Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — Gramophone Review

Richard Wigmore, Gramphone

[Carolyn Sampson’s] poised, invariably graceful contributions are among the disc’s prime pleasures: from her radiant sense of wonder in the sarabande aria ‘What passion cannot music raise and quell!’, in dialogue with Jonathan Manson’s musingly eloquent cello; through the wistful ‘The soft complaining flute’, where Sampson veils her naturally bright tone (a word, too, for Katy Bircher’s poetic flute-playing); to the scintillating coloratura of her final hornpipe aria…

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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — AllMusic Review

All Music by Blair Sanderson

Such sunny numbers as the chorus, ‘From Harmony’, the tenor’s martial aria, ‘The Trumpet’s Loud Clangour’, and the famous March, with its popular trumpet solo, give a clear indication of the predominantly joyous nature of the Ode. The Concerto Grosso in A minor, Op. 6, No. 4, also composed in 1739, is an elegant filler piece that rounds out the disc, and emulates Handel’s inclusion of concertos and other music in the first performance of the Ode. Linn Records provides a robust and rich sound, and the forward placement of the musicians gives them remarkable presence in this 2018 release.

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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — Financial Times Review

The Financial Times

Soprano Carolyn Sampson and tenor Ian Bostridge are engaging soloists, Sampson sounding especially luminous. The Polish Radio Choir sings Dryden’s text with impressive clarity and the Dunedin Consort shines in the solo opportunities for cello, trumpet, flute and organ with which Handel hymns music’s sacred spheres.

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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — Presto Classical Editor’s Choice

Presto Classical, Editor’s Choice

Augmented by the Polish Radio Choir, this full-blooded reading of Handel’s great hymn to the patron saint of music plays out on a larger scale than we’re perhaps used to from Butt and his Dunedin forces, to powerful and frequently moving effect: there’s a sardonic glint behind Bostridge’s apparent paeon to the bellicose effects of martial music, whilst Sampson provides balm with a beautifully fluid account of ‘What passion cannot music raise and quell!’.

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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — The Sunday Times Review

The Sunday Times, 11 November 2018

Written to celebrate the patron saint of music on November 22, 1739, the Ode for St Cecilia’s Day contains some of Handel’s most affecting work, turning his attentions verse by verse to a particular instrument. Butt’s reading with the Dunedins and the Polish choir has irresistible sweetness, with the tenor Ian Bostridge and the soprano Carolyn Sampson on top form.

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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — Classical Source Review

Classical Source ★★★★

The Dunedin Consort’s interpretation of Handel’s Ode (setting words by John Dryden that revel in the role of music within the cosmic order) brings the work to life with enthusiasm, charm, and wit…

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Armonico Tributo (Kendal) — Westmorland Gazette

Westmorland Gazette, 22 October 2018

Movements from [Muffat’s] Armonico Tributo were striking in the range of tempi, instrumental colours and dynamics. The consort played with obvious affection for this music and, particularly in the final passacaglia, demonstrated virtuosic technique.

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Armonico Tributo (Glasgow) — The Herald

The Herald, 22 October 2018
★★★★

The finest compositions of the concert, perhaps unsurprisingly, were by Heinrich Biber. Truscott revelled in the menagerie of animal impressions that is his Sonata Representativa, with cellist Jonathan Manson assisting in the portrayal of birds, frogs and cats – a gentler side to his better-known Battalia pictorialism.

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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — The Observer

The Observer

…one of the greatest moments in all of Handel, superbly realised by Carolyn Sampson and the Dunedin Consort under John Butt, working here with the Polish Radio Choir. Ian Bostridge adds his plangent imagination to Dryden’s vivid conjuring of music as the power that raises chaos into harmony, while Sampson’s “What passion cannot music raise and quell” is vividly touching.

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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — The Scotsman

The Scotsman ★★★★★

Here is a performance that draws every ounce of emotive symbolism and sublime inference from Handel’s poetically refined score. It features John Butt’s excitingly precise Dunedin Consort, whose instrumentalists are idiomatically stylish to the last

…Yet another Baroque tour de force from Butt, who has a simple knack of turning highly informed intelligence and curiosity into performances fired by spontaneous combustion.

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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — The Herald

The Herald

The work packs a powerful punch in these hands, and nowhere more so than when Bostridge combines with the chorus in the aria hymning “the double, double, double beat/Of the thund’ring drum”.

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Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day — Europadisc Review

Europadisc

The eight singers of the Dunedin Consort are reinforced by the twenty members of the excellent Polish Radio Choir, giving the choruses (particularly the exultant closing stanza) plenty of force combined with stylishness and clarity of enunciation. With starring roles for solo cello, trumpet, flute, lute and organ, the Dunedin instrumentalists are at the peak of their form…

Butt’s customarily erudite and detailed notes, and an exceptionally fine recording from Kraków’s Krzysztof Penderecki Hall all add up to make this an unmissable recording. And, with Cecilia-tide fast approaching, what better time to hear it?

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The Musical Offering (Perth Concert Hall) — The Herald

The Herald, 18 September 2018 ★★★★★

The Dunedin Consort’s Musical Offering took the form of a performative lecture by Glasgow University’s Gardiner Professor of Music, telling the story of its composition, pointing out what to listen for, and spicing the journey with some characteristic Butt humour.

I fancy that, although not lacking in a conceit of himself, Frederick II would be astonished to learn that folk were leaving a venue in a distant corner of Europe humming his little tune over 250 years later. But really his contribution to that success was relatively small compared with that of Bach, John Butt, violinists Hue Daniel and Rebecca Livermore, cellist Jonathan Manson, Alison McGillivray on Viola da gamba and the flute, oboe and bassoon of Georgia Browne, Alex Bellamy and Joe Qiu.

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The Musical Offering (Lammermuir Festival) — The Scotsman

The Scotsman, 18 September 2018 ★★★★★

“It was a wonderfully witty yet erudite event, matching brilliantly characterful playing – of the intricate canons and inventions Bach conjured from an awkward theme throw at him by Frederick the Great – with pointed insights from Butt himself.

And it was just the kind of format to bring what Butt described as this ‘arcane mind-music’ dazzlingly alive, as he came up with ever more ingenious ways to demonstrate how Bach went far beyond the King’s initial challenge… Butt’s talk-plus-performance concept was just as playful and insightful as Bach’s music – enormous but entirely serious fun for both mind and heart.

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The Musical Offering (Lammermuir Festival) — Seen and Heard.com

Seen and Heard International, 17 September 2018

Butt is a first-rate communicator, combining the learning of a professor (which he is) with the charisma of a natural presenter. I overheard one audience member saying to another, ‘How did he manage to make the most desiccated piece in the repertoire sound like fun?’!

The musicians sounded predictably delightful, be it in the bouncy strings, the pungent oboe or the limpid flute, but it’s Butt’s explanation that will stick with me the most.

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