Related Reviews
Opera News
'A new period-instrument ensemble from London brings verve, precision and spontaneity to a recording of J. S. Bach's Easter and Ascension Oratorios.'
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The Consort
'This particular recording, featuring the Retrospect Ensemble, has a lot to recommend it; especially the technically refined and elegant quality of both the orchestra and the soloists. The choruses are refreshingly crisp and bright, sung in a soloistic manner that I find very appealing.'
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musica Dei donum
'... the closing line of the B section is beautifully sung'.
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The Absolute Sound
'The Retrospect Ensemble's Bach performances are pretty much ideal...'
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Fanfare
'Halls' interpretations are above reproach, and his musicians respond at a very high level. What's not to like? Heartily recommended.'
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Fanfare
'Heartily recommended.'
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OregonLive.com
'...a bright British conductor...'
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Classica
4 Stars
'...le duo meditative de la soprano et flute traversière idéalment assure par Carolyn Sampson et Rachel Brown.'
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tommanoff.com
'...the conductor is an exceptional interpreter of [Purcell's] music.'
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Audiophile Audition
5 Stars
Multichannel Disc of the Month: 'The fact is that there is not a weak link anywhere in this cast...'
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American Record Guide
'...a nicely blended and balanced instrumental group'.
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MusicWeb International
"...the Linn recording is a must."
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Scotland on Sunday
5 Stars
"There is plenty of action and passion in these two, quite different, works..."
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BBC Music Magazine
4 Stars
'...enjoyably relaxed and unselfconscious performances.'
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International Records Review
'...highly impressive playing...'
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Pizzicato
5 Stars
'...superbement interprétées.'
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Audio Video Club of Atlanta
'...the impression is that of heavenly beauty without earthly weight...'
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Gramophone
'The Retrospect Ensemble's orchestral playing and choral singing is of the highest quality...'
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San Francisco Classical Voice
'The soloists are all excellent.'
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McAlister Matheson Music
'top class'
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The Observer
"Matthew Halls directs sprightly singers and accomplished players."
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The Times
4 Stars
"A disc to make your heart leap."
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ResMusica
Clef de ResMusica Award: 'Un premier disque d'un ensemble prometteur, enregistré qui plus est de fort belle manière par Linn Records.'
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AudioVideoHD
'...dirigiendo esta brillante y fresca interpretación de dos de los tres monumentales oratorios de Bach...'
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Early Music Review
'Fielding an excellent group of singers and players, and with soloists of such calibre, this is a landmark Bach recording.'
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The Sunday Times
4 Stars
Classical Record of the Week: "Top-drawer Bach throughout, beautifully recorded and documented by Linn."
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Le Monde
'...la plus belle musicalité...'
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The Scotsman
5 Stars
"Musical highs don't come much better...Conductor Matthew Halls gleans warmth from this wonderful music."
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SA-CD.net
5 Stars
"Retrospect Ensemble simply sparkles in this repertoire...Johann Sebastian himself would give this one not 5 but 10 stars as well."
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Classics Today
5 Stars
'...can boast renditions of Bach's Easter and Ascension oratorios as fine as--or better than--any in the catalog.'
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Musical Pointers
"The recording at St Jude's Church in Hampstead...makes the most of a perfect acoustic."
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Retrospect Ensemble - J.S. Bach Easter and Ascension Oratorios - PS Tracks


11 March 2012
PS Tracks

 

Life is not a race, nor should music be. When it comes to new recordings, it's hard to pick winners; sometimes the best ones need time to grow on you (see Music for a Time of War, above). But if I were to single out one Early Music Winner this quarter, it would undoubtedly be the Retrospect Ensemble's dynamic SACD of the J. S. Bach Easter and Ascension Oratorios (Linn CKD 373). It is simply the most musical realization of these two works I have ever encountered. A signal component of their success is indeed dynamics. Whereas many early-instrument groups (and that includes vocal "instruments") seem to avoid microdynamic phrasing, not to mention the stirring buildups of sonic energy (i.e., crescendi) implicit in much music-even that created before 1750-Retrospect goes for it. Listen to the Sinfonia of the Easter Oratorio:


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