Johann, l`m Only Dancing • J.S. Bach
Red Priest (Pier Adams rec, Julia Bishop vn, Angela East vc, Howard Beach hpd)
Red Priest seems to favour the thrash metal motto, ‘play fast, or don’t ‘ but, as well as dazzling virtuosity and panache, they wax lyrical as well.
Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine – June 2010
A fun-packed Bach-fest from Red Priest that's sure to raise a smile
After their previous romps with Vivaldi and other racy Baroque figures, it is not surprising that Red Priest's new disc entirely devoted to re-scored and re-imagined Bach should show a slightly more restrained approach. Bach tends to have that effect, however much you humanise him, and in some of the movements taken from flute or oboe sonatas, or the C minor Fugue from Book 1 of the "48", the players largely cast the jokes aside to give us more-or-less conventionally expressed readings. Even if they do not always manage the refinement that an accomplished "conventional" group might in such performances (though few ensembles anywhere can boast a recorder player of Piers Adams's brilliance), they still show that they are fully fluent in the Baroque musical language.
This is what has always stopped this group's crazy renditions from descending into downright silliness, ensuring that their numerous pranks will more often draw a laugh of recognition from the listener than a snort of disgust, and so it continues here. These ever-playful performances include among other things: the Prelude from the Sixth Cello Suite turned into a galloping country dance; barrel-organ-like recorder toots double-tracked on to the C minor Prelude, together with a new countermelody; jazzy harpsichord rhythms in the Second English Suite's Bourrée; and a snatch of the Fawlty Tower music insinuated (with surprising ease) into the Minuet from the Second Orchestral Suite. The disc closes with a full Third Brandenburg, its first movement stamped with off-beat accents, the two chords of the "slow movement" drawn out to two minutes of new-age noodling crossed with a hint of"Autumn" from The Four Seasons. As usual it's just a bit of fun, but intelligent and unforced fun.
Linday Kemp - Gramophone, May 2010
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