Related Reviews
BBC Music Magazine
4½ Stars
'...for sheer freshness, insight and life-enhancing joy, this newcomer goes to the top of the class...'
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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...'
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The Strad
The Strad Recommends: 'Intellectual challenge and a spirit of Empfindsamkeit animate these magnificent new recordings...'
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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.'
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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.'
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,,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.''
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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.'
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BBC Radio 3 ‘CD Review’
CD of the Week: 'the recorded sound is very good'
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The Guardian
'This is playing rooted in bulletproof scholarship, but the scrunchiest harmonies and most roguish dance rhythms always win out.'
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John Butt & Lucy Russell - J.S. Bach: Violin and Harpsichord Sonatas - Gramophone

01 July 2015
Lindsay Kemp

Linn's fast-building accumulation of core Baroque repertory continues here with the sonatas for violin and obbligato harpsichord, six wondrous works which never stop giving. The label's leading Bach man, John Butt, joins Lucy Russell, leader of the Fitzwilliam Quartet and a sometime leader of several British Baroque ensembles, in performances that may appear at first to be unassuming in the light of the big names who have already recorded these pieces, but actually have much to offer that is refreshing.

Russell says in the booklet that she wants to find ‘Bach the abandon reverence, to explore "colour", and to burrow deeply into the emotional nature of the music as well as to find and highlight Bach's good humour and quirkiness'. These are words that could ring alarm bells for those to whom it suggests gratuitous over-interpretation, but in fact Russell and Butt's readings are neither intrusively gimmicky nor cloyingly romantic. Russell does not attempt to seduce the listener by hiding the ‘Baroque' nature of her violin, which is slightly wiry, even acid on occasion, but also clear, in tune (not all her rivals have been!) and always alive. What pleases above all is the forthright naturalness of her playing, never mannered but still in its way searchingly expressive. Constantly it is the balance between difference interpretative elements that impresses. She is not afraid of a long line; the first movement of No 4 flows swiftly; and in movements such as the openers of Nos 1 and 5, prominent but gentle rubato brings a smoothly loving feel to the one and a rich brooding quality to the other. And while some of the faster movements are rather frenetic, there is joy in the chipper second of No 4, and the violin dances over the harpsichord with delicious variety of step in the finale of No 6. Butt's playing provides alert, clearly articulated and muscular support, though sometimes his harpsichord is a touch big in the balance. These are immensely likable performances, and a mission accomplished, I would suggest, for Russell.

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