Bach’s Multiple Concertos – Edinburgh International Festival – The Arts Desk

David Nice, The Arts Desk
★★★★

You had to wait for the four to come to the fore – or for one of them, in the case of the Fifth Brandenburg Concerto, where Egarr eventually went wild in his first-movement cadenza. He also charmingly introduced the arrangement of the Italian Concerto as essentially for two players, with the other two “jamming” in a Graingeresque “dishing up”. It was a delight

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Bach Harpsichord Concertos – Edinburgh International Festival – The Times

Simon Thompson, The Times
★★★

This first concert in the series started as they mean to go on: the Dunedin musicians play on instruments from Bach’s time, and the pair of harpsichords, both from 1755, come from St Cecilia’s remarkable collection of historical instruments. What’s not to like?

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Bach’s Multiple Concertos – Edinburgh International Festival – The Scotsman

Ken Walton, The Scotsman
★★★★

The Concerto in C for three harpsichords, opened with a sound akin to a swarm of bees. But as the musical texture found flight, soloists John Butt, Richard Egarr and Diego Ares sourced mischievous gamesmanship to indulge in. The solo honours went to Egarr in the Brandenburg Concerto No 5, a golden concertante partnership with violinist Cecilia Bernardini and flautist Flavia Hirte, eliciting eccentric nuances, tasteful wit and spectacular keyboard virtuosity.

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Bach Secular Cantatas – Edinburgh International Festival – The Scotsman

Ken Walton, The Scotsman
★★★★

The latter was the more persuasive, not just for its uncommonly extravagant orchestration – trumpets, horns and timps crowning the wind and strings with resplendent euphoria – but also the compositional grit that gives rugged theatrical edge to otherwise standard cantata numbers, and which the Dunedin singers engagingly characterised.

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Matthew Passion – Boston Early Music Festival

J.S. Bach – Matthew Passion
Kristian Bezuidenhout, director
Boston Early Music Festival, 10 June 2019

Early Music America Review

The two dozen virtuoso instrumentalists under Bezuidenhout’s continuo direction brought a transparency and dramatic flair to the orchestral music that was always in tune to the spirit of the text. In all, this performance of St. Matthew Passion was a moving and unforgettable experience.

EARLY MUSIC AMERICA

Matthew Passion — The Herald Review

Keith Bruce, The Herald
22 April 2019
★★★★★

The clarity of the instrumental playing, from continuo in all its manifestations, through the melodic lines of pairs of flutes and oboes, to the entire ensemble and a beautiful solo turn from violinist Huw Daniel, was superb, and – some slightly wayward intonation in the reeds at the start of the second half apart – consistently impressive.

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Apollo and Daphne — The Herald Review

★★★★
Keith Bruce, The Herald
8 February 2019

The composer’s plundering of Ovid and Petrach is a musical delight, and had the best balance of the musical forces we heard all night, with Katy Bircher’s flute joining the fine performance by oboist Alexandra Bellamy and eleven strings, led by Huw Daniel. 

[T]he challenges of the chapel acoustic were overcome by an ensemble full of fine performances, including some tricky natural horn wrangling and consistently sweetly-toned bassoon from Katrin Lazar.

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Apollo and Daphne — Seen and Heard Review

The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
Simon Thompson, 6 April 2019
Seen and Heard International

The fizz and crackle of the orchestral writing could only have come from a young genius on the make, and that jumped out of this Dunedin Consort performance, playfully directed from the harpsichord by an exuberant John Butt. The band of players was small (three first and three second violins, two violas and cellos, one bass, with winds) which led to transparent textures and an airy feel. Furthermore, the musical energy of the classical story was buoyed along by some gorgeous obbligati, none more sensuous than the gorgeous flute that accompanied Daphne’s first aria.

The singers [Matthew Brook, bass and Rowan Pierce, soprano] were perfectly chosen, both for their musical strength and their dramatic sensibilities. 

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Bach Magnificat, Wigmore Hall — The Times Review

Paul Driver, The Times

… a joyous New Year’s Eve of music by Bach from the Dunedin Consort, directed by John Butt.

The original E flat version of the Magnificat in the second half was a captivating unfolding of short but vividly characterised choral or solo-voice movements, the Latin contrasting with the German of two of Bach’s four Christmas interpolations, one of them the beautiful Vom Himmel hoch hymn. The vocal soloists, Rachel Redmond, Joanne Lunn, James Laing, Hugo Hymas and Stephan Loges, were all impressive, and the other five Dunedin voices lusty contributors.

The Orchestral Suite No 2 in B minor flaunted the felicitous flute-playing of Katy Bircher; and the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto was ensemble brilliance at its most inventive and scintillating. A happiest time was had by all.

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Beginning of the Revolution — Hunterian Museum, Glasgow — The Herald Review

★★★★
Keith Bruce, The Herald

Its [the music’s] intricacies were in good hands here, starting with the delicious interplay between the viols of Jonathan Manson and Alison McGillivray on a Jenkins’s Pavane and later including a virtuoso and melody-packed sonata by Benedetto Marcello played by Manson. Butt was in his solo element on Kuhnau’s David and Goliath, the Old Testament story depicted in some of the earliest programme music we know.

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Bach Magnificat — Wigmore Hall, London — The Independent Review

★★★★★
Michael Church, The Independent

The Dunedin Consort, under John Butt’s historically-informed direction, gave a typically dazzling performance of Bach at his most ravishing. The second Orchestral Suite and the fourth Brandenberg Concerto, conveyed by just eight players, emerged with all the detail meticulously clear, while each of the eight voices in the motet “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied” contributed characterfully to that intricate work’s florid exultation.

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Bach Magnificat — Wigmore Hall, London — The Guardian Review

★★★★★
Tim Ashley, The Guardian

There can’t be many better ways of ringing in 2019 than with the Dunedin Consort performing Bach. Their New Year’s Eve concert, under musical director John Butt, was an evening of reflection and joy…

Wonderful, every second of it.

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Messiah — Glasgow, City Halls — The Herald Review

★★★★
Keith Bruce, The Herald

An interpretation of Handel’s Messiah that makes the listener aware of both the work’s musical and liturgical sophistication is a special thing, yet that is what the Dunedin Consort routinely achieves under artistic director John Butt. For the award-winning Scottish baroque vocal and instrumental ensemble, Messiah has become their Stairway to Heaven or Bohemian Rhapsody.

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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — Gramophone Review

Richard Wigmore, Gramphone

[Carolyn Sampson’s] poised, invariably graceful contributions are among the disc’s prime pleasures: from her radiant sense of wonder in the sarabande aria ‘What passion cannot music raise and quell!’, in dialogue with Jonathan Manson’s musingly eloquent cello; through the wistful ‘The soft complaining flute’, where Sampson veils her naturally bright tone (a word, too, for Katy Bircher’s poetic flute-playing); to the scintillating coloratura of her final hornpipe aria…

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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — AllMusic Review

All Music by Blair Sanderson

Such sunny numbers as the chorus, ‘From Harmony’, the tenor’s martial aria, ‘The Trumpet’s Loud Clangour’, and the famous March, with its popular trumpet solo, give a clear indication of the predominantly joyous nature of the Ode. The Concerto Grosso in A minor, Op. 6, No. 4, also composed in 1739, is an elegant filler piece that rounds out the disc, and emulates Handel’s inclusion of concertos and other music in the first performance of the Ode. Linn Records provides a robust and rich sound, and the forward placement of the musicians gives them remarkable presence in this 2018 release.

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