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David Hurwitz, November 2014

This is one of those programs that adds up to more than the sum of its parts. David Aaron Carpenter plays a sensational viola, and he’s very capably accompanied by Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Helsinki Philharmonic. This would be a very recommendable version of Harold in Italy on its own, even in a quite crowded field. © 2014 Read complete review

Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, July 2012

On this new Ondine release, American violist David Aaron Carpenter and Polish pianist-conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy attempt to re-create some of the dynamic energy that existed between these two giants (Berlioz and Paganini) of 19th century European music, and to a large extent they succeed, thanks to the moving rendition of Berlioz’s ambitious Harold in Italy (Symphony with Viola obbligato)—a piece which had been intended for performance by Paganini himself. Along with the instrumentalists of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Carpenter and Ashkenazy demonstrate why— after hearing the premiere of Harold in Italy—Paganini sent the cash-strapped composer a cheque for 20,000 francs and a note saying, “Beethoven being dead, only Berlioz could make him live again.” A definitive recording. © 2012 Scene Magazine

Joshua Kosman
San Francisco Chronicle, January 2012

Carpenter…gives a fine, fervent rendition. Together with conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, who draws vivid playing from the Helsinki Philharmonic, Carpenter takes a suitably dramatic view of the work, bringing out the narrative angle with the viola itself as the protagonist and giving the music a richly burnished tonal profile. Carpenter’s performance is a wizardly assortment of passagework, instrumental effects and even a few lovely lyrical moments. © 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Read complete review

Duncan Druce
Gramophone, December 2011

The disc starts with a neat, lively, wellpaced account of the Béatrice et Bénédict Overture and the performance of Harold, too, has much to recommend it—a fine-toned soloist, rhythmic, well-balanced orchestral playing and clear, bright recording.

To read the complete review, please visit Gramophone online., November 2011

David Allan Carpenter’s is particularly good: he restores some extra-difficult elements of Harold in Italy…Ashkenazy also leads a light, well-paced and bouncy version of the overture to Béatrice et Bénédict, which functions as a sort of curtain-raiser for Harold in Italy. Also on the CD is Paganini’s own version of…Sonata per la Gran Viola e Orchestra. …there is certainly plenty of virtuosity in it, especially in the final set of variations. Carpenter plays it quite well, and both he and Ashkenazy are careful not to over-expand the work into something larger than it is. Read complete review

Robert Moon
Audiophile Audition, September 2011

Violist David Aaron Carpenter plays beautifully…

…attractive melodies, stately dances and ends with a set of buoyant variations for viola and orchestra. Carpenter dispatches everything with grace and elegance. The disc begins with a spirited performance of the overture to Berlioz’s comic opera Beatrice and Benedict, based on Shakespeare’s play, Much Ado About Nothing.

James Norris
Audiophilia, September 2011

David Aaron Carpenter has restored the original viola…with excellent support from the Helsinki Philharmonic and Ashkanazy.

…it is well worth a look.

Blair Sanderson, August 2011

This album offers exceptional renditions…Carpenter plays with great skill and abundant energy, and he raises the modest viola to violinistic presence and power. Ashkenazy brings the orchestra to a high level of excitement…The sonata is filled with intensity and drama, and Carpenter and Ashkenazy deliver a fun performance that concludes the album in a jovial mood. Ondine’s sound is bright, clear, and full, so the recording is thoroughly enjoyable.

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