Cecilia Bernardini / Dunedin Consort / John Butt BACH Violin Concertos

There is certainly no shortage of recordings of these popular Bach violin works, but this one by the Dunedin Consort with violinist Cecilia Bernardini has many aspects to recommend it. At the top of the list must be the soloist's flair of Bernardini herself, playing a bright-eyed 1743 Camillus Camilli violin. In her playing you get the virtuoso energy of the contemporary Italian school without the hard edge, and there is a sense of play in her music-making that one senses Bach would have loved. Sample one of the finales, perhaps the "Allegro assai" from the Violin Concerto in E major, BWV 1042, for a taste. Bernardini also interacts marvelously with her collaborators, Huw Daniel in the two-violin concerto and her father, Alfredo Bernardini, producing a bewitching Baroque oboe sound in the hypothetical but convincing Concerto for violin and oboe in C minor, BWV 1060R. Another of those collaborators is John Butt, who leads a perfectly sized Dunedin Consort (there is a ripieno string group, but a small one) that follows Bernardini with agility around the high-speed corners. The Greyfriars Kirk sound is clear but a little chilly for what is really a very warm performance that finds a lot of fun in Bach's music. Highly recommended. (James Manheim)

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