Winner of the 2018 BBC Music Magazine Instrumental Award, Fenella Humphreys is one of the UK’s most established and versatile violinists, and has won critical admiration and audience acclaim with the lyrical grace and intensity of her playing.
Fenella Humphreys, winner of the 2018 BBC Music Magazine Instrumental Award, has won critical admiration and audience acclaim with the lyrical grace and intensity of her playing.
Described in the press as “alluring”, “unforgettable” and “a wonder”, Fenella is one of the UK’s most established and versatile violinists. She enjoys a busy career combining chamber music and solo work, performing in prestigious venues around the world. She is frequently broadcast on the BBC, Classic FM, DeutschlandRadio Berlin, West-Deutsche-Rundfunk, ABC Classic FM (Australia) and Korean radio.
Over the past decade Fenella has captured international attention by applying spellbinding virtuosity to a strikingly broad range of compositions. Her Bach 2 the Future albums, the second of which won the coveted BBC Music Magazine Instrumental Award, combined newly commissioned works with two of Bach’s solo sonatas and partitas and other repertoire landmarks. She has given the first performances of scores by, among others, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Sally Beamish, Gordon Crosse, Cheryl Frances-Hoad, Adrian Sutton and Piers Hellawell, and made the world premiere recording of Christopher Wright’s elegiac Violin Concerto with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Martin Yates. The disc was released in 2012 to great acclaim (“Fenella Humphreys’ performance is a wonder” – International Record Review), and was selected as Orchestral CD of the Month in a 5 star review in BBC Music Magazine.
In 2020 Fenella will record Sibelius’s Violin Concerto with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by George Vass. Fenella’s most recent disc, Four Seasons Recomposed with Covent Garden Sinfonia and Ben Palmer (Rubicon), was released in June 2019. The album unites Max Richter’s iconic Recomposed: The Four Seasons with Pēteris Vasks’ Lonely Angel and Arvo Pärt’s Fratres to produce a compelling meditation on the profound power of melody. The disc was launched with a performance of Recomposed at Proms at St Jude’s, and was placed at No. 6 in the Classical Charts. It was BBC Music Magazine’s ‘Concerto Choice’ in September 2019; was chosen as one of BBC Radio 3’s pick of new releases on Essential Classics; and for Apple Music’s Classical A-List; was Scala Radio’s Album of the Week, and was been described by Radio 3’s Record Review as “…a delight. The whole thing is gently expressive, meditative, touching and very effective.”
Fenella’s previous disc, So Many Stars with acclaimed pianist Nicola Eimer, was released with Stone Records in February 2019. It was described as “hugely rewarding” by The Observer; “an absolutely exquisite album” by BBC Radio 3’s Record Review, and was The Strad’s Recommended Recording that month.
Fenella is a passionate chamber musician, enjoying performances with Ensemble Perpetuo, Counterpoise and I Musicanti as well as collaborations with artists including Martin Roscoe, Mahan Esfahani, Alexander Baillie, Adrian Brendel, Pekka Kuusisto, Alec Frank-Gemmill and Martin Lovett, and is regularly invited by Steven Isserlis to take part in the prestigious Open Chamber Music at the International Musicians’ Seminar, Prussia Cove. Concertmaster of the Deutsche Kammerakademie, Fenella also enjoys guest leading and directing various ensembles in Europe.
Fenella’s teachers have included Sidney Griller CBE, Itzhak Rashkovsky, Ida Bieler and David Takeno at the Purcell School, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule in Düsseldorf where she was awarded the highest attainable marks both for the ‘Diplom’ exam and the ‘Konzertexamen’ soloists’ diploma.
Fenella plays a beautiful violin from the circle of Peter Guarneri of Venice, kindly on loan from Jonathan Sparey.
February 2020Please do not use this biography if it is more than three months old.
To coincide with the beginning of the 19/20 season, Ikon Arts-Edition Peters is proud to present four recent additions to the artist list for worldwide management: Thomas Gould, Fenella Humphreys, Rebecca Miller & Melvyn Tan. Read more
Fenella Humphreys' new Richter: Four Seasons Recomposed disc is released on Friday with Rubicon Classics. She launches the disc tonight at Proms at St Jude's with Ben Palmer and the Covent Garden Sinfonia. Read more
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.
Violinist Fenella Humphreys responds to its elegiac reflection and technical display at top flight level, offering emotional depth and weight of tone.
BBC Music Magazine, Orchestral Choice CD, Five Star Review
[Humphreys'] performance of the Bach is among the finest on record.
American Record Review
She shapes the music with skill, and sometimes with humour... her double-stops are impeccable, and there is complete confidence in the rapid changes of character. [...] An enjoyable and accomplished CD.
BBC Music Magazine, 5 Stars and Instrumental Choice CD
Humphreys's utter absorption and delight in all three shines forth at every turn... strong-toned, easy fluidity and immaculate technique. Both volumes will be making frequent returns to my stereo.
Charlotte Gardner - Editor's Choice, Gramophone Magazine (Bach to the Future Vol. 2)
Selected Discography —
Four Seasons Recomposed
…a delight. The whole thing is gently expressive, meditative, touching and very effective.
BBC Radio 3 Record Review
So Many Stars: Sonatinas for Violin and Piano (Stone Records)
...a whole universe of emotion, brilliantly captured by the violinist Fenella Humphreys and pianist Nicola Eimer [...] a hugely rewarding new recording.
Bach 2 the Future Vol. 2 (Champs Hill)
Humphreys's utter absorption and delight in all three shines forth at every turn.
Gramophone Magazine, Editor's Choice. Winner of BBC Music Magazine Award 2018 (Instrumental)
Bach 2 the Future (Champs Hill)
She shapes the music with skill... her double stops are impeccable. [...] An enjoyable and accomplished CD.
BBC Music Magazine, Instrumental CD Choice October 2015, 5 stars,
Christopher Wright: Violin Concerto / RSNO (Dutton)
Violinist Fenella Humphreys responds to its elegiac reflection and technical display at top flight level, offering emotional depth and weight of tone
BBC Music Magazine, October 2012, Orchestral Choice and Five Star Review