‘There was a frisson from hearing period instruments used in such unexpected ways… [Butt’s] lively tempos produced plenty of lithe, energetic playing, and enough body in the strings to bring the music out into the vastness of the space. ‘
https://dunedin-consort.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/TheTimes.jpg500500Jessica Masseyhttps://www.dunedin-consort.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/dunedin-logo-340-300x129.pngJessica Massey2019-10-02 11:41:242020-04-27 12:44:17Prom 71 – Bach Night – The Times Review
‘The most astonishing aspect of this concert was the unity of players within each section, and the unity of the newly commissioned Bach companion pieces with their designated Suites… the oneness of the flutes gave an extraordinary demonstration… I heard only one while my eyes saw all three. The virtuoso movements of the Bourrées and the final Badinerie are hard enough for one player but three players blending their virtuosity to such extent is mind-blowing.’
https://dunedin-consort.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/BBC-Proms.jpg20832083Jessica Masseyhttps://www.dunedin-consort.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/dunedin-logo-340-300x129.pngJessica Massey2019-10-02 10:29:252020-04-27 12:44:44Prom 71 – Bach Night – Seen and Heard International Review
On 11 September 2019, we return to the Albert
Hall stage for ‘Bach Night’ at the BBC Proms, our first appearance since
our Proms debut with Bach’s John Passion back in 2017. This time, it’s a wholly
orchestral affair, as we perform Johann Sebastian Bach’s four orchestral
suites (BWV 1066-69), alongside four new commissions from four of today’s
foremost contemporary composers.
The idea springs from founder Henry Wood’s themed nights, which were an early feature in Proms programmes. From 1898,
Monday was established as ‘Wagner Night’, and Fridays soon became Beethoven
nights. As for ‘Bach Night’ — Henry Wood was one of the earliest champions of
Bach’s music in England, and under his direction, all of Bach’s orchestral
suites and Brandenburg concertos were heard in the Proms’ first decades. Made
up of a series of eighteenth-century dances that explore a kaleidoscopic array
of Baroque affects, Bach’s orchestral suites have long been favourites in
So why the new commissions too? When Henry Wood
programmed his themed nights all those years ago, he typically included complementary works or his own arrangements
alongside these stalwarts of the repertoire. It seems fitting,
then, to pay tribute to Wood’s contemporary mindset by pairing Bach’s Suites
with the music of today, a reminder of ongoing dialogue between historical and
contemporary composers. Whether this is the first time you have heard the
suites, or the thirty-first, we hope this will allow you to hear them with
fresh ears, that you will hear things differently.
So, in association with the BBC Proms, we have
co-commissioned four leading composers — Stuart MacRae, Nico Muhly, Ailie Robertson and Stevie Wishart — to respond to Bach’s suites
and compose a new dance for each one ‘in any way they see fit’. In other words,
don’t be too surprised if you hear a few modern techniques on these historical
instruments. Part of the delight in commissioning these new works is finding
out how modern composers explore and respond to period instruments. In fact,
almost anything goes, only ‘Bachian pastiche’ was excluded from the brief!
Coming from a background in early music, Nico Muhly has written his Tambourin with allusions to one of Bach’s principal sources of inspiration – the French composer Jean-Phillippe Rameau (1683-1764). Rameau included the tambourin (originally a Provençal dance with an upbeat duple metre) in several of his operas, and Nico’s piece captures a similar essence with a palpable sense of energy.
The first half of the concert concludes with a tango – a dance form, yes, although not one that Bach would have known. Stevie Wishart’s piece was inspired by Bach’s first orchestral suite, and brings together the cool, laid-back phrasing of the tango with the precision of Bach’s instrumental writing. Stevie has also incorporated the singing of the Argentinian hooded grebe (Podiceps gallardoi), an astonishingly musical bird — currently at risk of extinction — whose movement resembles something of a ‘bird tango’.
Perhaps the most famous of Bach’s orchestral suites
is the second in B minor, which concludes in the dazzling Badinerie (popularised
some years back as Nokia ringtone), scored for flute and string orchestra. Ailie
Robertson’s Chaconnehas been written as a prelude to this suite,
and draws together her background in both classical and Scottish traditional
music. Ailie’s chaconne makes use of a repeated harmonic progression, just like
eighteenth-century composers such as Bach did.
The last of the four commissions, Stuart
MacRae’s Courante is based on a dance form that was developed in the
courts of sixteenth-century Italy, before being adopted in in France, and, by
Bach’s time, was popular across northern Europe. It involves a series of
running and jumping steps, and Stuart’s piece (written as an introduction to
Bach’s ebullient Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, which we will be performing
last) explores this running in a slow triple metre, heard at a variety of
Some tickets are still available, so book now to avoid
disappointment. If you can’t make it to the Royal Albert Hall, you can listen
live on BBC Radio 3.
Dunedin Consort appears in Prom 71: Bach
Night at the BBC Proms 2019 on Wednesday 11 September at 7:30pm
https://dunedin-consort.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/BBC-Proms.jpg20832083David Leehttps://www.dunedin-consort.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/dunedin-logo-340-300x129.pngDavid Lee2019-09-04 15:38:232020-04-27 12:46:30Dunedin Consort at the BBC Proms 2019