Burnside, Iain

Iain Burnside enjoys a unique reputation as pianist and broadcaster, forged through his commitment to the song repertoire and his collaborations with leading international singers. In recent seasons such artists have included Galina Gorchakova, Ailish Tynan, Lisa Milne, Rebecca Evans, Joan Rodgers, Susan Gritton and Yvonne Kenny; Susan Bickley, Ann Murray and Sarah Connolly; John Mark Ainsley, Mark Padmore and Andrew Kennedy; Roderick Williams, Christopher Maltman and Bryn Terfel.
His wide recording portfolio reflects Iain’s passion for British music and has recently included the ground-breaking project, The NMC Songbook.
Acclaimed as a programmer, Iain has devised a number of innovative recitals combining music and poetry, presented with huge success in Brussels and Barcelona with the collaboration of actors such as Fiona Shaw and Simon Russell Beale. His professorial position at London’s Guildhall School has been expanded to include a directorial role, staging specially conceived programmes with student singers and pianists. He has given masterclasses throughout Europe, at New York’s Juilliard School and the Banff Centre, Canada.
Iain’s broadcasting career covers both Radio and TV and has been honoured with a Sony Radio Award. Following BBC Radio3’s Voices, he now presents his own Sunday morning programme Iain Burnside. Television includes The Proms, Cardiff Singer of the World, Leeds International Piano Competition and BBC Young Musician of the Year.

Watts, Andrew


Andrew Watts was born in Middlesex and studied at the Royal Academy of Music. He has established a reputation for being one of the foremost operatic countertenors of his generation and has appeared on opera and concert platforms throughout the world.

His operatic engagements include appearances with the Royal Opera Covent Garden, English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Welsh National Opera, the Aldeburgh and Almeida Festivals and BBC Proms. Foreign engagements include La Scala Milan, Staatsoper Berlin, Komische Oper Berlin, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper, Nationaltheater Mannheim, Theater an der Wien, Teatro La Fenice, Opéra National du Rhin, Teatro Real Madrid, Paris Opera, Opéra de Lyon, Teatro Sao Carlos Lisbon, Grand Théâtre de Genève, Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam, De Vlaamse Opera, Graz Opera, Stadttheater Klagenfurt, RIAS Kammerchor Berlin, Bielefeld, Los Angeles, Australia, Canada and Mexico and the Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence, Vienna, Dresden, Bregenz, Batignano and Montepulciano Festivals. His repertoire includes Arsamenes (Xerxes), title role Orlando, Ottone (Agrippina), Nero and Nutrice (L’incoronazione Di Poppea), Oberon (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Orestes (La Belle Hélène), Baba the Turk (The Rake’s Progress), Edgar (Lear), Prince Go-Go (Le Grand Macabre) and many world premieres including Cherubino in Elena Langer’s Figaro Gets a Divorce, James in Birtwistle’s The Last Supper and Snake Priestess (The Minotaur), Olga Neuwirth’s Bahlamms Fest, Lost Highway and The Outcast, Liza Lim’s The Navigator, Judith Weir’s Miss Fortune and White Rabbit and March Hare in Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland.

Andrew Watts’ concert engagements have included appearances with BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Los Angeles and Cleveland Philharmonic Orchestras, Niew Ensemble, Klangforum, at the Salzburg, Lucerne, Lausanne, Cernier and Edinburgh Festivals, Vienna, New York, Budapest, Seville, Paris, Cologne, Brussels, France, Australia and Italy.

Andrew Watts is Professor of Singing at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and vocal coach on the Jette Parker Young Artist Programme at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and is visiting voice teacher to the Opera Studio at the Hamburgische Staatsoper. He gives regular masterclasses at the Dartington International Summer School and has appeared in masterclass in Australia, Germany and France.



A Countertenor Songbook

A Countertenor Songbook
  • Total duration: 73'58
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Iain Burnside piano
Andrew Watts countertenor

This album brings together the works of seven very different composers in a single songbook. Most of the pieces were written specially for countertenor Andrew Watts, who has championed contemporary music for the thirty years he has been singing professionally.  He has established a reputation for being one of the foremost operatic countertenors of his generation and has appeared on opera and concert platforms throughout the world.

The two most senior composers on this recording link back to Andrew at the start of his career. His school music master Neville Bower (1934-2007) set three poems from William Blake's Songs of Innocence specially for Andrew, and when Andrew was an emerging singer, Michael Tippett (1905–1998) coached him on his song cycle Songs for Ariel, written for an Old Vic production of William Shakespeare's The Tempest.

Colin Matthews (b1946) has long been fascinated with nineteenth-century French poets and the fin-de-siècle sound and in his song cycle Un Colloque Sentimental uses poems by Paul Verlaine, Charles Baudelaire and Gerard de Nerval. Michael Finnissy (b1946) chooses German dramatist Georg Büchner as his inspiration, setting extracts from Woyzeck and Lenz.

Kings, knights and troubadours are the themes explored in the recent works written for Andrew by Joe Cutler (b1968), Tansy Davies (b1973) and Raymond Yiu (b1973), and there is an extra piece by Raymond Yiu; a piano and countertenor arrangement of the fifth movement of his Symphony for countertenor and orchestra.

Andrew Watts writes: 'I am indebted to all of the composers featured on this recording for their kindness over the years and for agreeing to be a part of this journey. From a last-minute coaching session at the Royal Academy of Music with Michael Tippett in 1986 to a random drink at Dartington in 2013 with Joe Cutler, this recording also charts the incredible serendipity and bringing together of people through music.'



'Watts not only succeeds in negotiating a very wide variety of styles, moods and approaches but also imparts each song with a keen sense of its own identity…Iain Burnside’s impeccable accompaniment is precise and sure-footed throughout. A songbook for all seasons' Gramophone

'Burnside's accompaniments are played with distinction … he and Watts display great rapport, and the countertenor is remarkable' Fanfare

Official Charts





NMC is especially grateful for the support of Barry Ife & Trudi Darby and Frances Onians in making this recording.

NMC is grateful to the RVW Trust for supporting the recording of this album.


Recorded at Potton Hall, Suffolk on 23-25 February 2018

DAVID LEFEBER Recording Producer & Engineer


Catalogue number:
NMC D243
Release Date:
19 October 2018