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Robert Carl
Fanfare, November 2014

…irresistible and sublime. © 2014 Fanfare

Robert Carl
Fanfare, March 2014

This is an event. Inuksuit was written in 2009, and has become John Luther Adams’s signature piece.

The aspect of the work that impresses me the most is its pacing. Sounds are given their natural time to assert themselves before they are overlapped with others that naturally grow from the earlier ones’ timbres and envelopes.

It’s a tribute to Adams’s instinctive feel for the natural that he can pull this off; that it feels so open and spacious, and resists judgment.

It’s led by the amazing Steven Schick, and Adams provides succinct commentaries between each of the eight movements. I particularly love the long third one, inspired by the overlapping accelerandos and decelerandos of Nancarrow and Adams’s contemporary Peter Garland. The performance is filmed in the Alaskan tundra, and is stark and dramatic in the juxtaposition of the players with the vast landscape.

This is a visionary work…Adams is deeply tuned into the eco-sensibility of the era in a humane, unpretentious, yet grand way. Indeed, I could express it more simply by saying that his art is grand but not grandiose. Want List for the coming year. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review

Steve Smith
Time Out New York, December 2013

Best classical music of 2013 : #4

No stereo recording, however high the fidelity, could duplicate the immersive magic of Adams’s ritualistic spectacle for percussion and nature, but this intelligently planned and produced Cantaloupe disc conveyed far more than a hint of what makes this music so powerful. © 2013 Time Out New York

Vivien Schweitzer
The New York Times, December 2013

Critics’ Favorite Classical Recordings of 2013

This fascinating piece, scored for a battery of percussion instruments dispersed throughout a large space, receives its first recording. Each performance of the work, composed in 2009, varies depending on location and number of instruments: This version, led by Doug Perkins in the woods in Guilford, Vt, features the natural sounds of that environment, eventually reaching a tumultuous crescendo of percussion. © 2013 The New York Times

Molly Sheridan
NewMusicBox, December 2013

NewMusicBox Mix: 2013 Staff Picks

…the surround sound option and the excellent performances of the 32 musicians who bring it to life make it a powerful version all its own. © 2013 NewMusicBox

Anastasia Tsioulcas
National Public Radio, December 2013

NPR Classical’s 10 Favorite Albums Of 2013

An extended exploration of the intersection of sound and the world around us? Maybe that sounds a little New Age-y to you. Well, prepare to be shocked—and enthralled—by composer John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit (“…to act in the capacity of the human”), a piece written to be performed outdoors by nine to 99 percussionists. Recorded by a group of 30-odd musicians helmed by percussionist Doug Perkins in the woods of Vermont, this version of Inuksuit opens with several minutes of bird song, a world that is very, very, oh so slowly…set sideways by what morphs into a dense, towering, crashing monster of sound that, in its own time, gives way again to an exuberant, twittering mass of brightly piping piccolos, triangles and glockenspiels…the results are both riveting and exhilarating. © 2013 National Public Radio

Anastasia Tsioulcas
National Public Radio, December 2013

The Alaska-based composer John Luther Adams wrote Inuksuit…as something meant to be played—and heard—outdoors. I like to think of this piece as a meditation on all sorts of issues: about alienation and togetherness, and how one movement, or one sound, or one person, or one community, will affect others in very subtle and mysterious ways. The sounds of nature and life pass in and out and around the music of Inuksuit.

Gradually, otherworldly whispers of percussion encroach on the birds’ music, in sounds that build into a dense, towering, crashing monster of a thing. One minute, Inuksuit is hypnotic. The next, it gives you goosebumps. © 2013 National Public Radio Read complete review

Seth Colter Walls
WQXR (New York), October 2013

Critical responses to live performances of John Luther Adams’s Inuksuit—a percussionists’ symphony that is meant to envelop listeners in a given space—have mostly been written in the voice of “deep awe.”

A piece such as this one—ineffable yet fully present at all moments—is naturally going to pose a problem for a record label and stereo-mixdown engineer. But the team at Cantaloupe Records has gamely taken on the challenge with the first-ever release of Inuksuit, and gives us a strong reading of a piece that otherwise precludes, on purpose, the very idea of a “benchmark” or reference recording.

A performance of Inuksuit this good, from a group of 30-plus musicians—ably led by former So Percussion member Doug Perkins—works best when given as much attention as possible. © 2013 WQXR (New York) Read complete review

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