Review By Penguin Guide,January 2009
The present issue makes an excellent introduction to the composer, and its three CDs assemble the nine Bachianas brasileiras he composed between 1930 and 1945. They were conceived as homage to Bach and range from instrumental and chamber pieces (like the First for an orchestra of cellos, the Fifth for voice and eight cellos, and the Sixth for flute and bassoon) to larger orchestra and Nos. 7 and 8 for orchestra). They are all highly original and mostly colourful, and they are very well played. José Feghali is an excellent soloist in the Third, as is Rosana Lamosa in the well-known Fifth. The Nashville Orchestra respond with enthusiasm to Kenneth Schermerhorn who, alas, died before he could complete all nine pieces,
Review By ,Scherzo,June 2006
Review By ,The Dallas Morning News,December 2005
Parsifal (Opus Arte DVDs)
Nikolaus Lehnhoff's grim staging doesn't help, but these days you'd be hard-pressed to beat a cast of Christopher Ventris (Parsifal), Matti Salminen (Gurnemanz) and Waltraud Meier (Kundry), and Kent Nagano conducts eloquently. Stunning high-definition video and audio.
Songs of Innocence and Experience (Naxos)
William Bolcom's huge setting of William Blake's most famous poems is a contemporary American masterpiece, juxtaposing styles maniacally but never losing its integrity or individuality. Fun on a first listening, but permanently satisfying.
Review By Kurt Loft,Tampa Tribune,December 2005
William Grant Still - "Afro-American" Symphony; Fort Smith Symphony, John Jeter, conductor (Naxos)
The first symphony by a black composer to be played by a major orchestra, the "Afro-American" galvanized Still's career and brought credibility to the efforts of blacks in the concert hall. Still's openly lyric style weaves spirituals, blues and jazz into an eminently accessible score.
The disc includes his imaginative travelogue "Africa" and "In Memoriam," which pays homage to black soldiers killed in World War II.
John Dowland - "A Dream"; Hopkinson Smith, lute (Naive)
Dowland, the English Orpheus, wrote lavishly for the lute, the instrument of choice for people on the move four centuries ago. These 20 pieces are miniatures of melancholy, intimate portraits of a composer
Review By Sarah Bryan Miller,St. Louis Post-Dispatch,December 2005
The music of Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) is best known in the wordless section of the "Bachianas Brasileiras" No. 5 for voice and eight cellos. Actually, there are nine "Bachianas," all of them serving both as homage to J.S. Bach and an exploration of the musical idioms of Villa-Lobos' native Brazil. "Bachianas Brasileiras (Complete)" (Lamosa, Feghali; Nashville Symphony Orchestra; Schermerhorn; Naxos 8.557460-62; three CDs) gives them to us in order and in fine performances.
Review By John von Rhein,Chicago Tribune,December 2005
As their titles suggest, the nine works Heitor Villa-Lobos designated as "Bachianas Brasileiras" were his elaborate way of paying homage to his beloved Johann Sebastian Bach--through the rhythms, colors and textures of Brazilian folk and popular music. The pieces range from instrumental and chamber to fully orchestral . . . (these performances) capture the music's vivacious spirit in a convincing manner.
Review By David Mead,Naxos,December 2005
The single greatest virtue in Schermerhorn's work, for me, is orchestral tone that is never self-indulgent, but is rich and elegant as chocolate mousse. Some of the nine pieces explore the tone colors within a narrow range, for example, the two with cellos. Where a full instrumental compliment is used, there are flashes and sparkles of tone color, especially in the woodwinds and, of course, the percussion. When the Nashville Symphony's noisemakers get rolling in the livelier dance movements, surely no listener will be able to sit still.
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