Samson – Editor’s Choice – Gramophone

Martin Cullingford, Gramophone

John Butt really does excel at these explorations of monumental major works; the performance is wonderful, while the level of historical and musical enquiry further enriches our appreciation.

Samson – Critics’ Choice – Gramophone

Richard Wigmore, Gramophone

Today… I’m plumping for Samson: for its superb solo team… its thrillingly immediate choral singing, and the mingled gravitas and theatrical urgency of John Butt’s direction.

Read the full review in the December issue of Gramophone.

Samson – Gramophone Review

Richard Wigmore, Gramophone

This new Samson now becomes the top recommendation: for its uniformly excellent soloists, its excitingly ‘present’ choral singing, and above all, its urgent sense of theatre.

Read the full review in the December issue of Gramophone.

Samson – Critics’ Choice – Gramophone

David Vickers, Gramophone

It is unprecedented for an unabridged Samson to nail its enigmatic challenges… [its] manifold musical details, incremental theatrical tensions, literary subtleties and emotional trajectory…

Read the full review in the December issue of Gramophone.

Samson – Musicweb Review

Simon Thompson, Musicweb

In short, this is superb, the best Handel oratorio I’ve heard in years.

Read the full review here.

Samson – BBC Radio 3 Record Review

Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3

As Samson, Joshua Ellicott navigates the tightrope between opera and oratorio really well … That’s one of the joys of Butt’s new recording, revelling in the dramatic colour of Handel’s imaginative scoring.

Listen to the full review here.

Samson – The Herald Review

Keith Bruce, The Herald

With the Consort’s best instrumentalists in place and Linn Records’ Philip Hobbs producing, this is an immaculate, and hugely important, recording. More prizes assuredly await.

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…

Read the full review here

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.

Read the full review here

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.

Read the full review here

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!’.

Read the full review here

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.

Read the full review here

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…

Read the full review here

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.

Read the full review here

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.

Read the full review here