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Paul Ballyk
Expedition Audio, January 2015

For those listeners not familiar with the work of the American composer Stephen Paulus, this recent release from Naxos serves as an excellent introduction, offering superb performances of Paulus’s orchestral music from Giancarlo Guerrero and his Nashville Symphony.

Paulus’s large-scale Grand Concerto for Organ and Orchestra…opens up an array of possibilities, and Paulus applies them to impressive effect. The organ is played admirably by the young American organist Nathan Laube.

The concluding minutes of this concerto, and of the program, are as grand and powerful as you would hope. The listener is left with an uplifting feeling suitable for an album that has come to serve as a poignant tribute to one of America’s great contemporary composers. On the evidence of this excellent release, Stephen Paulus’s works have secured a well deserved place in the contemporary American repertory, and we should expect to enjoy them in concert halls and on disc for years to come. © 2015 Expedition Audio Read complete review



Donald Rosenberg
Gramophone, January 2015

Guerrero and the Nashville musicians make a sonorous feast of the work, with principal players…contributing superbly as soloists and en masse. © 2015 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Gwyn Parry-Jones
MusicWeb International, December 2014

[Three Places of Enlightenment]…is entertaining music, superbly conceived for the forces involved.

The recording [of the Grand Concerto] is excellently balanced and the alert, characterful playing of the Nashville orchestra under Guerrero comes over with total clarity.

All in all, a wonderful CD, and one I would passionately commend to anyone searching for a modern composer who is neither bamboozlingly obscure nor patronisingly accessible. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, November 2014

Organist Nathan Laube gives a stunning account of…[the Grand Concerto].

The Nashville Symphony Orchestra is one of America’s finest, and under their director Giancarlo Guerrero make a strong case for Paulus’ music…They give outstanding support to Mr. Laube as well as the solo quartet…Maestro Guerrero’s reading of “Veil of Tears” is also extremely affecting, filling out a disc that’s another example of the NSO’s highly innovative programming.

The sonic image projected is wide, deep and reverberant with the quartet center-front and organ spread across the rear of the soundstage. A good balance is maintained between soloists and orchestra throughout.

This CD should appeal to those liking a rich cavernous sound. © 2014 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review




Steven A. Kennedy
Cinemusical, November 2014

The recording here is really stellar…the matching of sound is managed quite well with the organ being well-balanced especially in the final work. The sequencing of the release works equally well to introduce the musical style and as an overall program in a must have disc for fans of American music. © 2014 Cinemusical Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2014

Stephen Paulus will be the perfect antidote to those who know they will never come to terms with the cutting edge among twentieth century contemporary composers.  He is directing his musical steps towards a future world where longevity of music will be given to those returning to tonality within a modern harmonic language. It is certainly a difficult path to tread, as it is all too easy to be accused of being a reactionary who is afraid of the way ahead and is more content as a mimic of times past. Paulus can put such caveats to one side a s he explores fresh boundaries in the Concerto where four solo strings—here played by the orchestra’s section leaders—interact with a large orchestra to form an unusual mosaic of textures. Each of the three movements is highly contrasting and relates to a story set out in the accompanying booklet. The short Veil of Tears reflects its title and comes from the Holocaust oratorio, To be the Curtain of the Dawn. Maybe the word ‘Grand’ in the organ concerto is a little misleading, Paulus often using the instrument’s delicate sounds in tracery, particularly in the long central movement. It does become more boisterous in the outer movements, the finale marked Jubilant using the whole range of its awesome power. Originally written as a showcase for the winner of the 2003 Dallas International Organ Competition, it is surely the work organists must dream about. In demand as a concert organist throughout North America, Nathan Laube, is the superb soloist, while the Nashville Symphony prove throughout the disc that they are one of the finest orchestras in the United States. With the UK producer, Tim Handley, these live concert recordings are remarkable in their massive dynamic range and inner detail. © 2014 David’s Review Corner



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, October 2014

I am very glad to have this disk of the orchestral-concerted Paulus, which will give your stereo a real workout while it envelopes you in some beautifully crafted, rather brilliant music. The Nashville Symphony sound fabulous under Guerrero. Don’t miss this beautiful farewell! © 2014 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review



Infodad.com, October 2014

[In the Grand concerto]…Nathan J. Laube brings forth exactly…[the various feelings] and emotions in a world première recording for Naxos, and the Nashville Symphony under Giancarlo Guerrero delivers strong, balanced and nuanced accompaniment. © 2014 Infodad.com Read complete review





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