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Penguin Guide, January 2009

It is quite extraordinary that a work as inspired as Piston’s First Violin Concerto (1939) should not already be in the standard repertoire alongside the Barber, with which it has much in common, including a comparable profusion of individual, lyrical melody. The second subject of the first movement persists in the memory until, most engagingly, it is rhythmically transformed to become the secondary theme of the riotous Rondo finale. The Second Concerto is more elusive, but its opening is no less haunting. The first movement is a two-part structure, developing two ideas, one sinuously ‘expressible’, the other pungently rhythmic and angular. The extended Adagio introduces a clam and very beautiful theme which is later to form a canonic duet with the flute. The Fantasia is a late work, first performed in 1973. Ruminative and searching, its language is more dissonant. It may seem remarkable that these works should be given their CD début by a Ukranian orchestra, but they play the music with security, splendid commitment and feeling. James Boswell, who studied at Juilliard, is a superbly accomplished, dedicated and spontaneous soloist, and the recording is first class.



Andrew Druckenbrod
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 2003

"This 20th-century composer remains underrated. His music is a blend of European form and American individualism, modernism and romanticism, of enjoyable first hearings and rewarding returns. Critic's Pick"




Paul Rapoport
Fanfare, November 1999

Walter Piston is one of the finest Neoclassicists of all…What a splendid idea to put on one disc his three works for violin and orchestra, here august-ly played by James Buswell, mostly well accompanied by a Ukrainian orchestra. © 1999 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare




Paul A. Snook
Fanfare, November 1999

the most successful yet of the ambitious “American Classics” series on the fearlessly budget line Naxos: Walter Piston’s two dazzling Violin Concertos, breathtakingly performed by James Oliver Buswell, with astonishingly idiomatic support from the National Orchestra of the Ukraine under Theodor Kuchaƙ. © 1999 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare




Ivan March
Gramophone, October 1999

"The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine plays the music with splendid commitment, much subtlety of expression and fine ensemble...James Buswell is a superbly accomplished soloist with a full timbre, and the recording is first-class and very well balanced...This would be an essential purchase even at premium price, but on Naxos it's a gift! It will certainly feature in my critics' choice, and, I hope, in next year's [2000's] Gramophone Awards too."



Listener Magazine, September 1999

"The considerable technical demands of these concertante pieces clearly hold no terrors for violinist James Buswell who plays throughout with great brilliance and warmth. Equally impressive is the outstanding accompaniment from the Ukrainian orchestra which dispatches Piston's busy writing with tremendous aplomb. In short, this is an enterprising and irresistible bargain."



Geoffrey Norris
The Daily Telegraph (Australia), July 1999

"The American Soloist James Buswell is a persuasive advocate, combining muscle, mellowness and musicality in performances matched by the breadth of colour by a versatile orchestra."



Ivan March
Gramophone, January 1998

"My Record of the Year is the Naxos coupling of the two violin concertos of Walter Piston, plus the Fantasia for violin and orchestra, splendidly played by James Buswell."



Leslie Gerber
Amazon.com

"Piston's First Violin Concerto (1939), which was once recorded on a German LP, is a prize. It's as entertaining as Piston's popular Incredible Flutist, yet so carefully crafted and serious in content as to be satisfying on every level. The other two works were written much later (in 1960 and 1970), and they are both more introspective and a bit less accessible. But they are still very rewarding music. Kuchar, who studied and lives in the U.S., has his fine Ukrainian orchestra playing as though they've known the music for decades. Buswell, who lives across the street from Piston's graveyard, sounds as though he's in touch with the composer's spirit. Add state-of-the-art sound and the disc is a total winner."






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