Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, September 2012

Michael Faust is a brilliant player who is fazed by none of the music’s demands—bent notes, flutter-tongue, and so on—either when playing the flute or its baby brother.

If you appreciate the music of Kagel, this CD will definitely be one for you. If you are simply curious about the work of one of the more unorthodox of modernist composers, you will certainly find plenty to enjoy. Performances and recordings are simply superb, and Kagel’s music is worth exploration. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Robert Carl
Fanfare, September 2012

I am most drawn to Pan and Phantasiestück in its duo version. The former is a little riff/romp on Papageno’s music from De Zauberflöte, and infectious in its wit and concision…The latter is…a stream-of-consciousness flow from one idea to another, but one feels his sense of invention being strongly stimulated at every juncture. I particularly like the passage centered on the flute’s percussive breath attacks…

The performances are excellent, and give the music everything it demands and deserves. And it’s not a bad introduction to Kagel for the uninitiated. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, August 2012

This compilation from Naxos offers a glimpse into Kagel’s divided universe, recruiting flutist Michael Faust and pianist Paulo Alvares to interpret the composer’s work. The opening track on the CD, Das Konzert, is a self-conscious reflection on the writing of a flute concerto—music about music that, nevertheless, remains aligned with Kagel’s artistic conceits. Amidst pizzicato rhythms, accompanists from Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväskylä create gentle harmonic clusters; the flute weaves its way through a series of melodic transformations, eventually resolving in a climatic exchange between soloist and strings. A compelling introduction to one of last century’s illuminating musical intellects. © 2012 Scene Magazine Read complete review

Gary Higginson
MusicWeb International, August 2012

I began listening to the CD with Pan. It’s a sort of eccentric Scherzo, a fantasy with its changing textures and tempi which lasts less than five minutes. I’ve never, from my own experiences, found the piccolo to work in a chamber music context. Here it is an absolute delight and makes me realize how important it is to have a full-time piccolo player playing for you. It is I think a matter of embouchure control and an ability to balance the sound that counts. Both are achieved supremely here by Michael Faust.

…I then tackled Das Konzert. It’s a flute concerto in one movement. I found this to be a terrific and fantastic piece, multi-layered and one in which it can be felt that one walks in on the music after it has started. Scored for strings, harp and percussion it is a fount of imaginatively coruscating sounds. These are never-ending in fecundity of energy and emotional turbulence and never displeasing.

I was most impressed by Richard Whitehouse’s notes and his detailed and not overly technical description of what to listen out for. Flutter tonguings of various strengths combine with various breathy noises and percussion from xylophone, marimba and tam-tam to create a unique sound-world. It is always attention-seeking, full of fantasy yet never meandering.

The recordings are first class and without exception the performances superb and completely committed. The star however is the brilliant Michael Faust. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Philip Clark
Gramophone, July 2012

As a ‘flute concerto’ with a keenly developed orchestral part, Das Konzert is packed with trademark Kagelian sleights-of-hand: flouncy impressionism twisted into deadpan marches; athletic and directional string-writing suddenly divided into an infinity of insect-like movements; a droll false ending.

Pan, Kagel’s jokey little scherzo for piccolo and string quartet…ends with a gag that will leave any fan of The Magic Flute with a smile on their face. Kagel muses on ‘fantasy’ music by coolly and forensically unpacking clichés of Romantic gesture, creating a fantasy on the idea of fantasies. Faust and Ensemble Contrasts are suitably restrained and deadpan—nothing kills a punchline like laughing before you get there. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Daniel Foley
The WholeNote, June 2012

Kagel’s 1988 Phantasiestück, a quasi-Schumannesque work that devolves from an atonal to a purely diatonic realm, appears in two versions, one for flute and piano with pianist Paulo Alvares and an expanded version with string quartet and two clarinets performed by Michael Faust’s own Ensemble Contrasts conducted by Robert HP Platz. The brief and delightful Pan for piccolo and string quartet (1985) is a pastiche on Papageno’s pan-flute solo from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Das Konzert is a theatrical work that was written at the request of Michael Faust and premiered by the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in 2003…It is a schizophrenic “anti-concerto” for flute and chamber orchestra expertly performed here by the Sinfonia Finlandia Jyväsklä, sympathetically led by fellow flutist turned conductor Patrick Gallois. This is an entertaining yet thought-provoking disc that repays repeated listening. © 2012 The WholeNote Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, May 2012

“Das Konzert” is…the blockbuster extravaganza. The flute part is mercurial, the orchestral parts dynamic and timbre-rich, the music generally high modernist in a refined sort of way. It’s quite expressive and impressive as a flute concerto that ranks among the best of this current century so far.

“Phantasiestuck”…is playful, filled with a sort of good humor, harmonically rather primal sometimes, yet quite modern sounding, especially in the larger ensemble version…thoroughly enjoyable.

“Pan” is rather puckish…with an almost impressionistic and lighthearted aspect that makes it easy to hear. The piccolo part has definite brilliance.

Michael Faust excels in his interpretation of the solo parts, with a sure phrasing and bright-toned virtuosity. The supporting players are of the first rank and bring out their parts with a flourish.

I am thankful to have it to hear regularly. Definitely recommended. © 2012 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2012

At the cutting-edge of progressive modernism, Mauricio Kagel spent almost all of his working life in Germany, though he had been born in Buenos Aires in 1931. Never one to court popular acclaim, in the 1980’s he showed interest in moving back to more traditional tonality, his scores incorporating conventional notation. All the works on this new release post-date that significant change, the most extensive score, Das Konzert, having the nearest title Kagel could bring himself to use for a concerto scored for flute and chamber orchestra. On the face of it, the flute has no greater importance than the orchestra, a proposition that is in theory rather than deed. On the present disc the microphone placing gives Michael Faust that solo status, and I am grateful for that, for it sounds natural and allows total enjoyment of his outstanding performance. In one movement divided into several sections, it is an extensive work, full of fascinating sonorities. The naughty Pan—for flute and string quartet—could almost by a child of Ravel in its shimmering sonorities, and is quite unlike anything else we have from Kagel. We have two versions of Phantasiestück, one for flute and piano, with the alternative score adding a string quartet and clarinet. The overall form remains identical though the enlarged group can offer so many additional colours as to make it a far more interesting experience. But I guess that the instrumentation will make this version a rare sight in concert programmes. I take the performances on trust as there is not a lot to compare with, but they have that feel of adequate technical expertise, while the recorded sound is very good. © David’s Review Corner

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group