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American Record Guide, March 2019

O’Connell’s performance of the Four Songs on Shakespeare Sonnets show her beautiful, caramel mezzo merging with piano lines that sometimes riff on the Baroque. … This is a wonderful set of works by a composer whose every work opens up a wide, kaleidoscopic new world of melodic possibility. © 2019 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Donald Rosenberg
Gramophone, December 2018

Oakley’s versatility in tapping into expressive possibilities is also evident in Remembrance, a one-movement piece in three sections (‘Daydream’—‘Dream’—‘Awakening’) of luminous conversations for clarinet and piano; the vibrant musicians are Anton Rist, clarinet, and Angelina Gadeliya, piano. © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Records International, November 2018

Despite his name, George Oakley was born in Tblisi, Republic of Georgia. After completing his early studies in his native country, he moved to the USA, where he now lives. The influence of Georgian folk music can be felt in the melodic contours of his treatment of themes in the Cello Sonata and the Sonata-Fantasia, but for the most part his idiom is western and neo-romantic, with jazz syncopations and harmonies here and there, as in the energetic, appealing little Toccata; and the first movement of the Cello Sonata has more than a whiff of Debussy and Ravel. This work is substantial, in three movements, progressing from a sense of struggle, very chromatic, via a feeling of determination in the first movement to a long line of prayerful melody against a background inspired by Orthodox church bells, to a jubilant finale. Oakley more than rose to the challenge “as a non-native English speaker” of setting Shakespeare in works of unusual diversity and internal variety of mood, to match the sheer density of emotional colors in the texts. The 15 minute Sonata-Fantasia is a virtuosic showpiece for Oakley’s own instrument, in a sonata-like sectional structure within a single span. Texts included. © 2018 Records International



David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2018

Born in Georgia, but now living in the United States, George Oakley is living parallel careers as a composer and pianist, Richard Danielpour among his recent mentors. The booklet note quotes a review which describing his works as ‘a return to a great tradition’, which sells him short of his obvious desire to create a very personal musical voice. He does, in fact, join Danielpour in seeking out a new approach to composition that I continue to describe as a ‘modern tonality’, where you will find atonality creeping in from time to time. If anything I find his scores somewhat unnerving as you settle down to a modern view of well-trodden paths, when the music suddenly flies off in an unexpected direction. That is particularly true of the 2013 Cello Sonata—a score I will often return to—when you suddenly find jazz in a patchwork full of various influences including Georgian folk music. It certainly offers many technical challenges to both cellist and pianist. In the Four Songs on Shakespeare Sonnets, he is obviously looking for a lyric quality, but I find that his writing sometimes does not rest happily on the voice, the piano so busy it takes our attention from the words. Yet this is a sizeable song-cycle lasting over twenty minutes and I would place it as a work you should hear. The composer’s own programme notes does not explain the title, Remembrance, a short virtuoso work for clarinet and piano. He does divulge that the Sonata-Fantasia from 2010 came at a difficult part of his life, a single movement work in many sections showing a high degree of turbulence and unease. It certainly is a test piece for pianistic brilliance. Original performers are involved in many of the tracks, and all have that feel of authority required to champion unknown works. You will have to play the disc at a very low volume setting, but once found, it is of good quality with a very realistic piano tone. © 2018 David’s Review Corner





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