Bach: Violin Concertos

Cecilia Bernardini violin, Huw Daniel violin, Alfredo Bernardini oboe, Dunedin Consort, John Butt
59:00
Linn Records CKD 519
BWV1041-43, 1060R, 21 (sinfonia)

This is a fabulous recording of some of my favourite music; Cecilia and Alfredo Bernardini (daughter and father) duet beautifully in the oboe and violin concerto (though I would have welcomed even more freedom of ornamentation, and not only in the slow movement where they do begin to come out of their shells, albeit in slightly different ways), while Huw Daniel matches Bernardini in every way in the “double concerto” (here again I long for the day when the beautiful theme undergoes more imaginative transformations as the slow movement progresses), and she is absolutely flawless in the two solo concertos, bringing a new clarity to the double-stopping string crossing in the final movement of the E major, and imbuing the long notes in the A minor’s middle movement with varying colours. Every note has clearly been thought out in advance but the trick is keeping everything fresh sounding so that the listener is unaware of all that hard work. I have yet to hear a recording by John Butt that is not utterly convincing; with his 22111 Dunedins, he has struck gold once again – this goes straight to the top of my pile for rainy days when I need cheering up! (As an aside, I hadn’t noticed with Linn releases before, but the booklet is only in English; is it unfair of us as reviewers to complain that foreign CDs only come in their native language if domestic companies don’t go that extra mile for their fans overseas?)

Brian Clark