James Bowman - High Praise for High Notes

High Praise for High Notes

James Bowman is a favourite countertenor. In recent times, thanks largely to Alfred Deller spreading awareness of the early-music repertoire of the countertenor in the 50s and 60s, the countertenor repertoire has found a new and growing audience. James Bowman's recordings and performances have done much to help continue that progress.
Connecting with the midbrain
The countertenor voice established itself back in the minstrel days of John Dowland, becoming a synonymous English sound. James Bowman is a very English countertenor. (Could he be more English than me? Quite possibly.) His recordings, particularly for Hyperion Records, have brought me immeasurable pleasure. There is something about the high range that connects in the midbrain. I eventually managed to see James live in a small church in deepest Somerset, performing an intimate recital of song including Dowland and Purcell. I am very grateful for having that live experience.

If you'r eager to dip into James' back catalogue, I don't really know where to send you as there are just too many good recordings. You could start with one of the more intimate albums: Songs for Ariel on the French Satirino label (the link provides the interesting liner notes).

Late into his career, James recorded the album with American harpsichordist and pianist Kenneth Weiss. The songs serve as a retrospective and reflect a chronology of English compositions for the countertenor voice delivered with James' trademark delicacy.
Nicolas Cage has a copy
I gave a copy of the album to Nicolas Cage when he was living in Bath. Bizarre but true! Nicolas, if you're reading this, I hope you enjoyed it.


  1. I agree with your comments about James Bowman's voice. I am fortunate enough to have tickets to attend his recital at Wigmore Hall on 21 May! I have attended a number of his concerts in recent years. Whilst I am looking forward to this recital, it will be somewhat of a bittersweet experience, given that it will be his last appearance in London.

  2. It should be a wonderful evening. I hope it serves as a fitting farewell for audience and singer alike.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts