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Acis & Galatea - Review Perthshire Advertiser

08 October 2014

Ian Stuart-Hunter
 
St John's Kirk, Perth - 19 Sept 2014
 
Perth performances by the Dunedin Consort under their inspiring Director John Butt have always excelled, but their Friday performance of Handel’s pastoral Acis and Galatea topped this. As John Butt said in his witty introduction: only two things happen in this piece: an hour and a quarter in Acis is flattened by a rock then quarter of an hour later he is turned into a fountain. The End.
 
Acis and Galatea is criticized as a procession of da capo arias, an A section, a shorter contrasting B section, then A is repeated. A recipe for boredom? Not when the repeated section is given such inventive ornamentation as done by all of the singers.
 
There was too a great deal of musical quality and delight in the 90 minutes. This started with a lively reading of the bustling Overture, John Butt standing at the harpsichord as the presiding genius, beaming and gesticulating inspiration to the players. A particular pleasure was Frances Norbury in both solo oboe and solo sopranino obligati.
 
The five soloists had powerful and exciting depth of sound in the opening chorus The Pleasures of the Plains. Joanne Lunn entered as the nymph Galatea, then the first of the bird imitations from the recorder. Accuracy, beauty of tone, dynamic range, clarity of diction all played a convincing part. 

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Acis & Galatea - Review Herald

23 September 2014

Kate Molleson *****

Dunbar Parish Church - Lammermuir Festival - 21 Sept 2014

Don't let anyone tell you Acis and Galatea is too vapid for decent drama, nor that an opera in concert performance can't be properly entertaining. What little plot there is to Handel's 1718 pastoral mini-opera involves a nymph, a shepherd and an evil monster, all lifted from book eight of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Usually a performance is worth sitting through for its gorgeous music alone: this concise little two-acter contains some of Handel's most irresistible tunes.

Full Review

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Acis & Galatea - Review Bachtrack

23 September 2014

Alan Coady ****

Dunbar Parish Church - Lammermuir Festival - 21 Sept 2014

The brisk Sinfonia suggested an energetic, committed performance. Control of dynamics was literally vital, moments of sudden quiet allowing further urgent build up. [...]

What I loved in this closing performance of the fifth Lammermuir Festival, was that everyone looked delighted to be taking part. When not actively involved the singers and musicians seemed genuinely to be enjoying the contribution of others as much as we were.

Full Review

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St John Passion - Review Perthshire Adver

16 April 2014

Ian Stuart-Hunter
 
St John's Kirk, Perth - 16 April 2014
 
The hottest ticket in Perth was one for the Dunedin Consort’s performance of J.S.Bach’s St John Passion. Even before the doors of St John’s Kirk had opened there were more than eighty people waiting to get in and well before the start main aisle and transepts were filled. With the leadership both academic and enthusiastic of John Butt, the Dunedin Consort are not only Scotland’s leading authenticist group, they fill everything with vitality. 
 
So it was that nearly a year and a month after they had last performed their liturgical reconstruction of Bach’s Johannes-Passion, they were back in Perth doing the same piece of historical revivification. Yet it wasn’t – it was totally new and equally alive. 
 
A big change was the hugely more dramatic element, coming over most obviously in the way tenor Thomas Walker viewed his major part as Evangelist. Right from the start he was brilliant at colouring: you felt the word ‘verriet’ (betrayed) from his very first recitative, and ‘verleugnete’ from Peter denying Christ. Though enlivening the recitatives this became a little too much in his Arias. Under John Butt’s direction the Trial Scene of Part Two had tremendous sweep and was more vitally wild and dramatic than any opera. 
 
Equally excellent and a foil to this was the expressive calm and gravity of  bass Jonathan Sells, starting as a youthful and vulnerable Jesus, developing in stature.
 
The musicians of the Dunedin Consort played their dramatic part, too: baleful wind giving an air of urgency and doom to the opening, with soloists and ripienists giving drive to the opening chorus, their eight voices having focus and power. As soloists in the obligato instruments for Arias flutes, oboes, oboe d’amore and two violinists all played peerlessly.
 
A minor element, which did not work, was seeding the audience with people to join in with some of the chorales. There was a tentative start with mumbled school assembly singing, and a few confidently out of tune singers, spoiling these parts of the Passion where the audience is meant to feel at home with the work.
 
Soprano Joanne Lunn was an object lesson in beautiful and expressive singing: ‘freudig’ (joyfully) giving a lift to Ich folge dir gleichfalls, countering in Zerfließe, mein Herze with a voice that spoke purely and directly of pain. Margot Oitzinger’s warm alto was distinctive in Von den Stricken, with good ornamentation in the da capo, and the sustained tone of despair in Es ist vollbracht with its sudden change to triumph.
 
Overall, it was indeed a triumph: a magnificent performance of a great piece, done with thoroughness of research, brought to vivid life by performers of conviction and ability.    

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Brandenburg Concertos - Review Music Web International

10 December 2013

'If you love these works, you'll be entranced by the excellent quality of the Dunedin Consort and the warm listening experience'

Full Review

Kirk McElhearn

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The Arts Desk - Bach Brandenburg Concertos Review

25 October 2013

Butt's impeccably prepared Bach tastes more like a warming bowl of chocolate

Full Review

by Graham Rickson 

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Bangkok Post - Brandenburg Concertos Review

04 October 2013

[High Resolution Download Version Review]

You say that, as a classical collector, there are at least 74 recordings that you need to buy before investing in yet another version of Bach's Brandenburg Concertos? That you already have a version of choice (possibly Alessandrini's or Gardiner's most recent account), or maybe several, that aren't likely to be superseded in your affections any time soon?  Listen to a few excerpts from this set on the Linn Records website and you may decide that there is still room on your culture shelf for one more set. 
 
[...]
 
But the sound of the Studio Master recordings is absolutely spectacular, with the presence of the instruments almost tangible. 
 
Ung-Aang Talay for the Bangkok Post
 

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BBC Music Magazine - Six Brandenburg Concertos *****

01 October 2013

'Melodic ideas are beautifully punctuated and phrased, vibrato is used strictly ornamentally, and tempos strike my sensibilities as pretty well ideal.'

"it is the sixth concerto, though, that has stolen my heart with its ravishing viola playing, intimately expressive second movement and lightly, crisply bowed finale."

Nicholas Anderson

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BBC Radio 3 - CD Review - Brandenburgs

01 October 2013

‘…after the timeless, instrumental brilliance of Johann Sebastian Bach. And following their critically acclaimed recording of the John Passion earlier this year, the Dunedin Consort has turned to the Brandenburg Concertos.’

‘I found that to be a beautifully balanced performance that works in a way that works across all six sets of Brandenburgs in this new set from the Dunedin Consort directed by John Butt. They weren’t going for the extreme tempos as some of the Baroque specialists who’ve recorded them in recent years. The soloists are excellent and well integrated with the rest of the ensemble so they weave in and out instead of standing forward for the whole thing, even the trumpeter in the second concerto, David Blackadder.  Decoration is sensitively applied.  The recording itself is rich, detailed and has impressive depth in the bass; it’s a really nice feeling. If you’ve found the impetuous pace of some ensembles a little over the top, then this intimate, measured and yet always joyful appraisal of the Brandenburgs ought to work as a real refresher.’

Andrew McGregor

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Gramophone - Editor's Choice - Six Brandenburg Concertos

30 September 2013

Notwhithstanding the distinguished Brandenburg discography, this set is nothing short of sensational.

David Vickers.

Awards Issue 2013

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