Related Reviews
Toccata
'...a lovely interpretation.'
more >>
Classic FM
Classic FM's 20 Best Classical Albums of 2016: 'John Butt and his Edinburgh-based Dunedin Consort play Bach’s music brilliantly, and with Cecilia Bernadini as soloist, their reputation is further enhanced.'
more >>
Concerto
'It is rare to hear a violin in the upper range so golden, in the lower range so dark, almost earthy, and yet always balanced and capable of any desired shade.'
more >>
Limelight Magazine
4½ Stars
'The Grammy-nominated Dunedin Consort is supportive and exuberant accompanying allows Bach's lyricism and wit to sparkle.'
more >>
Fanfare
'They give a joyous performance...'
more >>
The Strad
'Bernardini offers proficient, well-articulated readings of Bach's two solo violin concertos, her buoyant, small-scale orchestral accompaniment spawning light, spruce textures in the outer movements and making inner detail clearly audible.'
more >>
Pizzicato
„Dies ist eine exzellente Bach-CD, der es an nichts mangelt.“
more >>
AllMusic
4½ Stars
'In [Bernardini's] playing you get the virtuoso energy of the contemporary Italian school without the hard edge, and there is a sense of play in her music-making that one senses Bach would have loved...Highly recommended.
more >>
Classical Music
5 Stars
'The Dunedin Consort's Dutch-Italian leader steps into the limelight for fresh, scrupulously-detailed accounts of the two solo concertos and the double concerto.'
more >>
Netherlands Radio 4
„CD van de Week” / ”CD of the Week”: „Hun nieuwste opname van Bachs betroemde Vioolconcerten is weer een schot in de roos. De concurrentie is groot bij deze werken maar deze cd valt op als een van de betere uit de catalogus.”
more >>
BBC Radio 3 ‘Record Review’
'Virtual Wallet' Choice by Kate Molleson: 'I love it!'
more >>
Der Neue Merker
'The soloists have both technical mastery, virtuosity and musicality...a recommendation for lovers of audiophile recordings.'
more >>
McAlister Matheson Music
'This is music-making of the highest order, vividly captured by Linn's sound engineers.'
more >>
Audio Video Club of Atlanta
'In one of the most beautiful-sounding releases Linn has ever given us...'
more >>
Gramophone
'This new disc of Bach concertos has attributes we have come to expect from the Dunedin Consort and Linn, namely neat, stylish and uncomplicated performances in a recording of beautifully judged clarity and resonance.'
more >>
BBC Music Magazine
4 Stars
'Violinist Cecilia Bernardini's bowing is both fluid and crisply detailed in the opening and closing movements of the E major Concerto (BWV 1042). The outer movements of the A minor Concerto (BWV 1041) benefit from her precision and clarity, with intelligent use of dynamics and an ear for the expressive potential of repetition and variation.'
more >>
Daily Mail
4 Stars
Classical Album of the Week
more >>
MusicWeb International
'I very much enjoyed hearing [Bernardini's] contribution to this recording and I need hardly add that she receives first-rate support from John Butt and the other members of the Consort.'
more >>
The Herald Scotland
Interview with Cecilia: '...superb new Dunedin recording of Bach's violin concertos released last week on Linn Records. Her playing is warm and original, lightly virtuosity and deeply musical, healthily eccentric. She digs into her fiddle with an earthy, organic sort of lyricism and a playful conversational spark that has bags of charisma...'
more >>
Classic FM
Album of the Week: 'Two of Bach's solo violin concertos, overflow with intricate and pin sharp detail and the famous, sublime slow movement of Bach's Double Concerto has never been more heartrending.'
more >>
BBC Radio 3 ‘Record Review’
'This recording has elegance at its heart with Bernardini showing a nice feel for the dynamic contrasts and varied repetitions in the A minor and E major concertos. Two of the highlights are when she is joined by her father, the baroque oboist Alfredo Bernardini, for the C minor Concerto for violin and oboe, and as an extra treat the Sinfonia from Bach’s Cantata No. 21.’
more >>
The Guardian
5 Stars
'There are so many things to marvel at: her husky, shapely tone, her earthy way with rhythm, how she tugs playfully the top of phrases, her ability to dart in and out of ensemble textures and make the whole thing so joyously convivial.'
more >>
Andrew Benson-Wilson Reviews
'This is a spectacular CD from the ever excellent Dunedin Consort and their leader, violinist Cecilia Bernardini, this time in a solo role.'
more >>
Early Music Review
5 Stars
'This is a fabulous recording of some of my favourite music; I have yet to hear a recording by John Butt that is not utterly convincing; with his Dunedins, he has struck gold once again – this goes straight to the top of my pile for rainy days when I need cheering up!'
more >>

Dunedin Consort - J.S. Bach: Violin Concertos - MusicWeb International


01 May 2016
MusicWeb International
Dave Billinge

Recordings of Bach's violin concertos appear with great regularity. The problem for the marketing men is how to fill the disc up to a saleable length. There are only three surviving concertos for violin, the E major, A minor and the Double Concerto in D minor. This disc from Linn adds the Concerto BWV1060R (R means 'reconstruction') which, though only coming down to us in a version for two harpsichords, has for a long time been accepted as being originally for oboe and violin, as played here. Linn also give us a more unusual choice, the short opening Sinfonia from Cantata No.21 which features the oboe. The notes go into some detail about the cantatas as the source for several instrumental pieces now better known as 'concerto movements'. The soloists and ripieno group going under the name of the Orchestra of the Dunedin Consort are all well established musicians with first rate international credentials. It is one of the joys of attending a baroque concert that one recognises a lot of the participants having seen them elsewhere with other groups. The range of experience on offer here explains why one can simply recommend this disc unreservedly on all musical fronts. These are beautiful and lively performances second to none. If this particular set of musicians has to be characterised it is their sense of being a performing group. The soloists are simply the players with the solo line; they are never celebrities as would have been the case in earlier decades when such as Isaac Stern stood in front of a top-name orchestra as a star soloist. As a convinced listener to period performances this ensemble playing is the characteristic that makes the disc special. One feels as if one is eavesdropping on a private jam session. It would be misleading to suggest that any one performance is 'the best'. Cecilia Bernardini and her father, baroque oboist Alfredo Bernardini sound like musicians among musician friends. Some of the publicity speaks of Cecilia revelling in the spotlight as soloist. Thankfully there is none of that.

The recording sounds close-miked and as a result the high harmonics are more prominent than they would have been at a more typical concert-seat distance. I did not get much sense of a space as large as that of Greyfriars Kirk. This does contribute to clarity of detail and certainly these musicians can withstand the close inspection. The harpsichord is clear in a way it never is from an audience seat. I still suspect that the harpsichord is there to help the musicians stay together because in my local churches that are used for baroque performances it is almost inaudible even from the front pews. Linn engineer Philip Hobbs writes at length about the complexities of recording in this church with this group when making their recording of the St John Passion in 2013. I was amused to note, after I wrote the words above, that Philip says, "They're quite hard to spot-mic, harpsichords. They're either too close or too far away!" He also talks about aspects of microphone placement that go a long way to explain why the present recording sounds as it does. I believe recordings are not a representation of concert hall reality but a balance for home listening and in that situation this one is very informative.

Bookmark and Share


Related Links

Cecilia BernardiniCecilia Bernardini
Dunedin ConsortDunedin Consort
John ButtJohn Butt
J.S. Bach: Violin ConcertosJ.S. Bach: Violin Concertos