Related Reviews
Herald Scotland
'...there us a real sense of shared ownership from every gutsy, exuberant player...Butt's academic authority reveals some fascinating relationships and instrumental colours...'
more >>
MusicWeb International
'If you love these works, you'll be entranced by the excellent quality of the Dunedin Consort and the warm listening experience.'
more >>
Hi-Fi News
Album Choice: ‘…this is one of the most stimulating sets of the Brandenburgs we have had…’
more >>
Audio Video Club of Atlanta
'... an ideal choice for this bold venture...'
more >>
International Record Review
'... refreshing and illuminating...rich-hued, generous readings...'
more >>
The Classical Ear
'... beguiling, ear-catching instrumental colourings...'
more >>
MusicWeb International
'another winner... [the] performances and recording [are] first-rate...'
more >>
The Sunday Times
‘The results are most compelling…’
more >>
BBC Radio 3 'CD Review'
‘Simon Heighes, I think we need this, don’t we? We do. We really do. And Linn Records’ recording is splendid. I mean really beautifully, beautifully translucent almost.’ BBC Radio 3 ‘CD Review’
more >>
Bangkok Post
‘The sound of the Studio Master recordings is absolutely spectacular, with the presence of the instruments almost tangible. As a set of performances, Dunedin's versions are a good first choice.’
more >>
My Classical Notes
5 Stars
'...perfectly balanced...'
more >>
The Sunday Herald Scotland
'Crisp, freshly thought and very carefully realised without loss of apparent spontaneity...'
more >>
AllMusic.com
5 Stars
‘…the marvelous depth of field and richness of the sonorities make it well worth purchasing.’
more >>
BBC Music Magazine
5 Stars
'Melodic ideas are beautifully punctuated and phrased, vibrato is used strictly ornamentally, and tempos strike my sensibilities as pretty well ideal.'
more >>
The Guardian
5 Stars
'...a profoundly expressive study in texture and articulation, with the string lines effortlessly and naturally interlaced.'
more >>
BBC Radio 3: CD Review
'... intimate, measured and yet always joyful...'
more >>
Classic FM Radio 'Drive'
‘Their version of the Brandenburgs is, as could be expected, insightful, lithe and crisp, full of dancing rhythms.’
more >>
Classic FM
Featured Album: '...insightful, lithe and crisp, full of dancing rhythms.'
more >>

Dunedin Consort - J.S. Bach: Six Brandenburg Concertos - Gramophone


10 October 2013
Gramophone
David Vickers

Gramophone Choice

Expertly stylish recordings of the six concertos Bach presented in neat copy to the Margrave of Brandenburg in March 1721 are two-a-penny but the Dunedin Consort offer more substantial style and bona fide expertise than most. John Butt's essay is an accessible commentary, narrated with a friendly authority that bespeaks his extensive academic and performing experience. Several choices reveal sincere reflection about how Bach might have expected such concertos to be played during his years of service at Cöthen, such as the use of low ‘Cammerton' pitch (A=392) and Werkmeister 111 temperament, and a decision to tune the viola da gamba and violone grosso to ‘Chorton' (ie up a third) in order to better exploit the sonorities of open strings. None of those principles would be quite so valuable if the music-making wasn't charismatic and refreshing. About half of the revolving team of 20 have participated in high-profile recordings before but the Dunedin players forge their own identity and capture what Butt praises as ‘carefree, joyous and spontaneous works'.


The pair of horns and three oboes in the opening of Concerto No 1 offer unforced conversational sparkle and the French-style fourth movement is an eloquent courtly dance (particularly the poignant trio for oboes and bassoon and compassionate strings in the Polacca). In Concerto No. 2 the cocertante quartet of David Blackadder (trumpet), Pamela Thorby (recorder), Alexandra Bellamy (oboe) and Cecelia Bernardini (violin) play with an airy fluidity, with graceful natural trumpet leaving room for recorder and oboe in the limelight.

The nine-part strings in the dazzling finale of Concerto No. 3 (which Butt takes at quite a lick) suggest the extravagant flair of Vivaldi's L'estro armonico. The final Presto of Concerto No. 4 is just one example of Bernardini's articulate bowing and relaxed phrasing in rapid passages, and cellist Jonathan Manson and harpsichordist Butt provide continuo with characterful joie de vivre. Butt plays a modern replica of a large Mietke harpsichord like one purchased by the Cöthen court in 1719 and his flexible performance of Bach's cadenza in Concerto No. 5 has a rare extemporised atmosphere of exuberant fun, the amusement of the orchestra is almost tangible in the closing ritornello. In contrast, the lower strings convey sublime melancholy in the 'Adagio ma non tanto' of Concerto No. 6.
Notwithstanding the distinguished Brandenburg discography, this set is nothing short of sensational.


Bookmark and Share


Related Links

Dunedin ConsortDunedin Consort
J.S. Bach: Six Brandenburg ConcertosJ.S. Bach: Six Brandenburg Concertos