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Penguin Guide, January 2009

Here is a well-planned and ideally documented aural window opening on to five of Cavalli’s key operas, very well sung by a fine cast who are obviously at home in this repertoire. If there are no stellar names in the cast list, there was no star system in Cavalli’s time, and the vocal acting here is at one with the melodramatic (and sometimes sexually explicit) story-lines. While the music itself often has distinct reminders of Monteverdi, Cavallis was still his own man, and the lovely lyrical theme of the final duet of Act III of Didone is almost Handelian, while the farewell scene between Erisbe and Ormindo is dramatically most affecting. The operas are full of laments (Dido’s is sensitively sung, if not as memorable as Purcell’s famous setting), but Hypsipille’s grieving from Act III of Giasone shows Cavalli readily captures the sensuous atmosphere of the highly immoral interchanges in Calisto, while Endymion’s Act II aria is quite luscious. All in all, while this is a piecemeal selection, there is a great deal to enjoy, and it does give the listener a sense of the range of Cavalli’s operatic writing. The accompaniments are most stylishly managed, and the conductor, Sergio Vartolo, is also to be praised for his sensitive accompaniments at the harpsichord.

American Record Guide, August 2007

I hadn't been aware of Miriam Kramer previously, but she plays with a gorgeous tone and seems well nigh flawless. This disc includes all of Syzmanowski's music for violin and piano, which gives it an advantage over several other releases that are less complete. Considering its bargain price, it becomes an immediate first choice for anyone wanting Karol Syzmanowski's violin music. This covers his career from earlier works vaguely reminiscent of Scriabin and German late romanticism to Debussy and Stavinsky with bits of Middle Eastern influences. Perhaps the best work is also the longest, the sonata. The Notturno and Tarantella is spectacular, while Pawel Kochanski's transcription of the 'Song of Roxanne' from King Roger is a fine short work.

Notes and recordings are very satisfactory and Nicolas Durcan accompanies well.

Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, May 2007

"Naxos has been busy launching an all-out campaign on behalf of Szymanowski’s violin works. A companion disc, played by Ilya Kaler, is devoted to the Concertos and has the Fitelberg orchestration of the Notturno and Tarantella. And now in the chamber sphere we have this recital by Miriam Kramer and Nicholas Durcan, which has two centres of gravity – the Sonata and Mythes. Kramer and Durcan have some decided views in this repertoire, ones that take them broadly to the edge of orthodoxy."

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2007

With new recordings of Karol Szymanowski's two violin concertos scheduled for future release, Naxos has been very supportive of a composer whose recordings seem to evaporate so quickly from the catalogue. Born in the Ukraine in 1882 with a mixed Polish and Swedish parentage, his early education was at home due to a leg injury, but moved to Warsaw at the age of 19 to study composition. Working under the patronage of Prince Lubomirski as part of the 'Young Poland Music Group', it was time spent in Berlin and Leipzig that was to shape his early career, there falling under the influence of Wagner and Strauss. Hearing Debussy and Ravel created his love of sensuous and exotic sound that created the style by which he is now best remembered.  His home destroyed in the Russian Revolution, he settled in Poland in 1919, and though his music was little understood there, his posthumous description has been that of a major Polish national composer. The music recorded here spans much of his life and embraces his changing styles, the earliest being the sonata of 1904 when in the grip of his Germanic period. Though in no way an immature work, it owed greatly to Brahms, its three movements nicely structured and the thematic material interesting if not always memorable. Moving forward six years for the Romance he has taken a quantum leap forward, even if the scoring owes a debt to the French Impressionists. By 1915, and with one of his best-known chamber works, the three Myths, he was writing in those exotic shades that gave his musical language a sense of sublime eroticism. Miriam Kramer's reliable account of the sonata now turns to those ecstatic colours as the music soars into the outer stratospheres, her intonation so totally reliable. There is feel of being inside the music throughout the disc, Nicholas Durcan a most sympathetic partner, and when offered the opportunity proves a fine soloist. I have heard better piano quality from Naxos, but this is a highly desirable disc.

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