Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

John Quinn
MusicWeb International, February 2017

STEINBERG, M.: Passion Week (Clarion Choir, Fox) 8.573665

In 2015 I was bowled over by the discovery of Maximilian Steinberg’s Passion Week in its premiere recording by Cappella Romana and Alexander Lingas. Now a second professional American choir, the New York-based Clarion Choir, has recorded the work too.

Both choirs comprise professional singers and the ensembles are similarly sized. The Clarion Choir has 33 singers in its ranks (9/8/7/9) while Cappella Romana is a slightly smaller group (6/6/6/8). Both are absolutely superb and to be truthful I find it well-nigh impossible to express a preference between the two in terms of accomplishment.

Both choirs give marvellous accounts of ‘When the Glorious Disciples’ (Naxos track 5) and each ensemble responds wonderfully to the radiant music in ‘The Master’s Hospitality’ (Naxos track 6). The last two movements are memorable in both performances. The singing of the Clarion Choir is rather more broad and forthright at the start of the penultimate piece, ‘Arise, O God’ but the expansive performances of both choirs impress as the movement unfolds. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

BBC Music Magazine, January 2017

Written for the Russian Orthodox Church in the early 1920s by Shostakovich’s composition teacher Maximilian Steinberg, this profoundly beautiful choral piece lay forgotten for over 90 years. Performed here with breathtaking sensitivity by an outstanding New York-based choir, it emerges as a work of equal stature to Rachmaninov’s justly acclaimed Vespers. A wonderful discovery. © 2017 BBC Music Magazine

Erik Levi
BBC Music Magazine, December 2016

This…recording, atmospherically recorded at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of Holy Trinity New York, boasts marvellously committed fervent singing from the Clarion Choir under Steven Fox and deserves the widest possible dissemination. © 2016 BBC Music Magazine

Lawrence Schenbeck
PS Audio, December 2016

The Clarion Choir, 33 young New York professionals, sing musically, powerfully, and with convincing style. The recording, done in a cathedral sanctuary, is robust, vibrant, and transparent. © 2016 PS Audio Read complete review

Gavin Dixon
Fanfare, November 2016

Steven Fox and the Clarion Choir give a compelling account. Thirty-three singers are listed in the booklet, and this proves a suitable number, both in terms of tonal weight and clarity. In fact, the purity of tone is exceptional, helped by near ideal balance and intonation. The acoustic, too, of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, New York, is well chosen and ideal for the scale of the choir and the music. …this opens out into a warm and inviting soundscape as soon as the choir enters. © 2016 Fanfare Read complete review

Alan Swanson
Fanfare, November 2016

The Clarion Choir…is, I learn, a flexible ensemble, employing differing forces for different pieces. The booklet lists 33 singers for this recording. They make a hefty noise and the basses do their American best to hit those low, low, Russian notes. The acoustic of the church helps give the impression that the choir is bigger than it is… © 2016 Fanfare Read complete review

Philip Greenfield
American Record Guide, November 2016

…Steven Fox imbues Steinberg’s writing with linear energy as he urges the melodic lines to follow their ebbs and flows more autonomously than in the other account. …Clarion’s handsome voices and the maestro’s Slavic sensibilities honor Steinberg’s intentions with grand singing and total conviction. © 2016 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

David Vernier, October 2016

…conductor Steven Fox has chosen just the right voices who have the strength and the ability to project an appropriate “slavic” sound, most notably bass Philip Cutlip.

…the success of this recording has to be attributed to this excellent chorus, 30-plus voices who collectively project a serious love for this music with a vibrant, shimmering tone, perfectly judged dynamics, and consistently fine balance and intonation. © 2016 Read complete review, October 2016

The Clarion Choir under Steven Fox performs this nearly hour-long work with sensitivity, style and a sense of emotional involvement. © 2016 Read complete review

Malcolm Riley
Gramophone, October 2016

The luscious, uplifting Alleluias which round off the disc’s concluding ‘Let all mortal flesh’ will surely encourage other choirs to tackle this newly restored masterpiece. © 2016 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Lisa Flynn
WFMT (Chicago), September 2016

Passion Week is a long-lost choral masterpiece composed by Rimsky-Korsakov’s favorite student, heir apparent and son-in-law, Maximilian Steinberg. A product of his interest in the sacred and mystical, it is a tour de force of the systematic use of medieval Church Slavonic chant melodies and shares with Rachmaninov’s All-Night Vigil the colorful use of choral textures. Steinberg’s settings are complex and rich, with a diverse and sometimes daring harmonic palette. © 2016 WFMT (Chicago)

Robert Benson, September 2016

The 55 minute Passion Week, composed in 1923 has been recorded before but this new version featuring the superb Clarion Choir directed by Stephen Fox presents this neglected work admirably. © 2016 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2016

With his St. Petersburg Conservatory mentors including Liadov, Glazunov and Rimsky-Korsakov, Maximilian Steinberg was looked upon as their heir-apparent. Though he was industrious as a composer and met the stylistic dictates of the Communist party, his career was mainly in the world of teaching, finally taking Rimsky-Korsakov’s role as Professor of Composition at the Conservatoire, his pupils included the young Shostakovich. Among his output was five symphonies, two of which have been recorded, but he was part of those musical wastelands in the history of Russian music. So why did he write Passion Week, a score that had it been performed would have placed him on the dreaded list of counter-revolutionaries, and why do that when his score was, in every way, shape and form, covering exactly the same ground as that of earlier masterpieces from Rachmaninov and Grechaninov? He even risked taking the score to Paris in 1927, having been allowed to leave St. Petersburg on an educational visit, and there he hoped to have it published. People do strange things, but his quest to have it performed never took place until 2014, almost seventy years after his death. By coincidence I had just reviewed two new recordings of Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil, and—I intend this as a complement—I found Steinberg in the same musical world. He had turned to the Russian Orthodox Church so as to marry Rimsky-Korsakov’s daughter, and his notes on the work acknowledged the use of chant as the basis of his score written for an unaccompanied choir in sixteen parts. It was first heard at a ‘read-through’ performance by The Clarion Choir based in New York, and they then went on to make this world premiere recording. They are obviously a fine and well balanced group whose basses really can emulate a Russian sound, and I hugely commend the disc to you. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group