Related Reviews
Kultur Port
'Clear, transparent, and not just for the Christmas holidays.'
more >>
Concerto
Oratorio: „Das ergibt insgesamt einen entspannten, bassbetonten und doch transparenten Ensembleklang mit einem ungewohnt strahlenden Hör­nerklang...Alle singen und spielen mit großer Ausstrahlung... etwa die liebevoll vokal-in­strumental aufgefächerte Rhetorik in den Chören der Engel, Hirten und Weisen.'' / Magnificat: „Überhaupt präsentiert sich die Aufnahme in einem warmen, abgerundeten Klangbild''
more >>
KMT
”Helt naturligt blev den nyligen släppta friskt glänsande inspelningen...strålande solistprestationer som i Juloratoriet i en ljuvlig återgivning av Juldagens.”
more >>
Fanfare
'The Magnificat is equally magnificent.'
more >>
Early Music Today
5 Stars
Editor's Choice: 'Rarely, very rarely, a recording comes along that because of its content and level of performance seems to be hors concours. This is just such a recording.'
more >>
Iowa Public Radio
2015 Classical Mega-Meta-List: 'It is also the joyous-Bach-Christmas CD of the year. And the performances are so special that even if you already own many recordings of the Magnificat or the Cantata you should hear it.'
more >>
The Herald Scotland
Top 10 Scottish Classical Albums of 2015: #1 spot
more >>
Europadisc
Europadisc 2015 Disc of the Year: 'In the end it was the Dunedin Consort's recording of Bach's Magnificat that gripped us most, not just for its combination of brilliant musicianship and fastidious research, but because the reconstruction as a whole proves such an involving, immersive experience for the listener.'
more >>
BBC Radio 3 ‘CD Review’
'A Bach recording that's going to make the air vibrate with joy...a splendid recording.'
more >>
The Sunday Times
'His quintet of soloists are brilliant illusionists, sounding like a crowd in Omnes generationes.'
more >>
The Arts Desk
'This disc's academic credentials are impeccable, but my reasons for loving it are purely musical; John Butt's Bach programme allows us to party as if it was, er, 1723...Essential listening.'
more >>
Sydsvenskan
'John Butt gör en finkänslig och rörlig rekonstruktion av J S Bachs magnifika vesper.'
more >>
Classical MPR
'The effect is reverent and seamless. The musicianship of the singers and the players is flawless, and it's interesting to hear the works in their historical context.'
more >>
Pizzicato
Supersonic Award: ,,Den Aufnahmetechnikern ist ein Meisterstück gelungen...Unser Tipp für die Feiertage!''
more >>
The Herald Scotland
Top 20 Classical Recordings for 2015: 'Hard to imagine a classier Christmas album.'
more >>
YLE Klassinen
'Sekä Magnificat että joulukantaatti ovat säihkyvän jouluisia teoksia, joissa trumpetit raikaavat ja patarummut jylisevät. Toki sijansa saa myös hempeä joulutunteilu.'
more >>
Iowa Public Radio
Flavorful Picks from 2015: 'Linn's recorded sound is rich, glowing, natural, and clear.'
more >>
Ouverture - Das Klassik-Blog
'...I have rarely heard the Magnificat so impressively performed...'
more >>
Financial Times
5 Stars
'It is a brilliant deal: 21st-century listeners get all of Bach's glorious music associated with December 25 1723, performed with zest and imagination, without having to sit through the sermon.'
more >>
Gramophone
Editor's Choice: 'Another intriguing and excellently performed project from Butt and his Dunedin Consort: a delightful recreation of what Bach’s first Christmas in Leipzig might well have sounded like.'
more >>
BBC Music Magazine
5 Stars
Choral & Song Choice: 'What follows is a holistically conceived, beautifully paced, exhilaratingly executed performance.'
more >>
Rondo Magazine
5 Stars
,,Unter diesen Bedingungen kann auch das bekannte Magnificat in seiner gleißend hellen Es-Dur-Fassung nur eine Freude sein – diese Erwartung bestätigt sich beim Hören: Das ist sehr, sehr wohltuend.''
more >>
MusicWeb International
Recording of the Month: 'Top of my 2015 Christmas list: outshines just about every other recording of the Magnificat and the cantata.'
more >>
BBC Radio Scotland ‘Classics Unwrapped’
'It’s a magnificent recording…a hearty congratulations on a truly hearty disc. I really, really loved listening to that.'
more >>
BBC Radio 3 ‘In Tune’
'It’s wondrous music.'
more >>
Artistxite
,,Die Illusion funktioniert: Man fühlt sich unmittelbar in die besondere Stimmung einer festlichen Vesper hineinversetzt. Butt und sein Ensemble erweisen sich (zum wiederholten Male) als akkurate Spurensucher, die die Unmittelbarkeit des historischen Kontexts für den heutigen Hörer wieder erfahrbar machen.''
more >>
Classical CD Choice
'Quite possibly the most persuasive version of Bach's Magnificat you are likely to hear in modern times.'
more >>
PS Audio
Classical Gifts of 2015: 'Hands down, my first choice this year...'
more >>
Sinfini Music
5 Stars
Best Choral Album: 'Andrew Stewart has heard no finer disc this year than John Butt and the Dunedin Consort's new recording of Bach's Magnificat and Christmas Cantata BWV 63, filled with insight and energy.'
more >>
Andrew Everard
'standout'
more >>
Merry and Bright Blog
'an excellent record'
more >>
Early Music Review
'...what is a very good example of John Butt's marriage between arresting scholarship, enormous musicality - the tempi are so naturally right - and pragmatic skills: conceiving and bringing such a complex production to fruition is a huge task, and the whole disc is so coherently musical from the word go. Give it to all your friends for Christmas: this is contextual Bach at its very best.'
more >>
The Irish Times
4 Stars
'The scene is set for music-making that's lucid and festive, captured in sound that's both intimate and full. A spirited Christmas celebration with a difference.'
more >>
Classic FM 'Chart'
'superb'
more >>
BBC Radio 3 'CD Review'
Disc of the Week: '...director John Butt reconstructs for us the kind of sounds you might have heard when Bach celebrated his first Christmas day vespers in Leipzig in 1723…It’s an absolute joy.'
more >>
The Scotsman
5 Stars
'...yet another astonishing triumph...the musicianship is exquisite; the emotional impact is immediate. This is world class.'
more >>
The Observer
5 Stars
'Another bull's-eye hit from John Butt's Dunedin Consort...brilliantly done.'
more >>
HR Audio
5 Stars
'In all respects this is one of the most enjoyable releases that I have encountered this year and cannot recommend too highly.'
more >>
MusicWeb International
Recording of the Month: 'This is one of the most enjoyable and stimulating Bach discs to have come my way...The performance standards are uniformly excellent and the music is life-enhancing.'
more >>
McAlister Matheson Music
'Look no further for this year’s essential Christmas disc!'
more >>
AllMusic
'The music is splendidly recorded at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh, and the end result is a Bach performance that is original in concept and satisfying in details.'
more >>

Dunedin Consort - J.S. Bach: Magnificat - Europadisc


16 October 2015
Europadisc

The Dunedin Consort's ongoing traversal of Bach's major choral works reaches Christmas in this latest release on the Linn label. Alongside the early, E flat major Christmas version of the Magnificat (complete with four seasonal interpolations) it presents not only the joyous Christmas cantata Christen, ätzet diesen Tag, BWV 63, but a selection of organ appropriate chorale preludes, congregational hymns and an introductory double-choir motet by Giovanni Gabrieli. The result is a model of richly contextualised music-making to match the Dunedin's earlier recording of Bach's St John Passion, which proved such a critical success.

The extra items serve not just to frame the two main works, setting off their brilliant scoring, but also to affect the shape and rhythm of the whole event: an abridged re-creation (no sermon!) of the Vespers service on Bach's first Christmas Day in Leipzig (1723). The cantata dates back to his Weimar years, but its scoring (including no fewer than four trumpets, the most he ever used) was clearly chosen to impress his new employers. So too was the scarcely less opulent yet remarkably concentrated Magnificat setting (probably composed for the Feast of the Visitation on 2 July 1723). In both these works, Butt and his musicians combine an earthy exuberance (trumpets and drums gloriously forthright) with some beautifully sensitive and ethereal singing and playing. With no more than two voices per part in the choruses, the upper voices combine tonal purity with a tasteful degree of passion, while the male voices add a particular pungency.

Standout moments in the cantata include the first recitative, with rapt strings accompanying alto Clare Wilkinson's superbly pointed declamation; the first duet, an Adagio in which soprano and bass (Joanne Lunn and Matthew Brook) weave an expressive braid with Alex Bellamy's sinuous oboe solo; the dance-like second duet, and bustling concluding chorus.

In the Magnificat, alert listeners will notice the many, often subtle differences between this E flat version and the more familiar D major score. With recorders instead of the D major's flutes, this version has a more 'grounded' feel, and the Dunedin Consort make the strongest possible case for it. Solos (vocal and instrumental) are outstanding, and tenor Nicholas Mulroy really comes into his own in an imperious account of 'Deposuit potentes'. Throughout, Butt keeps the momentum flowing, not just within but between movements, so that the four Christmas inserts feel thoroughly integrated into the overall scheme.

Most of the organ preludes are taken from Bach's Orgelbüchlein, and are jewels in their own right; here they not only serve to enhance the hymns they introduce, but benefit hugely in turn from being heard in liturgical context. They, like the Magnificat fugue, BWV 733, which makes a superb curtain-raiser for the Magnificat itself, are performed on the Peter Collins organ of Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, with John Butt and Stephen Farr sharing duties at the console.

The Gabrieli motet makes a splendid opening item, and the Dunedin singers are joined by fifty or so 'extras' in the congregational chorales, which are accompanied in the highly idiosyncratic style that bach is known to have employed.

The whole project is underpinned by Butt's customary combination of sound scholarship and inspired musicianship, and Linn's excellently focused recording is of demonstration quality. With four extra tracks (including a blessing with harmonised response) available from the Linn website for further context, this is an enormously satisfying and enjoyable disc, reinforcing yet again the Dunedin Consort's enviable reputation in this repertoire.     
Bookmark and Share


Related Links

Dunedin ConsortDunedin Consort
John ButtJohn Butt
J.S. Bach: Magnificat & Christmas CantataJ.S. Bach: Magnificat & Christmas Cantata
J.S. Bach: Magnificat & Christmas Cantata (Digital Deluxe Version)J.S. Bach: Magnificat & Christmas Cantata (Digital Deluxe Version)