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Kultur Port
'Clear, transparent, and not just for the Christmas holidays.'
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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''
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KMT
”Helt naturligt blev den nyligen släppta friskt glänsande inspelningen...strålande solistprestationer som i Juloratoriet i en ljuvlig återgivning av Juldagens.”
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Fanfare
'The Magnificat is equally magnificent.'
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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.'
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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.'
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The Herald Scotland
Top 10 Scottish Classical Albums of 2015: #1 spot
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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.'
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BBC Radio 3 ‘CD Review’
'A Bach recording that's going to make the air vibrate with joy...a splendid recording.'
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The Sunday Times
'His quintet of soloists are brilliant illusionists, sounding like a crowd in Omnes generationes.'
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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.'
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Sydsvenskan
'John Butt gör en finkänslig och rörlig rekonstruktion av J S Bachs magnifika vesper.'
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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.'
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Pizzicato
Supersonic Award: ,,Den Aufnahmetechnikern ist ein Meisterstück gelungen...Unser Tipp für die Feiertage!''
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The Herald Scotland
Top 20 Classical Recordings for 2015: 'Hard to imagine a classier Christmas album.'
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YLE Klassinen
'Sekä Magnificat että joulukantaatti ovat säihkyvän jouluisia teoksia, joissa trumpetit raikaavat ja patarummut jylisevät. Toki sijansa saa myös hempeä joulutunteilu.'
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Iowa Public Radio
Flavorful Picks from 2015: 'Linn's recorded sound is rich, glowing, natural, and clear.'
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Ouverture - Das Klassik-Blog
'...I have rarely heard the Magnificat so impressively performed...'
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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.'
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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.'
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BBC Music Magazine
5 Stars
Choral & Song Choice: 'What follows is a holistically conceived, beautifully paced, exhilaratingly executed performance.'
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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.''
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MusicWeb International
Recording of the Month: 'Top of my 2015 Christmas list: outshines just about every other recording of the Magnificat and the cantata.'
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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.'
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BBC Radio 3 ‘In Tune’
'It’s wondrous music.'
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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.''
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Classical CD Choice
'Quite possibly the most persuasive version of Bach's Magnificat you are likely to hear in modern times.'
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PS Audio
Classical Gifts of 2015: 'Hands down, my first choice this year...'
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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.'
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Andrew Everard
'standout'
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Merry and Bright Blog
'an excellent record'
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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.'
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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.'
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Classic FM 'Chart'
'superb'
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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.'
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The Scotsman
5 Stars
'...yet another astonishing triumph...the musicianship is exquisite; the emotional impact is immediate. This is world class.'
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Europadisc
'Butt and his musicians combine an earthy exuberance with some beautifully sensitive and ethereal singing and playing...this is an enormously satisfying and enjoyable disc, reinforcing yet again the Dunedin Consort's enviable reputation in this repertoire.'
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The Observer
5 Stars
'Another bull's-eye hit from John Butt's Dunedin Consort...brilliantly done.'
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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.'
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McAlister Matheson Music
'Look no further for this year’s essential Christmas disc!'
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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.'
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Dunedin Consort - J.S. Bach: Magnificat - HR Audio


09 October 2015
HR Audio
Graham Williams
5 Stars

John Butt could fairly be described as a true Renaissance man in the world of period performances. Conductor, organist, harpsichordist, educator, pioneering researcher and scholar, he and the Edinburgh based group, the Dunedin Consort, that he directs have extended and enriched our understanding of many masterpieces of the Baroque repertoire. His award winning recordings of Bach, Handel and Mozart choral and instrumental works have been revelatory for many in the way that they contextualise familiar works in order to present them in a new light.

On this superb new release Bach's 'Magnificat' BWV 243a and Cantata 'Christen, ätzet diesen Tag' BWV 63 are placed within a reconstruction of the composer's first Christmas Vespers given in the Nikolaikirche, Leipzig on 25th December 1723 - a fascinating and brilliantly executed concept.

The disc begins with the Giovanni Gabrieli Motet 'Hodie Christus natus est' for eight voices arranged in two separate choirs. The eight singers of the Dunedin Consort deliver it with their usual excellent intonation and clear diction over a firm organ accompaniment. This is followed by the brief Organ Prelude 'Gott, durch deine Güte' BWV600 played by John Butt, who also performs three more of these Preludes during the course of the Vespers.

The opening chorus of the Christmas Cantata, a work composed around 1713-15 almost ten years before Bach reached Leipzig, then bursts forth joyously with its magnificent use of four trumpets (the only time Bach used this number) three oboes and drums. The exquisite singing of the contemplative aria 'Gott, du hast es wohl gefüget' with its meltingly beautiful obbligato oboe is one of the many highlights of this performance, but every member of the Dunedin Consort acquit themselves with the utmost distinction. The uplifting final chorus punctuated again with celebratory trumpets and drums brings this most exhilarating performance to a triumphant close.

Between two further Organ Preludes (BWV606 and BWV733) that evidence the power and quality of sound obtainable from the fine 1990 Peter Collins instrument in the Greyfriars Kirk, the soloists of the Dunedin Consort are joined by an additional fifty-five singers for the singing of the Congregational Chorale 'Vom Himmel hoch', and what a thrilling sound they make!

We now reach Bach's 'Magnificat' BWV243a which is performed here in its original version of 1723 not the more familiar one that the composer made ten years later. John Butt in the accompanying notes cogently outlines the many differences (especially in instrumentation) between the two versions, the most obvious being the transposition down from E flat to D major in the 1733 version. Equally striking is the interpolation of four 'Laudes' at various points in the work. These are settings of seasonal hymns that outline the Christmas story and are an apt addition to the performance. The 'Magnificat' BWV 243 is familiar as one of Bach's most dramatic and exuberant creations, but the Dunedin's fresh and rhythmically buoyant account of the earlier version given here is quite special and certainly deserves wider dissemination. A final Organ Prelude BWV603 is followed by a rousing account of the second Congregational Chorale 'Puer natus in Bethlehem' to complete this inspiring Vespers recording.

Greyfriars Kirk seems to provide the perfect acoustic setting for this marvellous release, and the engineering by Philip Hobbs is exemplary. The multi-channel recording conveys a beautifully clear and well balanced sound picture that allows the many antiphonal effects to be experienced to the full. The scale of the large choruses and as well as the more intimate sections of both the 'Magnificat' and the 'Cantata' are vividly captured in demonstration worthy sound.

This being Linn we are assured of quality liner notes, here provided by John Butt, and full texts and translations are also included. In all respects this is one of the most enjoyable releases that I have encountered this year and cannot recommend too highly. Definitely a disc to put right at the top of your Christmas shopping list.


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Related Links

Dunedin ConsortDunedin Consort
John ButtJohn Butt
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