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Samson – The Scotsman Review

Ken Walton, The Scotsman

★★★★★

This is another John Butt spectacular, the ensemble’s effervescent director eliciting a performance that captures the emotion of Handel’s exceptional writing…

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Requiem Aeternam – The Scotsman Review

David Kettle, The Scotsman

★★★★★

An exceptional evening of music, deeply thoughtful, compassionate and nourishing.

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Lammermuir Festival – Prestongrange Church – The Scotsman Review

Ken Walton, The Scotsman

★★★★★

Joy, passion and precision… it was as though Butt and his players were rediscovering this well-known music afresh all over again, and taking their listeners with them

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Bach Harpsichord Concertos – Edinburgh International Festival – Scotsman Review

Susan Nickalls, The Scotsman
★★★★★

To hear Bach played on an instrument from the world-class collection at St Cecilia’s Hall offers a privileged glimpse into how the composer’s music might have sounded at the time.
…Suzuki’s hands moved seamlessly between the two manuals adding to the drama of this richly scored work. The accompanying period instruments produced a lively orchestral sound centred around the dynamic viola interactions with the harpsichord.

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Scotsman Interview

Interview with Chief Executive Jo Buckley in The Scotsman.

The ensemble is thinking big according to new chief executive Jo Buckley, who is honest enough to suggest that the 2018 scare “was actually one of the best things that happened to us.” Whereas two years ago Dunedin were playing around 25 concerts a year, there will be 40 performances this season. “We’re not just back to where we were, but the scale of activity has increased enormously,” says Buckley.

The new season brochure says it all. On the cover, a flautist plays precariously on top of Salisbury Crags. Elsewhere violinist Sarah Bevan-Baker is pictured jetting off Calton Hill like Superwoman. Stephan Farr attempts to stem the Atlantic waves at Calgary Bay on Mull, Canute-style, with a part-submerged harpsichord.

Bach Harpsichord Concertos 5 – Edinburgh International Festival – The Scotsman

Carol Main, The Scotsman
★★★★

Possibly, for a concerto soloist, the only thing worse than breaking your glasses just before heading to the platform, is finding out that the glue used to fix them hasn’t worked.

Even in the face of such adversity, the show went on at St Cecilia’s Hall on Tuesday with harpsichordist Richard Egarr valiantly leading instrumentalists of the Dunedin Consort from the solo seat in Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in E major.

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Bach Harpsichord Concertos 1 – Edinburgh International Festival – The Scotsman

Ken Walton, The Scotsman
★★★★

Is there a venue more perfect for this 5-concert series of Bach’s Keyboard Concertos than the intimate 18th century St Cecila’s Hall?

Required to top it off are musicians and performances of equal calibre, which is what began to emerge as duelling harpsichordists Mahan Esfahani and Aapo Häkkinen, along with with members of the Dunedin Consort, opened the series with Bach’s solo Concerto in D and Double Concerto in C minor.

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Bach Harpsichord Concertos 2 – Edinburgh International Festival – The Scotsman

Ken Walton, The Scotsman
★★★★

The “new” material, he added, came from a 1726 cantata bearing the same theme, so the task was to do “what Bach would have done” and “turn it into a harpsichord concerto”. The result was largely convincing, strangely scored (by Bach) for supporting oboe, strings and continuo, but distinctive in this performance for the deliciously ripe oboe playing of Jasu Moisio.

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Bach Harpsichord Concertos 4 – Edinburgh International Festival – The Scotsman

Susan Nickalls, The Scotsman
★★★★

The tonal blend of the two instruments was perfect with Schornsheim’s sharper articulation adding brightness in the quicker movements…Schornsheim gave a lively account of the mercurial prelude from the English Suite No 4 in F major followed by the Keyboard Concerto in F minor. This featured a bed of soft pizzicato strings in the slow movement and there was a witty series of echoes in the presto, similar to the echo aria in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio.

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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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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day – The Scotsman Review

Ken Walton, The Scotsman 

★★★★★

Here is a performance that draws every ounce of emotive symbolism and sublime inference from Handel’s poetically refined score. It features John Butt’s excitingly precise Dunedin Consort, whose instrumentalists are idiomatically stylish to the last

…Yet another Baroque tour de force from Butt, who has a simple knack of turning highly informed intelligence and curiosity into performances fired by spontaneous combustion.

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Magnificat – The Scotsman Review

Ken Walton, The Scotsman

★★★★★

Its contextual placement within a liturgical sequence […] is revelatory. The musicianship is exquisite; the emotional impact is immediate. This is world class, and it’s made in Scotland.

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Matthew Passion – The Scotsman Review

David Chillingworth, The Scotsman

I was taken unawares. We don’t expect to be “shaken and stirred” by anything religious these days. Bored perhaps, but not turned inside out as I was…

Full article on www.scotsman.com