Opera repertoire
Concert repertoire
Concert reviews
Opera reviews
  Beethoven: Egmont Overture, York University Chamber Orchestra

‘…a superb account of Beethoven’s Egmont Overture. Under Lionel Friend’s watchful direction, the roughly hewn sound, cultivated deliberately,
enabled all the music’s latent heroism to make its point with marvellously disciplined precision.’ (Yorkshire Post)

black and white close up of Lionel Friend, photo by Julie Kim
Photo © Julie Kim

Beethoven: Symphony 3, Philharmonia

‘A truly inspiring performance of Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony was given on Saturday by the Philharmonia conducted by Lionel Friend. It was a performance, the nobility and eloquence of which -- whether in the heroic opening allegro con brio, the majestic, profoundly moving Funeral March, the enigmatic Scherzo or the exhilarating Finale -- were calculated to arouse in the listener a deep sense of awe and wonderment.’ (Croydon Advertiser)

David Blake: Rise Dove, BBC Philharmonic

‘The orchestra under Lionel Friend caught the tautness of so much of the syncopation superbly, infusing a real sense of Caribbean joie de vivre, no doubt fired by Friend's authoritative momentum.’ (Yorkshire Evening Press)

Boulez: Le marteau sans maître, Sarah Walker, Nash Ensemble

‘Lionel Friend and his players made the music utterly natural and, as a result, powerfully meaningful. I have never before heard a performance which brought out so much of the density of cross-reference within Boulez’s score.’ (The Times)

Havergal Brian: Symphony 3, BBC Symphony (Hyperion)

‘At every cardinal juncture Friend brings a more trenchant rhythmic thrust and full-bloodied expressive force.’ (American Record Guide)

Durkó: Burial Prayer, soloists, BBC Singers, BBC Symphony Orchestra

‘Lionel Friend was as ever an admirably clear guide through the various musical complexities.’ (Financial Times)

Janáček: Řikadla, London Voices, Nash Ensemble

‘The vivacity and wit of the performance conducted by Lionel Friend sent everyone away in the happiest and most optimistic of moods.’ (Daily Telegraph)

Mahler: Symphony No 6, Birmingham Conservatoire SO, 25 June 2010

'Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra gave undoubtedly its finest performance in its long and busy history, when it performed nothing less than Mahler’s mighty, probing and technically demanding Sixth Symphony under the brilliantly clear conducting of Lionel Friend.' (Birmingham Post)

'Lionel Friend laid out its emotional sequence, the elusive balance of its peaks and troughs with special mastery. He brought out the full measure of its catastrophe and annihilation, but also its exaltation, its ecstatic affirmations.' (Gustav Mahler Society Newsletter)

Milhaud: La création du monde, Nash Ensemble

‘Lionel Friend had, as usual, prepared everything with much thought and the slow passages, such as the Prelude, were spacious and relaxed so the sultry blues melodies could assume their proper shapes. The incipient violence of the quick dances was forcefully conveyed, too, and one was made to realise just how effective is Milhaud’s orchestration.’ (The Times)

Anthony Milner: Symphony 1, Variations for Orchestra, BBC Symphony (Hyperion)

‘Matching the quality of Milner’s music, the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Lionel Friend play with dedication and fire, and the interpretations are exemplary.’
(The Gramophone)

Nigel Osborne: Sinfonia 1, (world premiere) BBC Symphony

‘Last night’s performance under Lionel Friend revealed this as a piece truly symphonic in the strength and cogency of its continuous structure.’ (The Times)

Rawsthorne: Cortèges, Violin Concertos, BBC Scottish SO (Naxos)

‘…a lyrically affecting creation that weaves quite a spell, especially in a performance as dignified and consistently purposeful as the present one… Friend draws a committed and alert response from the BBC Scottish SO who seem to enjoy the experience hugely.’ (The Gramophone)

Shostakovich: Symphony 1, BBC Symphony

‘Shostakovich’s First Symphony was displayed with total mastery by the conducting of Lionel Friend.’ (Classical Music)

Sibelius: Symphony 7, Wolsey Orchestra

‘Lionel Friend’s vision of how the symphony might sound was brought into being with unqualified success. It received a splendid performance which was remarkable alike for its clarity and resonance.’ (East Anglian Times)

Tchaikovsky: Serenade, Tovey Ensemble

‘Three days of intense rehearsal and the result is ensemble playing of a remarkable high order, coupled with captivating youthful vigour and enthusiasm. Here was a superbly crafted performance in which full-blooded and vibrant string tone contrasted with moments of tender lyricism.’ (The Statesman)

Walton: Symphony 1, Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra

‘Foremost among the countless heartening, inspiring concerts brought to us by the Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra over the last decade or so must come Friday’s offering, which drew cheers as much from the musicians as from an excited audience. Many plaudits are due to Lionel Friend…His unfussy (he never seemed to break sweat), authoritative beat encouraged and allowed playing of great tonal expansiveness and liberated personality, qualities which applied particularly to the string section. Always efficient previously, here they played with the confidence, depth and bloom which characterises the strings of a permanently-established, fine professional orchestra… We ended with an exhilarating, well-propelled Walton First Symphony, its delivery moving inexorably towards the great surging climaxes.’ (Birmingham Post)

Updated: January 2023