Reviews

“Given the programme, the role of leader Claire Duff is key, and she responds with some beautiful playing throughout the concert, notably in the piece that follows. This Sonata No. 6, by William Viner, is a rare discovery, clearly a showpiece for the locally-based composer, but probably not heard in concert for nearly 300 years. Duff negotiates its running ornamented lines and dancing rhythms nimbly, a fascinating piece…The concert finishes with Geminiani’s witty concerto grosso-arrangement of Corelli’s ‘La Folia’ variations, with playing full of fire, flair, and brilliance.”

Michael Lee, GOLDENPLEC, February 2018, IBO, St. Ann’s Church, Dublin

 

“Director Claire Duff communicates impeccably with the group, and a real sense of camaraderie is apparent among the orchestra, with smiles from one performer to another as they play revealing a true enjoyment of their work.

Purcell’s Sonata in 4 parts No. 6 in G minor follows, putting Duff and fellow violinist Huw Daniel in the limelight. The pair work a seamless dialogue over broken chords and decorative trills in harpsichord, and chromatic bassline in the cello. Their rapid bowing of the faster passages lends the work an impeccable sheen.

The performance of Vivaldi’s double violin concerto is immense fun, and the rollicking playing of the first movement brings out the vitality and movement of Vivaldi’s writing, before transitioning to the sombre second movement. Duff shines as both director and performer. Her understanding of dramatic gesture is clear in her understated yet expressive performance, maintaining a steady tempo and gentle dynamics within the orchestra throughout.”

Shauna Caffrey, GOLDENPLEC, IBO, February 2017, St. Ann’s Church, Dublin

 

“The highlight of the concert came […] in Claire Duff’s performance of Corelli’s Violin Sonata in G minor, Op 5 No 5. Duff’s daring handling of [Dubourg’s] intricate additions had all the excitement of a high-wire act.”

Michael Dervan, THE IRISH TIMES, August 20th 2014, Kilkenny Arts Festival

 

“Claire Duff’s stylish solo violin playing is an eloquent foil to the voice part..”

David Vickers, GRAMOPHONE, June 2014, Vivaldi Cantatas, Deirdre Moynihan, Naxos CD

 

“The two violinists, Beznosiuk and Duff, form an effective partnership, as we hear especially in the brilliant Passamezzo Concertato by Biagio Marini, negotiating its interweaving lines and eccentric turns with some stunning playing.”

Michael Lee, GOLDENPLEC, February 2016, IBOCS/Beznosiuk, Newman Church, Dublin

 

“Claire Duff (with continuo players McMahon and Proud) treats us to a fascinating performance of Corelli’s Violin Sonata in G minor, as embellished with ornaments by Geniniani’s pupil (and master of music at Dublin Castle) Matthew Dubourg…Duff is as impressive as ever, brilliantly attending to the virtuoso style of the piece with authority and expressive, warm-toned playing.”

Michael Lee, GOLDENPLEC, Camerata Kilkenny, September 2015, Royal Chapel, Dublin Castle

 

“She follows this with music from Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor, which is beautifully articulated: taut, elegant and free-flowing, her playing brings out the light, improvisatory nature of the opening movement in particular. Seán Doherty’s Divisions brings the concert to a virtuoso finish, with its rapid-fire closing section. Between these last two new pieces, Duff introduces the earliest piece in the programme, the ‘Passacaglia’ from Biber’s Mystery Sonatas, an outstanding and inspiring work which she plays to mesmerising effect.”

Michael Lee, GOLDENPLEC, ICC Strung Series, solo recital, March 2015, Irish Georgian Society, Dublin

 

“The contrasts between the various slow (‘old’) and fast (‘new’) styles are well-projected by the ensemble, expertly led by violinist Claire Duff. Duff remains on stage with Mortensen and cellist Sarah McMahon for the Violin Sonata in G minor by Corelli, in the version with embellishments by the Irish-based violinist Matthew Dubourg. Sparkling and assured, Duff’s brilliant playing is nicely offset by the punchy accompaniment of the two continuo players.”

Michael Lee, GOLDENPLEC, IBO/Mortensen, November 2015, University Church, Dublin

 

“Directed from the harpsichord by Baroque specialist John Butt and ably led by violinist Claire Duff, the IBO plays superbly from the start. The evening brings some excellent solo playing from Duff.”

Michael Lee, GOLDENPLEC, OTC and IBO, April 2015, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

 

“Technically proficient violin solos, such as those featured throughout Biber’s Harmonia Artificiosa Partia VI, are tossed off without a hitch; slower ones boast a welcome degree of inflected tonal panache.”

Barry Brenesal, FANFARE, IBOCS/Huggett, Flights of Fantasy CD

 

4 star review.  “…Huggett’s in the best of company with nine spirited soloists form the Irish Baroque Orchestra”.

GB, THE TIMES, Sept 2010, IBOCS/Huggett, Flights of Fantasy CD

 

“In Brandenburg Concerto No 5, harpsichordist Malcolm Proud whipped up the first movement’s iconic cadenza into a frenzied coloratura, while in the second movement the co-operation of Claire Duff on violin and Julia Corry on transverse flute was especially beguiling.”

Andrew Johnstone, THE IRISH TIMES, January 2010, IBO, National Gallery, Dublin

 

“Two violin concertos from [Vivaldi’s] Il cimento dell’armonia e dell’invenzione, (The Trial of Harmony and Invention) were played by Claire Duff (No 10, La caccia) and Monica Huggett (No 11, notable for the elaborate cadenza in its finale). Both works fall into that category of music where the challenges are all for the performer, not the listener. Duff and Huggett conveyed their irrepressible appeal with spirited confidence.”

Michael Dervan, THE IRISH TIMES, January 2010, IBO, National Galllery, Dublin

 

“One instance of this flexibility was the slow movement of the Concerto for Two Violins, which moved at a languorously sprung one-in-a-bar, and in which Huggett and Duff persisted in articulating their questions and answers as two differing personalities. ‘It goes like this’ said one. ‘But I can make it work like this,’ said the other. All three movements had virtuosity of a profoundly musical kind.”

Martin Adams, THE IRISH TIMES, July 2006, IBO/Huggett NCH

 

“…or in the astonishing virtuosity of a Biber Trio Sonata, there was no doubt that this music was designed to celebrate virtuosity before your eyes as well as your ears.  These players celebrated with a vividness that no recording could match.”

Martin Adams, THE IRISH TIMES, June 2006, IBOCS, Airfield Hse, Dundrum

 

“His players and soloists are uniformly superb[..]And although I still prefer the ‘Sonata sopra Sancta Maria’ with a solo soprano line, its instrumental variations are here dispatched with such fluency it’s hard not to be won over; the ‘Ave maris stella’ is similarly eloquent.”

William Yeoman, THE GRAMOPHONE, June 2006, Monteverdi Vespers CD, The Kings Consort (leader)