Notes & Reviews:
The Dunedin Consort's highly anticipated new recording of 'Esther - First Reconstructable Version (Cannons), 1720' is the third recording in its hugely successful Handel series. The Consort have set the bar high for this Handel performance with a Gramophone Award in 2007 for 'Messiah' and a BBC Radio 3 'Building a Library' First Choice accolade for 'Acis and Galatea'. For Esther, director John Butt has reunited his award-winning team of soloists (Susan Hamilton - Esther; Nicholas Mulroy - Mordecai; Matthew Brook - Haman; Thomas Hobbs - 1st Israelite) plus well-known guest soloists Robin Blaze - Priest, James Gilchrist - Habdonah / Assuerus and Electra Lochhead - Israelite Boy
Butt's direction combines spontaneous freshness with a care for expressive phrasing and precise colouring. The 11-strong chorus - the solo cast plus reinforcement - is vital incisive, packing a fair punch even in the ceremonial final chorus.
The scholarship is only a means to an end, and is never allowed to get in the way of the wonderfully crafted music making. Textures are lean - 11 singers, including the soloists, 20 instrumentalists - but wonderfully precise, and the solo contributions, with soprano Susan Hamilton as Esther, are models of stylishness.
International Record Review
Butt's consort of soloists do this great music proud, sounding larger than their number would suggest...I'll return to this recording for the winning drive, dramatic conception and expressive phrasing of Butt's direction, his crack Baroque orchestra and his exceptional male cast.
American Record Guide, September / October 2012
As for the "original" Esther, we are lucky to have had the two earlier recordings, which still have their merits, but we can be grateful for this new and very carefully thought-out rendition.
BBC Music Magazine, August 2012
Paradoxically, a two-voices-to-a-part chorus achieves more immediacy than a larger choir, coupled with a stylish and delightfully intimate band. Yet again, Butt demonstrates that less can be more.
Recording information: Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, UK (07/12/2011-07/15/2011).
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Works DetailsHandel, George Frideric : Esther
- Conductor: John Butt
- Ensemble: Dunedin Consort
- Notes: Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh, UK (07/12/2011-07/15/2011)
- Running Time: 84 min. 10 sec.
- Period Time: Baroque
- Written: circa 1718