Cecilia Bernardini


Bach: Violin Concertos CD review – so many things to marvel at
The Guardian, Kate Molleson, Friday 11 March 2016

This latest fine release from one of Scotland’s early music consorts 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 a soloist with accompanying orchestra. Bernardini is joined by her father, the renowned baroque oboist Cecilia 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 and fine lines we’ve come to expect from the Dunedins.

Bach: Violin Concertos

This is a spectacular CD from the ever excellent Dunedin Consort and their leader, violinist Cecilia Bernardini, this time in a solo role. She opens and closes the programme in partnership, first with her father, the distinguished oboist, Alfredo Bernardini, and then with fellow violinist Huw Daniel. Apart from the short central Sinfonia from the cantata Ich hatte viel Bekümmernis, with its exquisite oboe solo, the rest of the nicely symmetrical programme is devoted to the playing of Cecilia Bernardini, with Bach’s E major and A minor violin concertos. And what playing it is. Subtly sensitive, and superbly articulated, she demonstrates a real grasp of Bach’s often complex melodic lines. Her delicacy of tone is matched by her fellow instrumentalists, the chamber-like quality of their playing, and John Butt’s direction and harpsichord continuo playing, being just right for the music, which was almost certainly intended for small-scale performance amongst fellow music lovers. The opening pairing of Cecilia with her father, Alfredo Bernardini, in BWV 1060R, shows a family fondness for exquisitely articulated and phrased musical lines, the latter with a compelling sense of the long phrase, the former with a violinist’s attention to the detail of individual and pairs of notes. Cecilia Bernardini’s two concertos highlight her individual skills. She wears her obvious technical ability lightly, focussing on the delicacies of the musical line rather than mere show. And I love her sense of rhetoric, always alert to the structure of the melodic line.

Dunedin Consort, Wigmore Hall, London – review
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, Thursday 26 June 2014

Bach's violin concerto in A minor, BWV 1041, with Cecilia Bernardini an outstanding soloist, was even better. The aching lyricism of the slow movement attained a rare eloquence.

Cecilia Bernardini at the Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow
Michael Tumelty, The Herald, Monday 23 June 2014

This recital, which was quite astonishing, featured the violinist Cecilia Bernardini playing the great E major partita in a sparkling and scintillating performance that was delivered in a comprehensively period style with minimal (and tasteful) decoration, allied to an effortless projection.

Where some violinists sound as though they're engaged in a physical and intellectual tussle with the music, Bernardini made light and weightless music that flowed in every movement. The Prelude had tremendous drive, the Loure had real drive and stately qualities, the Gavotte an airy spring in its step, and the Bourre a lively gait that was totally infectious.

It was an absolute thrill to listen to and a delight to hear.

St Matthew Passion review – 'Thoughtful, lyrical and beautifully spacious'
The Guardian, Kate Molleson, Tuesday 15 April 2014

"The orchestral playing was uniformly magnificent. The sound was warm, energetic and full of character, with gorgeous solo turns from violinists Cecilia Bernardini and Huw Daniel."

Dunedin Consort-J.S. Bach: Six Brandenburg Concertos
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, P. Muse, Sunday 1 December 2013


"In Concerto 4, primo violinist Cecilia Bernardini plays with eloquence and deep feeling in the outer movements, while she provides a substantial bass when playing together with the duo of flutes in the lovely Andante movement."


Bach: Brandenburg Concertos
The Arts Desk, by Graham Rickson , Friday 25 October 2013

"You're immediately struck by the sound of the Edinburgh-based Dunedin Ensemble, which is softer grained and a little warmer than you'd expect."

"Cecilia Bernardini achieves miracles with no 5's solo violin, knowing just when to step in and out of the spotlight, while Butt has fun with Bach's anarchic harpsichord cadenza."

"This is a sensational recording – perhaps the best period Brandenburg set available."

JS BACH Brandenburg Concertos, BWV1046-51
Gramophone, David Vickers, Thursday 10 October 2013


"Expertly stylish recordings of the six concertos Bach presented in neat copy to the Margrave of Brandenburg in March 1721 are two-a-penny but the Dunedin Consort offer more substantial style and bona fide expertise than most."

"The final Presto of Concerto No 4 is just one example of Bernardini’s articulate bowing and relaxed phrasing in rapid passages"

"Notwithstanding the distinguished Brandenburg discography, this set is nothing short of sensational."


Six Brandenburg Concertos *****
BBC Music Magazine, N. Anderson, Tuesday 1 October 2013


"Melodic ideas are beautifully punctuated and phrased, vibrato is used strictly ornamentally, and tempos strike my sensibilities as pretty well ideal."


Lammermuir Festival: Bach by candlelight with Cecilia Bernardini
Bachtrack, by Alan Coady, Monday 23 September 2013

"The magical acoustic and atmosphere of a candlelit St Mary’s Church, Haddington and the sound of unaccompanied Bach on the violin of Dutch virtuoso Cecilia Bernardini proved crowd-pulling."

"The Paganini-like stridency common to many renditions was entirely absent, leaving room for the music to sing on its own terms and the wonderful building to play its part. The chords, nurtured rather than attacked, rang out hauntingly."

"This often overwrought passage [Chaconne], while not lacking drama in any sense, was wonderfully free of brash and hollow showiness."

Cecilia Bernardini at the Lammermuir Festival
The Herald Scotland, Sunday 22 September 2013


Cecilia Bernardini

Four stars

A LATE-NIGHT treat was in store on Saturday at the festival, as listeners flocked to hear violinist Cecilia Bernardini perform unaccompanied Bach at St Mary's Haddington. Although the advertised candlelight, being at floor level, was out of sight to all but the front row of seats, the atmosphere for this performance was nonetheless devotional, and cosy.

Taking her place in the half-light to perform the A minor Sonata No 2, the angelic-looking Bernardini played on gut strings and at baroque pitch. Sure enough, the Grave opened with a deep and slow power, while the Fuga captured a stately poise, with time and phrase given to each voice.

In the Andante, Bernardini added graceful and finely judged ornamentation, before moving with a fierce and fiery energy into the Allegro.

Next was the D-minor Partita No 2, the dances of which Bernardini artfully underlined. Starting with an Allemande that didn't hang about, Bernardini found a genuine swing in this movement, which was a pleasure and a rarity to hear.

Her Courante was also right on its toes, both in its fine execution and its light skip. After a beautifully lilting Sarabande and a wild but varied Gigue, which people couldn't help but applaud, we came to the cornerstone, the Chaconne.

Here were new delights; light quaver upbeats that didn't need hammering down, the giddying swoop and soar of the violin register, the dance that didn't stop, and the arpeggiated string crossing that rocketed around the church and later still in your head. Without fuss or sentiment, we arrived at the end. Except that Bernardini wasn't through with Bach for the night, delivering the G-major Adagio as an encore and a parting gift.

Stotijn: halsbrekende virtuositeit (Concertgebouw Amsterdam, 8-2-2013)
NRC, Joep Stapel, Monday 11 February 2013

Bijgestaan door Cecilia Bernardini en Hans Eijsackers bracht Rick Stotijn een gevarieerd programma, met dansen van Bach tot Piazzolla. [...]  Violiste Cecilia Bernardini, met wie Stotijn een hoorbare klik heeft, Excelleerde in zowel de Chaconne uit Bachs partita nr. 2, knap beheerst op barokviool, als het wervelende, Iers aandoende Dance van Theo Loevendie, stampend met belletjes aan haar voet.

Dunedin Consort, Lammermuir Festival
The Herald

Cecilia Bernardini, with her gorgeous, rounded, golden sound, crfted long and beautiful lines out of her solos. Far from overstating things, she is a violinist who draws you into her space. And once you're there, you do indeed want it to go on forever.

Unknown title
Badische Neuste Nachrichten

“[...] Zunächst presentierte Cecilia Bernardini aus Italien, die in Amsterdam studiert, die Sonate von Claude Debussy mit einer erstaunlicher Spieltechnik und musikalische Reife.[..]”

Title unknown
De Telegraaf, 2005

“[...] Als er een prijs zou bestaan voor de fraaiste toon, zou die ongetwijfeld gaan naar Cecilia Bernardini. Zij beschikt over de zeldzame gave haar klank van een magische glans te voorzien.[..]”

Title unknown
NRC Handelsblad, 2005

“[...] Vanwege haar intelligente muzikaliteit, poetische toonvorming en haar integere benadering van de muziek, won Cecilia Bernardini de tweede prijs 'Elizabeth Back', [..]”

Kavakos herkent iets fantastisch
Bela Luttmer, de Volkskrant 2006

"[...} 'Lesgeven gaat niet alleen over het tonen van wat je weet, maar ook over het herkennen van iets fantastisch', verkondigde Leonidas Kavakos tijdens een bevlogen masterclass in de Kleine Zaal [Concertgebouw Amsterdam, red.]. [...] De sessie met Cecilia Bernardini verliep anders. Haar visie op het vioolconcert Dem Andenken eines Engels van Alban Berg maakte niet alleen op het publiek grote indruk. Ook de docent was verrast door Bernardini's talent. Hij gunde haar alle eer en veranderde haar les in een kort concert- een genereus gebaar."

Cecilia Bernardini, een grote belofte
Thiemo Wind, Telegraaf, 2007

“[...] De twee musici [Cecilia Bernardini en Mirsa Adami, red.] zijn aan elkaar gewaagd. In de sonate in e (KV 304) van Mozart heerste zo'n uitgekiemde balans tussen de twee instrumenten, dat de luisteraar op sommige momenten oren tekort kwam. Het musiceren verliep onnadrukkelijk, dienstbaar en stijlgetrouw. Mozart heeft in een brief van 22 november 1777 zijn ideale vioolspel beschreven. De verrichtingen van Bernardini, soepel en helder, voldeden aan alle genoemde kwalificaties. […] Bernardini kon maximale kracht putten uit haar volwassen beheersing over de strijkstok. Zij laat haar viool niet alleen zingen maar ook spreken, als het ware als een blaasinstrument.[...] Het is altijd een belevenis als musici op zoek zijn naar een eigen geluid, zonder anderen te willen nadoen.[..]”

Il talento di Cecilia Bernardini al Peri
Giulia Bassi, La Gazzetta di Reggio Emilia, 2007

"[...] Reggio. Si porge al pubblico con stupefacente freschezza. Tuttavia valutando quello che sa fare, è frutto di uno studio profondo carico di articolata riflessione. [..] Suona con sentimento ma in realtà tutto scaturisce da una piena coscienza dei propri mezzi e della profondità dei contenuti di questi brani che padroneggia anche attraverso una ricca preparazione culturale.[...]"

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