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Bruce Hodges
The Juilliard Journal Online, February 2014

In this recording of Sean Hickey’s beautifully understated Cello Concerto (2008), Dmitry Kouzov…plays it with grace and thoughtfulness. This is not a concerto that overwhelms with ferocious passagework or impossibly dense chords, but rather, one that beguiles gradually in its three lightly scored movements. Led by Vladimir Lande, the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra has the airiness of a large chamber ensemble and Kouzov has a number of solos…and a tender idyll in the otherwise lively finale. Kouzov combines a warm, sinuous tone throughout with a sense of barely contained explosiveness.

The Clarinet Concerto (2006) has a similar ruminative feeling and chamber music texture, created here by the St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra, again with Lande at the helm. Alexander Fiterstei…is the impassioned soloist, with his alluring sound providing a fine complement to Hickey’s graceful orchestral palette. Fiterstein’s dusky tone is especially haunting in the pensive second movement. In the finale, Hickey introduces “Hunters House” by fiddler Ed Reavy (1898–1988), who was from Cavan, Ireland, before moving to Philadelphia. Fiterstein’s nimble fingerwork and the tune’s enchanting energy make a joyful conclusion. © 2014 The Juilliard Journal Online Read complete review

Don Clark
I Care If You Listen, September 2013

Lande, Kouzov and the Russian orchestra certainly give a committed and well-rehearsed performance [of the Cello Concerto]…Kouzov is in complete command of the virtuoso passages—fleet, nimble and with fine intonation throughout the registers. His deep yet clear tone lets the cello sing in the more lyrically dramatic section, evoking a rich tenor voice at its peak. A thoughtful, well done recording of an accessible and most interesting work.

The Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra is an arrangement for clarinet and string orchestra of the original work with string quartet accompaniment.

Fiterstein is a marvelous clarinetist: his upper register tone brilliant and firm, with a solid middle and lower register that is never harsh or blatty. He is obviously in command of and enjoys performing this brilliant, tuneful concerto. The Russian strings relish their role, never overwhelming the solo but asserting themselves when called upon.

A most satisfying disc, consistently well performed and recorded, demonstrating that contemporary music can be accessible and lyrical as well as dramatic and colorful. © 2013 I Care If You Listen Read complete review

David W Moore
American Record Guide, September 2013

These two concertos are lively, attractive works in an outgoing, highly listenable style, scored with sensitivity and exciting to listen to. Both soloists are highly competent, as are the orchestras behind them. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Laurence Vittes
Gramophone, August 2013

Sean Hickey’s two big three-movement concertos give their soloists a huge range of extended passages, riffs and cadenzas with which to stand up and out against often explosively colourful orchestral support…The Cello Concerto…features Dmitry Kouzov…in a setting that dramatically showcases his astounding virtuoso skills. Hickey, who perfectly captures both the lyrical and the ecstatic nature of the instrument, sets it from the start in relentlessly turbulent, emotional landscapes.

The Clarinet Concerto…features the brilliant young clarinettist Alexander Fiterstein in music that draws in part, both delightfully and wickedly, on Scottish folk tunes and reels laid over a foundation of populist harmonies. The stunning audiophile recording, produced by Alexei Barashkin, was made at St Petersburg’s Melodiya Studios. © 2013 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Daniel Coombs
Audiophile Audition, July 2013

This is an excellent new cello concerto and soloist Dmitry Kouzov…is a very impressive performer.

Soloist Alexander Fiterstein is one of the country’s best players and performs [the Clarinet Concerto] with great tone and fluid technique.

Sean Hickey is, truly, a very talented composer…This disc provides a great opportunity to get to know his music. I highly recommend this disc… 2013 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, June 2013

A talented instrumentalist himself, Hickey writes music with performer as well as listener appeal. These concertos are no exception, and couldn’t possibly have better advocates than the musicians on this enterprising Delos disc of discovery.

…Dmitry Kousov…delivers a vibrant, totally committed account of [the cello concerto]. Conductor Vladimir Lande and the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra…work their magic providing Kousov with outstanding support. A round of applause must also go to several members of the SPSSO for their exemplary solo work in the concerto’s last movement.

…Alexander Fiterstein delivers an outstanding account of the other concerto. Maestro Lande is once again on the podium, but this time with the Saint Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra strings, which couldn’t be more supportive.

The ones here project a generous, clearly focused soundstage in an acoustic with enough reverberant bloom to insure concert realism without any blurring. Both soloists are beautifully captured, and the balance between them and their respective orchestras is ideal.

The cello tone is lush, while you’ll find the clarinet enticingly perky one minute and mellifluously liquid the next. The orchestral timbre is very musical with completely natural sounding strings.

Audiophiles will find pleasingly bright highs, a lifelike midrange, and low clean bass. © 2013 Classical Lost and Found Read complete review

Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, June 2013

American composer Sean Hickey comes out swinging with this new recording, which features two impressive compositions, one written for cello and the other for the clarinet. Conceived in a neo-classical style, which embraces the expansive melodic breadth and layered harmonic language found in traditional European symphonic music, both pieces of music exude a mood that lovers of Bruckner, Dvořák, Mahler or Sibelius will enjoy. …the Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra is a thoughtful exposition that puts the performance of Alexander Fiterstein front and centre. The clarinetist doesn’t disappoint, and his instrumental finesse imbues the composition with a humanity almost certain to endear listeners to Hickey’s fine work. Top notch. © 2013 Scene Magazine Read complete review

Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, May 2013

All hands make a fine showing: Dmitry Kouzov, cello, Alexander Fiterstein, clarinet, and Vladimir Lande conducting the St. Petersburg State Symphony. The works on this disk are the “Concerto for Cello and Orchestra,” and the “Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra.”

This is music that has everything going for it—melodic, heroic solo parts, symphonic breadth, dynamic form and a sort of post-romantic dash.

Sean Hickey has talent and an original take on the music. The performances are first-rate. Mr. Hickey is for real and the music offers much to the symphonic enthusiast. Give this one your ears! © 2013 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review

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