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Radu A. Lelutiu
Fanfare, September 2012

Although most of Neefe’s fame as a composer came from writing popular Singspiele, he also published 12 keyboard sonatas, which are the main items on this premiere recording featuring pianist—and distinguished Fanfare alumna—Susan Kagan…this is fine music…I found that the closer attention I paid to Neefe’s music, the more I enjoyed it, and, in fact, there are some gems here, such as the Sonata in G Major…both sonatas in C Major…the Sonata in B♭, the second sonata in C Minor, and the Sonata in A Major…

Kagan succeeds admirably at bringing this music to life, and if there is any moment on this recording where her pianism is less than sparkling, stylish, and engaging, I must have missed it. Kagan’s way with the Beethoven variations is equally persuasive.

The quality of the recorded sound is very fine. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Jed Distler
Gramophone, September 2012

Overall, the works are pleasant, well-crafted…[Kagain] particularly shines in slow movements: notice, for example, how she colourfully differentiates detached and sustained articulation in No 1’s Poco adagio and No 7’s Arioso.

Kagan’s warm sonority receives beautiful reproduction in one of the best-engineered piano releases I’ve heard originating from Joseph Patrych’s Sound Studio. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, July 2012

Compositions for keyboard from both [Christian Gottlob Neefe] and [Ludwig van Beethoven] are the subject of this new CD, which features performances courtesy of pianist Susan Kagan and her sublime right and left. The first collection of pieces presented here—Neefe’s Twelve Sonatas…This recording also features young Beethoven’s first published composition, The Dressler Variations. Just listen closely, and you can hear the sound of history being made. © 2012 Scene Magazine Read complete review, May 2012

Susan Kagan, who has taken unto herself the role of exhuming the piano music of composers surrounding Beethoven (notably Ferdinand Ries), has now turned her attention to the 12 sonatas of Neefe that date to 1773. Kagan is an exemplary performer of the lesser music of this era, which she handles judiciously, not blowing it out of proportion but also not minimizing it or making it sound trivial by comparison with the works of greater composers of the time. Kagan complements the Neefe sonatas with Beethoven’s very first published work, Nine Variations on a March by Ernst Christoph Dressler, written when the composer was 12 years old. Beethoven was not the consummate prodigy that Mozart had been, and these variations do not exactly represent what the preteen Beethoven created (he revised them slightly in 1803), but the work is nevertheless interesting not only for its place in musical history but also for the way in which it foreshadows some of what was to come. © 2012 Read complete review

Culture Catch, April 2012

Here’s a prime example of how valuable this new label’s work is for piano connoisseurs in terms of given them access to unfamiliar music: Only one of Christian Gottlob Neefe’s sonatas is currently available apart from this new release. Neefe (1748-1798) was one of Beethoven’s teachers (starting when Beethoven was nine years old), and was responsible for introducing him to J.S. Bach’s music. These sonatas are charming little things, somewhere between Scarlatti and early Mozart, with the exception of the first, where the counterpoint suggests lightweight Bach. Kagan specializes in music of this era and sounds quite at home, with an appropriately light touch even though using a modern piano. This album is highly recommended to anyone interested in the early Classical period or the early piano sonata literature. © 2012 Culture Catch Read complete review

Mary Kunz Goldman
The Buffalo News, April 2012

The 12 sonatas on these two discs, which are distributed by Naxos, are crisp and bright. Susan Kagan’s clear technique plays up the music’s competency, its gentle rising and falling. The music is worlds away not only from Beethoven but from Mozart too. The lines are simple. The Andante of the Sonata in G, for instance, would make a good theme for a historical romance movie—better than the New-Agey stuff filmmakers often use. The set ends with Beethoven’s first published composition: a set of variations on a mournful march by another contemporary composer, Christoph Dressler. Not earth-shaking, but not bad for a boy of 11. And fascinating to listen to, because sometimes you can sense how he was thinking. © 2012 The Buffalo News Read complete review

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