Dunedin Consort - J.S. Bach: Christmas Oratorio - Fanfare

John Butt is giving me a hard time. He is one of the more prominent proponents of choirless Bach performance; I remain a skeptic. That’s a problem, but the larger problem, if you can call it that, is that his recordings are so darned good. This is no exception. One cannot listen to it without reacting to its dance-like energy and sensing the infectious joy of the Christmas season. I miss the choral sound, but Butt’s singers are splendid throughout. Butt’s note concedes that Bach probably used ripieno singers in the Christmas Oratorio, and he does so judiciously here, employing eight singers. I didn’t list their names in the headnote, but I will do so here (soloists first): sopranos Mary Bevan and Joann Lunn, mezzos Clare Wilkinson and Clara Hendrick, tenors Nicholas Mullroy and Thomas Hobbs, and basses Matthew Brook and Konstantin Wolff. Congratulations to one and all and to the instrumental players of the Dunedin Consort, who are, as always, exemplary. But congratulations especially to Maestro Butt, who makes it ever harder for me to maintain my skepticism. He hasn’t done it yet, but he earns my heartiest recommendation for this latest attempt. 

24 March 2017