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Nathan Faro
American Record Guide, May 2018

The main piece by Claude Baker is his ambitious Whitman-themed Piano Concerto (From Noon to Starry Night). Whitman’s poems don’t serve as just inspiration; they are models of imagery, structure, and meter for each movement. Baker also inserts a number of musical references into his concerto to connect with the text: Ives, Mahler, Messiaen, Rochberg. The result is an impressive work that does evoke Whitman. Still, Baker has woven his dense web of references at the expense of clarity for the listener. Like the concerto, Aus Schwanengesang adheres to strict models—in this case, Schubert’s Heine settings. This piece is more accessible and incorporates some striking colors. IV, ‘Ihr Bild’, is stunning, with insistent strings and notes in the trumpet that seem to melt away. © 2018 American Record Guide

Alex Baran
The WholeNote, January 2018

The five-movement concerto is complex and presents considerable technical and interpretive challenges for the pianist. Hamelin’s performance integrates beautifully into this demanding ensemble requirement. He is particularly potent where he dominates the orchestra in pianissimo passages. For all its beauty, the work is one of very high tension. Baker is a brilliant composer and has the perfect pianist to premiere this remarkable work. © 2018 The WholeNote Read complete review

Richard Whitehouse
Gramophone, January 2018

Performances could hardly be bettered. Marc-André Hamelin conjures scintillating pianism, while Gilbert Varga and Juanjo Mena secure committed orchestral playing. © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

David DeBoor Canfield
Fanfare, January 2018

Marc-Andre Hamelin’s playing is, as usual, sui generis, and the Indianapolis Symphony under the sure baton of Gilbert Varga is stunning as well.

The live performance conducted by Juanjo Mena is taut, precise, and palpably exciting. I cannot imagine it being bettered by another conductor and orchestra. © 2018 Fanfare Read complete review, December 2017

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under Juanjo Mena handles the material adeptly, and the contrasts between the often very dissonant material by Baker and the wonderfully melodious phrases by Schubert are certainly dramatic enough. © 2017 Read complete review

Richard Hanlon
MusicWeb International, December 2017

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra perform both works with tangible enthusiasm under Gilbert Varga (in the Concerto) and Juanjo Mena; there are certainly some spirited solo contributions from individual players, most obviously the trumpets in the Piano Concerto. Marc-André Hamelin’s presence will certainly raise the profile of this disc and his contribution to the first work is characteristically bold, unfazed and virtuosic. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Records International, November 2017

As in his The Glass Bead Game (10O084), in this concerto Baker delights in playing his own game of allusions, references, cross-references and parallel and intersecting musical and extramusical ideas. The work seeks to illuminate and effloresce out of five poems by Walt Whitman, exploring the structure of ideas within the poems and expanding on implied associations by incorporating a network of familiar compositions by other composers, that expand and amplify themes in Whitman’s poetry. © 2017 Records International Read complete review

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, October 2017

Dissonance with fine craftsmanship among these works which make play with imaginative promontories, processed collage and lucid orchestration. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2017

I was first introduced to the American composer, Claude Baker, with a disc issued almost seven years ago on the Naxos label and was most suitably impressed. Born in 1948 and educated in the States, Samuel Adler among his composition mentors, has already given us a goodly crop of orchestral works, mostly to commissions, the Piano Concerto for the Indianapolis Symphony dating from 2010, and here recorded at the first performance in January 2011 with Marc-André Hamelin as the soloist. I have to admit to a mental block when any work needs hundreds of words to explain its content, and I guess you could write a dissertation on this concerto. Suffice it to say that Baker drew his inspiration from poems by Walt Whitman and it is infused by quotations from works of composers he holds in high regard. It is cast in five movements using a mix of tonality and atonality as its building blocks, the solo part technical demanding without becoming a virtuoso show-piece. …Aus Schwanengesang is a commission from the North Carolina and Canton Symphony Orchestras and, as the title suggests, takes its inspiration from Schubert’s song-cycle and the Heine poems used. Be prepared for a drum outburst in the second ‘song’ leading to a death march whose presence the composer’s programme notes does not fully explain. Its content takes us back to tonality with its roots in the stem-cell quotations from previous composers. The Indianapolis orchestra is an excellent ensemble, who are obviously giving deeply committed performances for the conductors—Gilbert Varga in the concerto, and Juanjo Mena in Schwanengesang—the sound engineering of high and natural quality. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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