General Critical Acclaim

“The lightning strike of genius can happen, sometimes even repeatedly, to those willing to earn it. Jeannette Sorrell is one such person.”

“Superlative music-making… agile grace and unforced lyrical energy.  Sorrell had put together a ingenious programme which showed off the ensembles’ range of colour, mood and style. The results were thrilling.”
– THE DAILY TELEGRAPH/Ian Hewitt, London (“5 Best Classical Concerts of 2014”)

“A brilliant harpsichordist, Jeannette Sorrell… exudes stylish energy – a blend of scholarship and visceral intensity.”
– GRAMOPHONE MAGAZINE/Don Rosenberg Magazine

“Sorrell and her forces delivered it with superb energy and clarity to put the cap on a wholly exhilarating evening.”

“Other masters of the [baroque] style have been paying visits, but none has summoned up as much energy, enthusiasm and excitement from the orchestra as Sorrell.”

– TWIN CITIES PIONEER PRESS (debut with St. Paul Chamber Orchestra), 2017

“Building sound, almost instrument by instrument, Sorrell exposed to us clearly the workings of this lovely piece. I can’t imagine a more superbly judged and also fresh experience of the composer. The slow second movement – unshowy but heavenly – almost brought tears to the eyes with its sigh and swell.”

–THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, London (BBC Proms debut, 2015)

“Jeannette Sorrell, one of the world’s finest baroque specialists, brings a superb group of singers and instrumentalists together in a vespers service by Praetorius.”

– St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2015 (CD review, Praetorius Christmas Vespers)

“Sorrell conducted from the harpsichord with great precision, sensitivity and femininity.  The concert was impeccable and the Royal Theatre was full to overflowing. It was one of those evenings that leaves you wanting more.” 

– EL PAÍS (the leading national newspaper of Spain), Madrid, 2011

“…Under the guidance of Jeannette Sorrell, a conductor/harpsichordist who personally elicits the audience’s enthusiasm herself… clock-like precision, birdlike lightness, and intoxicating alacrity.”

– LE RÉPUBLICAIN LORRAIN, Metz, France, 2011 (concert at L’Arsenal)

“An engaging conductor… what’s not to love?  Sorrell guided the players with a light but definitive touch, a thoroughly involved but efficient presence. The musicians seemed to welcome this immersion in a vintage genre with Sorrell.”

– THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS, 2011 (review of Grand Rapids Symphony)

“Music Director Jeannette Sorrell consistently devises interesting programs, gathers the finest early-music artists and molds performances that go beyond the narrow implications of ‘authenticity.’”

“Sorrell, her orchestra, soloists and choruses took wing throughout the performance.  The supremely refined chorus, were vivid and cohesive.  Whether conducting or playing harpsichord, Sorrell held the work together with consummate intensity. Her phrasing was flexible and her concern for expressive meaning vibrantly apparent.”
 – CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 2007 (Praetorius Christmas Vespers, edited & compiled by Sorrell)

“Baroque specialist Jeannette Sorrell churns Grétry’s simple tunes into storms at sea, thunder and lightning, graceful dances and echoes of the exotic.  One of the many pleasures of the evening is catching a glimpse of Ms. Sorrell physically flowing with the music.”

– RIVERFRONT TIMES, St. Louis, MO (review of St Louis Opera Theatre with the St Louis Symphony), 2005

“Chief among the stars was conductor Jeannette Sorrell.  Sorrell conducts like she’s willing something magical to happen.  The festival orchestra played with a burnished string sound and wind playing that was jewel-like in clarity.”

– WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL (review of Magnolia Baroque Festival), 2004

“When Sorrell arrives on stage, she grabs the attention of her musicians, who respond with missionary enthusiasm, and her listeners…. Sorrell and her players, as well as her sensational chorus, make contact with music on both visceral and intellectual levels, and the results are intoxicating. “


“Sorrell, who looks like a pre-Raphaelite figure with her tousled mane of coppery hair, might have been a dancer in a previous life—when she conducts, her arms describe musical phrases with gracefully sculpted gestures.  She is, in fact, one heck of a harpsichordist and a lively conductor.” 

– THE BOSTON GLOBE, 2001 (review of the Handel & Haydn Society)


“A resplendent performance… The production belonged entirely to Ms. Sorrell, who devised the concept, called ‘a dramatic presentation….’  The orchestra was also excellent… exquisite moments.  The magnificent chorus [sang] to breathtaking effect…”

– NEW YORK TIMES/James Oestreich, 2016 (Bach’s St John Passion at Trinity Wall Street)

“The St. John Passion… evokes deep spirituality while teeming with theatricality. Attempts have often been made to stage it, including one two years ago by Peter Sellars and the Berlin Philharmonic that erred…. the drama was blurred.  No such problem afflicted the superlative performance by Apollo’s Fire… Sorrell ensured that there was no lack of drama. She set persuasive tempos…. The excellent orchestra produced an engagingly colorful sound and finely nuanced effects.  The chorus, Apollo’s Singers, was consistently alert and dynamic… positioned in the aisles during the mob scene, achieving a kind of surround-sound effect that heightened the drama. Phrasing in the chorales, as shaped by Sorrell, was noteworthy for lovely detail.”
– MUSICAL AMERICA/George Loomis, 2016

“The debut of Jeannette Sorrell with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was an especially joyous occasion. The American conductor and harpsichordist brought an exciting combination of individuality with decisive yet graceful style to Bach‘s Brandenburg Concertos… a concert not to be missed.”

“A swaggering version… The most is made of the instrumental colours Bach so exhilaratingly put on show. The keyboard part in the 5th Brandenburg is brilliantly played by Sorrell.”
– THE SUNDAY TIMES, London, 2010 (CD review – complete Brandenburgs)

“Bubbles like fine champagne… A fabulous harpsichord cadenza played with gusto by Sorrell… perfectly polished.”
– EARLY MUSIC AMERICA MAGAZINE (CD review – Brandenburgs)

“The dramatic cadenza [of Brandenburg Concerto no. 5] of astonishing virtuosity… was indeed hair-raising and brilliantly played by Sorrell.”
–BOSTON MUSICAL INTELLIGENCER, 2015 (Tanglewood debut)

“Sorrell leads from the harpsichord and delivers a brilliant, take-no-captives rendition of the big solo in No. 5.  In all, these performances are lively and unfailingly attractive—the best in what historical performance can be…. an impressive treasure.”
– AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE, (CD review – Brandenburgs)

“Sorrell played [Brandenburg Concerto no. 5] with impeccable precision, all the while maintaining full control of the cadenza’s momentum. Most impressive was her exploitation of the… relentless rhythm, drawing the ear toward an expected conclusion only to be thrown into more and more tumultuous churning.”

“Sorrell outdid herself in the stunning solo [of Brandenburg #5], generating a tightly wound energy in the passagework that spilled out into a roller coaster of almost terrifyingly dizzying scales.  The piece sounded grippingly new.”
 –, 2012

“Magnificent… Sorrell, often leading from the harpsichord, imbued every moment
with apt expressive intensity or buoyancy, and balances between voices and instruments were ideal… a blaze of glory.”
– CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER/Don Rosenberg, 2009 (Bach B Minor Mass)

 “Sorrell led a revelatory performance [of Bach’s St John Passion], with impassioned singing and playing bringing Bach’s score to life with contemporary immediacy.”
—OPERA NEWS, review of Ojai Festival, 2004

“Sorrell conducts the oratorio [Bach’s St. John Passion] as a sweeping saga in which intimate episodes are balanced by explosive theatrical moments.  What sets her performance apart is the expressive depth with which she conveys the messages.” 

“Harpsichordist Sorrell sparkled like a meteor zooming through time and space in the incredibly fast fingerwork of Brandenburg No. 5.”


“Sorrell is a thrillingly adventurous interpreter of 18th-century music… this was among the strongest renditions of “Messiah” that I’ve experienced. The orchestra [was] keenly attuned to Sorrell’s requests for punch and nuance. And she’s a very fun conductor to watch – a graceful, assertive leader overflowing with energy. I came away deeply respecting her intrepid imagination, and hoping that she’ll become a more frequent SPCO collaborator.”

Sorrell is a masterful musical storyteller. Her adaptation [of Handel’s Israel in Egypt] gives the work a coherent, compelling dramatic arc, brought off brilliantly by her singers and players. I can only think that Handel would wholeheartedly approve.”

“…A full-scale production of Handel’s dramatic oratorio ‘Israel in Egypt,’ in a new performing edition prepared by music director Jeannette Sorrell… found the players and singers playing to their strengths. Sorrell’s edition seeks to re-establish the dramatic balance lost in Handel’s revision…. The effectiveness of Apollo’s Fire’s version proves that Sorrell was on the right track. Apollo’s Singers were supple and subtle, alert to a wide dynamic range and sensitive to the drama of the music. The performers navigated Handel’s various musical depictions with exhilarating abandon, which Sorrell harnessed wonderfully…. leaping rhythms for frogs, gossamer swirls for flies and lice… surging timpani as the waters of the Red Sea swallow Pharaoh and his men.”

“Sorrell led a highly nuanced performance… unanimous in phrasing, dynamics, and musical rhetoric — and well-calculated in dramatic impact.  Chorus, soloists, and orchestra were uniformly impressive. The chorus, like the text they sang at one point, ‘triumphed gloriously.’
–, 2017 (Israel in Egypt)

“The performance conducted by Jeannette Sorrell was a revelation.  ‘Messiah’ has seldom seemed so dramatic, so alive with detail, yet with an overall sense of the work’s architecture.  The soloists sang their parts mostly from memory and used simple but effective gestures to add to the dramatic effect. These were not mere musical performances but singing actors propelling this telling of “the greatest story ever told.”  The choruses were models of clarity and blend, with carefully molded phrases.  Throughout, it was Jeannette Sorrell’s vision which led to an uncommonly unified success. This was a Messiah that will last in my memory for a very long time.”
–, 2014

“Alluring personalities, a stellar chorus and orchestra, and… a fine sense of pacing.  Jeannette Sorrell and Apollo’s Fire had all of these elements securely in place. ‘Messiah’ — presented with a sense of theater, as Handel intended it to be — scintillated, charmed and inspired the large audience from Overture to “Amen.”  Apollo’s Singers’… diction, blend, and clarity of line [were] superb all evening, even at the liveliest of tempos and in the most complicated passage-work.
–, 2014

“Jeannette Sorrell led a highly dramatic rendering [of Messiah] that made the most of the theatrical basis of the music.  The plot was gripping at almost every moment.  Apollo’s Singers were as much a part of the theatricality as the soloists: their diction brought the text across, and their articulation made Handel’s complex fugal passages clear and expressive.  The orchestra was fully a part of the drama.  Like any great theatrical performance, this Messiah startled us again and again with its sudden shifts of mood: now gentleness, now majesty, now excitement, and finally, peace.”
–, 2012

“Music Director Jeannette Sorrell… succeeded in drawing the audience into another world. The Apollo’s Fire forces… approached the piece as if they were telling the story for the first time. Sorrell shaped the score with an alert ear for expressive and dramatic nuance. Apollo’s Singers explored a magnificent spectrum of shadings. From the lightest of touches to the majestic proclamations, the ensemble provided lucidity and fervor.”
– CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 2012/Don Rosenberg (Messiah)

 “Sorrell’s brilliance was stamped on every aspect of the performance [of Handel’s Belshazzar].  She conducted the arias and choruses with a dramatic zeal that provided momentum or space as the music required.  Her orchestra sounded marvelously articulate and bright.”

“Sorrell invested the work [Handel’s Messiah] with remarkable muscle, tenderness and textural clarity.  She achieved striking nuances through accents and silences.  Sorrell’s contact with her players was so intimate, they seemed to breathe as one.”

“When Jeannette Sorrell plays Handel, the audience is the winner.  If Handel’s Messiah transcends the usual categories to be a fixture of our general culture, so Jeannette Sorrell transcends mere historicism in her performances of this music.  Her triumph Saturday night had fresh impulses and took risks.”


The robust and wonderfully vivacious account… was a voluptuous and hugely gripping approach to Monteverdi’s masterpiece [the Vespers of 1610]. A vast and inviting feast, ranging from exuberant choral explosions to intimate expressions of the amorous. Sorrell and her forces delivered it with superb energy and clarity to put the cap on a wholly exhilarating evening.”
– SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 2014 (Monteverdi Vespers)

“Exultant… instrumental colours blaze brilliantly.”
– THE SUNDAY TIMES, London (CD review – Monteverdi Vespers)

“A stunning achievement….  Wins out handily over William Christie’s versions and other recent issues.”
– FANFARE (CD review – Monteverdi Vespers)

“Sorrell and her fine young choir lavish attention on every phrase and inflexion.  The exhilaration and sense of discovery is utterly infectious….An unanticipated delight.”
– INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW, UK (CD review – Monteverdi Vespers)

“A resplendent account, brilliantly motivated by Sorrell and performed with vibrant attention to dramatic detail.  In short, a thriller from first note to last.”
– CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER (CD review – Monteverdi Vespers)

Sorrell’s brilliance was stamped on every aspect of the performance…  She must be one of the best conductors around in this repertoire.”
– CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER (Monteverdi Vespers)

“Monteverdi’s Orfeo was a triumph for Jeannette Sorrell, showing us new dimensions of her genius.”


“Led by exuberant, flame-haired Jeannette Sorrell, they were flamboyant and fun. Their party piece – Vivaldi’s trio sonata La Folia arranged as an increasingly frenetic dancing concerto grosso by Sorrell – energetically rounded off a hugely enjoyable concert.”
– The Birmingham Post, UK, 2014

“The “Viva Vivaldi!” program enthralled the Holland Performing Arts Center audience from start to finish…. Sorrell, who conducted the ensemble throughout while supplying “continuo” accompaniment on the harpsichord, showed why she‘s one of today‘s most engaging and skilled ambassadors of Baroque music.  A return visit would be most welcome.“ 
– OMAHA WORLD-HERALD, 2014 (review of the Omaha Symphony)

“Sorrell is one heck of a harpsichordist and a lively conductor.  She played with skill and panache.”
– BOSTON GLOBE, 2001 (Vivaldi’s Summer concerto, transcribed for harpsichord by J. Sorrell)


“Sorrell is an absolute dynamo onstage and a pleasure to see conduct…. a force to be reckoned with. She brought the energy and creativity that… have granted her celebrity status within the early music world.  Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G Minor…. was a thrilling experience.”
– SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE (review with Philharmonia Baroque), 2019 (read more)

“… Sorrell is a true Mozartian.  Her Mozart achieves a near-perfect combination of real dramatic cogency and the ability to sing.”
– FANFARE Record Magazine, (CD review – Mozart Piano Concerti)

“Sorrell presents an elegantly proportioned Symphony no. 40… vividly characterized.”
– THE INDEPENDENT, London (CD review – Mozart Symphony no. 40)

“Performances of enormous drama, delicacy and zest… with keen attention to expressive and textural nuances. It is clear from the symphony’s opening moments that Sorrell intends to emphasize the music’s tragic elements. The account brims with nervous energy and the pacing is propulsive, though the conductor calls for spacious sighs and dynamic gradations that allow contrasting materials to have their say.”
– CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER (CD review – Symphony no. 40)

“Music director Jeannette Sorrell and superb colleagues have created a lithe “Magic Flute” of captivating and touching vibrancy.  Sorrell shaped the score with a knowing blend of momentum and elasticity, drawing lucid playing from her remarkable period instrument orchestra and making glittery contributions at the keyed glockenspiel to depict Papageno’s magic bells.”
– CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 2012 (Mozart’s Magic Flute at Severance Hall)

“The Jupiter [Symphony of Mozart] was an aristocratic knockout.   Sorrell… achieves phrasings, blends and accents that animate every corner of this masterpiece.  The orchestra played with crackling vitality and dulcet lyricism.”

“This Mozart verged on the revelatory, especially Sorrell’s account of the Symphony no. 40.  Each movement had a sense of inner life and drama, and every instrumental line could be heard.  The sense of discovery Sorrell and the players brought to the performance… was so exciting, it generated a standing ovation.”