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Sibelius: Symphonies Nos 3, 6 & 7

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos 3, 6 & 7


Sibelius:

Symphony No. 3 in C major, Op. 52

Symphony No. 6 in D minor, Op. 104

Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 105


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The long-awaited final disc in the Sibelius cycle from Minnesota Orchestra and Osmo Vänskä

The first disc in the Sibelius cycle from Osmo Vänskä and Minnesota Orchestra made the reviewer in Gramophone speculate about a 'benchmark cycle for the 21st century' whilst the second instalment received a Grammy for 'Best Orchestral Performance'. The long-awaited final disc in the cycle, with a playing time of 82 minutes, combines the Finnish master's third symphony, completed in 1907, with his two final works in the genre, composed more or less in tandem between 1922 and 1924. Symphony No. 3 in C major is Sibelius's most classical symphony, a radical change in direction after the opulence of its predecessor. It has been claimed that the mastery of form in its first movement is comparable only to the greatest Viennese masters – and at the same time the conductor Koussevitzky, one of the composer's strongest champions, spoke of it as ‘music far in advance of its time’. Fifteen years later, and after the heroic Fifth Symphony, Sibelius again presented a symphony which surprised those admirers who expected more of the same. Sibelius gave Symphony No. 6 a refined modal flavouring, avoiding both virtuoso orchestral writing and massive climaxes, and likened it to an offering of 'pure spring water'. This he followed up immediately with what would become his symphonic swan song – the stern and majestic Seventh Symphony. A one-movement work, it was at first billed as ‘Fantasia sinfonica’ but it is indeed a true symphony, its single movement portraying elements of all four movements of symphonic practice.

“With these recordings, Vanska confirms his status as our greatest living Sibelian. Irreplaceable.” Sunday Times, 10th July 2016

“The orchestra's sound under Vänskä has a kind of sharp-focus richness that's never cloying.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2016

“Despite wonderful brass moments...I think it’s the string playing that impressed me most. Their sound is always remarkable, not least in the Sixth Symphony, where the very opening allows them to show off their enormous dynamic range...Even if you already own Vänskä’s earlier cycle with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, I think that these new performances are simply unmissable. An outstanding achievement in every way.” James Longstaffe, Presto Classical, 29th July 2016

“Vänskä’s Sibelius is all about clarity – of rhythm, of texture, of intention. It is zealously unfussy and entirely without exaggeration. But it can stop you in your tracks...The Third and Sixth Symphonies feel even more closely related than usual...One just knows that the ear-pricking clarity throughout these performances is of Vänskä’s and not the balance engineer’s making.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2016

“The playing is polished and detailed, now springy and buoyant, now occluded and chilling. Tempi are slightly broad but convincingly so. From the plunging energy of the opening of the Third Symphony to the bleak, raw ending of the Seventh, this is a gripping listen.” The Guardian, 17th July 2016 *****

“Outstanding Sibelius performances, outstandingly recorded” MusicWeb International, October 2016

“Vänska crowns his second Sibelius cycle with gripping renditions of the third and last two symphonies.” The Times, December 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

29th July 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Winner

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - September 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - August 2016

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BIS Osmo Vänskä Sibelius Symphonies - BIS2006

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Bach, J S: The Art of Fugue, BWV1080

Bach, J S: The Art of Fugue, BWV1080


Questions about the implied instrumentation are never going to be answered definitively. Certainly, virtually all the cycle is set out in such a way that it can be played on the keyboard, but the open score format of the original invites interpretation from any potential instrumental combination (or, indeed, even just a soundless reading by the highly trained musician). This question immediately leads on to another how are we expected to listen to this music? Are we meant to hear a sequence of virtual events or is it to be one event in a single span of time? Is it perhaps the filling out of contrapuntal and motivic possibilities that are all potentially simultaneous and which only have to be strung out in time to render them humanly perceivable? Much of this suggest that the work implies a sort of cyclic time, experienced from the point of view of eternity - in other words, the sort of time that we might imagine God experiences, superior to the messy narrative of human linear time. Yet, there are always human, worldly elements, such as the allusions to French style in Contrapunctus 6, the rhetorical pauses in the very first Contrapunctus, or the playful flow of the mirror fugues or some of the canons. This residue of human habitation is perhaps what distinguishes Bachs fugal works from the fugal (or ricercar) tradition of previous composers and in which later composers heard a voice speaking directly to them, a voice that shared at least some aspects of the modern world, even if it was entirely suffused with the sense of an overwhelming and all-embracing godly order.

“with playing of this sophistication, the restricted sound palette works wonderfully, supporting a calm, ruminative exploration of the many fugal devices. Rachel Podger’s group manages drama too in the French-style fugue, driven by the bite of the bow on the strings. The end is achingly incomplete, as is Bach’s text.” The Observer, 25th September 2016 ****

“the counterpoint stays clear, you can really follow the lines, and...the character of the individual players becomes an integral part of the way you hear Bach’s music. It never feels dull, academic of dry, and Podger and friends lively musical personalities bring a playfulness and curiosity to the performances that are very welcome.” Record Review, 28th October 2016

“This is not an interpretation that wants to grab you by the lapels…but rather one which by its natural ebb and flow aims to draw you stealthily into the music and have you breathe with it, so that you don’t notice the fugal climaxes coming until your own chest is swelling” Gramophone Magazine, October 2016

“They revel in Bach’s life-enhancing contrapuntal interplay and their relaxed, instinctive approach and ever-changing instrumentarium engender welcome contrasts within his ingenious conception. Particular highlights are the fugues scored for full ensemble, with Contrapuncti nos.7 and 9 the best of all.” The Strad, November 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

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Handel: Messiah

Handel: Messiah

New Concert Edition by Sir Andrew Davis


Erin Wall (soprano), Elizabeth DeShong (mezzo-soprano), Andrew Staples (tenor), John Relyea (bass-baritone)

Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Sir Andrew Davis

Experience the transcendent glory of Messiah in Sir Andrew Davis’s new, majestic, must-hear edition of Handel’s beloved classic.

Recorded live for SACD release in surround sound, this unique version makes use of all the colours available from the modern symphony orchestra to underline the mood and meaning of the individual movements. Without detracting from the innate power of the original, the conductor’s score calls for moments of drama, pathos, and even, sometimes, whimsicality. It is supported by substantial brass and woodwind forces, and several percussion instruments (including marimba!). As he explains in a very personal booklet note, this leading British conductor brings immense dedication to what is probably the most famous piece of British sacred music ever composed, this version being one which he has conducted live only a few times, including on this recording. He confesses: ‘Everything I have done instrumentally stems from the enormous respect, even awe, which I feel towards this supreme masterpiece’.

“Davis has thrown every resource of the modern symphony orchestra at the task. The result is rather as if the Disney Corporation had bought the rights to the show...The Toronto Symphony Orchestra plays with terrific spirit, especially the brass, and there are four excellent soloists.” The Times, 2nd December 2016 ****

“A performance I will return to often and with great pleasure.” MusicWeb International, 13th December 2016

“Davis’s new orchestration of Messiah is either, depending on your point of view, an act of unpardonable musical blasphemy or a gloriously tongue-in-cheek tribute to a well-loved masterpiece...the overall effect is just of a lush, Romantic orchestration rather than of forced aural gimmickry.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 2nd December 2016

“This is obviously not a basic ‘Library ‘ Messiah but can be cautiously recommended as a curiosity for those enjoy arrangements and transcriptions.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2017

“Astonishingly well controlled…the solo voices are rich and weighty…[the] flute provides a charming obbligato to ‘How beautiful are the feet’, while the tenor’s ‘Thy rebuke…’ is intensely moving…a remarkable choral achievement” BBC Music Magazine, January 2017 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

2nd December 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Finalist

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice - January 2017

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Biber: The Rosary Sonatas

Biber: The Rosary Sonatas


Rachel Podger (violin), Marcin Świątkiewicz (harpsichord/organ), Jonathan Manson (cello/viola da gamba), David Miller (theorbo/archlute)

The Rosary (Mystery) Sonatas, even today, are considered the most extensive example of scordatura. From the Italian discordare meaning ‘out of tune’, scordatura is a technique whereby the strings are purposefully tuned differently from their usual arrangement. Here the usual G-D-A-E tuning, where the violin strings are consistently a perfect fifth apart, is only used for the opening Sonata and the closing Passacaglia. The other fourteen sonatas each have a different configuration of tuning. Compositionally this allowed Biber to obtain unusual chords, opening up a whole new spectrum of harmonic and textural possibilities. This fundamentally altered what a violin was and could be; its physicality as well as its voice was transformed.

“Not for nothing is Podger regarded today as queen of the baroque violin...Podger makes light of the virtuosic demands of this profound music, while never losing sight of it’s religious significance.” Sunday Times, 18th October 2015

“it stretches the instrument and the violinist to the limit. For this recording Rachel Podger uses the same instrument throughout, putting it through the pain, as part of the fascination for her was how the sound changed from piece to piece as the violin suffer alongside Christ…It’s searching, absorbing, quietly captivating playing and a moving journey through one of the most imaginative sets of violin sonatas ever composed.” CD Review, 17th October 2015

“They are fantastically complex works, with different violin tunings and multiple stoppings, so that Rachel Podger’s accomplished new recording sounds like a battery of many violins. Fine continuo adds to the variety of sound” The Observer, 18th October 2015

“She can play with grace and beauty – at the opening of ‘The Carrying of the Cross’, for instance...There are also many subtleties of articulation and timing, almost as if there are words and pauses lying behind the notes.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2015

Presto Discs of 2015

Finalist

GGramophone Awards 2016

Winner - Baroque Instrumental

Super Audio CD

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Channel - CCSSA37315

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Copland: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Ballets

Copland: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1 - Ballets


Copland:

Fanfare for the Common Man

El Salón México

Billy the Kid - Suite

Appalachian Spring - Suite

Rodeo (Four Dance Episodes)


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

For this new series, the conductor, arranger, and light music specialist John Wilson, a BBC Proms favourite, for the first time joins the BBC Philharmonic on Chandos, in orchestral works by Aaron Copland. This first volume features the suites from the American composer’s most famous ballets. Written in 1938, the hugely successful Billy the Kid is a fine illustration of the limpid orchestration and clarity that Copland achieved in works made famous thanks to their popular accessibility. Similarly, four years later, in Appalachian Spring, he created a lastingly influential American soundworld, firmly rooted in the diatonicism of simple folk melodies. A third ‘nationalist’ ballet, Rodeo, and Fanfare for the Common Man were composed in the same year, 1942, the latter being possibly the most instantly recognizable piece in the history of American orchestral music. The energetic dances and national melodies of El Salón México reveals Copland’s other use of folk material, as a musical souvenir of foreign lands that had made an impression of him.

This album was recorded two months after a highly successful concert broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

“Wilson is in his element here, coaxing razzmatazzy playing from the BBC Philharmonic in the rhythmically charged Mexican Dance and battle scene from Billy the Kid, and the Buckaroo Holiday and Hoe-Down from Rodeo. There is tenderness, too, even a touch of Leonard Bernsteinesque wallowing in the unforgettable folksy melodies of Appalachian Spring” Sunday Times, 17th January 2016

“Wilson's performances are…impressive, and he secures superb playing from the BBC Philharmonic…the three ballets receive strongly characterised interpretations, as piquant and affecting in the slower passages as they are punchy and ebullient in the faster ones…I enjoyed listening to this disc enormously.” Gramophone Magazine, March 2016

“John Wilson shows an instinctive flair for Copland's syncopated and changing rhythms, and brings out all the music's broad humour and intimate poetry” BBC Music Magazine, March 2016

“His lifelong immersion in the sound-world of 30s and 40s American music is evident from the off, with the distant trumpets in Fanfare for the Common Man glowing with that vibrato-warmed vintage brass sound that’s so distinctive in his recordings of the great musicals...every single phrase of all the works presented here feels truly balletic, and the music never stops dancing.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 29th January 2016

“The conductor is a natural in Copland’s most celebrated ballet scores: Billy the Kid, Rodeo and Appalachian Spring.” The Times, December 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

29th January 2016

Presto Discs of 2016

Winner

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - March 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - March 2016

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Chandos - CHSA5164

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Mozart: Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'

Mozart: Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'


Mozart:

Mass in C minor, K427 'Great'

Olivia Vermeulen (mezzo), Makoto Sakurada (tenor), Christian Immler (bass)

Exsultate, jubilate, K165

from the revised Salzburg version of K165


Following on from the 2015 release of Mozart’s Requiem, Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan have gone on to record the composer's Mass in C minor, K427 – the ‘Great Mass’. As the nickname indicates, it is a work of unusual proportions for a mass of the Classical period – or would have been so, had Mozart completed it. It is not known, for what occasion Mozart intended the work, but a letter to his father Leopold, dated 4 January 1783, indicates that he may have committed himself to writing it in connection with his marriage to Constanze and a planned visit to Salzburg. A performance of parts of the Mass did take place in Salzburg in October 1783, with Constanze performing the prominent soprano part. Two years later Mozart reused the music from the Kyrie and Gloria sections in the sacred cantata Davidde penitente, K 469, but the Mass itself was left incomplete. The present performance includes the sections completed by Mozart himself, as well as those sections, for which extensive sketches by Mozart provided a basis for completion (by Franz Beyer in 1989). Three of Suzuki’s soloists also took part in the recording of the Requiem, while the Dutch mezzo-soprano Olivia Vermeulen makes her first appearance on BIS, shining in the aria ‘Laudamus te’. The disc closes with the celebrated cantata Exsultate, jubilate in which the soprano Carolyn Sampson glitters in the virtuosic solo part. As an appendix to the programme, she and the Bach Collegium Japan orchestra also repeats the initial aria, in a less well-known later version with a slightly different text and with flutes replacing the oboes of the original.

“The Mass survives as one of the great unfinished works. Suzuki’s famed period forces are significantly enlarged here (24 choristers), but are quite small for this work. His tempi are surprisingly spacious, but the dramatic impact of the double-choir Qui tollis in the Gloria comes across with full force.” Sunday Times, 13th November 2016

“Period-instrument C minor Masses get better and better. ...The choir are well drilled and the two female soloists are matched as well as any on disc...Suzuki is no speed merchant, and maintains the through line in more strenuous movements.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2016

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2016

BBC Music Magazine

Disc of the month - January 2017

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BIS - BIS2171

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Copland: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2 - Symphonies

Copland: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2 - Symphonies


Copland:

Symphony for organ and orchestra

Jonathan Scott (organ)

Symphonic Ode

Symphony No. 2 'Short Symphony'

Variations for orchestra


Following a highly successful recording of Copland’s ballet music, John Wilson, a specialist in American music, and the BBC Philharmonic present the first volume of the composer’s complete symphonic output. This unique collection of vivid and energetic pieces highlights Copland’s personal, unorthodox compositional language. The mixture of works of austerity and tense excitement ranges widely, from the twenty Orchestral Variations on an original theme (originally written for piano) to the single-movement controversial Symphonic Ode, a rhythmically complex piece written in its original incarnation for a huge orchestra including eight horns and five trumpets.

The album features also the lesser-known Short Symphony (No. 2) and early Symphony for Organ and Orchestra, in which the solo instrument throughout is closely integrated with the music of the orchestra. The organ soloist is the young Jonathan Scott. Since a highly successful Gershwin concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 2014, he is increasingly acclaimed around the world for his performances of American music.

This album was recorded on SACD in the mythic Birmingham Symphony Hall.

“This darkly ravishing second volume in John Wilson’s welcome Copland survey for Chandos delves into the nooks and crannies of his orchestral work to find riches aplenty…the high standard is maintained by the BBC Philharmonic throughout, evidenced in the richly textured and concentrated Orchestral Variations…the single-movement Symphonic Ode (1929, revised in 1955) is a thing of bold, bracing beauty played with spirited brio.” Classical Ear, October 2016 *****

“Wilson obtains [a] superbly drilled and articulate response from the BBC Philharmonic…an outstanding release” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2016

“Spiky, hard-edged music for a dynamic American society, driven with vivacity and excitement yet I doubt if it will make many appearances in my CD player.” MusicWeb International, 18th October 2016

“This disc offers gripping accounts of four works...Every note tells.” Sunday Times, 18th September 2016

“This performance is technically superb, John Wilson’s BBC Philharmonic sounding…energised…Wilson’s brass are heroic in the closing stages, and the music’s lighter moments aren’t undersold. But the best work on this disc is the deceptively lightweight Short Symphony…transparently orchestrated, rhythmically fiendish and harmonically approachable, it gets a sharp, witty reading, Copland’s Stravinskian metre changes effortlessly handled.” The Arts Desk, 26th September 2016

“Everything about the performances signals a conductor and an orchestra who really believe in the quality of the music they are performing. The BBC Philharmonic seems to relish Copland’s springy rhythms, long-limbed melodies and irrepressible invention, while Wilson manages to bring transparency and buoyancy to even the most massive climaxes.” The Guardian, 5th October 2016 *****

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - November 2016

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Chandos - CHSA5171

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Iván Fischer conducts Borodin & Tchaikovsky

Iván Fischer conducts Borodin & Tchaikovsky


Borodin:

Prince Igor: Polovtsian Dances

Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno

Tchaikovsky:

Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74 'Pathétique'


When Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky stepped onto the stage in Saint Petersburg on 28 October 1893 to introduce his Sixth Symphony to the public, he was received with a roar of applause. Three quarters of an hour later the astonished audience was dumbfounded. How could a symphony begin so softly and end even more so? And what about the second movement with its undanceable waltz, and the third with its unstoppable march? Nine days after the premiere, Tchaikovsky died in a city ravaged by cholera.

The truly Russian mood that we associate with Tchaikovsky is also felt in the music of Borodin. His opera ‘Prince Igor’ remained incomplete when he died, but the Overture, the Chorus and Dance of the Polovtsian girls, the Polovtsian March and the on this recording added well-known Polovtsian Dances, gained a place of its own in orchestral repertoire.

“Fischer once again doesn’t disappoint; indeed, he’s brought to light elements of this work, in particular textural detaileven during the loud brass-led sections, the strings can still be heard over the top with a clarity that seems barely believable.” David Smith, Presto Classical, 23rd September 2016

“The sheer natural musicality of Fischer’s Budapest players is, as always, refreshing...the March is poised and brilliant, and if the finale could be even darker, it is eloquently played.” Sunday Times, 2nd October 2016

Presto Disc of the Week

23rd September 2016

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Super Audio CD

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Channel - CCSSA37016

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$13.50

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Sibelius: In the Stream of Life

Sibelius: In the Stream of Life

Songs by Sibelius


Sibelius:

Pohjola's Daughter, Op. 49

In the Stream of Life

Seven Songs orch. E. Rautavaara. Premiere recording

Koskenlaskijan morsiamet (The Rapids-Rider’s Brides), Op. 33

Romance in C major for strings, Op. 42

Hymn to Thaïs (Text: Arthur H. Borgström)

Demanten på marssnön, Op. 36 No. 6 (Wecksell)

Hertig Magnus, Op. 57 No. 6

The Oceanides, Op. 73

På verandan på vid havet, Op. 38 No. 2 (Viktor Runeberg)

I natten, Op. 38 No. 3

Kom nu hit, Död, Op. 60 No. 1 (Bertel Gripenberg after Shakespeare)


Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

The exceptional collaboration and friendship between the late Einojuhani Rautavaara and the internationally acclaimed bass-baritone Gerald Finley culminates in this unique album of orchestral songs by Sibelius, on which the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Edward Gardner.

The album offers orchestrations, by Sibelius and others, of songs which Sibelius originally wrote for voice and piano, and includes the premiere recording of In the Stream of Life, seven songs orchestrated by Rautavaara for his friend. Throughout, the poetry perfectly reflects the instinctively felt relation between Finnish nature and Sibelius’s music.

As Finley reveals: ‘the recording of [In the Stream of Life] became a very personal project when the sessions took place only a few weeks after [Rautavaara’s] death, in the same week as his funeral... and I am so thankful that a final addition was made possible when in the last months of his life [Rautavaara] agreed to orchestrate “Hjärtats morgon” and include it in the group.’

“Rautavaara's orchestrations are so convincingly Sibelian that on first hearing I completely forgot I wasn't listening to the The Real Thing...Finley is in magnificent voice throughout: though it's relatively uncommon to find non-Finnish singers tackling this repertoire, he seems completely at home with both the sound-world and the texts.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 30th December 2016

“Finley sings them all with his usual finesse and careful shading, reserving his full power for the few genuinely climactic moments...The subtle, respectful orchestrations wrap around his voice like a glove...Gardner and his orchestra include very fine performances of three orchestral works.” The Guardian, 4th January 2017 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

30th December 2016

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JS Bach: Magnificat & Christmas Cantata 63

JS Bach: Magnificat & Christmas Cantata 63

Reconstruction of Bach's first Christmas Vespers in Leipzig


Bach, J S:

Magnificat in E flat major, BWV243a

Chorale Prelude BWV600 'Gott, durch deine Guete'

Cantata BWV63 'Christen, aetzet diesen Tag'

Gabrieli, G:

Hodie Christus natus est a 10


Julia Doyle (soprano), Joanne Lunn (soprano), Clare Wilkinson (alto), Nicholas Mulroy (tenor), Matthew Brook (bass)

Dunedin Consort, John Butt

This is the premiere recording of J.S. Bach's Magnificat heard for the first time within its original liturgical context, alongside the beautiful Christmas Cantata. The first 1000 copies of the disc will also include a free bonus disc of highlights from the Consort’s Gramophone Award-winning seasonal favourite ‘Handel: Messiah’.

Dunedin Consort recreates Bach's first Christmas at Leipzig (Vespers in the Nikolaikirche, 25 December 1723); the recording opens with a Gabrieli motet and includes organ preludes and a seasonal congregational chorale.

Director John Butt has given listeners an interpretation that will provide a refreshing outlook on this masterpiece and will show the Magnificat in a completely new light.This recording marks the return of Dunedin Consort's star-studded cast including, Nicholas Mulroy, Matthew Brook, Joanne Lunn and Clare Wilkinson plus newcomer Julia Doyle.

About the Artist:

Butt's liturguical reconstruction of Bach's John Passion was named a Critics Choice by BBC Radio 3 CD Review and Gramophone, as well as being named Recording of the Month by three separate publications.

The Dunedin Consort has established a reputation as one of the finest period performance choirs around, under the direction of prize-winning historical performance specialist John Butt OBE.The multi-award-winning Dunedin Consort has won praise for the natural style of its soloists and renown for the virtuosity of its singers.

In addition to a GRAMMY nomination, Dunedin Consort has won two Gramophone Awards: the 2007 Baroque Vocal Award for Handel: Messiah and the 2014 Choral Award for Mozart: Requiem .Further accolades include: Esther was voted one of the Top 10 Classical Albums of 2012 by The Times, 2011 saw them included in Gramophone's Twenty Greatest Choirs list and its recording of Bach's Matthew Passion was named Building A Library: First Choice by BBC Radio 3 CD Review , whilst Six Brandenburg Concertos was named Gramophone Choice and awarded five stars by both BBC Music and The Guardian.

“There are interesting textual changes, the playing and singing are terrific, and Butt creates a very convincing congregational hymn with organ flourishes. But the highlight of the disc is the Christmas Cantata 63, brilliantly done with such expressive exuberance that it should have had (but certainly did not) the Leipzigers dancing in the aisles with joy at the arrival of their new Kapellmeister.” The Guardian, 11th October 2015 *****

“This is yet another astonishing triumph by Professor John Butt and his Dunedin Consort. Scholarly originality is the clincher: a reconstruction of Bach’s first Christmas Vespers in Leipzig with the wonderful Magnificat as central focus...The musicianship is exquisite; the emotional impact is immediate.” The Scotsman, 17th October 2015

“Another bull’s-eye hit from John Butt’s Dunedin Consort… interesting textual changes, the playing and singing are terrific, and Butt creates a very convincing congregational hymn with organ flourishes… the highlight of the disc is the Christmas Cantata 63, brilliantly done with such expressive exuberance.” The Observer, 11th October 2015

“It’s an absolute joy.” CD Review, 24th October 2015

“a very good example of John Butt’s marriage between arresting scholarship, enormous musicality – the tempi are so naturally right – and pragmatic skills: conceiving and bringing such a complex production to fruition is a huge task, and the whole disc is so coherently musical from the word go. Give it to all your friends for Christmas: this is contextual Bach at its very best.” Early Music Magazine

“This is one of the most enjoyable and stimulating Bach discs to have come my way since … well, since John Butt’s account of the Johannes-Passion. The performance standards are uniformly excellent and the music is life-enhancing… I’m in no doubt that I shall be listening to this superb disc at some stage on Christmas morning.” MusicWeb International

“With just 10 voices and an orchestra not quite double that in number (four of them trumpets) the scene is set for music-making that’s lucid and festive, captured in sound that’s both intimate and full. A spirited Christmas celebration with a difference.” Irish Times

“It’s an absolute joy – far too good to keep for Christmas.” CD Review, 24th October 2015

“Another intriguing and excellently performed project from Butt and his Dunedin Consort...As usual the forces are small-scale, save for two lusty congregational hymns (adorned with enjoyably headstrong organ improvisations). The Magnificat itself is exciting, fresh and faultlessly paced.” Gramophone Magazine, December 2015

GGramophone Awards 2016

Finalist - Baroque Vocal

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - December 2015

BBC Music Magazine

Choral & Song Choice

Super Audio CD

Format:

Hybrid Multi-channel

Linn - CKD469

(SACD)

$13.50

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