Prize-winning Bach specialist John Butt O.B.E. and distinguished violinist Lucy Russell deliver a personal and historically informed performance on J.S. Bach: Sonatas for violin and harpsichord.
The interpretations benefit from Butt and Russell’s combined cumulative experience gained over a lifetime of study, together with an evident rapport honed during their work with Dunedin Consort.
Russell’s performance explores the colours and emotions present in the music as well as highlighting Bach’s good humour and quirkiness.
The duo relish the energetic dialogue and astonishingly diverse moods and characters present in Bach’s music: from the supremely expressive violin ‘voice’ at the opening of the first sonata to the playful rhythmic tricks in the last movement of Sonata No. 4.
Bach’s fiendishly complex fugal writing and typically delicious chromaticism is in evidence throughout these hugely enjoyable works.
Butt’s informative booklets notes highlight the historical significance of these sonatas in which Bach introduces many of the fundamental features of an essentially new genre.
Perhaps best known as director of Dunedin Consort, John Butt has won two Gramophone Awards: the ‘Baroque Vocal’ Award for Handel: Messiah and the ‘Choral’ Award for Mozart: Requiem.
Dunedin’s first instrumental release, J.S. Bach: Six Brandenburg Concertos, saw Butt’s harpsichord solos singled out for their virtuosity and technical skill, whilst his 2014 recording of Bach’s ‘48’ received several five star reviews and ‘Choice’ accolades.
Lucy Russell is among the most distinguished of international violinists who have achieved eminence on both historical instruments and their ‘modern’ counterparts.
Russell became leader of the Fitzwilliam String Quartet in 1995 with whom she has performed all over Europe, North America, the Middle East, and South Africa.
Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata No. 1 for Violin & Harpsichord in B Minor, BWV 1014
Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata No. 2 for Violin & Harpsichord in A Major, BWV 1015
III. Andante un poco
Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata No. 3 for Violin & Harpsichord in E Major, BWV 1016
III. Adagio ma non tanto
Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata No. 4 for Violin & Harpsichord in C Minor, BWV 1017
Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata No. 5 for Violin & Harpsichord in F Minor, BWV 1018
Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata No. 6 for Violin & Harpsichord in G Major, BWV 1019
22nd May 2015
“Butt reigns in his most rambunctious side...but revels in the invention of the contrapuntal lines and fully embraces the keyboard’s emancipation from accompanying role to sparring partner. His woozy rubato might drive some listeners crazy, but I’m all for it; this is playing rooted in bulletproof scholarship, but the scrunchiest harmonies and most roguish dance rhythms always win out.”
“Russell does not attempt to seduce the listener by hiding the 'Baroque' nature of her violin, which is slightly wiry, even acidic on occasion, but also clear, in tune (not all her rivals have been!) and always alive...Butt's playing provides alert, clearly articulated and muscular support...These are immensely likeable performances, and a mission accomplished, I would suggest, for Russell.”
“The rapport between Russell and Butt is riveting, and their meeting of musical minds leaves no detail under-characterised…for sheer freshness, insight and life-enhancing joy, this newcomer goes to the top of the class.”
30th August 2015
“Russell’s beautifully polished playing reveals an affecting relish for the music’s searching expressivity, while Butt offers shapely, crisply articulated contributions in his dual role as provider of impetus-giving continuo and — because these are essentially trio sonatas — as second melodist.”
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