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Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, November 2017

The NOI is an American youth orchestra that meets summers at the University of Maryland. I could not find out what the age range of the players is, but pictures suggest they are from high school and college.

I am no fan of electronics in music, but they more or less work here—more, in the sense that Adams has composed an interesting work that is full of ebb, flow, surging, and layering. The effect is sort of oceanic, though I would never have thought of oceans in this work.

The sound is very good… Outstanding playing is the norm for youth orchestras these days. A little more breadth in the strings, especially the violins, would be welcome, but that will come. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

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

Samuel Barber’s First has American pathos and breadth.

Samuel Adams and his “Drift and Providence” updates the quilted earthiness of American symphonic form for today yet does not insist on overt modernity.

We get a generous sampling of the symphonic form beyond the overtly romantic. All is well played by the National Orchestral Institute under Ross. © 2017 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

John Quinn
MusicWeb International, September 2017

Randall Thompson’s Second is pretty much free from angst. It’s a good-natured, enjoyable score which James Ross and the members of the NOIP play very well and with conviction.

[A] more traditional fare is Samuel Barber’s First Symphony. …As Barber told the story, “I remember standing in the wings wondering whether I was supposed to go out again, and the old doorman said, ‘Better not—the hissers win!’” Well, I doubt people would hiss the work nowadays and I’m sure they wouldn’t hiss this highly creditable performance by James Ross and the NOIP.

…the Thompson and Barber symphonies are, in their different ways, fine works. They’re well served here and the performances are presented in good sound. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Hurwitz, August 2017

The National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic is a temporary ensemble formed by participants in the eponymous program at the University of Maryland. On evidence here, they are quite a talented bunch. The wildly syncopated rhythms of the Thompson symphony’s first movement hold no terrors for them at all, while under conductor James Ross’ capable leadership the closing pages of the Barber symphony build to a truly powerful and gripping climax. © 2017 Read complete review

Bob Stevenson
MusicWeb International, August 2017

Considering that the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic is effectively a student orchestra, this is a pretty good result for the Naxos disc.

…this is an enjoyable disc—very recommendable at bargain price. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Andrew Farach-Colton
Gramophone, August 2017

This is the second recording by the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic, a summer training programme for conservatory students. It’s as impressive as its predecessor in terms of the quality of orchestral execution, and perhaps even more valuable in its choice of repertoire.

…this is a performance that grabs you and won’t let go. © 2017 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, July 2017

Here we have a highly attractive program with three diverse compositions, the sparkling Second Symphony by Randall Thompson, Samuel Adams’s oceanic tone poem Drift and Providence and Samuel Barber’s First Symphony in top notch performances. © 2017 Pizzicato

Review Corner, July 2017

This is all performed by the elite conservatory students of the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic; they’re still students, albeit really good ones. Impressive. © 2017 Review Corner Read complete review

Barry Forshaw
Classical CD Choice, July 2017

Randall Thompson’s symphonies are extremely cherishable, full of the kind of dynamism and energy that distinguishes American music of the 20th century. The second Naxos recording by the elite conservatory students of the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic explores further examples of the breadth of American music. Randall Thompson, famed for his vocal works, is represented by his Symphony No. 2 which, with its syncopation and echoes of jazz, helped to establish a bright, vibrant American style. After an inauspicious debut, Samuel Barber’s tautly cyclical Symphony No. 1 became the first American symphonic piece to be performed at the Salzburg Festival. © 2017 Classical CD Choice Read complete review

Robert Benson, July 2017

The National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic consists of first-class conservatory students, and they sound like a major ensemble under James Ross’s skillful direction. © 2017 Read complete review, June 2017

The National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic under James Ross plays [Thompson’s] symphony quite well, never seeking profundity that is just not there. The orchestra also does a fine job with Symphony No. 1 by Samuel Barber (1910–1981), a work of roughly the same time (1936). © 2017 Read complete review

Jeff Simon
The Buffalo News, June 2017

Thompson’s Second is a terrific American symphony and their performance of it is strong. But the making of the disc is what I consider the finest recording of Samuel Barber’s great First Symphony that I’ve ever heard. This is not what one expects from an orchestra of musicians on the apprentice level. © 2017 The Buffalo News Read complete review

Stephen Smoliar
The Rehearsal Studio, June 2017

…between Ross’ leadership as conductor and the recording engineering efforts led by Phil Rowlands, this recording has allowed me to listen to this piece more deeply than I could in the immediacy of the two performances I experienced in concert. I am happy to report that the score holds up very well to that depth of listening, and I could not be more delighted to have this recording now part of my collection.

…Ross puts as much of his own interpretive skills into Thompson’s symphony as his does for Barber; and, across the full scope of this album, the real winners are the NOI students who “made the cut” for the ensemble Ross is conducting. © 2017 The Rehearsal Studio Read complete review

Records International, June 2017

Thompson’s 1931 symphony (now in its third recording of the CD era), with its syncopation and echoes of jazz, helped to establish a bright, vibrant American style. After an inauspicious debut, Barber’s tautly cyclical Symphony No. 1 became the first American symphonic piece to be performed at the Salzburg Festival. Adams’ Drift and Providence spectacularly captures the sound of the Pacific Ocean by incorporating electronic elements. © 2017 Records International

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2017

Three generations of American composers writing in a differing style opening with Randall Thompson, born in 1899, and unmistakable as a son of the United States. Highly regarded for his choral works, he is now almost totally forgotten in the world of symphonic music, though his First Symphony would show as a purveyor of a readily expressive style with just a vague hint of American folk inspiration. At the heart of the work is a lazy Largo and a vivacious Scherzo, with the finale just lacking a ‘big tune’ that would have clinched the work in the American orchestral repertoire. Completed in 1931 it has been likened to Aaron Copland, though it is very much the other way around, as Copland’s major orchestral works were yet to arrive. Barber’s First Symphony came five years later, more weighty and red-blooded than Thompson, it was shaped in one long movement divided into three distinct sections, a boisterous central ‘scherzo’ readily latching in your memory, preceding to a forceful conclusion. Naxos already have on disc the performance that is generally regarded as the finest available from Marin Alsop and the Scottish National Orchestra. So you might overlook this new one, though the National Orchestral Institute Philharmonic, with James Ross conducting, are very enjoyable. Finally, Drift and Providence, an experimental work from Samuel Adams who has recorded the sounds of the Pacific Ocean and has then recreated them using the musical instruments of the symphony orchestra. Is he successful? I will leave that one to you. Recorded in June last year when this massive and talented young orchestra came together for a summer ‘school’ in Maryland. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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