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Alain Steffen
Pizzicato, December 2015

Here we have an appealing program with contemporary music by Leonardo Balada, superbly played by the Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble. © 2015 Pizzicato



Donald Rosenberg
Gramophone, October 2015

Balada has a gift for instrumental layering and chatter, and he takes the players to extremes of range and dynamics with almost giddy modernist delight. © 2015 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, September 2015

Balada is a consummate master when it comes to writing for woodwind and brass. He draws out all kinds of amazing sound combinations from the instruments that contrast markedly with how they are used by so many other composers.

For anyone interested in American music or for enthusiasts of woodwind and brass ensembles this disc will amply reward. It features some really fascinating and thought-provoking music that delivers at several levels. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review



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

The Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble is a first-rate ensemble and seems ideally suited to perform the various compositions on this album.

[This disc] forms an excellent introduction to Balada for those not familiar, and also gives those that do a wealth of excellent music to savor. The performances are exemplary as well. © 2015 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review



Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, August 2015

The Violin Concerto is a much later work and here it receives its world premiere recording, with the challenging solo part brilliantly played by Ashan Pillai. All of this music is challenging for listeners as well as musicians, presented to perfection here. An important issue. Thank you once again, Naxos! © 2015 ClassicalCDReview.com Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2015

The Spanish-American composer is fortunate to have a record label acting as an unstinting champion of his vast range of music from opera to solo piano works. However…this new release…concentrates on a particular part of Balada’s career when he encountered experimental electronic music in New York in the early 1960’s. I suppose his message was ‘anything you can do with synthesizers, I can do with conventional musical instruments’. The result, to say the least, is fascinating, as if robots had been given a living heart. Cumbres, written in 1971 for wind band, brings free flowing sounds interacting with chugging staccato chords that propel the music forward with considerable virtuosity. The mood continues in the Piano Concerto from 1973, the keyboard and orchestra, to quote the composer, ‘more often than not at odds’. The soloist is almost in perpetual motion, the element of electronic influence adding a thumping bass accompaniment, though the keyboard role, with its spiky brilliance, has its roots in early 20th century French music, and is ideal for the dexterity of the American pianist, Enrique Graf. The Cello Concerto, originally completed in 1962, is in a three-movement structure when the composer was closely associated with Stravinsky’s neo-classical period, the cello part, for much of the work, being part of the general texture. By the time of the Sonata in 1979, the electronic period had initiated Balada’s experiments in related sound textures, the only work from the present century coming with Ashan Pillai’s brilliant account of the short one-movement Viola concerto completed in 2010, by which time Balada had returned to a modern tonality. The remarkably gifted musicians from the Carnegie Mellon University play this extremely demanding music with total confidence and enviable commitment, the 2010–11 recordings being of excellent quality. © 2015 David’s Review Corner





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