Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

David R Dunsmore
MusicWeb International, September 2014

Circuits with its references to kinetic energy is an energetic overture to this disc and is full of references to the hurly-burly we associate with modern America. It is forceful and to me conjures up the world of a busy city.

Symphony No. 1 begins with great force, making an immediate impact. I was impressed by the symphonic structure and a full use of the orchestra that brings colour to her ideas. All in all an impressive piece, well executed.

This is a disc that certainly deserves the attention of anyone who is not hopelessly averse to modern works. The playing and recording are first rate. The stand-out for me was the Symphony but I found all the pieces well worth hearing. It will be interesting to hear more from Cindy McTee. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Bob Neill
Positive Feedback Online, September 2014

Einstein’s Dream is an intoxicating successful blend of natural and computer sound, a rarity in my experience. And there is still more good music on this disc but I’m going to leave it for you to find.

Amazing sound, by the way, some of the best I’ve heard. © 2014 Positive Feedback Online Read complete review

Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, May 2014

…this CD is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The work of orchestra and conductor in these performances is exemplary, something that I have not always felt when hearing recent recordings from this source. The engineering is superb. I can think of no better way to come to know the work of this fascinating composer. Highly recommended. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Donald Rosenberg
Gramophone, April 2014

When asked if she enjoys writing for orchestra, Cindy McTee (b1953) likely would be unable to put on a poker face. At least, that’s the impression one gets after listening to the vivacious and fertile works on this disc. Each shows a different aspect of McTee’s orchestral love, whether she’s conjuring whirlwind colours, arresting jazz riffs or kaleidoscopic computer sounds.

The repertoire spans two decades, starting with Circuits (1990), which jumps from place to place with almost non-stop, acrobatic energy. It’s propulsive and percussive, full of irresistible textures and details, a burst of orchestral whimsy that’s gone in little more than five minutes.

On a more expansive scale is McTee’s captivating Symphony No. 1, Ballet for Orchestra (2002), whose four movements embrace various dance styles and draw inspiration from famous scores of balletic pedigree or otherwise.

The composer explores another world entirely in Einstein’s Dream (2004), a homage in seven sections of eerie and fantastical invention. Scored for string orchestra, percussion and computer music, the score mixes electronic crunches and swirls with dizzying string figures and a Bach chorale that heightens the aura.

In Double Play (2010), Ives is the inspiration in the opening movement, ‘Unquestioned Answer’, and ticking clocks pervade the second, ‘Tempus Fugit’. It’s a cascade of diverting activity—sometimes calm, often clamorous—that Slatkin and the Detroit musicians fill to the sonic brim. © 2014 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, January 2014

Cindy McTee’s stylistically wide-ranging music is so imaginative, colorful and good-natured that it is really entertaining. © 2014 Pizzicato

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, January 2014

It has been said that her music reflects a “charging, churning celebration of the musical and cultural energy of modern-day America.” Circuits instantly testifies to this with its headlong nervy rushing helter-skelter. In this super-propulsive writing she shares lineage with Schuman, Bernstein and some of the minimalists. There is more sharing to come with avant-garde influences absorbed into her schemes—Pendereckian string writing, chattering voices and clashing percussion. At the other extreme she has a gift for lush romantic music. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Blair Sanderson, January 2014

Regarded as one of the most brilliant composers of her generation, Cindy McTee demonstrates her prodigious skills at orchestral writing in this 2013 Naxos release… © Read complete review

Steven A. Kennedy
Cinemusical, January 2014

The DSO does a great job exploring these unique pieces. The Symphony is certainly the highlight of the disc with the opening Circuits being not far behind. The other pieces are somewhat curious 21st Century examples that one might find on a compilation of new orchestral music. In the present setting, these are each carefully chosen pieces that manage to illustrate the variety and depth of McTee’s musical language. This is a great introduction to McTee’s music… © 2014 Cinemusical Read complete review

Ralph Graves
Off Topic’d, December 2013

If you’re not familiar with this talented American composer…this album provides a great introduction.

McTee’s carefully crafted melodies make her music easily accessible without resorting to triteness or cliche.

Leonard Slatkin and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra know this music well, and it shows. Ensemble playing is clean and precise, the narrative flow of the music is clear, and the blend between instruments and sections seamless. © 2013 Off Topic’d Read complete review

Mark Stryker
Detroit Free Press, December 2013

Detroit Free Press’ 14 holiday gifts for music fans

Slatkin has championed McTee’s music since the 1980s, but their marriage in 2011 informs this disc with a familial vibe that’s apropos for the holidays. McTee writes music in motion, full of kinetic rhythm connected to dance; the First Symphony carries the subtitle “Ballet for Orchestra.” There’s also a polished gleam about her colors, an inventive approach to form and a respect for tradition—you’ll hear references to Ives, Ravel, Bach—without mortgaging a sense of the here and now. “Einstein’s Dream” is particularly compelling in its marriage of electronic and acoustic sounds that appeal to the head and heart. © 2013 Detroit Free Press

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

Leonard Slatkin heads up the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for this set of four McTee works, and he and the outfit once again show they are in a very fine fettle indeed. The Rachmaninov cycle…they are doing is virtually landmark, and now they take on some complex modern works with total conviction and sonically spectacular results.

If you like the kind of stereo showcase that Bartok’s “Concerto for Orchestra” gives us, Cindy McTee’s music here will give you that kind of excitement in its own way. She is masterful and Maestro Slatkin brings it all to us with pretty thrilling results. Get this one, too. You cannot beat the price, so go for it! © 2013 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, December 2013

The music of Cindy McTee…[is] very well played by the Detroit Symphony under Leonard Slatkin. The most salient characteristic of McTee’s First Symphony is color: the composer has a fine sense of orchestration and employs it fully here, producing a sonic environment that is always attractive and constantly changing. McTee is more impressive and emotionally engaging in the shorter pieces on this…Naxos CD. Circuits…a fine curtain raiser, is jazzy, bright and upbeat throughout, and the two movements of Double Play…offer a series of influences from the past that zoom by and are presented within McTee’s own style…this…CD has a great deal to recommend it. © 2013 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2013

A pupil of Krzysztof Penderecki, the American composer, Cindy McTee, came to him after he had distanced himself from atonality and she follows in his footsteps. Opening on the fringe of Minimalism with Circuits, a score whose music goes round and round, before moving to a new and different circuit, and so on. It is one of those pieces that immediately fascinates the ear, repeated rhythmic patterns supporting an increasingly busy upper layer…the First Symphony is subtitled, Ballet for Orchestra, and is a score essentially built on rhythmic cells, and follows the vogue among present day composers in the States of quoting from famous works, in this case using the music of Beethoven in the opening movement; Penderecki and Barber in the second; Ravel’s Bolero in the third, and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in the finale. All very interesting, McTee’s orchestration playing successfully with a multitude of tone colours that also dominate Einstein’s Dream…Finally two linked works in Double Play, the first, Unquestioned Answer, using music to question traditional musical values. I guess we are hearing definitive accounts as Cindy McTee is the wife of the conductor, Leonard Slatkin, who has at his disposal the fine Detroit Symphony in a top quality sound recording. © 2013 David’s Review Corner

Ettore Garzia
Percorsi Musicali, November 2013

the elements of musical character and the style of Cindy McTee are perfectly represented in this compilation made by Naxos: we listen to compositions as Symphony no. 1, where the moods of Beethoven (of the Fifth Symphony) become nervous, where Barber’s Adagio is steeped in the atonality of Penderecki’s Polish Requiem, where we fail to recognize Ravel, and Stravinsky’s rhythmic impulses collide with the orchestras of Mingus…

…In “Einstein’s Dream”, a composition for string orchestra, percussion and computer music on CD, composed in 2004, McTee creates wonderful confluence of sounds in that impalpable jungle of electroacoustic music. Relevant technical, perfect allegories, the theme of the wonderful story of Einstein’s dream is beautifully tackled: McTee find a pretext to claim the attachment to science and technology of the Americans, the progress made in a century and the importance of the connection with the other arts (including the music)… © Percorsi Musicali

Colin Anderson

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and its maestro are totally on top of this thrilling ride…the DSO playing like demons. © Read complete review

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group