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Harry van der Wal
Harry’s classical music corner, April 2017

If you had to define Kurka’s musical style I would say: Energetic rhythms, Jazzy influenced syncopations, brilliantly orchestrated with remarkable skill and ingenuity. Kaleidoscopic orchestration, spiky but tonal harmonies, and a knack for moments of great beauty. …Technical satisfaction is guaranteed, one must admire what this composer is trying to elucidate… © 2017 Harry’s classical music corner Read complete review

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, August 2014

Kurka’s Julius Caesar…[had] some highly romantic moments but angst and betrayal are never far away. The final Barber-like cauldron of the emotions recalls the tragic gravity of Shakespeare’s play.

The Music for Orchestra…did not see the light of day until Carlos Kalmar conducted it…It is an explosive and rhythmically aggressive piece which, in its ripely fruity brass work…

Kurka’s music is outstanding and well worth your time and bank balance. © 2014 MusicWeb International Read complete review

David Hurwitz, October 2012

…I’ve been eagerly awaiting this release, devoted entirely to Kurka’s work. It’s fabulous…Kurka was a major talent, and thankfully he lived long enough to produce a respectable quantity of top quality work…The four works gathered here, two world-premiere recordings and one CD first, also reveal Kurka to be an artist of wide expressive range.

Julius Caesar, subtitled “Symphonic Epilogue after Shakespeare”, is a brief…tone poem bustling with ear-catching incident, characterful tunes and motives, and some highly colorful scoring…The Serenade for Small Orchestra in reality is a symphony in four brief but nonetheless substantial movements. Here the composer’s neoclassical style is firmly in place, with three witty swift parts embracing an impressively expressive adagio.

This brings us back to the glorious Second Symphony…Conductor Carlos Kalmar’s performance is sufficiently different from David Alan Miller’s on Albany…In particular Kalmar takes an extra minute over the first movement, which renders its lyrical passages more eloquent and its rhythms clearer…like all great music the contrast merely enhances our appreciation of the composer’s expressive intentions. Timings are virtually identical in the slow movement and finale, the latter movement still impressing me as among the best six-and-a-half minutes of music by anyone.

In all four works the Grant Park Orchestra plays amazingly well, especially considering the unfamiliarity of the repertoire and the fact that Kurka’s orchestration is all muscle, with no fat at all. The strings in particular phrase with impressive rhythmic unanimity. © 2012 Read complete review

Walter Simmons
Fanfare, November 2004

this recent Cedille release…presents cogent evidence that he was among the most distinctive creative voices of his generation, and might have developed into one of the most significant, alongside such contemporaries as Ned Rorem, Peter Mennin, and Benjamin Lees…had he lived longer.

To read the complete review, please visit Fanfare online.

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