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Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, July 2015

This is, quite simply, a rich and amazing CD of music composed in the world of John McCabe’s mind and inviting you to partake of his imagination. And it is well worth the trip! © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review



Guy Rickards
Gramophone, May 2015

…here is a near‑perfect introduction to McCabe’s diversity but focused on his most important role—the composer. © 2015 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Richard Whitehouse
International Record Review, April 2015

Transfers have been successfully carried out—most notably in terms of the First Symphony… © 2015 International Record Review




Malcolm Hayes
BBC Music Magazine, April 2015

The late John McCabe’s superbly articulated piano-playing in his Liszt Fantasy and Studies makes the strongest impression. His maverick streak is evident in Tuning, a wry take on the tuning-up process. © 2015 BBC Music Magazine



Robert Cummings
Classical Net, February 2015

The performance [of the First Symphony] by the London Philharmonic Orchestra is commited and well conducted by John Snashall. © 2015 Classical Net Read complete review



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, January 2015

As the title suggests McCabe is the pianist for the three solo piano works included…[all] are dynamic, dramatic and occasionally call for a virtuoso ability that McCabe delivers quite readily. They have substance and dash. The Liszt “Fantasy” sounds like a potential classic.

“Tuning”…shows you a very adventurous side of McCabe that pleases while orchestrationally giving off a brilliance that makes you wish there was more like it.

Altogether this anthology gives you much to appreciate. Here is an English composer of merit. © 2015 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review




James Manheim
AllMusic.com, January 2015

McCabe is best known as a pianist, and the three Lisztian works here give an idea of his ability to adapt modern musical languages to a virtuoso’s role. Generally the album makes one want to hear more of McCabe’s fairly large output of orchestral music. For those worried about the difference in level between the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the Symphony No 1 and the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland in Tuning, don’t be; the latter performance is technically fluent and enters into the playful spirit of the work. © 2015 Allmusic.com Read complete review



John France
MusicWeb International, January 2015

This is an excellent new release from Naxos that should command the attention of all enthusiasts of British music. It presents two important works by John McCabe that have so far eluded release on CD. It is also a pleasure to hear the composer’s own performance of his piano pieces, his conducting of Tuning and the excellent Symphony No. 1, “Elegy”. © 2015 MusicWeb International. Read complete review



Barry Forshaw
Classical CD Choice, December 2014

The First Symphony, heard here in its only recording to date by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under John Shashall, is a work of keen intelligence and kinetic energy. The Fantasy on a Theme of Liszt is a consummately crafted work, performed with masterful skill by McCabe at the piano. Scored for very large orchestra, ‘Tuning’ develops layers of texture and sonority of overwhelming richness in which the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland revel—this is the only recording of John McCabe as conductor. © 2014 Classical CD Choice Read complete review



Ettore Garzia
Percorsi Musicali, December 2014

…this brief collection is an evident proof of circumspection from the tonal and impressionistic entities of the twentieth century, a circumstance that makes [John McCabe] still immaculate and immune from the greyness of post-tonal composition. © 2014 Percorsi Musicali Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2014

John McCabe stands high in the list of sadly neglected British composers of the 20th century, the present disc also showcasing his career as a concert pianist. In the early 1960’s he emerged as a highly impressive new voice in the world of orchestral music, his First Symphony displaying his ability as a colourful orchestrator. Though he later moved towards mainstream modernists, he was at the time wedded to the world of tonality and a language that would be readily accessible to audiences. It was a short work, the second movement, Danse, leading to a long final Elegy of sombre content and ending as if the tolling of a deep bell. As a keyboard virtuoso, McCabe gives a brilliant account of his Fantasy on a Theme of Liszt, a work that comes close to a sonata movement, and he follows with his First and Second Studies from 1969, given the titles Capriccio and Sostenuto. Less demanding, yet equally appealing, they play around with established tonality, though his harmonies are not always expected. The much later work, Tuning, dates from 1985, and was commissioned for the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland. Scored for a massive orchestra, and not without reference to other composers, including Wagner and Ravel, it takes its title from the random sounds an orchestra creates when tuning before a concert. The sound quality on the Symphony disc when it first appeared on LP in 1967 was outstanding at the time, and is still impressive, this whole reissue being quite admirable. A much required release. © 2014 David’s Review Corner





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