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Jed Distler
Gramophone, July 2020

Émigré composers who wound up in Hollywood (or at least in the neighbourhood) are the agents that bind this excellently performed, programmed and engineered cello recital. I suspect the topic provides an excuse for Brinton Averil Smith to trespass on violinists’ property and pilfer a few virtuoso showpieces! Consequently we get none of Franz Waxman’s original music but rather his daredevil fantasy drawing upon themes from Bizet’s Carmen that Jascha Heifetz made famous. As it happens, Smith plays the bejesus out of it, making child’s play of the rapid-fire spiccatos and almost impossible-to-control harmonics. Heifetz’s own scampering rendition of the Gershwins’ ‘It ain’t necessarily so’ also falls easily and playfully across Smith’s agile bow, while, by contrast, Godowsky’s Alt Wien teems with old-school elegance and just the right dose of schmaltz. © 2020 Gramophone Read complete review



Janet Banks
The Strad, June 2020

This is a great concept for a CD, and Brinton Averil Smith, principal cellist with the Houston Symphony Orchestra since 2005, conveys his enthusiasm and enjoyment of the music in some sensitive and virtuosic performances with well-balanced and realistically recorded sound. © 2020 The Strad Read complete review



Ian Lace
MusicWeb International, April 2020

This is a welcome and imaginatively organized collection and it is very attractively packaged with intelligent and very helpful notes by its cellist, Brinton Averil Smith. … A standout item in this collection is Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s very colourful and vibrant Spanish flavoured, I nottambuli (Variazioni fantastiche). © 2020 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Kevin Filipski
The Flip Side, April 2020

So many composers left Europe during the Nazi era for the U.S. that it was inevitable that several would settle in and around Los Angeles, where they wrote music for movies and gave Hollywood a cultural cachet it had heretofore lacked. This sterling disc collects short works by 11 of these men—a 12th work, an arrangement of George Gershwin’s “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” is by violinist Jascha Heifitz, another émigré—including the familiar (Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Rachmaninoff), the obscure (Godowsky, Achron, Gruenberg) and those best-known for their film scores (Korngold, Waxman, Rosza). These beguiling miniatures are attractively performed by cellist Brinton Averil Smith and pianist Evelyn Chen. © 2020 The Flip Side



David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2020

A disc of twelve ‘lollipops’ gathered together under the emotive title ‘Exiles in Paradise’, though if you look at the contents, it is, to say the least, misleading.

The political turmoil that took place in Europe over the first half of the twentieth century, “prompted many leading musicians to immigrate to America”, the sleeve note comments. Then as a final touch of irony, almost all of the music on the disc comes from their happy years before they arrived in the States, many equally tempted by the lure of financial betterment. Sadly there were some composers who died in poverty, the United States far from ‘Paradise’. Still it gives the excellent American cellist, Brinton Averil Smith, the opportunity to create a most attractive disc opening with Godowsky—an American citizen from 1890—creating salon music with a work known as ‘Old Vienna’. Most of the track’s therein are cameos, the only extended one being Franz Waxman’s Carmen Fantasie, based on themes from Bizet’s opera arranged by Jascha Heifetz for violin, and here played in a cello arrangement of that violin score. I much welcome Korngold’s version for cello and piano of his Suite from the incidental music for Shakespeare’s play Much Ado About Nothing. Settling in the United States in 1925 it is also good to hear music from the little-known, Joseph Achron, and also Louis Gruenberg who came to America when a few months old, and who enjoyed a career as a pianist and composer in his new native land. My particular pleasure was to encounter Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Night Owls, composed in 1927, long before his later years in the States, while Rosza’s Toccata is a test of Smith’s virtuosity. They are all played with affection, Evelyn Chen, an immigrant from Taiwan, an excellent pianist partner. Seemingly recorded in a large empty venue. © 2020 David’s Review Corner





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