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Maria Nockin
Fanfare, March 2013

The Carpe Diem Quartet plays [Leshnoff’s Second String Quartet]…with joy and passion.

The finale [of Seven Glances at a Mirage] leaves the listener still wondering about the identity of the mirage, but that’s part of the fun rendered by this interesting piece. Jerome Simas, clarinet; Stephen Miahky, violin; and Joshua Nemith, piano; play it most gracefully. In Cosmic Variations on a Haunted Theme the violin gets its due…they play it skillfully. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

David DeBoor Canfield
Fanfare, March 2013

Naxos is simply an amazing company. In its catalog that comprises some 6,000 titles, it evidences an outstanding track record of issuing worthwhile new American music, a prime example of which is found in the CD under review. The efforts of this company hardly are limited to American music though, and seemingly extend to each country with any kind of a tradition of what we call classical music. When I was last in Denmark, for instance, I visited a few CD shops and saw any number of Naxos recordings of Danish composers that I’d never seen in any CD shop in the U.S. So more power to this compan…doing a fabulous job in recording and promoting contemporary music.

In an interview with David Peironnet in Kansas City, Leshnoff stated that he seeks “to bring some centricity to music. I write what I want to hear. A lot of people enjoy my orchestration and harmony. I want to connect with the audience so they enjoy my music, too.” This philosophy, along with his obvious compositional gifts, may explain why he has connected to audiences, critics, and performing musicians alike. His music is saturated with an energy that keeps the auditor on the edge of his seat.

This CD succeeds brilliantly on every level, with committed performances and vivid sonics, both of which enhance the already stunning music. The disc will certainly be a contender for my next Want List. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Rob Haskins
American Record Guide, November 2012

The music is attractive and well made. Leshnoff’s quartet benefits from more personal-sounding and surprising turns of phrase and harmony…the performances are very fine. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2012

Born in New Jersey in 1973, Jonathan Leshnoff has everything it takes to become one of the world’s most auspicious composers of the 21st century. I have previously reviewed his orchestral works, and I now have the pleasure to welcome a disc devoted to his chamber music. Working in that style where tonality and atonality rub shoulders, it is the fascinating and often beautiful sounds he creates that places him apart from other present-day composers. Written to a commission, the Second String Quartet pictures two people, with much affection, as they celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. In three quite short movements, the finale is a busy and happy presto. Composed five years earlier in 2003, the Seven Glances at a Mirage is scored for clarinet, violin and piano, offering a dialogue and solo passages in a patchwork of sounds that shift and move around in a fascinating kaleidoscope. Maybe from the same year—the booklet notes and back insert offering different dates—Cosmic Variations on a Haunted Theme is scored for a piano trio, the music a little reminiscent of Martinů in its repetition of short spiky motives. Certainly not easy to perform, the Opus 3 Trio offer a highly charged performance, of wide dynamic contrasts. Maybe you would expect something more dramatic as Leshnoff’s response to the terrorist attack on New York’s twin towers in ‘…without a chance’ but with vibraphone, marimba and percussion the response is muted, though as a score divorced from its title it is fascinating. The music I most strongly commend to you. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle, July 2012

…Leshnoff’s command of instrumental color is so firm, and his tart, insinuating harmonies so arresting…“Edelman” [is] as sentimental as you’d imagine, yet there’s also a toughness and volatility to the music—especially as rendered by the Carpe Diem String Quartet—that gives the sweetness a solid foundation. The rest of the music is strong-limbed and imaginative, especially “Seven Glances at a Mirage,” an involving and wonderfully varied trio that is both compact in form and expansive in mood. “Cosmic Variations on a Haunted Theme,” a suitably eerie and somewhat rambling piano trio, and a taut Sept. 11 memorial for two percussionists complete the disc handsomely. © 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Read complete review, June 2012

…Jonathan Leshnoff…uses both familiar and less-traditional instruments to create chamber music of highly varied mood and color. Seven Glances at a Mirage tries…to create shifting perspectives through innovative use of clarinet, violin and piano sonorities, which sometimes merge and sometimes diverge into different and even apparently contradictory realms. …without a chance (with ellipsis and without capital letters) employs…an unusual instrumental combination, in this case for a specific purpose: to remember the terrorist murders of September 11, 2001. Leshnoff chooses only percussive instruments here—vibraphone, marimba and a percussion complement—and while it would be reasonable to expect them to evoke the fear and intensity of the 9/11 attacks, the composer calls on them to do more: to resolve, or attempt to resolve, the mass murder in a moving and emotionally satisfactory way…it is an effective piece on its own terms and, like the other chamber works on this Naxos CD, is performed with skill, heartfelt intensity and greater delicacy than might be expected. © 2012 Read complete review

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