Reviews

ESO ELGAR FINALE 

“A witty and mercurial masterpiece. Electric performances, all.” The Sunday Times

“This was a very fine opening concert from this team that goes from strength to strength….taut, vibrant playing from the orchestra, with terrific ensemble, fire and panache under the direction of their Principal Conductor, Kenneth Woods.” The Classical Reviewer 

 

“To my ears, Fraser’s richly upholstered orchestration works a treat yet also manages to be astutely appreciative of the simmering passion and sense of loss that permeate this wistful creation (the Adagio slow movement is especially affecting). Plaudits, too, for Woods’s characteristically lucid and fervent performance with his own English Symphony Orchestra, opulently captured by balance engineer Simon Fox-Gál.” Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone

 

“Even seasoned Elgar addicts, more familiar with the full panoply of Elgar’s tremendous chamber output, will welcome these interpretations which unashamedly give these two compositions a sparkling new palette of new orchestral colours…Conductor, Kenneth Woods, makes a convincing ambassador, marshalling the two polished English orchestras with skill and enthusiasm in both premieres…” Chris Bye, British Music Society

 

“The result is pretty remarkable. Fraser hasn’t just translated Elgar’s notes into rich and powerful orchestral terms, he as added (discreetly it must be said) the kinds of touches of colour and splashes of figuration Elgar himself might well have introduced. It really sounds like Elgar… beautifully realised, performed with warmth and understanding, and sympathetically recorded. Same too with the Sea Pictures” Stephen Johnson, BBC Music Magazine

 

“Woods makes a fine case for expanding the late Piano Quintet into something that sounds like a three movement Fourth Symphony. Fraser’s orchestration fills out Elgar’s spare writing with great pomp and circumstance, and the finale sounds exhilaratingly Elgarian.” Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times

 

“The sound world feels so instinctively right … fascinating and ingenious” Andrew McGregor, BBC Radio 3 Record Review

 

“utterly triumphant … beyond incredible … as stunning a rendition as I think I have ever heard” Anne Carlini Exclusive Magazine

 

“The orchestra is impeccably drilled throughout: it sounds like they play these works as regularly as they would the accompaniments to a Beethoven Concerto. Unhesitatingly, and most enthusiastically, recommended.” Fanfare (Colin Clarke)

 

“Korzhev is just as clear and communicative in this concerto as he is in the easeful Op. 18 – listen to how well he articulates the central Quasi cadenza – and the ESO play with thrilling focus and trenchancy throughout.” MusicWeb International

 

“Korzhev, who previously has recorded selections from the composer’s solo piano music, proves to be a dedicated and capable guide in this rare repertoire. Conductor Woods (to whom we are indebted for recordings of the symphonies of Hans Gál) is equally proficient, and the English Symphony Orchestra gives no indication that this is not music they have lived with for years.” Fanfare (Philip Scott)

 

“What is probably most important, however, is that all three of the concertos on this album are easily accommodating to the inquisitive and attentive listener. Toccata Classics seems to make the case that listening to Krenek should be a journey of discovery; and, from that point of view, both Korzhev and Woods are excellent “guides” for those who commit to making that journey”The Examiner

 

“I cannot imagine finer performances of Ernst Krenek’s piano concertos than these from Mikhail Korzhev with the English Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kenneth Woods” The Classical Reviewer

 

“The playing can never be faulted for accuracy or balance. Ken Woods leads vibrant readings” Classical CD Reviews

 

“Kenneth Woods drew a fine vigorous opening from the orchestra in the Allegro con brio of Beethoven’s Symphony No.3 in E flat major, Op.55 ‘Eroica’ with a crisp incisiveness and a great sense of panache and spirit, a real allegro brio” wrote critic Bruce Reader. “This was a performance of great life and character which brought a real freshness to Beethoven’s vision. Kenneth Woods is clearly achieving fine results with the English Symphony Orchestra.” The Classical Reviewer

 

“… but October’s performance under Kenneth Woods in the appropriately named Elgar Concert Hall at Birmingham University was a revelation… This triumph of transcription deserves to be heard worldwide.” Classical Music Magazine “Premiere of the Year”

 

“[One] of the most exciting events I have experienced during a reviewing career approaching half a century Birmingham Post 

 

Every now and then, a new work comes along that simply takes one’s breath away…Wall of Water was written for Harriet Mackenzie, who plays this alternately elegiac and passionate music with a burning commitment and intensity that composers usually only dream of, but then she has been gifted a work whose high quality is rarely encountered. This is a wonderful performance of a wonderful concerto, completed by immaculate accompaniment from the English String Orchestra directed by the tireless Kenneth Woods. Very, very strongly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine

 

“Tonight we were simply spellbound, thanks largely to the meticulous attention to detail on the part of conductor Kenneth Woods….This had been a carefully thought out programme, the concert itself once again proof that the city of Hereford is no backwater in the world of serious music.” Hereford Times

 

“…If ever an evening set the bar high this was it, but I can’t think of any evening that so comprehensively exceeded expectations.” Kensington and Chelsea Today

 

In the event, Wall of Water proved to be an uncommonly interesting work.. the main sections of the work are superbly judged in terms of consolidation, unity and contrasts…Throughout this absorbing concert, one must pay tribute to the players’ musicianship, self-evidently as one in their desire to do their best, and to Kenneth Woods, whose skill and undemonstrative mastery of the music was a joy to behold.” Classical Source

 

 “With a tight structure, beguiling harmonies and a fantastical atmosphere, this concerto reveals Pritchard to have an innate talent for pacing and drama….” Bachtrack

 

 “Set against recent paintings, Walls of Water, by Maggie Hambling, projected behind the players, it makes an indelible impression of heartfelt emotions, genuinely expressed in a broadly tonal idiom. The second cadenza could have been written by Mendelssohn. But this is not derivative music. It contains an ability to reach out to an audience without patronising it with easy sounds or intentions. But it is memorable and such an attribute is hard to achieve with success no matter what the choice of musical language is made…This is a lovely, elegiac work with a beauty all of its own.” Musical Opinion