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Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, November 2017

This music demands you enter into it on its own terms. If you do, there is singularity and undeniable modern musicality. It is the opposite of Webern. There is no short hot potato pointillism, but instead a long, sprawling, endless block of anguish transcended by the beauty of how the music lays out.

The performances are excellent. The music special. Listen. © 2017 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

Allen Gimbel
American Record Guide, November 2017

Quartet 1 (Songs of Forgiveness) is in two movements. I is filled with sighs and sorrow. II is a scherzo in the style of Beethoven (Eroica), woozy episodes culminating in violence and a wild Jewish dance destroyed by a nasty repeated chord. The final section is a slow movement of dank misery quoting a Polish folk song about a child dying. It ends with an appropriately funereal cadence.

Blood, Forgotten is for solo violin and manipulations of itself and transformed recordings (or played on the rescued violin) of a Polish violinist recovered from a concentration camp. This is to be performed with a video, not included.

Quartet 2 is based on a sad lullaby moving into anguish with distant recordings of mournful voices seemingly in prayer. Anguished chaos and a distorted march eventually end with hope and children’s voices. More sorrow leads at last to singing over a sustained D-minor chord, melting into major. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Peter Quantrill
The Strad, September 2017

…[performances] seem altogether alert and committed. Emily Ondracek-Peterson is the leader of the excellent Voxare Quartet, specialists in new music; her husband Erik Christian Peterson is the violist, as well as the producer of the appropriately claustrophobic recording here. © 2017 The Strad Read complete review

Donald Rosenberg
Gramophone, August 2017

Two string quartets demonstrate Nowakowski’s skill at plumbing the depths of feeling. In two movements, String Quartet No 1, Songs of Forgiveness, touches upon despair and death through interweaving lines of unflinching passion. The writing is at once fierce, haunting and mystical. Nowakowski employs audio clips and celebrates a noted Polish composer in the equally riveting String Quartet No 2, Grandfather Songs, in memory of Henryk Górecki.

The performances, vivid and articulate, seize the attention. Ondracek-Peterson and her colleagues in the Voxare Quartet are piercingly alert to the expressive needs of Nowakowski’s bold and empathetic art. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone, June 2017

This is a disc with some very fine playing—the Voxare String Quartet actually gave the première performance of Nowakowski’s first quartet. But the specificity of the topics is handled in such a way that there is little sense of reaching beyond the specifically Polish experience to the kind of shared sorrow and shared reality that would render Nowakowski’s feelings transferable to a wider audience. © 2017 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2017

Born in the United States of Polish parents, Mark Nowakowski has positioned himself among the cutting-edge composers on a disc of four 21st century works. Tonality mixed with atonality to create a mosaic of innovative sounds will rivet the listener’s attention to his First String Quartet, his use of unpredictable rhythmic twists and turns capturing his mixed thoughts when returning to his parents homeland in 2008. The subtitle reflecting on the wretchedness that the Polish people have suffered, yet without forgiveness the young people of today’s Poland will find it difficult to move on. The energy of the first movement giving way, in a mood of lamentation, to the quiet ending. The following year, 2011, saw the completion of the Second Quartet, with the title ‘Grandfather Songs’. It was originated when he heard a recording of his grandfather’s voice, and watching old family videos. Add to that the impact of the death of the composer, Henryk Górecki, while he was composing the score, and there is a potent mix of nostalgia for time long past. In several sections that shape its one movement, it is mostly a very sombre score that erupts at its central point with an aggressive and persistent rhythm, while at the close a recording of the composer’s family sing the war song, Hej Ulami. Blood, Forgotten for solo violin and electronics is a multimedia memorial to the Nazi and Soviet aggression in and after the Second World War, and really needs the video to which it relates to fully appreciate the music. Finally, a gentle lullaby for string quartet. On my first hearing of the Voxare Quartet, I am full of admiration, while the recording quality is first rate. A disc I urge you to hear. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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