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David DeBoor Canfield
Fanfare, March 2020

…The present CD contains works that involve the collision of the classical and non-classical musical worlds, an event that does produce quite a few intriguing musical sparks.

This is, then, a CD with something for everyone on it. …The disc is worth acquiring, and you’ll pay only a budget price for it. © 2020 Fanfare Read complete review

Phillip Scott
Limelight, January 2020

Derek Bermel blends bossa nova, Bartók, and all that jazz.

The song cycle Mar de Setembro was written for Luciana Souza, who performs it here. Bermel recreates the melancholy Portuguese aura of saudade within a 21st-century orchestral tapestry. Souza bears a strong vocal resemblance to Astrud Gilberto. A wide-ranging, intriguing program. © 2020 Limelight Read complete review

Anthony Tommasini
The New York Times, December 2019

The 25 Best Classical Music Tracks of 2019

Besides being a composer, Mr. Bermel is a formidable clarinetist who in his early days played jazz and funk. “Migrations,” an album of his work, includes “A Shout, a Whisper, and a Trace,” a vibrant homage to Bartok. This, the first movement, is a dizzying melting pot of folklike rhythms, droning tunes and pungent modernist harmonies, spiked with bursts of wailing jazz. © 2019 The New York Times

Guy Rickards
Gramophone, November 2019

Stylistically, Bermel’s music is not just eclectic but bracingly so. The three works here are nothing if not exciting, compelling attention from the very first bars. …Bermel succeeds with Bernsteinian élan. His orchestration is vivid—with touches of Lalo Schifrin, Ives, Copland and a number of jazz stars (Thelonious Monk not least)—but always seems an organic part of the composition, growing out of the jazzy harmonies and melodies, rather than something grafted on as an afterthought.

The Albany Symphony Orchestra, with their various partners, play superbly—and idiomatically—throughout. Fine sound, too. Recommended. © 2019 Gramophone, September 2019

This is a sensitively conceived and intelligently written tribute, and the performance by the Albany Symphony under David Alan Miller is well-balanced, rhythmically astute and altogether convincing—as are the interpretations of the other Bermel works on this CD. © 2019 Read complete review

Rafael de Acha
Rafael’s Music Notes, September 2019

I began to listen and curiosity grew into sheer delight, as I listened to Derek Bermel’s Migration Series for Jazz Ensemble and Orchestra, a work commissioned by Wynton Marsalis that embraces cutting edge jazz melded into big-bones music demanding serious symphonic chops from its players.

Twenty-nine minutes of boldly polytonal, complexly contrapuntal, harmonically unpredictable, swinging music played to the hilt by the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra, with soloists Ted Nash on sax and Bermel himself on clarinet kept me on the edge of my seat.

With part of the CD given a terrific reading by the Albany Symphony led by its resourceful maestro David Alan Miller, and top of the line engineering by Silas Brown and Doron Schacter, MIGRATIONS is worthy of serious attention. © 2019 Rafael's Music Notes Read complete review

Textura, September 2019

Comprising five short songs, Mar de Setembro is distinguished by evocative, at times eerie atmospheres and Brazilian jazz singer Souza, whose delivery conveys the longing and sadness associated with saudade. Bermel begins the work with the mystery-laden shimmer of “Prologue: Que voz lunar” (“What Moonlit Voice”), after which its most captivating and affecting part, “Mar de Setembro,” arrives to stir the senses. The coupling of Bermel’s writing with a luminous vocal by Souza and an ever-so-delicate backdrop by the Albany Symphony makes for the recording’s most arresting moment. Again we see the deftness with which Bermel blends classical writing with other elements, in this case bossa nova-tinged vocal melodies (most conspicuously heard in the fifth song, “Frutos”).

By default, Migrations warrants a classical classification, but its panoramic scope extends far beyond one style only. © 2019 Textura Read complete review

Records International, September 2019

Bermel’s music explores a world of cultural eclecticism; his studies and investigations seem to have been a concerted attempt to absorb as many and varied influences as possible, from studies with Bolcom, Albright, and Andriessen to native musics of Ghana, Brazil and other nations—as well as jazz and popular music, and his career as a clarinetist. These three works approach the listener from literally all over the map. …The crossover jazz of Migration Series, in incorporating sultry Bossa nova inflected vocal lines (emphasized in this performance by the way in which the voice, of conservatory-trained Brazilian jazz singer Luciana Souza, is recorded) and lush lounge harmonies into an inventively orchestrated suite of concert music. © 2019 Records International Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, August 2019

“A Shout, A Whisper and a Trace” brings us to a fully Modern orchestral zone of vibrant sound color, with an infectiously and rhythmically dancing, folksy, almost Coplandesque-meets-Stravinsky opening that quickly turns bi-total. It is all most delightful in its very own way.

…With the Albany Symphony and soprano Luciana Souza in the songful Portugal-oriented “Mar de Setembro” based on a poem by Eugenio de Andrade. It is exceedingly beautiful music, harmonic-melodic in ways that seem as Brazilian as Modern, more lyrical than strident. © 2019 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2019

The Albany Symphony, and their ever-adventurous conductor, David Alan Miller, continue to take their audience deep into the world of American experimentalists.

Here we have three works from Derek Bermel all composed in the present century to commissions from major ensembles and soloists. He would describe himself—he is in his fifties—as operating in the eclectic world that fuses together, jazz, folk and classical music, a career he has shared with the demands of appearances as an internationally renowned clarinettist. Opening with five pictures that form part of Jacob Lawrence’s paintings of African Americans migrating from the south to north of the United States, Migrations Series was completed in 2006. Scored for Jazz Ensemble and Orchestra, its style and content does not fall conveniently into any classification, but I guess it is aimed at an audience in the world of jazz, the ever present lazy influence of the blues, had, for me, outstayed its welcome long before the end. Completed five years later, Mar de Setembro is a series of five songs to texts by the 20th century Portuguese poet, Eugenio de Andrade, with the Brazilian jazz singer, Luciana Souza, as Bermel’s source of inspiration. After Migrations the beauty of this work comes as something of a very pleasing surprise, Souza’s voice creating an ethereal quality against shimmering orchestral backdrops. We finally do move into the world of ‘American Classics’ in the three movements of A Shout, a Whisper and a Trace, a score commissioned to honour Bela Bartok’s final years in New York, and I am sure he would have welcomed it. Recorded in 2015 and 2016, the Albany Symphony are convincing in their many roles, and the recording engineers have successfully captured the very diverse participants including a list of soloists in Migrations. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

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