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Biography

Pamela Thorby is unique among recorder players in the breadth and variety of her work and is widely regarded as the UK’s most stylish and creative recorder virtuoso. Through her playing and teaching, she has been at the forefront of raising standards and expectations for the instrument in the UK over the last 20 years. Her ability to assimilate many styles of music and her love of improvisation has led to work with leading jazz, folk and pop artists, and her stylish virtuosity can be heard on many film soundtracks and numerous recordings of music ranging from the medieval period to the present day. She has toured internationally as concerto soloist, chamber musician and orchestral principal and appears on over 100 recordings in those roles.

Thorby was the driving force behind the much-admired Palladian Ensemble. They toured worldwide, performing more than 1000 concerts over 16 years and making for Linn ten acclaimed albums that garnered seven prestigious Diapason d’Or Awards. Thorby has also made numerous solo recordings on Linn: Baroque recorder concertos with Sonnerie, led by Monica Huggett (Gramophone Critic’s Choice), Handel recorder sonatas with Richard Egarr (BBC Music Magazine Chamber Music Disc of the Month and Gramophone Critic’s Choice), Garden of Early Delights with the harpist Andrew Lawrence-King (‘This is Paradise indeed’: Gramophone) and French Baroque works,The Nightingale and the Butterfly, with the lutenist Elizabeth Kenny.

As a student, Thorby was awarded the Dove Prize for the highest mark on graduation from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. After postgraduate studies she was awarded a Dutch Government Scholarship to spend a further year studying with Walter van Hauwe at the Sweelinck Conservatorium in Amsterdam. Shortly after this, she became principal teacher of recorder at the GSMD. Thorby is now Professor of Recorder at the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she leads the recorder teaching and was recently made an Honorary Associate. She also teaches recorder at the University of York.

 

See Media section for PDFs 

 

Reviews

"I went to hear Pamela Thorby and Sonnerie playing some of the works on the CD at the Wigmore Hall recently and found no differences in quality or style between her live and recorded performances. Her technique takes the breath away in concert just as is does on disc."

Early Music Today

"Freshness and spontaneity light up every moment. The music rocks; but always in the best possible taste."

The Scotsman

"A wonderful artist at her very best: relaxed, stylish, unpredictable and distinctive of tone."

Independent on Sunday

"Pamela Thorby's sensual recorder playing, complete with improvised flourishes and infinitely flexible dynamic shadings, is out of the top drawer."

Music Week

"I can't for the life of me imagine how this glorious recording could be bettered."

BBC Music Magazine Chamber Disc of the Month (Handel Recorder Sonatas)

"…the fabulously skillful recorder player, Pamela Thorby"

San Diego Reader

"…the renowned recorder player Pamela Thorby - an immense virtuoso of the once-humble classroom instrument."

The Herald

"…euphonious, detailed and beautifully decorated performances."

Atlanta Audio Society

"Pamela Thorby's solo pieces, despatched here with a breathtaking command of the intricate and demanding passagework, were utterly charming."

Gramophone

"The vivaciously phrasing recorder playing of Pamela Thorby offered a huge palette of tone colours from the fresh sound of the soprano to the velvet sound of the lower recorders. Both a virtuoso and an elegant stylist."

Tyroler Tageszeitung

"Pamela Thorby's performance demonstrated technical and ornamental flamboyance, culminating in a breathless finale."

Recorder Magazine

"Pamela Thorby has given the recorder a status in the Baroque repertoire that it deserved to recapture. Childhood memories of the instrument are banished by her wonderfully mellow, pliant sound and her easy musicality. She demonstrates versatility and virtuosity beyond question and is imaginatively accompanied by Richard Egarr, who also contributes a sparkling account of the E major Harpsichord Suite. One feels constantly gripped by the music, as if every single note matters……74 minutes of intense brilliance."

Gramophone (Handel Recorder Sonatas) Editor’s Choice

"It is some time since a recording of baroque ensemble music has given me so much pleasure and I strongly recommend you to share it - and with me to recall the line: 'rarely, rarely comest thou, spirit of delight', for that is what this disc conveys."

Gramophone (Baroque Recorder Concertos) Editor’s Choice

The most impressive individual contributions however came from Thorby whose sounds were quite dazzling in solo and ensemble pieces.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

"Two Vivaldi concertos followed. In both the charismatic, elfin Pamela Thorby was outstanding, effervescent in the virtuoso movements, elegaic and tender in the largos."

Halifax Evening Courier

"In fact, the performances I heard, of Baroque music by Bach, Marin Marais and JeanBaptiste Antoine, were magnetic, not least because of the quality of playing by the musicians : recorder player Pamela Thorby, violinist Rodolfo Richter, guitarist William Carter and viola da gamba player Susanne Heinrich.

The dazzling virtuosity of Thorby and Richter in the many dialogues and interchanges in the course of their performance, was staggering. The dead-centre accuracy and soulful playing in what we might call the engine room of the music, the guitar and gamba, was breathtaking and moving. It occurred to me that if this had been rhetorical, highly charged, Romantic music of a later century, rather than intimately discreet music of the Baroque period, the musicians who unleashed these levels of expertise and acrobatic skill would be regarded as superstars."

The Herald  (Review from final season 2006/2007 with the Palladian Ensemble)

See Media section for downloadable PDFs of reviews.