Concert Press

National Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir. Palace of Arts, Budapest. Britten centenary War Requiem.

“A stunning work was heard by the audience at the Palace of Arts: Benjamin Britten's War Requiem proclaimed itself worthy of greatness.
Howard Williams has conducted the work several times - so had no difficulty in handling the various forces. Williams conducted the Requiem practically by heart; the sound, with all tiny nuances of dynamics, enabling every detail of the score to be fully interpreted. It was a great, uplifting, thought-provoking concert, worthy of Britten’s celebration.”
National Youth Orchestra of Scotland

“Williams exercised a firm grasp on the programme, injecting just the right mix of explosive punch and scintillating spontaneity into the Walton to make it an ear-catching opener.”

“William Walton’s Portsmouth Point set the tone, fizzing off in all directions with orchestral colours as vibrant and spiky as Stravinsky. With the experienced Howard Williams, there was plenty of verve and attack.”

“The concerto formed the emotional core of this programme from NYOS and Howard Williams framed by Walton's boisterous Portsmouth Point overture and Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances. There was no doubt of the passion and surprising authority the young musicians brought to the opening of the Rachmaninov.”

“Howard Williams was exactly the man for the job. Williams and NYOS turned out a cracking concert, with Walton's blazing overture played with an exuberance that would have been the envy of hard-bitten pros, and Rachmaninov's Dances delivered as they should be: unglamorised, lean, dark, bitingly rhythmic and played with an authoritative conviction that declared the music never less than masterly.”
CC21-Choir of the 21st Century / English Chamber Orchestra

“Their performance of Bach's Christmas Oratorio would have been difficult to better. Indeed, rarely can one hear such clarity of musical and verbal diction, dynamic range, variety of vocal colours, artistic discipline and – last but not least – uniform pitching. It is also true to say that few amateur choirs (if any) have the privilege of working with such a skilled and experienced principal conductor as CC21's Howard Williams. This was a performance to cherish.”
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

“Even when the enormous orchestra is going hammer and tongs and the texture is at its most complex, the different layers of sound are clearly distinguishable to the ear. That is also a tribute to the conductor Howard Williams and to the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic – a rejuvenated orchestra, to judge by this brilliant performance.”
THE TIMES (London)
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic

“This was one of those rare moments in music which one felt should last forever. Howard Williams – a name to remember, that’s for sure.”
DE TELEGRAAF (Amsterdam)
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic

“.... as guest conductor, the Englishman Howard Williams was invited – judging from the results of this evening, a happy choice.
Williams is the type of man who the public can see from behind has great charisma.. Link this charisma to a work of someone such as Edward Elgar, also from the U.K., and you can be sure of a sublime outcome.
... Williams did not allow the thirteen variations to drown in empty pathos, but knew how from time to time to make the strings of the NPO whisper in order for woodwind phrases to sound through.”
DE TELEGRAAF (Amsterdam)
Vienna Radio Symphony

“Look out for Howard Williams, the English conductor on the podium with ORF Symphony Orchestra in a programme programmed entirely unconventionally with Liszt, Ligeti and Bartók. In Bartók’s CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA Williams invested the first and third movements with passionate intensity; in movements two and four he emphasized the dance-like, grotesque, colourful elements; and in the Finale he propelled things to their climax with absolute sureness: an interpretation that was a model of resoluteness, clarity and plasticity.”
Vienna Radio Symphony

“This was no common-place conductor on the podium. It was someone in action who achieved far-reaching precision and whose direction spurred the musicians to their utmost. This was evident straight away with Liszt’s final symphonic poem FROM THE CRADLE TO THE GRAVE, in which the particularly exposed strings played with discipline, creating effective impressionistic pictures. It continued in György Ligeti’s CLOCKS AND CLOUDS, in which 12 ladies from the ORF Choir – in constant consultation with their tuning-forks – and the five flautists accomplished marvellously their difficult tasks. It found its climax and culmination with Bartók’s well-known CONCERTO FOR ORCHESTRA, that was given a far from routine performance full of tensions and eruptions, and which also offered the well-prepared wind-players an opportunity for brilliance.”
KURIER (Vienna)
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

“Howard Williams, at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, on Saturday, piloted the RLPO through a darkly atmospheric performance which, ignoring the fact that there are very few allegros in the score, managed to become impassioned without skirting hysteria. The searing impact of the big climaxes was balanced by unusually sombre and brooding passages elsewhere. Mr. Williams, an impressive conductor, had Rachmaninov’s heaving, five-pulse measure nicely controlled and the playing reached an exemplary standard.”
BBC National Orchestra of Wales

“... these voices must be heard as though from a distance, yet still penetrate Nielsen’s rich orchestration. But yesterday, so sensitively did Miriam Bowen and David Wilson-Johnson realise the composer’s intentions and so careful was the balance secured by Howard Williams that the problem vanished.
This was one of many features making this an outstanding performance. Mr. Williams was at one with the symphony’s character, giving the themes strong identification, and ensuring that the sound was clear though robust. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales was at its best, the brass keenly pointed, the woodwind fragments eloquent, the strings bright, so that Nielsen’s harmonic patterns glowed, and the whole effect was thoroughly unified.”
Orchestre de Montpellier

“... the big work of the concert, the full-scale REQUIEM of Franz von Suppé, the British conductor rallied his massed forces for a performance which triumphantly established this long-buried work as the sort of virile Requiem that the young Verdi might have written at the time of Nabucco.
... Williams’s direction – with a Spanish choir, Orfeo Catala from Barcelona, reinforcing the local choir of Languedoc-Roussillon – was electrifying.”
Oxford Orchestra da Camera

“That esteemed conductor, Howard Williams, tending every corner of his band [Oxford Orchestra da Camera], found in the WATER MUSIC signs of pathos rarely emphasised, and underlined the textures in a way that stressed the music’s “inwardness” most unexpectedly. He is among the few conductors, too (that I know anyway), who takes the ITALIAN SYMPHONY’s first Allegro at a Presto speed, then, when the final Presto really comes, steps up the pace without a stitch dropped on the way.”
Choir and Symphony Orchestra of Bavarian Radio

“... In this the dramaturgical skill with which Britten combines the words of the Latin Mass for the Dead with the English poetry of the First World War victim Wilfred Owen takes first place, in the way he amalgamates the two textual levels.
In the performance in the Münich Philharmonie all this came fully and in places exemplarily to fruition; despite the large ensemble and the (for Britten) often hard dissonances all came clearly and audibly through.
This applies in equal measure to the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and to their excellent choir, who reached an earlier high point in the Dies Irae. Quite differently to usual, this section does not commence in media res, but is led in by war-like fanfares. Similarly unusual is the highly dramatic construction of the Sanctus.
The three soloists were outstanding and vocally vivid: the soprano Marina Mescheriakova as also the strongly expressive tenor Jerry Hadley and the lyrically powerful baritone Olaf Bär, both accompanied by the chamber orchestra placed on the right in front of the platform. From high up behind the audience came the bright voices of the Regensburg Cathedral Boys Choir. The Englishman Howard Williams, well entrusted with the work, conducted with focus and absolute control.”
CC21-Choir of the 21st Century

“... an energetic and exciting conductor.”
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