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Peter J. Rabinowitz
Fanfare, March 2017

Tsalka has a fine sense of the rhetoric of ornamental gestures and shapes the transitional passages well; he’s effective, too, in his use of the special coloristic qualities of his instruments. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Alan Becker
American Record Guide, January 2017

The sound is good, and Tsalka does his non-exciting best with the goods in hand. It’s not bad—especially if you are exploring the long forgotten byways of the keyboard literature. © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Pamela Hickman
Pamela Hickman’s Concert Critique Blog, October 2016

Not only did Tsalka’s playing of [Variations in F major] bring out its richly appealing Classical pianistic style, textures and fine craftsmanship, it also directed whimsical reference to the self-importance of the lowly soldier on sentry duty: the original subject is reintroduced here and there throughout the variations. …Michael Tsalka’s playing of [Variations in C major] was fresh and spontaneous. …[his] articulate and engrossing playing of [Variations in A minor] took on board the piece’s many swift changes of temperament, its drama, its moments of weightlessness, of wistfulness, its elegance and velvety songfulness. I would imagine this might have been one of the works considered too difficult by London amateur keyboard players. © 2016 Pamela Hickman’s Concert Critique Blog Read complete review

Robert Benson, September 2016

…superbly played on the fortepiano by Michael Tsalka. © 2016 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2016

Naxos have become an unstinting champion of the composer, Ferdinand Ries, the highly prolific German composer who had become a favourite pupil of Beethoven. Even with such a famous mentor, Ries laboured without a great deal of success, and in 1813 went to London to see if he would fare better there. It proved to be a wise move, a city with a dearth of outstanding musicians readily adopting him as the nation’s finest pianist-composer of his time. He had arrived with an existing portfolio of works, much of the present disc having already been written by that time. Much had been aimed at the amateur pianist, the only market Ries’s publisher thought his work was suitable. Using themes for his Variations and Fantasies that he thought his audience would recognise, the result is uncomplicated both musically or emotionally. To mark his arrival in London he wrote the Variations on the Scotch Air ‘The Old Highland Laddie’, while the Variations on a Cossack Song were for a Russian tour the year prior to his London debut. I have to confess I grew tired of the meandering and lengthy Fantasy on ‘The Dream ’, though I wondered if I would have had the same thoughts had it been performed on the copy of the light-toned Nanette Streicher fortepiano used on the following track. So once again I question the use of various period instruments—or copies—on one disc, as it only confuses the issue. I then ended up wondering how much more interesting the whole disc would have sounded on that fortepiano. The performer is the Dutch born, Michael Tsalka, a person steeped in the performance and interpretation of early keyboard music, and I much enjoy his crisp articulation helped by the rather dry acoustic of the American recording venue. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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