Apollo and Daphne — The Herald Review

★★★★
Keith Bruce, The Herald
8 February 2019

The composer’s plundering of Ovid and Petrach is a musical delight, and had the best balance of the musical forces we heard all night, with Katy Bircher’s flute joining the fine performance by oboist Alexandra Bellamy and eleven strings, led by Huw Daniel. 

[T]he challenges of the chapel acoustic were overcome by an ensemble full of fine performances, including some tricky natural horn wrangling and consistently sweetly-toned bassoon from Katrin Lazar.

Read the full review here.

Apollo and Daphne — Seen and Heard Review

The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
Simon Thompson, 6 April 2019
Seen and Heard International

The fizz and crackle of the orchestral writing could only have come from a young genius on the make, and that jumped out of this Dunedin Consort performance, playfully directed from the harpsichord by an exuberant John Butt. The band of players was small (three first and three second violins, two violas and cellos, one bass, with winds) which led to transparent textures and an airy feel. Furthermore, the musical energy of the classical story was buoyed along by some gorgeous obbligati, none more sensuous than the gorgeous flute that accompanied Daphne’s first aria.

The singers [Matthew Brook, bass and Rowan Pierce, soprano] were perfectly chosen, both for their musical strength and their dramatic sensibilities. 

Read the full review here.

Bach Magnificat, Wigmore Hall — The Times Review

Paul Driver, The Times

… a joyous New Year’s Eve of music by Bach from the Dunedin Consort, directed by John Butt.

The original E flat version of the Magnificat in the second half was a captivating unfolding of short but vividly characterised choral or solo-voice movements, the Latin contrasting with the German of two of Bach’s four Christmas interpolations, one of them the beautiful Vom Himmel hoch hymn. The vocal soloists, Rachel Redmond, Joanne Lunn, James Laing, Hugo Hymas and Stephan Loges, were all impressive, and the other five Dunedin voices lusty contributors.

The Orchestral Suite No 2 in B minor flaunted the felicitous flute-playing of Katy Bircher; and the Fourth Brandenburg Concerto was ensemble brilliance at its most inventive and scintillating. A happiest time was had by all.

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Beginning of the Revolution — Hunterian Museum, Glasgow — The Herald Review

★★★★
Keith Bruce, The Herald

Its [the music’s] intricacies were in good hands here, starting with the delicious interplay between the viols of Jonathan Manson and Alison McGillivray on a Jenkins’s Pavane and later including a virtuoso and melody-packed sonata by Benedetto Marcello played by Manson. Butt was in his solo element on Kuhnau’s David and Goliath, the Old Testament story depicted in some of the earliest programme music we know.

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Bach Magnificat — Wigmore Hall, London — The Independent Review

★★★★★
Michael Church, The Independent

The Dunedin Consort, under John Butt’s historically-informed direction, gave a typically dazzling performance of Bach at his most ravishing. The second Orchestral Suite and the fourth Brandenberg Concerto, conveyed by just eight players, emerged with all the detail meticulously clear, while each of the eight voices in the motet “Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied” contributed characterfully to that intricate work’s florid exultation.

Read the full review here.

Bach Magnificat — Wigmore Hall, London — The Guardian Review

★★★★★
Tim Ashley, The Guardian

There can’t be many better ways of ringing in 2019 than with the Dunedin Consort performing Bach. Their New Year’s Eve concert, under musical director John Butt, was an evening of reflection and joy…

Wonderful, every second of it.

Read the full review here.

Messiah — Glasgow, City Halls — The Herald Review

★★★★
Keith Bruce, The Herald

An interpretation of Handel’s Messiah that makes the listener aware of both the work’s musical and liturgical sophistication is a special thing, yet that is what the Dunedin Consort routinely achieves under artistic director John Butt. For the award-winning Scottish baroque vocal and instrumental ensemble, Messiah has become their Stairway to Heaven or Bohemian Rhapsody.

Read the full review here.

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.

Read the full review here.