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D Moore
American Record Guide, November 2008

The two works that appear on most programs of Alberto Ginastera’s cello music are the first two listed: the songs are transcriptions by the cellist. Both the programs where the original pieces appear are part of larger collections including both chamber music and music for piano solo; and both employ the same cellist, Aurora Natola-Ginastera, the composer’s wife. That’s a hard act to follow, one would suspect. So how does Kosower do?

Actually, he does quite well. He is a stronger player than Natola-Ginastera and is recorded more clearly than in either the Pierian or the ASV collection. Further, both of those recordings emphasize the pianists involved and they do not include Punena 2, a work for solo cello that is part of the large collection of works written in honor of Paul Sacher and recorded by Rostropovich and others. So if you want a really thorough collection of Ginastera’s rhythmically and emotionally exciting cello music, this new release is the only one to include all three original pieces.

Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, November 2008

Kosower plays with warmth of tone and generous spirit…

…[he] has great energy for the Argentinean rhythms, and the highly imaginative writing brings out some wonderful effects on the cello. This was, for me, one of the highlights of the entire recital…

…the performance of the Sonata is quite good; even pianist Oh plays with more boldness than on the other pieces. © 2008 Fanfare Read complete review

Joanne Talbot
The Strad, October 2008

Semi-Precious Gems

The Argentinian Alberto Ginastera proves to be the winning ticket for cellist Mark Kosower and pianist Jee-Won Oh (Naxos 8.570569).  Both artists include works that chart the composer's developing musical style from the delightful Cinco canciones populares argentinas arranged by Kosower and the established folk-oriented virtuoso showpiece Pampeana No. 2 to the more avant-garde Sonata.  These by turns electric and lyrical performances revel in the music's percussive rhythms as well as its reflective and mysterious melodic invention.

Ben Hogwood, October 2008

An extremely well played collection to which I shall return often

Jay Batzner, September 2008

There are a lot of great things about this recording. If you are a fan of Ginastera’s music, this recording is a wonderful collection showcasing all of the rich details that endear his output to me. The music has rich and occasionally edgy harmonies, wonderful rhythmic propulsion, and extremely lyrical melodies. I find Ginastera to be a perfect example of rugged modernism that is still palatable to more conservative musical tastes. Mark Kosower’s tone is rich, earthy, and deep, making it a perfect match to the material at hand. Paired with Jee-Won Oh on piano, Kosower is stellar at finding the inner life of each piece and communicating that life to the listener. Each work is played with just the right amount of power or tenderness, depending on the need. Kosower’s arrangements of the Cinco canciones populares argentinas are equally sensitive and nuanced, making his efforts on this disc a double-treat.

Norbert Hornig
Fono Forum, September 2008

Of the three original compositions that Alberto Ginastera wrote for cello and piano, at least the late Sonata (1979) is a veritable masterwork.  From beginning to end the four movements contain a musical language unambiguously of a modern style without being avant-garde.  But the music is nevertheless strongly rooted in Ginastera’s Argentinian homeland through its character.  Mark Kosower leaves nothing indebted to the innumerable technical hurdles of this music and offers, with his interpretation, a convincing case for this work to be placed in the standard repertoire.

Mike D. Brownell, July 2008

Kosower’s playing, along with pianist Jee-Won Oh, is magnificent throughout.  The extensive technical demands of Ginastera’s music, from difficult extended techniques to awkward shifts, seem effortless to Kosower.  Musically, he plays with non-stop intensity, drive, and panache, accentuating the rhythmic diversity of Ginastera’s music.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2008

Though Alberto Ginastera’s second marriage was to a cellist, he wrote only two works for the instrument with piano accompaniment. His compositional career had passed through three phases, the two that embraced conventionality surrounding a short period of experimentalism when atonality and serialism entered into his musical vocabulary. The earlier of the two works, the second Pampeana, comes from his days when the lively rhythms and folk music of his native Argentina were uppermost in his thoughts, its outpouring of melody resulting in a score of rhapsodic quality. At the other end of his career the four movement Cello Sonata was one of his last works completed in 1979. Here you find the composer reluctant to desert those catchy Latin American rhythms that had provided his earlier popularity, so he simply dresses them in more pungent harmonies, the piano’s role scheduled to add a modern impact. Yet his skill as a composer results in a most approachable score, his gift of melodic invention coming in the more relaxed passages, while the soloist is given ample scope for an outgoing display of virtuosity. The disc is completed by an adaptation of the early Cinco canciones populares argentinas from Mark Kosower, the disc’s excellent soloist. They were originally for voice and piano, the cello a ready substitute for the vocal line, but while I enjoy the score, it is not one I rate highly. The final track is for unaccompanied cello, Punena No. 2 ‘Hommage a Paul Sacher’, and was written for the seventieth birthday of the Swiss conductor and patron of so many composers. In two movements, the first picturing nature in the land of the Incas, while the second is a brilliant display of cello pyrotechnics. Throughout the disc Kosower is superb, running through the whole range of technical possibilities. He is partnered by the Korean pianist, Jee-Won Oh, who provides a virile and very colourful role. The sound is ideally balanced and of the highest quality.

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