First published in the Guardian on 10 March, 2016
Bach: Violin Concertos
Bernardini/Dunedin Consort/Butt (Linn)
This latest fine release from Scotland’s early music consort features the ensemble’s Dutch-Italian leader Cecilia Bernardini in violin concertos by JS Bach. There are so many things to marvel at: her husky, shapely tone, her earthy way with rhythm, how she tugs playfully the top of phrases, her ability to dart in and out of ensemble textures and make the whole thing so joyously convivial. Evidently producer Philip Hobbs thought so, too, because the solo lines are beautifully integrated in the mix — this sounds like a disc of chamber music, not soloist with accompanying orchestra. Bernardini is joined by her father, the renowned baroque oboist Alfredo Bernardini, in the Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor. You can hear where she gets her graceful musicality but both are very much their own players. John Butt conducts with all the exuberance and swing we’ve come to expect from the Dunedins.