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David DeBoor Canfield
Fanfare, September 2013

Atlantic Riband exudes optimism and affirmation of the indomitable human spirit throughout its 13-minute duration, even in its quietest sections. It doesn’t require too much imagination to hear the waves, the sea birds, and the gentle rocking of the ship in this work, which would work equally well on the serious concert stage or in a pops concert context.

American Rhapsody is described as a romance for violin and orchestra…a gentle exercise with beautiful flowing lines in both the solo instrument and the orchestra. The sweetly singing tone of violinist Michael Ludwig is all that one could ask for to bring this work off convincingly.

Divinum Mysterium…is very similar to the preceding work. If you’re not paying attention, you may not notice that a new piece has begun, other than that the timbre of the solo instrument has become much darker. There are plenty of opportunities throughout the piece for the violist to show off his technique and musicianship, including a cadenza or two. Violist Paul Silverthorne has plenty of each of those qualities to show off, too, and his playing is most impressive.

Falletta makes a good case interpretively for these works, as do the various soloists. This is a thoroughly enjoyable CD, which should have wide appeal among the readers of this magazine. Fuchs has a good ear for color and sonority and the skill to put together convincing musical fabrics. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, September 2013

…Paul Silverstone, for whom Fuchs composed the concerto [Divinum Mysterium], plays magnificently, and that all violists should be grateful for the addition to their literature of such a handsome and deeply moving original work.

One of the marks of a great composer is the ability to imprint his works with a uniquely identifiable profile or personality, while still managing to make each piece he writes sound new and different from all the others. Fuchs’s Concerto Grosso for String Quartet and String Orchestra is an example. It has Fuchs’s unmistakable fingerprints all over it, yet it has a distinctive style and sound all its own.

JoAnn Falletta leads the LSO players with her usual skill and flair. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Phillip Scott
Fanfare, September 2013

FUCHS, K.: Atlantic Riband / American Rhapsody / Divinum Mysterium / Concerto Grosso (London Symphony, Falletta) 8.559723
FUCHS, K.: String Quartet No. 5, “American” / Falling Canons / Falling Trio (O’Riley, Trio21, Delray String Quartet) 8.559733
FUCHS, K.: String Quartets Nos. 2, 3 and 4 TROY480

Hearing all three discs in succession is an object lesson for a critic: Many composers who may be initially pigeonholed prove on closer examination to have unsuspected breadth. Fuchs is certainly one, and is a musical discovery I have been delighted to make. As to the performances, they are without exception marvelous. Falletta and the London Symphony need no introduction; neither do soloists like violist Paul Silverthorne and cellist Tim Hugh, while the recording of the orchestra is one of Naxos’s best. Both the American and the Delray Quartets play with commitment and insight; the Americans are perhaps more sympathetically recorded. Trio21 gives an immaculately shaded rendition of Falling Trio: Its members are Jeffrey Biegel, piano; Kinga Augustyne, violin; and Robert deMaine, cello. The most impressive performance comes from O’Riley, a virtuoso pianist long known for his dedication to contemporary music. All three discs are confidently recommended to lovers of new music that has got something to say and does not go out of its way to be alienating. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Steve Schwartz, July 2013

All of the works on this disc…sound gorgeous.

Falletta’s readings match the music…Divinum Mysterium gets a stellar account, aided largely by Paul Silverthorne…He has all the virtues I associate with intelligent, musically sensitive playing: an imaginative shaping of line, acute rhythm, awareness of his ideal place in an ensemble…he also has the ability to penetrate to the emotional core of whatever music he plays. In this case, he projects a mystical intensity. His isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and he plays a wide range of music. He aims to speak in the composer’s voice, and to this end, he wants to understand the music’s architecture, as well as its rhetorical shape…Silverthorne’s account recommends this work to others—listeners, conductors, and players alike. © 2013 Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, May 2013

This is the sort of album that seems to well epitomize what a composer is about. And Fuchs’ music is singular enough that what is going on in his music stands out with a kind of hard-drawn clarity.

Trio21 are exemplary on this piece [“Falling Trio”].

Fuchs delivers an extremely powerful punch…The triumvirate of sounds acts as a kind of monumental remembrance in musical terms. This is a high form of discourse indeed. Recommended! © Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Allen Gimbel
American Record Guide, January 2013

This splendid program contains four recent orchestral pieces, two with string soloists, and a short overture and should delight conservative listeners and all sympathetic to the style.

Everything is perfectly played by these British players. The music should certainly be played in this country as well. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Lee Passarella
Audiophile Audition, December 2012

…Divinum Mysterium…may be worth the price of admission for those who want to hear what Fuchs is all about. The piece gives the violist a chance for virtuosic display, as well as for making some very pretty sounds, while thematically and architecturally, it’s satisfying. Bravo to Paul Silverthorne and to JoAnn Falletta and her orchestra. They certainly give as fine advocacy to this music as a composer has a right to expect. Excellent sound, too, from the Naxos engineers…Divinum Mysterium is worth a listen, and the other pieces may be just right for when you want to unwind with lighter fare by a contemporary composer. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Robert R. Reilly
The Claremont Institute, December 2012

I must bring to your attention the new Naxos CD of Kenneth Fuchs’s orchestral works…brilliantly played by the London Symphony Orchestra, under American conductor JoAnn Falletta…Fuchs…has a way of capturing the stirrings of the human heart and the yearnings of the soul in highly spirited, soaring music. His works express an inimitably American sense of expectancy, of horizons glimpsed and striven for, and, finally, of boldly announced arrivals. He achieves all this within the conventional means of tonality. Orchestrally, he employs a sparkling kind of American Impressionism…American Rhapsody…has a Samuel Barber-like melodic appeal and orchestral lushness to it. This is unfailingly appealing and immediately accessible music. © 2012 The Claremont Institute Read complete review

Robert R. Reilly
Crisis Magazine, November 2012

…I must bring to your attention the new Naxos CD of Kenneth Fuchs’s orchestral works (8.559723), brilliantly played by the London Symphony Orchestra, under American conductor JoAnn Falletta. Like Aaron Copland, Fuchs (b. 1956) has a way of capturing the stirrings of the human heart and the yearnings of the soul in highly spirited, soaring music. His works carry within themselves an inimitably American sense of expectancy, of horizons glimpsed and striven for, and, finally, of boldly announced arrivals. He achieves all this within the conventional means of tonality. Orchestrally, he employs a sparkling kind of American Impressionism, though I heard a dash of Benjamin Britten’s Sea Interludes in Atlantic Riband. American Rhapsody is, according to Fuchs, a Romance for violin and orchestra. It has a Samuel Barber-like melodic appeal and orchestral lushness to it. Violinist Michael Ludwig plays with both elegance and exquisite feeling. So does violist Paul Silverthorne in the lovely Divinum Mysterium, a one movement concerto for viola and orchestra, inspired by a Protestant hymn tune. This is unfailingly appealing and immediately accessible music. © 2012 Crisis Magazine Read complete review

Peter Dickinson
Gramophone, November 2012

LSO play music tailor-made by American Fuchs

This is the third CD of Kenneth Fuchs’s orchestral music arising from the enthusiastic partnership of JoAnn Falletta and the LSO. United Artists on the second CD (3/08) was a tribute to that orchestra and now the viola concerto Divinum Mysterium has been written for the LSO’s lead viola, Paul Silverthorne.

As with Fuchs’s Canticle to the Sun, for LSO horn player Timothy Jones, this concerto is based on a hymn-tune. This time it’s ‘Of the Father’s love begotten’, originally plainsong, and it’s interesting to trace the use of that fine melody, which emerges in full about two-thirds of the way through. The concerto, obviously rewarding to play, has cadenza material but is temperamentally more poetic than display. There’s a similar approach in American Rhapsody for violin and orchestra but the discourse is more meandering, as the title suggests.

The opening of Atlantic Riband, celebrating the transcontinental shipping lines, recalls the triads of Vaughan Williams, while Copland has affected the melodic spacing as well as the brass-writing in the overture Discover the Wild. That lasts less than five minutes and there are five pieces on this CD lasting less than 60 minutes. So nothing is over-extended and the performances are hand-in-glove with the composer. © 2012 Gramophone

Terry Robins
The WholeNote, September 2012

A recent Naxos CD…in their excellent American Classics series features performances by the London Symphony Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta of five works by Kenneth Fuchs…This is actually the third Naxos album of Fuchs’ works by this team…and it shows a lyrical composer with great imagination and a fine ear for orchestral colour. Two orchestral works—Atlantic Riband and the overture Discover the Wild—open and close the disc. Falletta is joined by her Buffalo Philharmonic concertmaster, the outstanding Michael Ludwig, for American Rhapsody…and by the LSO’s Paul Silverthorne for Divinum Mysterium…Both soloists are in top form, with Ludwig’s beautiful tone…fully evident. © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review, September 2012

The energetic Concerto Grosso, for string quartet and string orchestra, is particularly interesting, using a Baroque form to play two violins (Carmine Lauri and David Alberman), a viola (Paul Silverthorne) and a cello (Timothy Hugh) against a larger string complement—much in the style of the concerto/ripieno design of Baroque concerti grossi. But Fuchs’ piece clearly pays homage to the old style rather than trying to copy it slavishly, creating an intriguing mixture of old and new. Two other works on this disc play single instruments against an ensemble, but in an integrated rather than concerto-like oppositional manner: American Rhapsody for violin and orchestra and Divinum Mysterium for viola and orchestra. Both pieces are lyrical and emotional, with Divinum Mysterium particularly heartfelt. The other two compositions here are colorful orchestral works: Atlantic Riband…and Discover the Wild, a short and effective concert overture. JoAnn Falletta, a fine conductor and strong proponent of modern American music, conducts all the works quite well, and the London Symphony Orchestra proves itself quite comfortable with Fuchs’ style. © 2012 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2012

Kenneth Fuchs is one of the American group of composers who are bringing listeners in from the cold world of classical music created by the reactionaries at the beginning of the 20th century.’ Words that began my 2005 review of the first Naxos release of his orchestral works recorded by the London Symphony with JoAnn Falletta conducting. This third volume opens with Atlantic Riband, a tribute to the S.S. United States, the fastest boat to cross the Atlantic. It is a highly charged score with an important role for the timpani in a series of dramatic interjections. Fuchs’ affection for lyric and beautiful sounds comes with the American Rhapsody a ‘Romance for violin and orchestra’, here played with a smooth and golden tone by Michael Ludwig. Effortless in technique, the quiet and fast running passages are played with exact precision, the cadenza full of unforced brilliance. Divinum Mysterium, one of Fuchs’ most recent works, comes as a result of his meeting with the principal viola of the LSO, Paul Silverthorne, at a previous recording session. Fuchs fashioned a concerto for him that grew from the hymn tune known as Of the Father’s Love Begotten. In the same style as the American Rhapsody, it too has a demanding solo cadenza and a substantial orchestral role surrounding Silverthorne’s warm-toned viola. It would have been a good idea to separate the two works with the very different Concerto Grosso where there is a shift towards minimalism in its orchestral backdrop. Scored for strings, the solo string quartet is drawn from the LSO section principals. Finally a happy Discover the Wild, a short and pleasing orchestral overture. Falletta has worked very closely with Fuchs and we can take these as benchmark recordings. Increase normal volume levels to get the most from a very good 2011 recording. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

James Manheim, September 2012

Two works here, Atlantic Riband and American Rhapsody, are patriotic crowd-pleasers…Perhaps the album’s most effective work…is the Concerto Grosso, a sort of Mahlerian take on the Baroque form, setting a string quartet against a string orchestra in a pleasing variety of textures amplified by luscious harmonies. Conductor JoAnn Falletta, leading the London Symphony Orchestra, is an ideal ambassador…which anyone sitting at a free outdoor summer concert might enjoy, but which holds up to repeated hearings. Recommended, especially to symphonic programmers. © 2012 Read complete review

Anthony Burton
BBC Music Magazine, September 2012

Kenneth Fuchs—born 1956, professor of composition at the University of Connecticut—writes in a mainstream tonal idiom. He’s a master of orchestral writing: resonantly built-up chords, scurrying string textures, lucid woodwind exchanges, telling interjections from brass and percussion. In this selection of works from the last five years, Atlantic Riband portrays the movement of a majestic transatlantic liner; American Rhapsody for violin and orchestra is would round a quasi-improvisatory solo line; Divinum Mysterium for viola and orchestra resourcefully explores the possibilities of a hymn tune; the Concerto Grosso makes imaginative use of the combination of string quartet and string orchestra; and Discover the Wild is a short, breezy overture. On Naxos’s third Fuchs recording, everything gets five-star treatment: violinist Michael Ludwig and viola player Paul Silverthorne make the solo parts their own, and the LSO under JoAnn Falletta sounds brilliant in a spacious Abbey Road recording. © 2012 BBC Music Magazine

Anthony Burton
BBC Music Magazine, September 2012

Kenneth Fuchs writes tonal orchestral music of great imagination. He’s a master of orchestral writing. © 2012 BBC Music Magazine

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