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Stephen Wright
American Record Guide, July 2018

Bolcom turns on the charm, though, in his ragtime pieces. The first Bolcom I ever heard was his ‘Poltergeist Rag’, and the rags remain my favorite Bolcom genre. We’re graced with two of them here: ‘Estela’ and ‘Brooklyn Dodge’. The latter is played leisurely and laid back on a honky-tonk upright piano like something from an old-time saloon. © 2018 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Stephen Greenbank
MusicWeb International, June 2018

Bolcom lamented the move of the Brooklyn Dodgers from Ebbets Field to Los Angeles and etched the witty and arresting The Brooklyn Dodge in their memory. The composer describes the piece as stride music, and the left-hand leaps present no problem for Christopher Taylor, whose rhythmically nuanced reading emits plenty of pizazz. The Argentinian pianist Estela Olevsky is a stylish champion of Latin American composers, and is the inspiration behind Estela: Rag Latino, which Bolcom dedicated to the late composer William Albright and later expanded for her. It has an attractive ragtime feel, which Olevsky captures to perfection. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Alex Baran
The WholeNote, April 2018

It’s a credit to the four performers that their interpretive approaches are so similar, allowing Bolcom to appear consistently as a composer whose language is bold and clear. Equally comfortable with swinging rags as with contemporary forms, Bolcom emerges from this recording project as a rich creative spirit capable of both profound iteration and light-hearted humour. © 2018 The WholeNote Read complete review



Richard Whitehouse
Gramophone, March 2018

Taking a likely cue from Luciano Berio, Bolcom is a stylistic chameleon whose own voice is not so much absent as (purposely?) underplayed. A musical chess player who knows every move in the book, he duly takes the pizazz of The Brooklyn Dodge (1972), the post-Romantic rhetoric of Ballade (2006) and sombre introspection of Night Meditations (2012) effortlessly in his stride, while rarely, if at all, revealing his own hand. When he does, as in the eloquent poise of the Rochberg Variations (1987), just where the presence of the older composer ceases and that of Bolcom starts is rendered intriguingly yet pointedly unspecific. © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Records International, March 2018

This extremely useful set gathers together all of Bolcom’s piano music that you don’t already have in your collection. There are many delights here, and some fascinating revelations about the development of this most versatile pianist-composer who has always resolutely refused to respect musical genre boundaries. …There are two delicious rags, separated by almost forty years, student pieces that show the composer coming to terms with the avant-garde polemics of the 1950s and 60s, and a concert paraphrase of an operatic aria in the popular ‘Neapolitan Song’ style. © 2018 Records International



Lynn René Bayley
The Art Music Lounge, December 2017

This three-CD set of his piano works contains both the entertaining and the meaty. They’re also well enough written to catch the imagination of a serious listener without insulting them. …I think the best way to describe Bolcom is as a composer of pieces that have good classical construction but always seem to veer towards movie or popular tunes.

…an interesting and worthwhile collection of Bolcom’s piano music. © 2017 The Art Music Lounge Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2017

We came to know the American composer, William Bolcom, in the late 1960’s, when he joined the remarkable vogue for the 18th century Piano Rags of Scott Joplin. His biography at the time revealed student days spent in Paris with Milhaud and Messiaen among his mentors, returning to the United States as a concert pianist and teacher in a number of American universities. What followed was a vast catalogue of works that has included four operas, nine symphonies, twelve string quartets and a sizeable quantity of piano music. Stylistically he has never stood still, so that his life he has passed through several phases, as you will hear on these three CD’s covering works from 1956 to 2012. The atonal avant-garde of the 1960’s, and in particular of Pierre Boulez, shaped his Fantasy-Sonata in 1961, as he stepped away from the world of his Romantic Pieces completed two years earlier when he was still in contact with tonality. At the other end of the spectrum, his 2012 Night Meditations has blended a modern view of tonality with the hard edged era of Boulez and his kin. In the midst of these large-scale works you will discover the commercial Bolcom, who has a ready flow of catchy rhythms and melodies we find in the Three Dance Portraits completed in 1986, a score that stylistically takes us back to 1956 when he was eighteen and composing a short student exercise called Spring Dances. The most extended score is the 12 Etudes for Piano composed over a seven year period beginning in 1959, and shaped in three books of four pieces, each short piece given an equally brief descriptive title. Opening in the world of Messiaen, we are soon into the world of The Second Viennese School, with moments of beautiful atonality, interspersed with the jagged hyperactivity of the two scherzos in the Second book. The work ends in total atonality as an Apotheosis in memory of Bela Bartok, the movement more extended than the First or Second books in their entirety. Four very short and atmospheric Night Pieces from 1960 and the more extended six Conversations with Andre (Andre being the Jerusalem-based composer, Andre Hajdu), and there is more easy listening in The Brooklyn Dodge, Estela and New York Lights. The four performers, Constantine Finehouse, Estela Olevsky, Ursula Oppens and Christopher Taylor, are the composer’s trusted champions, and though the recording venues and the dates of sessions do differ, the overall sound quality is remarkably consistent and of very high quality. I just wish the composer had given permission to record all of his piano works in this compendium, for it would then have become a truly outstanding and totally indispensable release. © 2017 David’s Review Corner





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