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Rob Maynard
MusicWeb International, December 2014

JoAnn Falletta crosses the Atlantic to join her “other” orchestra in reviving some 19th century Americana. Conservative in idiom and exhibiting strong suggestions of Beethoven, Liszt and Brahms, Paine’s well-crafted scores may not be outright masterpieces but certainly deserve a hearing. The first-rate performances show them off in the best possible light. © 2014 MusicWeb International

WQXR (New York), April 2014

JoAnn Faletta and the Ulster Orchestra of Northern Ireland capture the rugged spirit of 19th-century Boston composer John Knowles Paine in this collection. The Overture to As You Like It sounds like it could have come from the pen of Franz Schubert, albeit with some Wagnerian harmonic twists for good measure. The six-movement suite The Tempest is a more assertive and dramatic work altogether, with big, brassy gestures and turbulent strings… The Symphony No. 1 in C minor is well-crafted, if somewhat conservative in style, reminiscent at times of Brahms in his stormy mode. A worthwhile compliment to the more familiar Shakespearean tone poems of Tchaikovsky, Sibelius and others. © 2014 WQXR (New York)

Robert Benson, April 2014

This music is well worth hearing, and surely these splendid performances by the Irish orchestra directed by JoAnn Falletta…the engineering is excellent. This is a major release in the discography of 19th Century American music. © 2014 Read complete review

Laurence Vittes
Gramophone, March 2014

These fine performances by the Ulster Orchestra and JoAnn Falletta reveal…more than craftsmanship and a broadly trained ear. The instrumental writing is superb, often brilliantly so.

Recorded in Belfast’s Ulster Hall, the sound has an attractively large sound stage with impressive, natural power. © 2014 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, March 2014

This is an urgently recommended, indispensable release. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Emily DeVoto
Classical Ear, February 2014

…JoAnn Falletta and the Ulster Orchestra give impressively assured accounts of three attractive works by John Knowles Paine…Paine’s imaginative orchestration is exhibited in all its richness by JoAnn Falletta’s assured direction of a first-rate ensemble… © 2014 Classical Ear Read complete review

Steve Smith
The New York Times, February 2014

…persuasively crafted, making these regal, beautifully played and recorded accounts impossible to dismiss. © 2014 The New York Times Read complete review

Mark DeVoto
Classical Ear, February 2014

John Knowles Paine[’s]…First Symphony is an agreeable exercise in a Schumann-like idiom, with echoes of Beethoven. The two Shakespeare pieces on this well-executed disc are even better; the Tempest symphonic poem, in six sections, shows Wagner’s influence…and the As You Like It Overture has Mendelssohn’s gossamer fleetness. Paine’s imaginative orchestration is exhibited in all its richness by JoAnn Falletta’s assured direction of a first-rate ensemble. © 2014 Classical Ear

David Hurwitz, January 2014

John Knowles Paine won’t win any awards for originality, but these three works from the period 1872–77 are pleasing, well-crafted, and worthy of repetition. The First Symphony has been recorded previously, but not better than this version featuring JoAnn Falletta and the Ulster Orchestra.

…the performances are completely satisfying, and very well recorded too. © 2014 Read complete review

Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle, January 2014

John Knowles Paine was the first American-born composer to make a name as the creator of music in the standard classical genres—which is to say that his work bears all the trappings of his training in 19th century Germany, and nothing that we could point to as being distinctly American. Yet ersatz Mendelssohn has its own appeal when done with the kind of craft and imagination displayed in these orchestral works from the 1870s, given vivid performances by the Ulster Orchestra under conductor JoAnn Falletta. Paine’s Symphony No. 1 is a solid four-movement creation that hews close to its models, but it boasts ingenious orchestration and generous melodic invention…Just as traditional but more varied…are two Shakespearean offerings, a concert overture to “As You Like It” and a long, multi-section symphonic poem on “The Tempest.” The latter sketches the play’s characters and scenes with winning directness and clarity. © 2014 San Francisco Chronicle Read complete review

Steven J Haller
American Record Guide, January 2014

…Falletta and her expert ensemble offer it up here…I like her giddy account of the Scherzo even more; in the finale honors are more even, but Ms Falletta captures more of the sheer brio of the music. Here is a very fine introduction to Paine’s supreme accomplishment—not a bad piece of work, but “real” Yankee high spirits were yet to come.

…I find Ms Falletta more responsive to the shifting moods of the play, and the Ulster bassoon has a pert walk-on as Caliban.

No doubt the Second Symphony of Paine will be forthcoming from Ms Falletta and I look forward to that. © 2014 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Colin Anderson, January 2014

Very well played and recorded, Falletta and her Irish troupe do these pieces proud… © 2014 Read complete review

Rob Maynard
MusicWeb International, December 2013

I have had cause elsewhere on the MusicWeb website to sing the praises of JoAnn Falletta, though this is the first time I have heard her with the Ulster Orchestra, of which she became Principal Conductor in 2011. I am delighted to report that, on the basis of this disc, all seems to be well with the new partnership. Ms Falletta—who has, in her career so far, premiered more than 100 works by past and present American composers—displays an obvious affinity with these scores and deploys her forces so as to make the best possible case for them. While it is undeniable that Paine writes in a conservative idiom, it is equally the case that the three works on this disc encompass between them a wide range of mood, tone and approach. In spite of what I presume to be their previous unfamiliarity with the music, the Ulster musicians rise successfully to every challenge and present very enjoyable accounts that make the best possible case for the composer. Naxos’s engineer has also created a warm acoustic that shows off the performances to best advantage.

As you will have gathered, I enjoyed this disc immensely. While I may not have encountered Paine’s music before, I can now only hope that Naxos records the second symphony—apparently entitled In spring—with the same impressive forces. © MusicWeb International Read complete review

Cinemusical, November 2013

Falletta[’s]…performances here are simply wonderful allowing the music to embrace the style and thrust of 1870s symphonic music…and the result is a truly gorgeous set of performances cast in amazing sound.

The Tempest work features some great solo ideas that would engage performers and audience alike and the overall musical style is quite accessible. Of course, even Liszt’s tone poems are rarely heard in concert these days. As to the symphony, there is no excuse why this is not part of the standard American orchestral repertoire…It is a work that certainly anyone could point to as a significant essay in the genre for the period. © 2013 Cinemusical Read complete review, November 2013

Falletta’s Paine disc with the Ulster ensemble shows the composer’s very considerable skill at orchestration and his clear absorption of his Germanic training. His works…on this CD are well-crafted and convincing. Paine’s Symphony No 1 is skillfully designed and well-orchestrated, thematically pleasant and well-constructed. The As You Like It overture is also tuneful and moves gracefully throughout, while the longer Tempest symphonic poem is clearly in the mode of Liszt, featuring six distinct sections played one after the other and skillfully portraying Ariel, Prospero, Ferdinand and Miranda, Caliban and some of the scenes of Shakespeare’s play. One thing that makes this CD a particularly felicitous gift is that the music will almost surely be unfamiliar to the recipient, but the Romantic mode in which it is written will make it easy to listen to and immediately accessible. © 2013 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2013

If you have an attachment to the music of Mendelssohn and Schumann, I urge you to hear this disc from the 19th century American composer, John Knowles Paine. Born into a family deeply involved in music, much of his education in that field came from time spent in Germany. Though his output was then rooted in the traditions he learnt there, together with Foote, Chadwick, Beach, MacDowell, and Parker, they sowed the seeds that would produce the next generation who would embrace 20th century Americana. The disc’s most striking aspect is the American conductor, JoAnn Falletta, who has achieved so much since arriving in Ulster a year ago. The refinement and warmth she has brought to the strings, the outgoing passages played with the brio of an orchestra that now believes it is in the world premiere league. She is a fine advocate of Paine, and has a recording of excellent quality to add to my fervent recommendation. © David’s Review Corner

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