Related Reviews
The Sunday Times
' Russell's beautifully polished playing reveals an affecting relish for the music's searching expressivity, while Butt offers shapely, crisply articulated contributions...'
more >>
The Strad
The Strad Recommends: 'Intellectual challenge and a spirit of Empfindsamkeit animate these magnificent new recordings...'
more >>
Buxton Advertiser
'Yet the highlight of the concert was the two Bach sonatas for violin and harpsichord (BWV 1019 and BWV 1015): they really captured the symmetry and the lucidity of the composer. Their joint performance was sustaining and brilliant.'
more >>
'Refreshing...These are immensely likable performances...'
more >>
Brompton’s Fine & Rare Instruments
' And so it is therefore hardly surprising that such insight and integrity is to be found in the performance of specialists such as Russell and Butt.'
more >>
,,John Butts dynamisches, aber betont kontrapunktisches Cembalo und Lucy Russells flüssiges, vibrato-armes Spiel und der warme Klang ihrer Gagliano-Geige harmonieren dabei exzellent miteinander.''
more >>
Early Music Review
'Here Lucy Russell puts her own stamp on the works, giving a spirited and emotional rendering, and for that this recording is worth investing in.'
more >>
BBC Radio 3 ‘CD Review’
CD of the Week: 'the recorded sound is very good'
more >>
The Guardian
'This is playing rooted in bulletproof scholarship, but the scrunchiest harmonies and most roguish dance rhythms always win out.'
more >>

John Butt & Lucy Russell - J.S. Bach: Violin and Harpsichord Sonatas - BBC Music Magazine

01 September 2015
BBC Music Magazine
Paul Riley
4½ Stars

Performance: 5 stars

Recording: 4 stars

Given the monumentality of the D minor Partita's concluding Chaconne, or the quicksilver brilliance of the E major's Prelude it's not entirely surprising that Bach's Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord have tended to live in the shadow of their cousins for solo unaccompanied violin BWV 1001-6. But what a wealth of music those duo sonatas encompass! lndeed they must have meant a lot to their composer since Bach was still tinkeringwith the last of the six at the end of his life. Violinist Lucy Russell and harpsichordist John Butt play the five-movement ‘last thoughts' version including a wonderfully muscular and exuberant account of the solo harpsichord central Allegro.

Whenever Bach set out to create a collection of pieces he invariably contrived the maximum variety imaginable, and one of the abiding strengths of this new recording is its enthusiastic willingness to embrace and celebrate the diversity. The rapport between Russell and Butt is riveting, and their meeting of musical minds leaves no detail undercharacterised. How insouciantly the violin steals in above Butt's fluid introduction to the B minor Sonata, and the A major's dolce is as deliciously coy as a twosome on their first date - the trills executed with fluttering delicacy and the momentary minor key cloud exquisitely inflected.

Very occasionally a hint of strain threatens Russell's tone, and the recorded balance doesn't always feel consistent in an otherwise beautifully clean recording; but don't hesitate: for sheer freshness, insight and life-enhancing joy, this newcomer goes to the top of the class alongside Rachel Podger and Trevor Pinnock, Andrew Manze and Richard Egarr.

Bookmark and Share

Related Links

John ButtJohn Butt
Lucy RussellLucy Russell
J.S. Bach: Sonatas for violin & harpsichordJ.S. Bach: Sonatas for violin & harpsichord