B Minor Mass (Queen’s Hall) – The Herald

The Herald, 21 June 2018 ★★★★

Will the days of big choral concerts of Bach’s B Minor Mass ever return to revival the chamber approach of historically-informed performance? Not if conductors like John Butt continue to produce revelatory recitals like this one… every combination of vocals and continuo playing flowed in seemingly effortless sequence… the instrumental ensemble was superb throughout, and as soulful a period band as you are ever likely to hear.

B Minor Mass (Wigmore Hall) – The Times

The Times, 25 June 2018 ★★★★

[John Butt] fields six “soloists” joined by four other singers to add lustre and body to the bigger setpieces. As they fall in and out of the textures, the sense that’s created is more of a communal celebration, a moment-by-moment experience of the Mass rather than the enactment of a mysterious rite. Butt, who directs from the harpsichord, works for a long time with the same forces and it shows in the easy rapport he has with his players and singers. For all the debates on historically informed performance, the most persuasive aspect of this concert was the sheer sense of joy. It was there in the moment when Butt pressed the accelerator and the ensemble soared into Gloria in excelsis Deo. It was also there as the singers moved from the desolation of Crucifixus etiam pro nobis to the blaze of salvation that is Et resurrexit.

“splendidly vital playing and singing” – Oslo International Church Music Festival

“Dunedin’s splendidly vital playing and singing (a superb soloist trio) was liberating at this time of year, when winter’s long darkness hopefully gives way to light.”

Olav Egil Aune, Vårt Land, 28.03.17

Edinburgh International Festival – “poise, confidence and some superb singing”

The Scotsman ****

Filling them with poise, confidence and some superb singing with the ever-excellent Dunedin ­Consort, Alder, still under 30, is a name assuredly on the up and one to keep a close eye on.

 

Full review here

Monteverdi Vespers – Lammermuir Festival

The Scotsman *****

[Butt] brought an astonishing richness and smoothness to his Dunedin forces’ sound… By the walls of sound in the closing Magnificat, the Vespers felt overwhelming in their grandeur, but there was something to savour in every moment. It is hard to imagine a more exquisite, deeply felt performance.

 

Full review here

Monteverdi Vespers – Lammermuir Festival

The Herald *****

 

This richness and variety shone through in this superbly stylish and joyful performance from Dunedin Consort and His Majestys Sagbutts & Cornetts directed from the organ by John Butt. The Vespers is a lengthy work, but here delivered with the Consort’s trademark energy, the momentum was never allowed to falter… All told this was an exhilarating performance and it was rapturously received by the capacity audience in St Mary’s.

 

Full review here

Messiah – St John’s Smith Square

The Financial Times

 

Here was a group performance perfectly poised between exuberance and sobriety, ritual and spontaneity, with daring lapses into silence that lent the words extra weight.

 

Full review

Sophie Bevan Review – Baroque fireworks lit by natural spark

The Guardian – Kate Molleson

There’s something brilliantly robust and natural about her singing: no artifice, no fuss, a healthy wit, a refreshing kind of virtuosity that’s grounded and almost casual but still totally dazzling. Her voice is bigger and richer than we’re used to hearing with the Dunedins, but it works.
[…] The playing was plenty warm, with violinist Cecilia Bernardini trading beautifully shaped solo lines with recorder players Pamela Thorby and Catherine Latham in Bach’s fourth Brandenburg concerto.

Full review

Lammermuir Festival Review 2015

Lammermuir Festival Performance – 13th September 2015, Brunton Hall

Together they blended to create a modern-day opportunity to meet, listen, eat, drink and take time to consider some weightier musical and cultural issues.

[…]

It was an experiment for sure. But it was one that paid off in terms of its abundant audience – drawn by the event’s various elements, of course – but also in terms of the engaging, fresh light it shed on the cafe culture of Bach’s time, and in provoking thoughts and discussion about our own.

The Arts Desk

David Kettle

East Neuk Festival Review – Bach & Handel

Kate Molleson – Herald Scotland

The hunting horns were heroically ballsy, swinging the cross-rhythms to make the music really dance, and a breezy charisma from all players on stage made for lively, conversational music making

Review: Dunedin Consort’s Coffee and Enlightenment

Herald Scotland / Kate Molleson

Concert on the 5th of February 2015. Bach and Enlightenment

[…] balancing gutsy panache and pristine, shapely definition in Bach’s Third Orchestral Suite. Cantatas 165 and 31 featured excellent singing from Matthew Brook, Thomas Hobbs, Rachel Redmond and Clare Wilkinson.

FULL REVIEW

A wonderfully nimble Messiah from the Dunedin Consort

There were too many wonderful moments in this performance to single out. What made this a memorable Messiah were the small forces blending into a big dynamic sound, crystal clear diction and both singers and players simply bursting with infectious energy. As the final Amens with trumpets and timpani faded away, I wondered how different the first performance might have sounded all those years ago in Dublin. The beaming smiles from performers and audience suggested it surely must have come close.

Full Article

Acis & Galatea – Review Perthshire Advertiser

Ian Stuart-Hunter   St John’s Kirk, Perth – 19 Sept 2014

Perth performances by the Dunedin Consort under their inspiring Director John Butt have always excelled, but their Friday performance of Handel’s pastoral Acis and Galatea topped this. As John Butt said in his witty introduction: only two things happen in this piece: an hour and a quarter in Acis is flattened by a rock then quarter of an hour later he is turned into a fountain. The End.   Acis and Galatea is criticized as a procession of da capo arias, an A section, a shorter contrasting B section, then A is repeated. A recipe for boredom? Not when the repeated section is given such inventive ornamentation as done by all of the singers.   There was too a great deal of musical quality and delight in the 90 minutes. This started with a lively reading of the bustling Overture, John Butt standing at the harpsichord as the presiding genius, beaming and gesticulating inspiration to the players. A particular pleasure was Frances Norbury in both solo oboe and solo sopranino obligati.   The five soloists had powerful and exciting depth of sound in the opening chorus The Pleasures of the Plains. Joanne Lunn entered as the nymph Galatea, then the first of the bird imitations from the recorder. Accuracy, beauty of tone, dynamic range, clarity of diction all played a convincing part.

Acis & Galatea – Review Bachtrack

Alan Coady ****

Dunbar Parish Church – Lammermuir Festival – 21 Sept 2014

The brisk Sinfonia suggested an energetic, committed performance. Control of dynamics was literally vital, moments of sudden quiet allowing further urgent build up. […]

What I loved in this closing performance of the fifth Lammermuir Festival, was that everyone looked delighted to be taking part. When not actively involved the singers and musicians seemed genuinely to be enjoying the contribution of others as much as we were.

Full Review