...Humphreys's utter absorption and delight in all three shines forth at every turn.   A particular joy is her realisation of the contrapuntal part-writing that is such a feature of these three and the other works on the disc, carving it with a strong-toned, easy fluidity and immaculate technique.   Both volumes will be making frequent returns to my stereo.    More than that, though, the new works themselves deserve long wider performance lives beyond this beautiful beginning. 
Charlotte Gardner - Editor's Choice - Gramophone Magazine
Bach to the Future Volume 2

Full Review

Last year, I enthusiastically welcomed this project's first volume.   This sequel is also impressive, both in the quality of the playing and the variety of music.   Sutton's Variations uses arpeggiated figures, its intensity matched by Humphreys's strong, focused playing, especially in the lento movement.   In Ysaÿe's Third Sonata she yields nothing to the finest recordings in her accuracy and passion, the recording capturing the full range of her tone in a rich but not over-resonant acoustic.   In Beamish's Intrada, a meditative piece with a folk-like insistence on a drone note, double stops are immaculately delivered, as they are in the complex textures of the Fuga, which augurs well for the second movement of Bach, one of his most elaborate and extended fugues.   There's a little strain in some of the thicker textures, but the music always has direction and stays close to its dance roots, and the slow movements have an alluring flexibility.   Modelled on the Bach Sonata, Maxwell Davies's Sonatina, one of his last works, is an extended single movement, much of it elegiac though with some characteristic Scots inflections; again Humphreys finds the dance feel in the faster sections.   Its involving 11-and-a-half minutes lead naturally to the veiled muted sounds of Stravinsky's Elégie, before the Sibelius bonne bouche.
Martin Cotton - Five Stars and Instrumental Choice CD - BBC Music Magazine
Bach to the Future Volume Two


A tricksy title, but this is an interesting, diverse programme.   It includes three of the six pieces that Fenella Humphreys has commissioned to accompany the Bach solo sonatas and partitas.   Bach himself comes first with the Partita no. 3 in E and, although I was not initially convinced by the resonant acoustic, it certainly enhances Humphreys's rich and varied tone.   She shapes the music with skill, and sometimes with humour: I especially enjoyed the almost throwaway ending to the Gavotte en Rondeau, and there is always space for the music in the rhythmic timing and lift to the phrasing.   Frances Hoad's Suite No. ! inhabits a more overtly emotional world, where melodies are more angular and harmonies less predictable.   Humphreys variously brings passion and restraint to the different moods here, and also in Ysaÿe's Sonata No. 2, shot through with the Dies Irae, where her double-stops are impeccable, and there is complete confidence in the rapid changes of character.   In Crosse's Orkney Dreaming​ the odd fragment of Bach surfaces, only to go in unexpected directions, evoking birdsong, the Arcadian landscape, or Scottish dancing.   Hellawell's title, Balcony Scenes, refers to the two levels or layers in the writing, and the internal dialogue in the central movements is a tour de force for Humphreys, with interjections in pizzicato, tremolo or harmonics effortlessly integrated into the texture.   A more restrained use of vibrato characterises the Biber Passacaglia from the Rosenkranz Sonata​, where there is a questing flexibility to the line, and elegant ornaments; and the jeu d'esprit of Cyril Scott's Bumblebees is a nicely understated, virtuoso ending to an enjoyable and accomplished CD.
Martin Cotton - Five Stars and Instrumental Choice CD - BBC Music Magazine
Bach to the Future Volume One


Having heard Fenella Humphreys play solo violin recently in Orkney, it's wonderful to hear that experience, albeit with different repertoire, transferred to disc in this radiant recording.   Her Bach - the translucent E major Partita - makes for an arresting opening.   She brings that same golden precision and effortless virtuosity to the second sonata of Ysaÿe and Biber's Passacaglia from the Rosenkranz Sonata.   Contemporary works by Cheryl Frances-Hoad (Suite No. 1), Gordon Crosse (Orkney Dreaming), Piers Hellawell (Balcony Scenes) and Cyril Scott (Bumblebees) gives a refreshing balance to a compelling programme.
Ken Walton - Five Stars - The Scotsman
​Bach to the Future Volume One


...This release...is truly worth hearing for Fenella Humphreys's violin playing in its own right, which offers an exceptional blend of engaging personality, bombproof tuning, and sophisticated tonal loveliness without a trace of narcissism that might detract...
Malcolm Hayes - Five Stars - BBC Music Magazine
Violin Sonatas, Lyrita

...Both sonatas are played with an affectionately devoted expertise that makes the best possible case for their rediscovery.   Fenella Humphreys is especially beguiling whenever the music turns reflective, phrasing with an empathic mastery of the idiom.   It is difficult to imagineCharles Wilfred Orr's enchanting Minuet more persuasively shaped, nor Cyril Scott's two dreamy sonnets more radiantly indulged.   Arguably finest of all are the two Ireland miniatures whose lyrical enchantment is savoured to perfection by these gifted young artists....
Julian Haylock - The Strad Magazine
Violin Sonatas, Lyrita

Full Review

​Look past the cheesy title and you find an intriguing project by violinist Fenella Humphreys who is commissioning new British companion pieces to Bach's six iconic sonatas and partitas.   Here she performs the first three commissions, alongside a spirited yet unhurried account of Bach's E major Partita.   Cheryl Frances-Hoad's Suite no. 1 is a vibrant response to that work, circling around it and expanding upon some of its gestures with a light yet intense touch, and ending with a jig more rollicking than Bach's.   Gordon Crosse's Orkney dreaming, mercurial and ruminative, looks further away from its model and, especially in its finale, towards the islands; Piers Hellawell's Balcony Scenes creates the illusion that there is more than one instrument in play.   Humphreys also includes Biber's mesmerising Passacaglia, a kind of prototype for Bach's Chaconne, and Ysaÿe's Sonata no. 2, inspired by the Partita, and she rises emphatically to their challenges.
Erica Jeal, The Guardian
​Bach to the Future Volume One


Humphreys shows impressive conviction in linking Bach’s Third Partita to related commissions by Cheryl Frances-Hoad (Suite no. 1) and Gordon Crosse (Orkney Dreaming).  The forms of the new works similarly contrast dances with grave meditations, and Bach lies behind their harmonic rigour without suffocating their own language.   The most impressive playing is of Ysaye’s Solo Sonata no. 2 and its obsessive reworking of the Prelude from Bach’s Partita.   The Malinconia is properly muted by still plangent: she plays right into the instrument’s body as if she had been listening to the sonata’s dedicatee, Jacques Thibaud.   The Passacaglia from Biber’s Mystery Sonatas is done boldly senza vibrato on the same modern set-up as Balcony Scenes by Piers Hellawell, who uses an arcane Baroque device to construct an imaginary dialogue of upper and lower voices without resorting to cheap tricks of timbre.  It’s testing music, and Humphreys is triumphantly on her mettle.   Cyril Scott’s Bumblebees may have nothing to do with Bach but it makes a marvellously quirky sign-off, buzzing hither and yon in configurations far more true to life than those of Rimsky-Korsakov’s well-ordered Flight.
Peter Quantril, Strad Magazine November 2015
​Bach to the Future Volume One


...[Humphreys'] performance of the Bach is among the finest on record...
American Record Guide
Bach to the Future Volume One


...Then back to Kirkwall Cathedral for a late night solo violin performance by the amazing Fenella Humphreys. Around one of the great stalwarts of the repertoire, Bach’s epic Chaconne, her programme was an eye-opener to the versatility of the instrument. She gave airy, sensitive response to Sally Beamish’s Norwegian-inspired Intrada e Fuga, imbued Adrian Sutton’s mercurial Arpeggiare Variations with an amazing lightness of touch, and in Peter Maxwell Davies’ Sonatina for Violin Alone, found a lyrical expressiveness that echoed its compelling narrative quality, rather like a song without words. All three pieces were world premieres....
Ken Walton, The Scotsman
Five Star Review of Bach to the Future premieres at St. Magnus International Festival


....Violinist Fenella Humphreys responds to its elegiac reflection and technical display at top flight level, offering emotional depth and weight of tone....
Orchestral Choice CD, Five Star Review (both for performance and recording quality)
Malcolm Hayes, BBC Music Magazine

Recording of the Wright Concerto with Martin Yates and RSNO for Dutton Epoch

Fenella Humphreys captures the music's wistful cantabile to perfection, producing a golden tone in all registers with the utmost sensitivity to where every phrase is moving.   Her violin entwines with the glowing textures of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under the expert guidance of Martin Yates to alluring effect...... An outstanding release.
Julian Haylock, The Strad Magazine
Recording of the Wright Concerto with Martin Yates and RSNO for Dutton Epoch


....There is no empty display:  the soloist is a constant singing presence, though there are some technical challenges......Fenella Humphreys's performance is a wonder.....I warmly recommend this beautifully recorded disc.
William Hedley, International Record Review
Recording of the Wright Concerto with Martin Yates and RSNO for Dutton Epoch


....Fenella Humphreys is a top-notch violin soloist, producing a pure, sweet tone of piercing beauty...
James A. Altena, Fanfare Magazine 
Recording of the Wright Concerto with Martin Yates and RSNO for Dutton Epoch


....persuasively captured the essence of each of the pieces, in a thoughtful performance of great charm...impressive...performed with consummate skill...A fiery performance of Sibelius’ Four Pieces Op. 115 brought the programme to a jubilant conclusion...
Leon Bosch, Seen and Heard International
Recital to Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Sibelius and Nielsen, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre

Full Review

....Fenella Humphreys is one of the few violinists with the guts and temerity (and the technique demanded by the music) to play Sibelius’s chamber music...Sibelius’s Opus 81 (1917-18) allowed Humphreys to demonstrate her complete absorption into this magical melodic world...
Edward Clark, Classical Source 
Recital to Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Sibelius and Nielsen, Purcell Room, Southbank Centre

Full Review

 
With Bach’s Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006 we have some very fine playing,  a beautifully phrased and nuanced Preludio with terrific fluency and textures, Fenella Humphreys finding just the right carefully controlling the tempi. There is a finely shaped Loure and a beautifully pointed up Gavotte en Rondeauwhere this violinist brings many distinctive touches. Menuett I & II bring some fine sonorities. Though taken at a rather slower pace than is usually the case, this artist shapes the music beautifully. The Bourée brings a real contrast, fast forward moving with this violinist bringing an immediacy and spontaneity, something that carries over into the very fine Gigue... Fenella Humphreys brings a totally committed, infectious performance.... Humphreys brings a fine control and shaping of all the music’s varying tempi and dynamics with some fine double stopping and a lovely flourish to end. Malinconia - Poco lento draws some fine sonorities, this fine violinist finding Ysaÿe’s melancholy tug with fine precision allied to a fine emotional response.... A pizzicato rendition of the plainchant Dies Irae opens Danse des ombres - Sarabande (Lento) before the music moves forward with some fine variations. This soloist brings a variety of fine textures and sonorities as the variations on the Dies Irae continue, leading to some rich textures in the coda. There is some especially fine playing in the Les Furies - Allegro furioso that takes off with terrific passion and command working through passages of different textures and timbres, all the while the plainchant theme appearing through.... Fenella Humphreys brings this music alive with her fine technique and musicianship... Here Humphreys slowly allows Biber’s lovely invention to develop, setting a fine, flexible tempo developing some lovely textures and sonorities with minimal vibrato, bringing fine musicianship and depth to this fine piece.... A scintillating Bumblebees by Cyril Scott (1879-1970) concludes this disc with Fenella Humphreys developing some terrific double stopped lines as this little piece moves quickly to its conclusion.... Whether taken as a straightforward, yet varied recital or a demonstration of this artist’s formidable talent, one will gain immense pleasure from this disc.
Bruce Reader, The Classical Reviewer
Bach to the Future Volume One

Full Review


....Although playing a modern violin, and very obviously a modern violin player, Fenella Humphreys demonstrates a clear understanding of the period techniques of violin performance in her Bach playing, producing a clean and clear sound, with an appropriate phrasing.  Her opening Prelude is vigorous and energetic, and she shows an evident sense of humour in her delightfully paced coda of the Gavotte en Rondeau. In contrast, her gentle and refined playing of the Menuet demonstrates a fine sense of rhetoric... Two tracks unrelated to the project’s Bach theme are Fenella Humphreys’ exceptionally fine performance of the Biber Passacaglia, perfectly catching its delicately meditative mood.  The CD finishes with the buzzing of Cyril Scott’s tiny ‘Bumblebees’, the plural of the title made evident in the double stopping required of the player. A fascinating CD, and an enterprising project.
Andrew Benson-Wilson, Early Music Reviews
Bach to the Future Volume One

Full Review


….Bach's Concerto for Oboe and Violin, with the wonderfully expressive Steven Hudson, principal oboe of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, partnered with the lyrical Fenella Humphreys.   Bringing the second half alive, ensemble and soloists gelled with newfound energy… The combination of violin and oboe accompanied by harpsichord and pizzicato strings was magical…
Carol Main, The Scotsman
Mozart and Bach with London Concertante, Queen's Hall, Edinburgh


EXPECTATIONS of an excellent concert and fine programme were fulfilled in every way in this performance organised as part of the Wensleydale Concert Series.  The programme was demanding for players and audience, including three major works of great complexity technically and musically, magnificently achieved by the two musicians.  The first half consisted of two works by Sergei Prokofiev. Five Melodies Op. 35 was played simply and with perfect balance of sound. Then the great Violin Sonata Op. 80, a long and very complex work, drew us in with a performance that surpassed all my expectations. The atmosphere created by Humphreys and Grimwood was very special and certainly will not be forgotten for a long time.  The second half was no less demanding. Schubert’s Rondo has a reputation among violinists as a piece to steer well clear of because of its formidable demands, but here they were met and we heard a performance that was totally compelling.  Faure’s 1st Violin Sonata ended the programme after a beautiful extract from Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’s unaccompanied written especially for Humphreys and played in his memory.
The Northern Echo
Recital for Wensleydale Concert Series with Daniel Grimwood


...the culmination of the morning was, of course, the music of J.S.Bach whose first Partita was given a wonderfully lithe and unfussy performance in which Fenella Humphreys never forgot the spirit of dance that informs the root of the music.
Peter Reynolds, Hereford Times
Unaccompanied Recital at Presteigne Festival
Full Review

First, though, came the premiere of Pastorals by Matthew Taylor; a substantial reworking for violin and string orchestra of a piece first composed in 2003... the poise with which soloist Fenella Humphreys tackled its exposed, unaccompanied opening solo suggested a Lark Ascending remade for a crueller age.
Matthew Taylor 'Pastorals' World Premiere with Presteigne Festival Orchestra and George Vass at Presteigne Festival
Richard Bratby, Birmingham Post
Full Review

...Fenella Humphreys interpreted this 'one-hit-wonder' especially powerfully and with great feeling...
Ellen Schröder, Westdeutsche Zeitung
Bruch Concerto no. 1 in G minor with the Deutsche Kammerakademie and Darko Butorac

...The way everyone basked together in impressionistic colours, and Humphreys, with richly-faceted, finest tone let the lark soar up - that remains unforgettable...
Heide Oehmen – NGZ
Lark Ascending with the Deutsche Kammerakademie and Lavard Skou Larsen 


Before the interval, Fenella Humphreys gave a strong and well-delineated account of Max Bruch's most famous work.   Nothing here was routine; she had worked out what to say and how to say it.   Parikian understood what Ms Humphreys wanted to do and gave solid support, but he never let the orchestra get in the way of her flights of fancy.   The slow movement was graceful and very beautiful and the finale was full of fireworks.   How I wish to hear her playing the Brahms; she would seem to be the right fiddler for that great work, for with her attitude and thoughtful playing it might have been tailor made for her.
Bob Briggs - Musicweb international

Fenella Humphreys gave a virtuosic and uplifting performance of Max Bruch's Scottish Fantasy for violin and orchestra ranging from its funereal introduction to the break-neck speed and double stopping of the final movement
Roger Jones - Gloucestershire Echo

The pieces for violin and piano enjoyed preoccupation with a dreamlike state in the hands of Fenella Humphreys and Helen Reid... [the] emotional centre was found by Humphreys, her legato line easy to follow and her tone singing to the back of the room.   David Matthews's Aria (1986), meanwhile, deceived in its opening virtuoso cadenza, which promised much but delivered a much softer theme, again lyrically persuasive in this performance.
Ben Hogwood - Classical Source
 

These were followed by the most sublime performance of Vaughan Williams’ “The Lark Ascending” given by Fenella Humphreys, an outstandingly sensitive player. Most unfortunately the breathtakingly beautiful ending was compromised by the loud ticking of the church clock. It must have been very distracting for her but it certainly did not detract from her wonderful playing. 
Phoebe Woollam - ChiswickW4

 

It is very rare for a musically knowledgeable audience to burst into spontaneous applause during a concerto, but such was the appreciation at the end of the first movement of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto.....Even Tchaikovsky acknowledged the difficulties of playing it, but this was quite frankly a stunning performance in which the soloist held her audience mesmerised for its duration.
Richard Norris - Ealing Gazette

 

This is a simply gorgeous piece of music and Fenella played it beautifully, equally at ease with the languorous melody of the adagio and the magnificent sweep of the finale. Although this was inevitably the highlight of the concert, the whole evening was most enjoyable and brought the current season to a fine conclusion.
Joss O'Kelly - Bucks Herald

 

Young violinist Fenella Humphreys next gave an impassioned reading of the Concerto in D minor by Sibelius.... Humphreys is undoubtedly a player of extraordinary talent and her performance was mesmerising.
Joss O'Kelly - Bucks Herald 



Reviews for the Lawson Trio 2006-2012:

...But the most memorable thing on the programme was Crosse's trio, originally written in the 1990s (now revised), haunted by ghosts of Britten, Shostakovich, and Stravinskyan dance music (distantly recalled in sepulchral slow-motion) but ultimately of itself. And irresistibly beautiful as played here by the young, all-female Lawson Trio....
Michael White, The Telegraph
Lawson Trio PLG Southbank Centre 2012 


...In both pieces [Turnage and Muhly] the Lawsons showed intelligence and knitted well together..... [The Gordon Crosse Trio] was played with far greater feeling and lovely touches.
Neil Fisher, The Times
Lawson Trio PLG Southbank Centre 2012


Typically, the Lawson Trio's grip on the music's challenges was firm and persuasive.
Andrew Morris, The Classical Source
Lawson Trio PLG Southbank Centre 2012


Between Haydn's Gypsy Rondo Trio and Ravel's A minor Piano Trio, the Lawson Trio's polished and refined recital sandwiched three works specially composed for them, all premieres of one kind or another. The most engaging had been heard before, though not in London: Cheryl Frances-Hoad's Five Rackets for Trio Relay was composed for a competition associated with London 2012; although it didn't win, it does use its Olympic connections to witty effect.

Composed for double piano trio, with the three joined by instrumentalists from the Junior Royal Academy of Music, the five movements take their titles from Olympic events, translating them into musical gestures – glissandi for the ice-sweeping in curling, Debussyan swirls for sailing, constant changes of tempo for a movement that combines marathon, walking and sprinting. The pianists (four hands at one keyboard) constantly swap positions, and there's an air of busy fun about the piece. But, typically for Frances-Hoad, it's her knack of making the simplest ideas seem freshly imagined that is so captivating.

In Camden Reeves's The Dead Broke Blues Break, the conceit is very different: the needle sticking and slipping on an old blues record, so that fragments of jazz and blues tumble over each other in an apparently random way. It pauses for breath at one point for a pizzicato cello cadenza, but fails to settle on a really clinching idea afterwards, and for all the deftness, never quite justifies its length.

Anthony Power's Piano Trio, on the other hand, makes a virtue of terseness: five short movements that present and meditate on three English folk tunes. It's a rather melancholy, reflective work with a tougher Bartókian scherzo at its centre. The Lawson Trio made it seem wistfully attractive.
Andrew Clements, The Guardian
Lawson Trio Purcell Room Recital and BBC Radio 3 Broadcast 2012


....Intelligence, natural rhetoric and breathing - that was a standout tonight, especially in the Beethoven.......

....I love these girls - I just warm to them, especially in the Brahms. There's great spirit here - they're a great group, beautiful players...

....I really enjoyed their performance very much. I thought the Rawsthorne was really convincing. They did a terrific job of it - totally convincing and very committed. I thought they brought it off really well.   I just love this violinist - she is one of my favourite violinists of the competition.   I just love the way she sustains a line and listens all the way through a phrase.  It's beautiful beautiful playing.   Exquisite bow control....
Howard Penny, Keith Crellin and Wilma Smith, talking about the Lawson Trio on ABC Classic FM, Australia 2011