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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 September 2013
The Dunedin Consort has often been lauded for its fresh, transparent textures and beautifully proportioned and balanced sound, and following critical acclaim for Baroque vocal releases such as Bach: Matthew Passion,Handel: Messiah (Dublin Version, 1742) and most recently Bach: John Passion, they've produced what's to be hoped is a curtain-raiser to more recordings of the orchestral works.

In the booklet notes John Butt observes that though the six concertos are highly structured, they are, paradoxically 'among the most carefree, joyous and spontaneous works that Bach ever produced'. Butt is able to create broad washes of colour which, combined with an energy generated from within the textural detail, drives the music onward with an effortlessness and inevitability. This fluidity is striking, possibly because many recent recordings of late have instead focused on producing a more rustic and even jagged sound. The flowing elegance here seems to bring out the French influence, and indeed the temperament which the ensemble have adopted is that of the French Court at the time, the low A-392. This in itself has a knock-on effect in slightly slowing the pace and thereby increasing the articulation of the instruments. It also adds a wonderfully warm glow.

The idea of the opposing forces of 'disputation' and 'agreement' within the form of the concerto seem to have been a consideration in this recording, and certainly Butt could be said to to have achieved a truly euphonious result. The instrumental colours of the soloists in the Dunedin Consort are beguiling, at times dazzling, but always as part of the larger picture. Altogether the impression is of a fresh insight into works which we all thought we knew so well.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2013
These are highly enjoyable performances of this great music. Using one instrument per part gives a greater clarity, the better to appreciate the contrapuntal wonders going on beneath. The horns in the first concerto can be a bit swamped by a large band, but here they more than hold their own. Both playing and recording are first rate, and the cadenzas in the fourth and fifth concertos are dispatched with effortless virtuosity. Wonderful stuff - Brandenburg must have been either deaf or an idiot.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 September 2013
Back in the Mesozoic Era, when I started collecting records, recordings of the Brandenburgs were few and far between, and some of those were not great (Herbie von K and the whole Berlin Phil!). We are now spoiled for choice for excellent performances and recordings, and now along come John Butt & Dunedin to spoil us even more. I guess the nearest comparison is with the Gardiner recordings of a year or so ago. They are very comparable in their approach (they even share the same trumpet soloist, David Blackadder), in that they both release the dance-like qualities of these wonderful Bach creations. Which to choose? Easy, have both! Both are excellent; with either one, one simply can't go wrong - bright, vivacious playing, excellent performances of No.2 (one of the most difficult trumpet parts ever written) and splendid recordings. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 October 2013
I've been well served for many years by Trevor Pinnock's first recorded version of the Brandenburgs on DG Archiv with the English Concert but decided to buy this set because a) it was so well reviewed and b) it's quite cheap.I'm no musical expert and can't comment on the technicalities of the interpretation. But i can say that I loved it from the opening of the first Concerto with its wonderful horns. I've really fallen for the soft mellow sound of the woodwind and the overall sense of joy that comes through. Shan't send the Pinnock version to the charity shop - but I am enjoying having this alternative performance.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 January 2014
Crisp, expressive, beautiful. The best recording of the Brandenburgs that I have heard. I would recommend it to anyone even if they already own other recordings of the Brandenburgs.
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on 13 December 2013
There are plenty of technical reviews of this album around, so this is quiet a broad, personal review. I came to the Brandenburgs through Nick Drake, and settled on this recording. Hearing it made me want to hear other versions, but - though I now own others - I keep returning to this one.

The music recorded over the two CDs of John Butt's Dunedin Consort is wonderfully presented (I don't have an SACD Player, and nor do I experience any issues with the discs at all). The discs come well packaged in a double digipack with a tasteful, glossy booklet.

This is actually my album of the year (2013), and I will certainly be picking up DC's John Passion. All in all, I don't think you're going to find a superior version of these concerts for some time.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2013
On the basis of reviews and listening to brief excerpts, I decided to buy this recording, which arrived recently from Amazon. My first impressions, having only heard the first disc, were as follows. Yes, the lower pitch produces a darker sound, which is attractive. Most movements tend to be a few seconds slower than, say, Pinnock, which I welcome. However, I find the violin abrasive when playing loudly, even slightly painful to listen to, whether in CD or SACD mode, both on my high quality system and on a much cheaper one. Even in SACD it sounded 'louder' than usual and needed turning down a little from my usual CD position instead of turning up, as usual, with SACD on my machine. Then there is the rhythm. Yes, things generally move along OK, but there is sometimes a regular emphasis which becomes irritating and works against the flow. The 4th movement of the 1st Brandenburg illustrates this. Turning to Pinnock (Brandenburg) there is also a regular emphasis on the strong beat of the triple time but it is less marked and less wearing to listen to. Pinnock seems to see the bigger picture and the result is generally lighter and bouncier than Butt, who emphasises detail more. Pinnock's strings are also a little more abrasive than I would like but less so than on the Linn recording. Pinnock's harpsichord seems 'helped', Butts rather more natural. Having now heard the second disc I would say the first movement of the 4th sounds pressured, though no faster than Pinnock and the first movement of the 5th feels very hasty (nearly a whole minute less than Pinnock). Comparing the larger Pinnock performance with Butt's 1 to a part, there is not a huge difference between them and my ideal, more relaxed performance lies elsewhere or does not exist. Both recordings I find rather tiring to listen to. I hoped this new recording would be more like the Avison's approach but instead it is quite 'cutting edge'. One to keep but not quite my ideal, where I can just enjoy the music.
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on 15 December 2013
10 outstanding musicians surprised me by their refreshing performances of these so often played masterpieces.
Heard them live this summer during a festival in France and experienced
a 4 hour marvel.Their recording competes fully with the live show.
Conductor John Butt the got the 'je ne sais quoi' out of his musicians.He impressed me
largely,also by his fearless harpsichord playing. Cecilia Bernardini,leading this marvelous consort,
deserves full praise for her refined and passionate contribution to this highly recommendable recording.
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on 22 October 2013
There are many, many recordings of the Brandenburgs available and a new release must have something to say to be worth considering. This looks at the six concertos in a fresh undogmatic way, simply bringing the original, fresh sounds of the Dunedin Consort to such a familar set. It makes one hear them afresh.
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on 19 February 2014
A wonderful sound from the Dunedin Consort! If you want a way to start your day, this is it. It will put a spring in your step.
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