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Steven Kruger
Fanfare, September 2012

Listening to this CD amounts to something of a lesson in the harmonic progress of music over time. Ernst Kovacic has arranged his program of fugues in nearly chronological order…But the effect on the listener is of witnessing the opening up of musical harmony over the centuries. The strictures of fugal form, seemingly severe and studious, reveal themselves remarkably adaptable to ever more modern harmonies, and the increasing tendency of composers such as Mozart, Honegger, and Britten to precede fugues with a contrasting movement of some emotional depth, assists the old format in achieving full emotional expression in the romantic and postromantic eras.

The Warsaw Chamber Orchestra under Kovacic is lively and on top of all this, and the Leopoldinum acoustic is everything one could wish for. Earlier works in the chronological sequence here are performed with the usual early-music twang, but the manner of phrasing evolves into modern delivery as the chronology proceeds. Program notes for the CD are detailed and useful. And the didactic nature of the undertaking is belied by the attractive nature of the performances. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Gil French
American Record Guide, May 2012

What a marvelous album! First, this string orchestra is perfectly tuned, with tight ensemble. Ernst Kovacic…conducts with an amazing mix of style…

Second, the album itself is so laid out that there’s no need to program your compact disc player to avoid turgid fugue after turgid fugue. The works here…are arranged so that they take the starch out of the fugue: Bach and Mozart formal, Schumann and Reinecke…facetious and dancing…Hanns Eisler…Bach-like, opening mournfully with superb contrasting tonality between lower strings; Britten, a 10-minute masterpiece of contrasting moods…followed appropriately by Purcell’s miniature with each entrance popping right out; then two more longer, really contrasting works by Villa-Lobos…and Honegger…and, oh! my, the Zeisl— bright, smart, highly rhythmic, with an impish playfulness that gives Britten a run for his money; and a final tribute to Moszkowski…with a choralelike prelude and a joyful but legato fugue that casts him in a much broader light…

Here is a collection of superb music, superbly played and engineered, that will make you listen to fugues in an entirely new way. In brief, everything about this album…makes it a work of art. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

MusicWeb International, March 2012

the NFM Wroclaw Chamber Orchestra…has a dark-roasted expressive sound that brings out both the variety and detail in all these pieces. The ensemble styles itself ‘Leopoldinum’…give an impressive account of these works, considered and confident, under the guidance of Ernst Kovacic, who has a particular expertise conducting chamber orchestras.

Highlights of the programme include Purcell’s fleeting Fantasia, a fugue in spirit rather than form; Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue K.546, the first movement of which gives a glimpse of the darker, Romantic music he would have written had he lived, with the fugue itself an almost Bachian masterpiece; Britten’s Prelude and Fugue op.18, a polyphonic tour de force that should be heard much more in the concert hall; and the concluding work by Wroclaw-born Moszkowski, a memorable and stirring fusion of styles. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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