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MusicWeb International, October 2012

The seven featured composers in Ahlert and Schwab’s genial recital, though hardly big names, are connected by the fact that they are all living Americans born in the Fifties or Sixties. For all that, none of the works is particularly contemporary-sounding. Indeed, any might be placed anywhere within the last century or so. All the music is tonal and generally tuneful, unlikely to offend the ear even of those whose only vaguely similar CD purchase to date was “Craig Ogden: The Guitarist”. There is little dynamic or tonal contrast in any of the items, but mood, tempo, rhythm and style are skilfully varied by each composer to produce an hour’s worth of listening that ought to fly by. There are no weak pieces in the programme—all have something to say in an imaginative or attractive way. The two longest works, Tom Febonio’s Water Ballads and Mark Delpriora’s full-blown Sonata, will likely be most people’s choices as the ones that must be kept alive in the recital hall: the first for its beauty, the second for its depth.

In any case, Ahlert and Schwab give committed, dexterous readings that benefit from two decades of harmonious and intuitive partnership. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

John Whitmore
MusicWeb International, July 2012

This is pleasant, tuneful music and it’s very easy on the ear. The Fates and Strange Attractor are well crafted with interesting rhythmic antiphonal effects between the instruments. The stereo separation on the excellent Naxos recording allows this interplay to come over with good effect. Mercurials is a set of four short studies with contrasting moods…The Sonata by Mark Delpriora is in two contrasting movements, one slow and melancholic, the other lively and—to quote the composer—giddy, inspired as it was by lizards hopping from rock to rock in Italy. Giddy it may be but it certainly has a good forward momentum to it and it is, after Water Ballads, probably the best work on the disc. Daimonelix was inspired by rock formations found in a remote region of Nebraska. The music is a gentle, hushed rumination. The work captures the hushed serenity of the landscape and on that basis it can be deemed a successful nature portrait. Indigo Trails covers much the same ground as Daimonelix despite the claims of the composer that the music is inspired by popular electronic rock and Middle Eastern music. As with everything else on the disc it is brilliantly played. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Kenneth Keaton
American Record Guide, July 2012

I’ve never been particularly fond of the sound of the mandolin, but these performances are at such a high musical level that I was easily won over.

This recording…includes works by seven American composers, each still alive, and each of the same generation, born between 1950 and 1962. Several of the works were written for this duo.

The most beautiful work is the sonata by Mark Delpriora. It is in two movements, ‘Ruins I’ and ‘Ruins II’—referring to traditional forms such as sonata and rondo, which are transformed, or perhaps broken, into ruins. The opening movement is mystical, meditative—a huge contrast to the wildly grotesque, even giddy, second movement.

Ahlert and Schwab perform with precision, commitment, and invention. They are always expressive, virtuosic but never showy. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2012

Duo Ahlert & Schwab have generated a new American interest in the potential of the mandolin and guitar, many of the works on this disc written for them. They stretch back over the past thirty years, the earliest, Tyler Kaiser’s The Fates, from 1984, when it appeared for guitar and recorder, and later arranged for Ahlert and Schwab. The composer, who has a large portfolio of scores in many genres, has juxtaposed the six fates in pairs to create a work in three movements that call for a high degree of technical accomplishment. My favourite tracks come from Tom Febonio, a rock band electric guitarist who has turned to composition, the opening of Water Ballads, a gentle rocking melody and one of those you go away humming to yourself, is the opening of six short and charming pieces. Timothy Dweight Edwards’ Strange Detractor is both modern and abstract in feel, the interplay between instruments is complex and very engaging. …I was interested in Jay Gordon’s Daimonelix, a work inspired by colourful natural rock formations. Finally Jeffrey Harrington combines popular Western and Middle Eastern influences in Indigo Trails. The multi-award winners mix guitar, mandolin and lute in recitals that range from the Baroque to the most recent Contemporary eras. They here display a range of stunning dexterity… © David’s Review Corner

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