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Barry Douglas has established a major international career since winning the Gold Medal at the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, Moscow. As Artistic Director of Camerata Ireland and the Clandeboye Festival, he continues to celebrate his Irish heritage whilst also maintaining a busy international touring schedule. Barry is an exclusive Chandos recording artist and is currently undertaking a monumental project to record the complete works for solo piano of both Brahms and Schubert. Having developed a wealth of musical experience in his 35 year career, Barry now feels the time is right to undertake this colossal project. The second volume of Brahms Works for Solo Piano was released to critical acclaim in March 2013. International Record Review wrote that “this is indeed Brahms playing of the utmost integrity and authority... this cycle looks set to become a benchmark version.” The interesting programming of each disc, which has already garnered much critical praise, presents each album as a stand-alone recital, providing a varied and engaging listening experience.  March 2014 will also see the release of his first recording of Schubert solo piano works. Highlights of this season include returns to the London Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Moscow

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Barry Douglas has established a major international career since winning the Gold Medal at the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, Moscow. As Artistic Director of Camerata Ireland and the Clandeboye Festival, he continues to celebrate his Irish heritage whilst also maintaining a busy international touring schedule.

Barry is an exclusive Chandos recording artist and is currently undertaking a monumental project to record the complete works for solo piano of both Brahms and Schubert. Having developed a wealth of musical experience in his 35 year career, Barry now feels the time is right to undertake this colossal project. The second volume of Brahms Works for Solo Piano was released to critical acclaim in March 2013. International Record Review wrote that “this is indeed Brahms playing of the utmost integrity and authority... this cycle looks set to become a benchmark version.” The interesting programming of each disc, which has already garnered much critical praise, presents each album as a stand-alone recital, providing a varied and engaging listening experience.  March 2014 will also see the release of his first recording of Schubert solo piano works.

Highlights of this season include returns to the London Symphony Orchestra, RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Tonkünstler Orchestra both in Vienna and on tour in the UK, and the Macau Orchestra.  He has previously given concerts with the London Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Russian National, Cincinnati Symphony, Singapore Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Hallé, Berlin Radio Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Czech National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Brussels Philharmonic, Shanghai Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, and Helsinki Philharmonic orchestras, among others. Barry regularly plays in recital throughout the world, with upcoming performances in Switzerland, France, Mexico, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, the USA, and the UK, including a series of lunchtime recitals at LSO St Luke’s. He also performs the Penderecki Sextet at the 2013 Krzysztof Penderecki Festival in honour of the composer’s 80th birthday.

Barry Douglas founded the chamber orchestra Camerata Ireland in 1999 to celebrate and nurture the very best of young musicians from both Northern and the Republic of Ireland. In addition to striving for musical excellence, one of the orchestra’s aims is to further the peace process in Ireland by promoting dialogue and collaboration through its musical education programmes. Barry regularly tours with Camerata Ireland throughout the world and has plans to visit Mexico and China with the orchestra in the 2013-2014 season.  They have also toured regularly in North and South America and throughout Europe. Highlights of the past season were Camerata Ireland’s debut at the BBC Proms in London and a world premiere of a new cantata commissioned by The Honourable The Irish Society, “At Sixes and Sevens”, alongside the London Symphony Orchestra to celebrate Derry-Londonderry becoming City of Culture 2013.

Barry’s reputation as a conductor has grown since forming Camerata Ireland, this season seeing him direct the RTÉ National Symphony and Indianapolis Symphony Orchestras. In recent seasons, he has made successful debuts with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Indianapolis Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of the Romanian National Radio Orchestra at the Enescu Festival, Bangkok Symphony, I Pommerigi di Milano, Moscow Philharmonic, and the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Moscow.

Barry Douglas received the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2002 New Year’s Honours List for services to music.

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Reviews

"Douglas is a born Brahmsian"

Belfast Telegraph by Terry Blain

"Douglas... appeared completely relaxed at the keyboard and was well on top of the pyrotechnics - rapid octaves and glittering passagework were dispatched with ease. I was struck by the lightness of Douglas' playing which was crystalline and delicate but without being precious. He characterised Strauss' gambolling capers and high jinks brilliantly - the playing was at turns roughish, witty, coy and coquettish while the difficult runs seemed to scamper along."

Seen and Heard by Robert Beattie

"Douglas superbly draws out the contrasts within each piece, bringing out their individual character... his tone is a deep velvet cushion, the legatos full of affection and the rhythms galvanised with great energy."

BBC Music Magazine by Jessica Duchen

"Douglas delivered a storming performance of Brahms's F minor Sonata Op 5, the highlight of the evening. This bold early masterpiece plays to Douglas's pianistic strengths: his big keyboard sound, the weight of his tone and his general press-on approach. The first movement was tremendously effective and the Scherzo rippled with authentic Brahmsian muscularity, embodying Claudio Arrau's advice that Brahms must be played from the shoulders, not the fingers. But the contrasts were sharply drawn, and Douglas's scrupulous use of the pedal never allowed the sonata's dreamier pages to disappear into sonic mists."

The Guardian by Martin Kettle

"[Penderecki's Piano Concerto is] a feast of contrasting moods, and huge orchestral moments underpinned by a persistent rhythmic invention that sustains dramatic interest over its 37-minute length. It’s the kind of work that would make a huge impact in a live concert performance. Pianist Barry Douglas gives an electrifying performance and the reliable Antoni Wit draws an energetic performance from the Warsaw Philharmonic."

Audiophile Audition by Robert Moon

"Douglas brought sizzling virtuosity and vivid pianistic coloration to every bar. From the rolling octaves of the opening to the arpeggiated figurations of the finale, Douglas offered a fiery, dynamically projected account. The first movement cadenza was assayed with almost Lisztian wizardry. Douglas could also spin a soaring lyrical line, as with the Andantino, which emerging in singing tones. Douglas’ tempo in the Allegro con fuoco finale may have been the fastest one will ever hear but his playing was clean and well articulated. When played with such instrumental command and fervor, even this overplayed score can still be an exciting ride."

South Florida Classical Review by Lawrence Budmen

"This is a wonderful concerto full of beauty, power and forward momentum. Barry Douglas is absolutely phenomenal, giving the work a tremendous performance, as does the Warsaw Philharmonic under Antoni Wit. Surely this is one of Penderecki’s finest works."

The Classical Reviewer

"...Douglas, with a wonderful variety of tone and touch, with going for truth rather than superficial beauty, with a spellbinding inwardness in the adagio con molta espressione, showed that emotional profundity and relative conventionality are not incompatible. "

Financial Times by Harry Eyres

"Soloist Barry Douglas was ideally qualified for such a piece. One of very few non-Russian winners of the Tchaikovsky Medal, he is a virtuoso player. As director of Camerata Ireland, he is no stranger to a holistic view of musical preparation and performance. His solo skills shone in the first movement's extended cadenza which begins with reflective counterpoint and passes through a more frenzied harmonic passage before settling into the final, quiet trills which invite the orchestra to rejoin. Douglas' more collegiate skills were best heard in musical conversations with the excellent Stephane Rancourt (oboe), John Cushing (clarinet) and Katherine Bryan (flute). This was a supremely musical performance which the audience seemed to enjoy enormously. Barry Douglas, his long hair and height reminiscent of Schumann, looked touch by this warm reaction to the performance."

Bachtrack by Alan Coady

"...the Brahms First Piano Concerto in which the soloist was the ever-popular Barry Douglas. The very conception of this work is mind-blowing. Its symphonic proportions would tax any soloist but Douglas sailed through the piece, in command right the way through. The solo part was solid, with both soloist and orchestra painting a giant canvas... The finale burst forth at a rip-roaring pace and concluded brilliantly. Bravo to conductor, orchestra and, especially, soloist. Even after that performance, Douglas returned to give a rounded, sensitive performance of the Brahms Intermezzo, Op 168. It is just as well that he is recording the entire piano output of the composer!"

Liverpool Daily Post by Glyn Mon Hughes

"These are interpretations that feel as if they get right to the heart of Brahms the man and the musician with the impression they weave of Romantic expression melded with deference to classical form and sensibilities. From the introspection of Intermezzo Op.118 No.2 with its gorgeous washes of sound, to the crisp, virtuosic homage to past masters that is the ‘Handel Variations’, his articulation is deft and colourful, and his overall style expansive. The multifarious strands of Brahms' dense, complex and contrapuntal writing are beautifully balanced, with a sure structural grasp that carries the ear and sustains the musical argument equally convincingly across individual phrases and long, multi-sectioned pieces. What a triumph of Brahmsian thought. "

BBC Music by Charlotte Gardner

"Again and again, Brahms is drowned in a sea of colors so that the contours of his music are difficult to see. Barry Douglas, however, unerringly selects a different way: his Brahms is neither dreamy nor melancholy, it shines not only from within. Douglas proceeds with a wonderful precision in the narrative, his playing convincingly unveiled, yet with a keen sense of the mysteries of this music. Promising sounds from the outset of this new complete recording."

Radio NDR-Kultur by Christoph Vratz

"Douglas's beautiful, rounded tone and assiduously effected tempo relationships will satisfy listeners who like a less classically conceived, more pianistically oriented Handel Variations"

Gramophone by Jed Distler

"The big B minor Rhapsody, Op. 79 No. 1, provides an ideal opening salvo, its first theme sounding strong and confident without the blustery quality some pianists bring to it. Immediately one is struck by Douglas's 'bronze' tone quality, with chords that are full and rounded, perfectly balanced and never harsh. The first transition passage is voiced with infinite care, and the wistful second theme and its later transformation sing with natural, vocal expression, the result of thoughtful attention to Brahms's many markings rather than a wish to associate expression with an imposed tempo rubato."

International Record Review

"Muscle and imagination come together in this well-planned Brahms recital by Barry Douglas. In among the passion of the two Op79 Rhapsodies he weaves the limpid introspection of some of the later intermezzos from Opp 116, 117 and 118, together with two of the dashing Op116 capriccios and the lovely early Ballade Op10 No4. He ends with the Haydn Variations, articulated with the panache and stylistic discretion that mark the whole programme."

The Telegraph

"Douglas is a pianist who knows how to produce tremendous power, but he also knows to how to produce a lightened, clear line with a mastery of the keyboard that allows for equally breathtaking playing in the transparent sections as in the final fugue. As if we were not won over, to top it all the fascinating Irish pianist offered an amazing interpretation of "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Mussorgsky. The sublime Kantian black and white of the Beethoven gave way to a Fauvist coloring."

La Repubblica

"Douglas brings manliness and sensitivity to it in equal measures, and is warmly recorded. "

Time Out by Colin Anderson

"His technique, responding to Rachmaninov’s challenges as it from a great height, his manifest sincerity and his never unduly indulged lyrical line combined to make me wonder if I’d heard such a convincing account of the work before. "

The Sunday Times by Paul Driver

"Pianist Barry Douglas' technical virtuosity and musical sensitivity were evident from the outset of the concerto, and he continued to craft a performance of panache and beauty in equal measure. His delivery of sound and control of touch were marvellous throughout, particularly in the broadly lyrical second movement."

Backtrack by Rohan Shotton

"Douglas has always had technique to die for, but plenty of pianists have that. What he showed here was something different - in three Capriccios from Op 116 he caught to virtual perfection the smouldering passions that swell this turbulent music upwards. The playing was leonine and emotional, pinned just this side of rationality by Douglas's strong appreciation of Brahms's organising instinct. "

International Piano by Terry Blain

"His way was even more muscular and power-packed than Ciric's, but he found a lovely improvisatory poetry in the Op 27 No 1 and a beautifully delineated train of thought in the wayward Op 101."

International Piano by Michael Church

"...Played the 'Hammerklavier' with impressive clarity and, in this finger-defying work, unclouded accuracy. [...] There was a thrilling combination of control and urgency in the last movement, Douglas articulating his enthrallment to the most uncomprimising music Beethoven wrote for the piano. In the slow movement, Douglas tactfully imprinted those hooks that reel the listener into its extended meditation, allowing the music to unfold in all its epic simplicity. [...] All part of his approach to Beethoven, poise and inquisitiveness balanced with a robust, involved enjoyment. [...]"

Classicalsource.com by Peter Reed

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Discography