Independent 

    “…the voice, aided by the tastefully graded piano accompaniment of Joseph Middleton, still asserted its glory or cast its hushed spell. This winter’s journey may have been tinged with the hues of autumn, but it remained an object lesson in concentrated, unflinching characterisation.”
    The Irish Times

    “Ably and stylishly accompanied throughout by Middleton, the momentum of the cycle maintains its hold right to the end. In the final two songs, ‘Die Nebensonnen’ (The Phantom Suns) and ‘Der Leiermann’ (The Hurdy-Gurdy Man), singer and pianist project a rapt sense of impassioned stillness, at the end of which Sir Thomas holds the audience in a beautifully extended moment of silence, before the inevitable applause that follows. Standing ovations have become all too common in recent years, but on this occasion the audience’s reaction is spontaneous and well-deserved.”
    Goldenplec.com

  • 25 Nov 13 Thuille LUDWIG THUILLE: SONGS
    Champs Hill Records
    More info  

    “They’re impeccably sung, with great warmth of tone…some gorgeous ensembles. Joseph Middleton is their indefatigable pianist.”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, 21 November 2013 

    “Middleton is exquisite in every piece…The extremely imaginative songs of Ludwig Thuille are the subject of this thoughtfully prepared program…The three singers sound wonderful together; the colors in the voices line up, and Middleton offers clear and lively support…Sophie Bevan and Middleton play it with great sensitivity…This is a worthy addition to every lieder lover’s collection.”
    American Record Guide

    “They’re impeccably sung, with great warmth of tone…some gorgeous ensembles. Joseph Middleton is their indefatigable pianist.”
    4**** The Guardian, Tim Ashley

    “Both singers should be applauded for bringing this long-forgotten repertoire to life, as should Joseph Middleton, who brings sparkle to Thuille’s imaginative and charming accompaniments…This release offers a generous and welcome conspectus of his song output.”
    Gramophone Magazine, Harriet Smith

  • 15 Jul 13 Richard Tauber Competition Winner Wigmore Hall Recital
    With Jung Soo Yun, tenor
    More info  

    “The pianist, Joseph Middleton, won the 2010 Ferdinand Rauter Memorial Prize for Accompanists…Middleton was beautifully musical, never over-pedalling, never overbearing, each phrase, gesture or accompaniment pattern carefully considered and weighted…an excellent pianist …One had to admire the ravishing piano playing in ‘Ideale’. Middleton set up the atmosphere perfectly in the space of but a few bars; and ‘L’alba separa dalla luce l’ombra’ was nicely impassioned.”
    Colin Clarke, Seen and Heard International

  • 12 Jul 13 Cheltenham International Festival With Dame Felicity Lott & Clara Mouriz
    Pittville Pump Room
    More info  

    BBC Radio 3 Recital with Clara Mouriz:

    ‘Concert-going doesn’t get much more feel-good than this…The two have played regularly together, clearly get on well, and beam broadly as they take the stage – today’s sunny good mood has got to everybody. Smiles, too, at the end of their deftly delivered first half…Expect to hear a lot more from her – and, for that matter, from the effortlessly graceful Middleton too.”
    Jeremy Pound, BBC Classical Music Magazine

    “she was accompanied by Joseph Middleton providing the careful, empathetic support that many singers can only dream of.”
    Roger Jones, Gloucestershire Echo

    Recital of Poulenc and Britten with Dame Felicity Lott:

    “I doubt there’s ever been a better English interpreter of melodies than Felicity Lott… In these Poulenc songs, as in everything else, Joseph Middleton was an ideal and highly skilled partner for Dame Felicity.”
    John Quinn, Seen and Heard International

  • 25 Jun 14 Gregynog Festival Recital with Christopher Maltman
    Llandinam Village Hall
    More info  

    Pianist Joseph Middleton matched Maltman for power in the two Mahler songs, yet the strength of this duo’s performance lay less in their deeply expressive sound than in their expression of humanity…In the hall, the years stood still and raw feelings hit home: hope, honour and despair. Schumann’s setting of Hans Christian Andersen’s Der Soldat, where a commanding officer, facing an execution squad, is shot through the heart by the soldier who loved him, carried an almost unbearable force…deeply compassionate.****
    Rian Evans, The Guardian, 27 June 2014 

  • 02 Oct 13 Rising Star 'Great artists of tomorrow' BBC Music Magazine
    November 2013
    More info  

    *Rising Star: Great artists of tomorrow*
    “Middleton, aged 32, is one of the brightest stars in the world of song and Lieder, performing with the likes of baritone Sir Thomas Allen, sopranos Dame Felicity Lott and Clara Mouriz and tenor Toby Spence.”
    BBC Elizabeth Davis, BBC Music Magazine, November 2013

  • 26 Jun 13 Wagner & Liszt recital
    Kings Place, Hall One
    More info  

    “…Joseph Middleton stole the show in the Liszt selection – especially the balmy “Bells of Marling.”
    Andrew Clark, Financial Times, 27 June 2013 

    “And her pianist in a thousand, Joseph Middleton, treated Wagner’s phrase endings with as much care as those of the much more individual master song-writers…When Schumann’s first Liederkreis set (Op. 24) nudged Wagner out of the way and Middleton started making wonderfully nuanced connection between several of the songs, we knew we were in another world…Middleton again took the limelight in the elaborate gypsy strains of Liszt’s vivid song-picture “Die drei Zigeuner”, followed by ethereal river music. He made the most of the piano part in the Wesendonck settings, conjuring the oppressive atmosphere of the hothouse and the liberation of dreams.”
    David Nice, The Arts Desk, 28 June 2013

    “…Middleton’s animated performances offered great harmonic and stylistic understanding, as well as unfailing support for the singer… Middleton ensured that there was no reason whatsoever to lament the lack of an orchestra…Watson showed herself just as much at ease with the vocal line as Middleton with the gorgeous piano parts, a treat for any pianist with the requisite technique and stylistic command.”
    Mark Berry, Boulezian, 27 June 2013

  • 14 Feb 13 Tell me the Truth about Love - Amanda Roocroft recital disc
    Champs Hill Records
    More info  

    “This beautifully packaged recording brings together songs around the conceit of a weekend love affair, beginning with an innocent young girl’s wonders and fears (the album’s title song, a setting by Benjamin Britten of a poem by WH Auden). The CD moves through a variety of emotions to its close: Britten’s version of the traditional Early One Morning.
    In between, there is much to enjoy, not only in the quality of this well-paired performance, but in the emotional range displayed in a series of musical vignettes.”
    5***** Alexander Bryce, The Scotsman, 17 February 2013

    “Half the fun in anthologies comes from seeing what has been chosen and how the programme has been sewn together…A pair of cabaret songs – Britten’s setting of Auden’s popular poem ‘Tell me the truth about love’ and Weill’s ‘Je ne t’aime pas’, neither of them easy to pull off – fall early and late in what is an imaginative recital of art song. Most of the usual suspects are here but there is also a welcome thread of rarities from composers such as Boulanger, Marx and Dunhill.
    How often do we come across Loewe’s playful ‘Ich kann nicht fassen’ or Mompou’s elegiac ‘Damunt de tu, només les flors’? Even better is the grand setting of Verlaine’s ‘En Sourdine’ by Poldowski’s, an interesting contrast to Fauré’s melodie. Roocroft is impassioned in outgoing songs such as Bridge’s ecstatic ‘Adoration’, where accompanist Joseph Middleton is really able to let himself go…persuasively shaped and coloured. The choice of songs, though, is its own strong selling point. It would be nice to think that every weekend fling might be as rewarding as this one.”
    Richard Fairman, The Gramophone, June 2013

    “This is an intelligent and engrossing recital…Roocroft and Middleton’s performance is glorious…Faure’s Fleur jetee (Discarded flower) is altogether a surprise. A brilliant, Erlkonig like, piano part superbly rendered by Middleton, and the highly dramatic song gives Roocroft full rein…Mompou’s Damunt de tu nomes les flors (Above you naught but flowers) evokes true sensuality in its direct uncluttered line. Roocroft brings real depth to this song, hinting at memories of Caballe. And we conclude in ecstasy, with Rachmaninov’s Midsummer nights, Middleton revelling in the outrageously elaborate piano part. Roocroft is wonderfully intense here…Roocroft’s performances are always dramatically involving, and she gives each song its own distinctive style. In this she is ably supported by Middleton who is dazzling…the whole adds up to a great recital from one of the warmest, vibrant and most human of sopranos.”
    Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill, 14 February 2013 

    “Joseph Middleton is everywhere a sensitive and imaginative accompanist to Amanda Roocroft, whose intimate, emotionally versatile singing is always engaging…
    …beautifully engineered CD, presented in an equally beautiful little Victorian-style photo album.”
    4**** Hilary Finch, BBC Music Magazine, September 2013

  • 14 Nov 12 Recital with Malin Christensson & Christopher Maltman
    Barber Institute of Fine Arts
    More info  

    “…a tidy and logical collection, impeccably delivered by each singer and their pianist Joseph Middleton, whose delicacy of touch and tonal elegance was at all times perfectly judged. And, although the subject matter rarely strayed from romantic love, the treatment and expressive range was remarkably varied.”
    David Hart, The Birmingham Post, 23 November 2012 

  • 13 Jun 12 Recital with Sir Thomas Allen
    Chan Centre, Vancouver
    More info  

    “The pianist, Joseph Middleton, a star in his own right, was in perfect sync with Allen throughout the concert. There was a camaraderie and a mutual delight in the music being shared by these two artists that added a very special tone to the evening.”
    Nancie Ottem, Review Vancouver, 13 June 2012 

  • 30 Mar 12 'Songs to the Moon' - The Myrthen Ensemble
    Queen’s Gate Terrace
    More info  

    “For sheer joy – for youthful panache and heartfelt commitment – nothing I have experienced musically this year comes near to matching this lovely soirée, given in the salon of a private house in South Kensington before a small invited audience. What a privilege to be there!
    The concert marked the inauguration of a new group, The Myrthen Ensemble, named after a song that Schumann sent to his wife Clara and modelled on the fondly remembered Songmakers’ Almanac. Like the latter, it consists of a pianist and a quartet of singers functioning as a team of friends rather than stand-alone stars – here they are Joseph Middleton, and soprano Sophie Bevan, mezzo-soprano Clara Mouriz, tenor Allan Clayton and baritone Marcus Farnsworth.This line-up represents the crème de la crème of young British-based musical talent…
    The programme was most intelligently devised by Joseph Middleton, an unfailingly sensitive accompanist.
    The Myrthen Ensemble will be performing at the Wigmore Hall next season. I hope and predict we will be hearing a lot more of them over the coming years.”
    Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph, 30 March 2012 

  • 16 Dec 11 Recital with Katarina Karnéus
    Westminster School
    More info  

    “Swedish mezzo Katarina Karnéus has made all this repertoire very much her own…Joseph Middleton, often noted by Musical Pointers as a special musician, impressed throughout as her equal partner.”
    Musical Pointers 

  • 26 Oct 11 Recital with Sir Thomas Allen
    Oxford Lieder Festival
    More info  

    “Sir Thomas’s performance of this raw and direct depiction of young love [Schumann’s Dichterliebe] was exactly tailored to the intimate Holywell ambience, with every note and gesture considered and made to count…Prizewinning young accompanist Joseph Middleton provided excellent, unshowy support throughout.”
    Giles Woodforde, Oxford Times, 26 October 2011

  • 26 Jul 11 Recital with Sir Thomas Allen
    Toronto Summer Music Festival
    More info  

    “Pure musical magic…Allen and pianist Joseph Middleton put together a recital of German Lieder from the 19th century as well as a selection of 20th century art songs. To call this a class act would be a huge understatement. It was a living, breathing, example of what it means to effectively communicate in song…Allen’s approach [to Dichterliebe] was to keep the emotions from frothing up too mightily, while Middleton’s liquid-velvet work at the piano maintained a discreet counterweight.”
    John Terauds, Toronto Star

  • 01 Apr 11 Recital with Wolfgang Holzmair
    Westminster School
    More info  

    “Joseph Middleton, who is already established as an outstanding accompanist of some distinction, showed his burgeoning reputation is fully deserved. He would seem to have a flawless technique and provided Wolfgang Holzmair with nuanced support that was alert to his veteran singer’s every whim.”
    Jim Pritchard, Musicweb International 

  • 28 Jan 11 Recital with Geraldine McGreevy
    Pembroke College Chapel
    More info  

    “Joseph Middleton is as classy a Lieder pianist as can be found anywhere in the world… McGreevy and Middleton’s first half built inexorably to a magnificent climax with “Mignon: Kennst du das Land.” Goethe’s headily ecstatic vision of a paradise in the south was powerful stuff indeed…the final selection of characterful and lively Chabrier songs again brought out the best of both performers’ musicianship, humour and stagecraft.”
    Sebastian Scotney, www.bachtrack.com 

  • 24 Oct 10 Recital with Andrew Kennedy
    Belfast Festival at Queen's
    More info  

    Joseph Middleton was an outstanding accompanist throughout, providing musical and sensitive support with a formidable pianistic technique.
    Belfast Telegraph, 26 October 2010 

  • 05 May 10 Recital with Sir Thomas Allen and Geraldine McGreevy
    Barber Institute of Fine Arts
    More info  

    “Their wonderfully supportive pianist Joseph Middleton, so sensitive and subtly shaded in the quieter numbers, dashed off the glittering Hexenlied (Witches’ Song) with virtuosic relish.”
    David Hart, Birmingham Post, 14 May 2010 

  • 05 Jul 07 Recital with Clara Mouriz
    Wigmore Hall, London
    More info  

    The contribution of unassuming and beautifully phrased musicianship that Joseph Middleton brought to the accompanists role must impart confidence to a singer in no small measure … Exciting times are ahead for this talented musical partnership.
    Musical Pointers, 5 July 2007 

Interviews