Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / ROUSE; WAGNER (arr. DE VLIEGER)
“Alsop was in peak form Thursday. She kept the sprawling work [Henk de Vlieger’s arrangement of The Ring] firmly in hand right from the deep, dark swirling sounds signifying the mighty Rhein. She proceeded to dig into the juiciest themes, build crescendos deftly, and deftly highlight pictorial elements in the score.
“All the while, she had the orchestra playing with vivid expression. The strings summoned considerable tonal sheen; the woodwinds and brass made rich contributions.”
Tim Smith, Baltimore Sun, April 2013
Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment / MOZART; BEETHOVEN; WEBER; SCHUMANN
“…buoyant, tautly shaped performance of Schumann’s Second Symphony […]”
Hilary Finch, Times, March 2013
London Philharmonic Orchestra / COPLAND; TOWER; GERSHWIN; DVOŘÁK
“Alsop’s passionate but gently exerted control, immaculate throughout, brought out vividly the many colours of the orchestra, from the lusher Cinemascope landscape of some passages in the fascinating Copland Piano Concerto to the sophisticated syncopated rhythms of the Gershwin.”
Phil Dennett, Crawley Observer, February 2013
London Philharmonic Orchestra / IVES; COPLAND; JOPLIN; GERSHWIN
“…Alsop and the LPO did a great job in bringing out the brilliance and clarity of the orchestral writing […] Overall, this was a splendid performance by Alsop and the LPO […]”
Robert Beattie, Seen and Heard International, February 2013
“Alsop is the real deal – a no-nonsense musician with a flair for texture and a real affinity for this generous, rhythmic repertoire.”
Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, February 2013
“Next was a welcome and surprisingly rare revival of Aaron Copland’s Piano Concerto […] Alsop was fully alive to the music’s extremes of expressive eloquence and glancing irony.”
Richard Whitehouse, Classical Source, February 2013
London Philharmonic Orchestra / DVOŘÁK; MILHAUD; VARESE
“Alsop introduced Amériques, Varèse’s deafening diorama of New York, its urban brutality, its hopes and fears, by a little comparative exercise, revealing the work’s references to Debussy and Stravinsky. And then, after the alto flute’s memories of the afternoon of a faun had been shattered by foghornse, sirens and a fearlessly paced ferocity of crescendos, the hall rose to its fee in an ovation of no fewer decibels.”
Hilary Finch, Times, February 2013
“The [first] movement [of Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony] soon whipped into a tumultuous storm under Alsop's baton, roaring with enthusiasm from every instrumentalist and conductor alike.”
Madelaine Jones, One Stop Arts, February 2013
“A superb performance of Milhaud's tricksy ballet score preceded Varèse's Amériques […] It's a tremendously energising work, which, given the kind of blazing treatment it received from Alsop, almost allows one to taste a sense of boundless opportunity and spiritual freedom.”
Guy Dammann, Guardian, February 2013
“Marin Alsop was in her element – charismatic, visionary and pragmatic – In a performance that yielded the work’s layers of distance with great clarity. She showed an instinctive grasp of music poised between expressions of nostalgia and the majesty of the American Sublime. In a work that can get stuck in its own prodigal tunefulness, Alsop caught the mercurial contrasts of mood, transmitted by some super-fluid playing from the LPO.”
Peter Reed, Classical Source, February 2013
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / DVOŘÁK; BRAHMS
“BSO music director Marin Alsop revealed her affinity for the Dvorak score in 2008 concerts with the orchestra. This reprise found the conductor even more attuned to the romantic urgings of the music, allowing the tenderest phrases to breathe and giving dance-like passages an extra kick.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, November 2012
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / ADAMS; BRUBECK; BERNSTEIN
“…[Alsop has] got Bernstein under her skin. This is music full of bounce and nervous energy and self-aggrandizement and breast-beating, always looking over its shoulder to make sure you like it, and Alsop takes it lovingly in hand and shows it to advantage without letting it carry her away.”
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, October 2012
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra / DVOŘÁK; COPLAND; TOWER; VILLA-LOBOS; GINASTERA
At BBC Proms, London
“…the moment [Marin Alsop] starts making music her secret weapon is obvious: an all consuming passion for her job.”“An evening of life-enhancing music made sweeter by one woman’s devotion.”
Jeffrey Taylor, Sunday Express, August 2012
“…its recently appointed principal conductor, Marin Alsop, is a regular fixture in London, a no-nonsense, assertive performer who knows exactly how to get a large audience and unruly acoustics under her control.”
“Her orchestra showed itself to be an extremely fine, beefy-sounding band as she guided them through a well-planned programme that captured some party spirit but demonstrated impressive musical credentials, too.”
“…Alsop’s forceful direction inspired playing that was punchy and alert.”
“…with [Alsop] at the helm, this orchestra is a force to be reckoned with.”
Hugo Shirley, Daily Telegraph, August 2012
“…there's no doubt of how well the Brazilian orchestra already responds to Alsop's energy and enthusiasm.”
“Dvořák's Ninth Symphony, From the New World, received a typical no-nonsense Alsop performance, the tension coiled like a spring in the first movement, the Largo never allowed to become over-sentimental, the scherzo and finale dashingly direct, while providing a chance for the SPSO to introduce itself […]”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, August 2012
“…though Alsop may only have taken the post this year, she knows how to play to its strengths. Just as when she conducts the Brahms symphonies, she refused here to fuss over the music, and the Dvořák had a straightforward good sense and outgoing enthusiasm that made it highly enjoyable.”
“This concert was one of the bright spots in [the] Proms season so far.”
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, August 2012
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / RACHMANINOV; ELGAR
“…Alsop and her orchestra gave a reading of Elgar’s Symphony No. 1 that lit sparks throughout. With plenty of warmth to spare in the tender moments, this was searching, mercurial Elgar with playing that reached points of fever pitch and conjured Scriabin, Franck and Mahler in its surging shifts of mood.”
Joe Banno, The Washington Post, May 2012
“Alsop revealed considerable appreciation for the warmth and breadth of [Elgar’s Symphony No.1].”
“Particularly admirable was Alsop's assured handling of the many tempo shifts within the movements, allowing a natural flow, and her attention to minute details in the skittish scherzo.”
“She had the closing moments of the finale reaching a truly majestic level of expression, thanks to some downright radiant playing by an orchestra that seemed thoroughly caught up in the experience from the very first bars of the symphony. The strings […] poured out a golden sound, matched by great warmth and solidity from the brass.”
“The classy performance made me hope that we will get Elgar's Symphony No. 2 someday soon.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, May 2012
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / RAVEL; SHOSTAKOVICH
“In a Baltimore Symphony program of Ravel and Shostakovich conducted by Marin Alsop, the intensity started early and never really let up.”
“…[Alsop] revealed a firm grasp of its elusive structure and its extraordinary emotional content. There was a coherence, tautness and clarity in her approach on Thursday, as well as a palpable sense of involvement.”
“I particularly admired the pianissimo start Alsop assured for the first movement crescendo […] Each subsequent increase in volume, like the cruel twisting of a knife, was superbly controlled.”
“Alsop continued to bring out telling details […] And the end of the symphony was made terrifically effective by the way the conductor held her forces in reserve until just the right moment to unleash the full, brassy fury.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, May 2012
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / COPLAND; TOWER; HIGDON; TCHAIKOVSKY
At Silva Concert Hall, Eugene
“…the orchestra offered an inspiring reading of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor. From the opening statement of the work’s somber, folksong-like motto theme to the full orchestra’s final notes in the last movement, this performance gave Alsop a perfect opportunity to demonstrate how fine an ensemble the Baltimore Symphony really is.”
“The conductor shaped the songful second movement wonderfully.”
“…Alsop presided over an elegant, refined reading, showcasing the strings section’s warm, burnished sound.”
Terry McQuilkin, The Register-Guard, April 2012
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / COPLAND; TOWER; HIGDON; PROKOFIEV
At Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley
“The Baltimore Symphony, with a commanding Marin Alsop leading the way like a resolute general, navigated through the depths of [Prokofiev’s Symphony No.5], highlighting a deep range of emotions and colours to stirring effect.”
“The tempi of the first movement were measured superbly by Alsop, defiant yet never stagnant. Prokofiev’s superb instrumentation provides a vast palette of colours, which were exploited in this particular performance at almost every opportunity.”“This marvellous work was given an energetic performance by the Baltimore Symphony, which served as an ongoing reminder of the fine work that Marin Alsop continues to achieve with this orchestra.”
Brenden Guy, Bach Track, April 2012
“…the weekend's most sustained achievement came during Friday's robust and pointed rendition of Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony.”
“…things are going well in Baltimore. The strings in particular sound ripe and well-blended, and the ensemble sound of the orchestra is even more arresting than that of any individual section."
“And Alsop drew those strands together deftly into a performance of eloquence and specificity. The slow tempos that predominate in this symphony, particularly in the broad-beamed first movement, sounded imposing but never draggy, and the orchestra caught the quicksilver wit of the second movement with wondrous clarity.”
Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, April 2012
“…Prokofiev's Fifth Symphony also received a dynamic performance. Alsop introduced the first movement's weighty blocks of sound in a firm, well-paced rhythmic flow; the woodwinds were outstanding here, both in the principal theme for flutes and bassoon, and the second theme for flute and oboe. But there was fine playing throughout the orchestra. The violins voiced with warmth and definition, the dusky low strings sang, and the horns played with a crisp, assertive edge.”
“Alsop got excellent results in the scherzo as well; there's something wonderfully modern about this music, and the conductor led a brisk, breezy performance. She emphasized the Adagio's lyrical qualities without sacrificing its brooding themes. The finale was marvelous -- under Alsop's direction, as edgy and ebullient as any new music.”
Georgia Rowe, Mercury News, March 2012
“Friday’s concert revealed an orchestra capable of matching the standard of any number of full-time American ensembles, as well as a refreshing commitment by the artistic leadership to quality new American music.”
“Following the intermission came Prokoviev’s classic Fifth Symphony, from 1944, which Alsop conducted, from memory, in a expressive yet focused performance.”
“…the symphony was exceptionally well-rehearsed, making for a tight reading.”
“…Alsop took great pains to delineate the work’s counterpoint.”
Thomas Busse, San Francisco Classical Voice, March 2012
At Segerstrom Concert Hall, Costa Mesa
“…Alsop ended with a dynamic performance of Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5.”
“…Alsop did something new. She made a neo-Classical counterrevolutionary symphony feel newly revolutionary.”
Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times, March 2012
“Alsop dug into [Prokofiev’s Symphony No.5] unrelentingly. Her phrasing never became heavy or overbearing, though, thanks to her animated rhythms, purposeful accents and forward momentum. It was a fiery and thrilling performance.”
Timothy Mangan, The Orange County Register, March 2012
“…what was true here, and throughout the rest of the evening was just exactly how exciting it was to see Marin Alsop conduct. She has magnificent stage presence and a strong sense of dynamics.”
“…there is something about Alsop and her command of the music and her relationship with this orchestra that rivets.”
Out West Arts, March 2012
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / COPLAND; TOWER; HIGDON; TCHAIKOVSKY
“It takes a certain gutsiness to open a concert with not just one, but two big and brassy fanfares — you had better follow through with something worth the buildup. But no one’s ever accused Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Conductor Marin Alsop of not having guts, and on Thursday night at the Music Center at Strathmore she pulled out all the stops and delivered two huge, spectacular works — including a percussion concerto by Jennifer Higdon that may be one of the most exciting orchestral works of the past decade.”
“A brilliant performance, and huge fun, any way you cut it.”
“Alsop also managed a minor miracle in the program’s second half, which was devoted to Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. Yes, it’s a tired old war horse. And yes, it’s awash in musty 19th-century themes of Fate and Hope and Despair and whatnot. And yes, it ends in a fit of over-the-top fist-pumping that’s caused millions of eyes to roll since its premiere in 1888. But Alsop treated it all with great respect, turning in a big-boned, perfectly paced reading that achieved both grandeur and a sense of deep human tenderness; a genuinely profound, personal and very moving performance.”
Stephen Brookes, The Washington Post, March 2012
“…Alsop kept all the forces on the same tight track.”
“The orchestra sounded terrific, with lots of warmth from the strings and vivid color from the woodwinds and brass.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, March 2012
Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra / ROUSE; STRAVINSKY; BEETHOVEN
“Great Conductor, Great Programme”
“When Marin Alsop conducts, the resulting sound is wonderfully elastic. She was the guest conductor for Thursday’s concert with the Oslo Philharmonic, and her name on the concert billing resulted in a completely sold-out concert house.”
“She conducted Stravinsky as if he was Beethoven, and even better, she conducted Beethoven as if he should have been Stravinsky. For that, she had the English pianist, Paul Lewis, to play Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto. This is simply Beethoven at his most “Beethoven-istic”.
“Alsop […] made the entire string section sing, […] where Lewis floated in with an almost unbelievably beautiful piano sound. Then, the abrupt piano intro to the finale took over, and Lewis and Alsop together expertly sailed the entirety to shore with more “Beethoven-ness” than one would have thought possible.”
“But, in many ways, it was actually Stravinsky that hit the evening’s homerun. Maestra Alsop conducted his “Symphony in Three Movements”, the composer’s first completely American work, with an incredible rhythmic drive, and we came to think that Leonard Bernstein would hardly have succeeded without this predecessor.”
“Out from her rich experience with American music, Maestra Alsop provided the perfect “lighting” and framework for Stravinsky’s music. And, so, that’s how it came to be – a portrait of the finest quality of a conductor who was cut from the same fine cloth.”
Ståle Wikshåland, Dagbladet, March 2012
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra / ASSAD; MOZART; SHOSTAKOVICH
“Plentiful tropical fruit aside, the Shostakovich had a maverick quality: the Fifth Symphony, which usually expresses everything horrendous about Stalinist Russia, sounded practically buoyant once the two grimmest movements had been excised to make an al-fresco taster programme. The audience gathered in the 30-degree São Paulo heat ranged from dog-walkers to half-naked Frisbee throwers. But the performance had boisterous charm.”
Neil Fisher, Times, April 2012
“To close, we had an Alsop speciality, Shostakovich’s Fifth Symphony, a work that perfectly demonstrated the chemistry between conductor and players – and the space in which it was being played. Every instrument shone through with clarity, and the percussion – particularly the orchestral piano and celeste – emerged crystal clear. It was a nicely judged reading that balanced power with poise and in the slow movement achieved an ideal sense of stasis.”
“No wonder the audience leapt to its feet as the final chord died away.”
James Jolly, Gramophone, March 2012
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / MACMILLAN; SARASTE; PROKOFIEV
“Alsop, an ardent champion of [Macmillan’s], had the BSO churning awesome waves of sound and fury; the final sustained note, building to nearly a heavy metal-level volume, was brilliantly executed. This was visceral music-making.”
“…she brings her own considerable passion and conviction to [Prokofiev]. So it was on Thursday in Prokofiev's Fifth, which Alsop led from memory.”
“Alsop made it easy to feel these conflicting emotions, to sense a journey gradually turning upward. The conductor's taut tempos still allowed for breathing room; her interest in generating mighty fortissimos was matched with attention to subtlety.”
“The BSO delivered a big-boned sound, technical discipline and high-octane expressive fuel.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, February 2012
London Philharmonic Orchestra / KODÁLY; CHOPIN; DVOŘÁK
“This was a concert that demonstrated the transporting power of music. The strident opening bars of Kodály’s Concerto for Orchestra shook me free from the tiredness of a long week. I was immediately engaged and gripped by Alsop’s energetic grip on the music, through its various sections, including apassacaglia returning to the opening motifs to end. Thrilling!
My expectations were further confounded during the Chopin. The lengthy orchestral introduction was fabulously moulded by Alsop and the result was a fresh, alive and welcome performance of what can all-too-easily come across as bombastic.
Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony was composed for the London Philharmonic Society. Alsop was even more in her element and whipped the LPO players into a frenzy, alert to every turn of tempo and Dvořák’s melodic profligacy.
As all good concerts should, this one sent me out into the night with a much-changed mood. And an impatience for Alsop’s programmes next year with the LPO – American-themed as part of The Rest is Noise.”
Nick Breckenfield, Classical Source, February 2012
London Philharmonic Orchestra / MARTINU; LISZT; DVOŘÁK
“Alsop drew very decent playing from the LPO in a performance of Dvorák’s Symphony No 8, which, like her Brahms symphonies, came with good sense and enough vitality.”
Richard Fairman, Financial Times, February 2012
“Alsop seemed to have a New Yorker’s excited enthusiasm for a symphony [Martinu’s Symphony No.6] composed in her home city: this was Martinu inventive and sparky enough to win over even the most reluctant convert. And her Dvorák Eight was purposeful, earthy and brightly bucolic.”
Hilary Finch, Times, February 2012
“… [Alsop] had begun with Martinu's Sixth, the Fantaisies Symphoniques, not only allowing the LPO to revel in its fluid textures and freely associating rhapsodic shape, but plumbing real depths in the outer movements, the kind of emotional intensity that isn't usual part of the Martinu package.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, February 2012
“Marin Alsop and the LPO did Martinů’s final symphony proud.
In this performance everything was securely in place, the quiet playing enjoying an attractive dusky shimmer.
Dvořák’s own Eighth Symphony closed the concert, very much an outdoors work, richly played, vividly detailed.”
Colin Anderson, Classical Source, February 2012
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / BEETHOVEN; GLASS
“…it was impossible not to be impressed by the performance Alsop drew from the ensemble Friday night at Meyerhoff […]”
“The Beethoven symphony at the start found the BSO in likewise disciplined, sensitive form. Alsop shaped the score with evident affection. She stayed on familiar paths, in terms of tempo and phrasing, but breathed a good deal of freshness into the performance with beautifully shaded dynamics and lyrically shaped phrases.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, January 2012
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / RAVEL; TCHAIKOVSKY; R.STRAUSS
“On Thursday night at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, the connection between music director Marin Alsop and the BSO sounded like it had reached a tighter, more spirited level. This was especially evident in "Also Sprach Zarathustra."”
“The conductor led a fully impassioned, beautifully shaped performance. She was sensitive to small details and ensured that each explosive peak had sufficient impact. Alsop also caught the quizzical mood at the end, the conflict of tonalities that represents how difficult some questions of existence are, how out of reach some answers will always be.”
“Alsop did not just maintain smooth sailing from the podium [in Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.2], but brought considerable nuance to the orchestral side of things. She did that as well in "Bolero" at the start of the concert, drawing out a good deal of expressive solo playing and, ultimately, smoothly leading the combined the forces into quite a satisfying sonic release.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, January 2012
Cleveland Orchestra / BARBER; BERNSTEIN; SAINT-SAËNS
“… Alsop in her Cleveland debut made obvious why she's held in such high regard.
Alsop made of [Barber’s Symphony No.1] a brute, dramatic thing, hooking listeners not just on its tight-knit structure but also on its bold, almost violent feeling.
For its part, the orchestra responded well to Alsop, following the conductor closely as she shaped the finale into a gradual mounting of tension and grappling at her side with the Andante's conflicted emotions.
… American music doesn't mark the limit of Alsop's talent. On Thursday, she also revealed her powers over core European repertoire, leading an authoritative performance of Saint-Saens' "Organ" Symphony No. 3 .
It's been a great fall in terms of guest conductors, with Alsop bringing up the rear of a parade of brilliant guests who must return, and soon.”
Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer, December 2011
Philadelphia Orchestra / BARBER; COPLAND; DVOŘÁK
“The Philadelphia Orchestra's guest conductor, Marin Alsop, gave the piece an optimum platform.
Alsop's more muscular view was about new discovery. Each movement built masterfully, with transitions managed so organically and with such elegance that the music progressed effortlessly from one plateau to another. At maximum volume, Alsop then accelerated the tempo - a calculated but excellent effect.
Alsop, 55, was long a good conductor without great interpretive distinction until recent years, when she has emerged with highly charged performances of repertoire well outside her American specialty. I would never have predicted, for example, that she would develop into a knockout Elgar conductor. But she has – and so much else. Some conductors are born into greatness. Alsop is willing herself into it.”
David Patrick Stearn, The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 2011
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / HONEGGER: Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher
“Alsop is in her element when confronting musical-logistical challenges. She presided with calm authority over the masses that packed the stage, maintaining smooth coordination and a taut flow that largely succeeded in helping the disparate pieces of the quirky oratorio fit together.”
“Alsop ultimately made a strong case for "Jeanne d'Arc au bucher." Her sensitivity to the most personal moments in the work paid off, and she built some of the most atmospheric moments, such as the opening of Scene VII with its tolling bells, with great care. She also tapped into the mix of drama and strange rapture of the finale to telling effect.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, November 2011
At Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
“Marin Alsop, who presided over the aural orgy at Carnegie Hall, obviously feels Honegger’s time has come back.
She led Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher in festive Oregon this summer and with the LSO at the Barbican earlier this month. Last week she pioneered the so-called dramatic oratorio with the excellent Baltimore Symphony on home turf. And on Saturday she brought the package to Carnegie Hall.
She conducted throughout with neat bravado.”
Martin Bernheimer, Financial Times, November 2011
“Alsop proved adept at coordinating these crowds and shaping the music on a large scale, with clearly defined shifts of mood and texture and perfectly timed climaxes.”
Bach Track, November 2011
Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra / BARBER; WALTON; DVOŘÁK
“…Marin Alsop led the orchestra through the score with great structural clarity, giving a considerable and successful interpretation of Barber’s piece.”
“Marin Alsop ensured a sensitive and supportive – in the best sense of the word – orchestral accompaniment to Alisa Weilerstein’s playing. Alsop ended the programme with a tonally slender and unpretentious performance of Antonín Dvořák’s very well known Symphony No.9 […] The Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra once again played as if this was the best performance of the year.”
Harald Budweg, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, October 2011
“…Alsop proved with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra that the magical formula ‘no cholesterol’, found even on bananas in the US, is also valid for this symphony. And it was about time too, as this classical blend of pithy themes, dampened by both the Hudson River and the Vltava, has put on some weight over the course of its life.”
“This extraneous weight was completely shifted in this performance, bringing to light a highly agile body of sound; full of ease, floating along less garishly.”
“To begin the concert, the orchestra […] performed Samuel Barber’s First Symphony of 1936/43 […] The result was magnificent tonal entwinement and rhythmical complexity in a wide-screen format.”
Bernhard Uske, Frankfurter Rundschau, October 2011
“Marin Alsop managed to communicate engaging charm and exceptional vitality both to the musicians and to the audience in all three pieces of the programme.”
Frankfurter Neue Presse, October 2011
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / MAHLER; MOZART
“Marin Alsop's annual guest appearances with the Bournemouth Symphony, the orchestra that she headed between 2002 and 2008, are becoming special occasions in Poole, her rapport with the audience there seeming as close as ever.
Though Alsop started her career as a protege of Leonard Bernstein, she is no Bernstein clone, and her approach to Mahler seems far more objective than his.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, December 2010
Eugene Symphony Orchestra / TCHAIKOVSKY; BERNSTEIN; BRAHMS
“It wasn’t difficult to predict with certainty that conductor laureate Marin Alsop’s reunion with the Eugene Symphony Orchestra on Thursday would just about fill Silva Concert Hall, and that the evening’s performance would end with a standing ovation.
How fortunate for audience members that it was not simply a obligatory ovation, but a natural response to the music-making, as the evening’s concert was a vivid reminder of how effectively Alsop is able to take command of an orchestra and communicate with her audience.”
Terry McQuilkin, The Register-Guard, November 2010
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / HANDEL (arr. Christianson & Anderson): Too Hot to Handel (at Carnegie Hall, New York)
“Alsop has an extraordinary flair for genre-crossing; she's totally at ease in jazz, rock, gospel, you name it. That ability ensured a persuasive performance on Sunday.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, November 2010
“You could hardly have wished for a livelier performance or for a better leader than Ms. Alsop, the rare symphonic conductor entirely at ease in vernacular idioms.”
Steve Smith, The New York Times, November 2010
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / BARBER; PROKOFIEV; BEETHOVEN (at Carnegie Hall, New York)
“With three seasons behind her and a fourth under way, Marin Alsop appears to have settled in comfortably as the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
Not incidentally, the orchestra sounds terrific these days, a point Ms. Alsop made quickly at Carnegie Hall on Saturday evening.
She handled Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony, keeping the smooth, polished surfaces and careful balances her players produced fully in the spotlight and letting the implications of Beethoven’s vivid score capture listeners once they were wrapped in the sheer beauty of the sound.”
Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, November 2010
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: ‘Off the Cuff’ series / “Analyze This” – Mahler & Freud
“Alsop is not the only conductor to spearhead and embrace non-traditional concert formats […] but she sure has remarkable gift for making them persuasive and engaging. There was a palpable sense of connection between stage and hall Saturday night, and you can't overestimate the value of that.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, November 2010
Southbank Centre (Bernstein Project) – Mass Orchestra / BERNSTEIN: Mass
“Southbank Centre’s Bernstein Project came to a joyously affirmative conclusion at the weekend with two performances of his Mass.
In her Naxos recording from Baltimore, issued last year, Marin Alsop proved that Mass can be provocative, entertaining and extremely viable. What she has now revealed in these London performances – embracing amateur and children’s choirs, youth orchestra musicians, undergraduate dancers and a core of professionals – is that Bernstein’s extravaganza is a Mahlerian masterwork, intensely human and radiantly spiritual.
All it needs is careful preparation and inspirational leadership – which Alsop and Southbank’s Jude Kelly supplied in spades.
Here was Mass as communal rite – irreverent and unashamedly populist, never kitschy or sanctimonious. Alsop deployed her forces with admirable cool, keeping a taut rein while allowing the core performers – the dancing, singing, acting Street People – ample room to express themselves. What this Mass conveyed above all was the personality of its creator – intermittently flawed, maybe, but unfailingly energetic and charismatic.”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, five stars, July 2010
“… the Festival Hall on Saturday night gave Marin Alsop and her 500 performers, a noisy and deserved standing ovation.
… as Alsop has been saying for years and proved at the South Bank, Mass contains some of Bernstein’s best music. Is there a more beautiful 20th-century chorale than 'Almighty Father', with which Mass ends? I can’t think of one.”
Damian Thompson, Daily Telegraph, five stars, July 2010
“… it is Bernstein’s masterpiece – of that I am in no doubt – and this culminating blast of the South Bank’s year-long Bernstein Project came as close to nailing it as we could reasonably expect.
Marin Alsop – who is now all but the official guardian of this piece – kept her far-flung forces on message with barely a stitch dropped. Sorry, but anyone who can still resist the healing benediction of the closing minutes must be made of stone.”
Edward Seckerson, Independent, four stars, July 2010
“The hottest day of the year, and the mercury was rising fast inside the Festival Hall too. Leonard Bernstein’s. Mass was being staged by hundreds of singers, dancers and bands as the culmination of the Southbank Centre’s year-long Bernstein Project.
… a performance that makes you believe in it.
… the vast assemblage of voices of all ages whipped up the audience into a frenzy. In any other art form, Bernstein’s instant feelgood ending would be damned as artistically weak and inauthentic. But here we suspend disbelief, ride off into the sunset and over the rainbow in an ecstasy of some blessed hope which takes us blissfully unawares.”
Times, four Stars, July 2010
“Under the careful baton of Marin Alsop, the feelgood factor was stratospheric.”
George Hall, Guardian, July 2010
“Bernstein's pupil Marin Alsop directed nearly 500 mainly young, mainly local musicians, singers and dancers in two spectacular performances in London. It is hard to imagine a less inhibited and more life-enhancing rendering.”
Editorial, Guardian, July 2010
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Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / MAHLER: Symphony No.1 [Naxos 8.572207]
“…Marin Alsop’s light and classical touch makes Gustav Mahler’s First Symphony sound more youthful than it really is. Her control and devotion to this approach is remarkable.”
Roger Hecht, American Record Guide, January 2013
“This new recording from Baltimore has immaculate orchestral playing to commend it along with a feeling of discovery. Alsop’s sound-world captures not only the hothouse forte passages but also those quiet, chilling moments.”
“…Marin Alsop gives us an interpretation that showcases the strings rather than blowing us away with loud percussion and raucous untamed brass. It’s just about the most gentle, romantic and beguiling Mahler 1 I’ve ever come across. With Alsop there are no histrionics and the playing is as smooth as silk. It’s a really unusual, different approach and it’s delightful to hear. The orchestra is in spectacular form.”
“Even if you own multiple versions of Mahler 1, I urge you to give this one a try. It’s refreshingly different and is supported by engineering of superior quality. A fabulous CD.”
John Whitmore, MusicWeb International, December 2012
“…this recording of Mahler’s First is a welcome new addition to the discography. [Alsop’s] engaging interpretation immediately captures the style of the work through both tempo and timbre. Throughout she achieves a satisfying sense of voicing and this well conveys the scoring.”
“Fresh and vibrant, this recording of Mahler’s First Symphony is appealing as a persuasive reading of this familiar work.”“This recording has much to commend it to Mahlerians everywhere.”
James L Zychowicz, MusicWeb International, December 2012
“Marin Alsop’s performance opts for more folk-like immediacy […] from whatever direction she arrives, Alsop brings a vigorous spring to the music’s step.”
Ken Smith, Gramophone, October 2012
“I have nothing but admiration for Alsop’s handling of the finale—a swift, cogent reading that, in its refusal to drag out the concluding chorale, turns out to be one of the most exciting on disc.”
David Hurwitz, Classics Today, October 2012
“The Baltimore Symphony certainly provides a responsive Mahler instrument, the horns, strings, harp, and percussion alert and resonant throughout the composer’s invocations of pantheistic lyrical outpourings. Alsop allows the first movement Langsam, schleppend a spaciousness requisite to mix or childlike wonder and lyrical nostalgia, especially as the song allusions from Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen deal exclusively with unrequited love.”
“…even the most skeptical of Alsop’s auditors should be convinced that Mahler suits her own multifaceted temperament.”
Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition, September 2012
“The orchestra is a sumptuous band, and Alsop's interpretation of the great symphony is somehow characteristic: she never overeggs the pudding, nor does she play fast and loose with issues like tempo, which you can hear on all of her recordings, way back to her RSNO/Barber cycle, through her Bournemouth days, her LPO recordings of the Brahms symphonies and on into the Baltimore period with her Dvorak recordings.”
Michael Tumelty, Sunday Herald, September 2012
“Alsop […] offers an exquisite sense of distance when the offstage trumpets enter in the first movement; the cellos and basses open the second movement with a deliciously rough-hewn tone; the more inward reflections in the finale are played with aching tenderness […]”
Peter J. Rabinowitz, International Record Review, September 2012
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra / PROKOFIEV: Symphony No.5; The Year 1941 [Naxos 8.573029 & NBD0031]
“This exceptional account of Prokofiev’s Fifth Symphony is partnered by a revelatory performance of The Year 1941, while the recording bursts out of the speakers on blu-ray.”
Christopher Dingle, BBC Music Magazine, five stars, January 2013
“There are a number of competitors to this new recording, but both Naxos’ exciting performance and first-rate surround sonics place it at the head of my current list.”
John Sunier, Audiophile Audition, five stars, October 2012
“In a note in the booklet for the Koussevitzky recording Prokofiev is quoted as saying the following about the Fifth. “I wished to glorify man as free and happy, his mighty strength, his noble spirit. I would not say that I searched for this theme. It was born in me and required expression.” So, the symphony clearly was intended to express lofty ideals. I’d say that Marin Alsop’s performance pretty much measures up to the expectations that such a statement arouses.”
“In the first movement she brings out the power and the lyricism in Prokofiev’s writing. The playing she gets from the OSESP is very good; in particular the bass end of the orchestra is powerful, as it needs to be, without overpowering the textures.”
“Alsop imparts the necessary gravitas as well as drama to the slow march, building it to a potent climax […] After Prokofiev has returned to the material of the opening Alsop and her players deliver the gently luminous closing pages expertly. The generally high spirited finale, with its often brittle orchestration, is done with spirit and élan. There are plenty of good recordings of this important symphony in the catalogue but this newcomer ranks among the best I’ve heard.”
“Marin Alsop’s Prokofiev cycle has been launched auspiciously and I look forward to future issues.”
John Quinn, MusicWeb International, Recording of the Month, September 2012
“The orchestra is very, very good; and the music makes that abundantly clear. The brass are powerful, and the strings are lush in the Adagio. […] The sound is glorious.”
“So it is only fair to say that this is a terrific recording that orchestra, conductor, engineers, and record label should be very proud of.”
Donald Vroon, American Record Guide, September 2012
“The first volume of a complete cycle of Sergey Prokofiev’s symphonies on Naxos, this 2012 release by Marin Alsop and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra is an auspicious beginning.”
“The São Paulo Symphony Orchestra plays with considerable energy and force, and the performances are quite muscular and propulsive, giving both the suite and the symphony visceral expressions and great physical presence. Alsop is evidently a sympathetic interpreter of Prokofiev, because the tempo and pacing always feel spot-on, and the character of the music rings true.”
Blair Sanderson, Allmusic, August 2012
“Marin Alsop, conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, is a hot property right now and the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra […] is obviously a major ensemble whose work many American and European listeners may not be familiar with.”
“…this fine orchestra turns in performances of world-class caliber here. And Alsop shows once again that she has entered that rare class of conductors who are consistently compelling and insightful.”
“Alsop’s Fifth is a solid and impressive effort: the first movement is heroic and powerful with well-chosen tempos, while the ensuing Scherzo is spirited and quite thrilling; the Adagio is dark and tragic as it should be, and the finale is humorous and ultimately triumphant […] Alsop must be given high marks for this Prokofiev 5th, which is very possibly the finest on record in the last decade or so.”
“…this disc is a must for fans of Prokofiev and 20th century music in general.”
Robert Cummings, Classical Net, August 2012
“…the São Paulo has a great deal to offer in terms of energy, atmosphere, humanity and also technical accomplishment in those passages (notably in the finale) where Prokofiev taxed an orchestra’s togetherness. These are healthy qualities on which to build, and, as this is the first disc of a planned series of all the Prokofiev symphonies, Alsop is the ideal conductor to make it happen.”
Geoffrey Norris, Daily Telegraph, July 2012
“…the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and its conductor Marin Alsop held my attention as never before […]”
“The Fifth Symphony comes up trumps in a dramatic yet highly polished performance.”
“I was particularly impressed by how Alsop brings out the first movement’s characteristic power with a purposefulness that prevents it from seeming merely ponderous.”
“Altogether, this first volume of Prokofiev is an outstanding achievement.”
Daniel Jaffé, BBC Music Magazine, five stars – Orchestra Choice, July 2012
“Alsop, now in her mid-fifties, is riding the crest of a wave. This new release should lift her even higher, as well as win new friends for the São Paulo orchestra, a first-class ensemble, if this new CD is anything to go by.”
“Alsop’s first movement [of Prokofiev’s Symphony No.5] has plenty of sweep; she does not allow it to become episodic. Of drama there is no shortage either […]”
“Alsop’s expansive Adagio benefits from the unusually lyrical approach that she takes and the São Paulo strings do themselves proud here. The finale is one of the most exciting on disc […] because it is played so cleanly, and with a singing line – as is everything on this disc.”
“Even if you already have several Prokofiev Fifths, you need to make room for this one.”
Raymond S. Tuttle, International Record Review, IRR Oustanding, June 2012
“They're moving fast indeed, and somebody is driving. But they are a fine orchestra and this is an electric performance of Prokofiev Five: it's majestic, witty, characterful, fast, keen and lean.”
Michael Tumelty, The Herald, May 2012
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra; Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta [Naxos 8.572486]
“If you are seeking full, rich, and warm sounding Bartok, with glorious string tone, look no further than this beautifully played, Westernized performance of the Concerto for Orchestra. What hits you first is that string tone, which is rich, dark, and full-bodied.”
“If you are looking for a reading of [Concerto for Orchestra] that is even lusher than Karajan’s, this certainly is a prime candidate.”
Roger Hecht, American Record Guide, September/October 2012
“…well played, persuasively interpreted and nicely recorded […]”
Rob Cowan, Gramophone, June 2012
“Two quintessential Bartók works in fine perforamances […] The Concerto for Orchestra, in particular, is a piece that suits Marin Alsop down to the ground, and one that allows her to put her Baltimore players through their paces.”
Misha Donat, BBC Music Magazine, June 2012
“The standout on the disc is Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. This fascinating, intricately layered score inspires a terrific, involving performance. The conductor's attention to atmosphere and subtle detail pays off handsomely.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, May 2012
“Her account of the Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, though, is very impressive, controlled and pungent […]”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, May 2012
“Marin Alsop's new recording with her Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is a cracker.”
“Alsop's strength is her honesty, by which I mean something precise. Her different recordings, with the RSNO, Bournemouth Symphony and her Brahms Symphonies with the London Phil have been characterised by a consistent feature: she plays it straight and never goes for a quick fix.”
Michael Tumelty, The Herald, May 2012
“Her orchestra’s precision here is enviable, with crisp ensemble playing and solo voices of considerable character.”
“This is an excellent showcase for this orchestra’s work with Alsop, enough to make one anticipate further fine offerings from this already acclaimed partnership.”
Carl Rosman, International Record Review, May 2012
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / DAUGHERTY: Route 66 [Naxos 8.559613]
“The Bournemouth, under Marin Alsop's guidance, plays with the brashness of an American orchestra, which suits this music down to its native ground. Another winner in Naxos's Daugherty mini-series.”
Classical CD Review, May 2011
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / DVOŘÁK: Symphony No.6; Nocturne; Scherzo capriccioso [Naxos 8.570995]
“… the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra captures with winning flair.
This is easily the most impressive of Alsop’s Dvorák cycle.”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, four stars, November 2010
“This Dvořák series has been truly joyful and that again is the word I would use here. Rob Cowan, in his review, suggests that it is the finest entry yet. The way Alsop and her Baltimore forces ease into that contented beginning to the Sixth Symphony and just as quickly assert a sense of musical character to their playing is a sure indicator of what is to follow. An entirely satisfying, characterful account.”
James Inverne (Editor), Gramophone, Editor’s Choice, December 2010
“Alsop’s approach to this sunniest of symphonic first movements is perky, well paced and appreciative of the music’s many shifting perspectives.
… Alsop’s now familiar skill at balancing tempi and dynamics so that the musical arguments make perfect sense.
I’d say that this is the finest issue so far in Alsop’s Dvořák series. Whatever else she does or doesn’t choose to give us, if she hasn’t already done so I hope she will have a gander at the Fifth Symphony, which I’m sure would go down a treat.”
Rob Cowan, Gramophone, Editor’s Choice, December 2010
“As in her recordings of the last three Dvořák symphonies, her attention to detail gives pride of place to the exquisite use of instruments aided in no small measure by superb playing from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. At every turn in this excellently recorded performance, the balance reveals Dvořák’s instinctive feeling for evocative instrumental combinations. Equally impressive is Alsop’s sense of line, especially in the finale and slow movement where rarely heard depths are revealed.”
Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine, December 2010
“… the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is beginning to sound as though it’s lived with this music all its life.
Everything here is beautifully balanced; tempos are nicely judged; there’s some outstanding wind playing, and the recording allows us to see every inner detail, as it’s lovingly polished by Alsop and her players.”
Andrew McGregor, ‘CD Review’ BBC Radio 3, November 2010
“Marin Alsop, the conductor who put the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra back on its feet during her tenure in charge there, is making a similarly enlivening impact in Baltimore, where she has been music director since 2007. This recording of Dvořák’s Sixth Symphony comes in the wake of her Naxos discs of the Ninth (8.570714) and a coupling of the Seventh and Eighth (8.572112), and, like them, has symphonic muscle and interpretative freshness in equal measure.”
Geoffrey Norris, Daily Telegraph, November 2010
“I’m delighted to report that Marin Alsop’s new recording with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is a match for most of them [recordings by Sejna, Kertész, Kubelík, Ančerl, and Mackerras].
… Alsop’s approach, which is distinctive and very attractive – much helped by playing of warmth and rhythmic alertness […] The balance of symphonic momentum and naturalistic tone-painting is just right in this Baltimore performance: things never get becalmed and there’s plenty of poetry in the more reflective passages.
…as in Alsop’s previous Dvořák discs in this series there’s a strong feeling for lyrical line […] In short, at super-budget price this is a fantastic bargain: it is a very good Dvořák Sixth indeed and one that is surely not going to disappoint. Its predecessors in this Baltimore series have been very good but this may be the best of the lot.
…anyone looking for a very affordable and extremely enjoyable recording of Dvořák’s Sixth in excellent sound should try this rewarding disc.”
Nigel Simeone, International Record Review, November 2010
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / DVOŘÁK: Symphonies Nos.7 & 8 [Naxos 8.572112]
“New recordings could well be the best in their field.
Marin Alsop has now moved into a different league. She’s always been good, but now she is of a different order. These are fabulous performances of the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies. The way that Alsop racks up dramatic tension in the finale of the Seventh Symphony is utterly hair-raising, while the sonority of her Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is gob-smacking, with their extraordinarily rich, deep bass sound resonating in your bones. Alsop is now one of America’s leading conductors and has a great orchestral resource at her disposal.”
Michael Tumelty, The Herald, June 2010
“The Baltimore Symphony is well drilled under Alsop and responds to her leadership with earnest enthusiasm.”
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare, November 2010
“As in her live performances, Alsop’s unobtrusive, emotive yet controlled, regal interpretation was remarkable. She doesn’t make the mistake of performing Dvorák’s Brahms-like symphonies as show pieces, as so many others do. Dvorák’s symphonies are in fact narrative pieces with a wide range of shading, with alternating lyrical and dramatic passages. A performance of this particular repertoire requires a balanced musical approach, led by sensitivity, affection and modesty. Special effects and showmanship miss the point completely. Conductors of the same nationality as Dvorák, such as the outstanding musician Rafael Kubelik, or also Wolfgang Sawallisch, demonstrated how they should be performed, and artists such as István Kertész and now Marin Alsop are following in their footsteps in an exemplary fashion.”
Hanspeter Krellmann, neue musikzeitung, September 2010
“Alsop’s ability to let the music speak for itself is extremely persuasive.
Alsop’s finale is thoroughly impressive, with plenty of drive where it’s needed and a clear sense of the bigger symphonic picture.
This is immensely refreshing, unforced and engagingly natural Dvořák playing. Perhaps the finale is the highlight here: Alsop makes it cohere in a way that marks her out as a Dvořák conductor of real distinction.
… theirs are performances of great zest and affection – imaginative, poised and never mannered – and they deserve a place in any Dvořák collection. It’s hard to imagine anybody being disappointed with such fresh and natural music-making.”
Nigel Simeone, International Record Review, September 2010
“The amount of felicitous detail here is more than enough to justify purchase, even if you already own one or more versions of either work. In the darkly dramatic finale Alsop allows herself just enough expressive leeway to sweeten the pill without spoiling the line.
… one of the most tender accounts that I’ve heard since Bruno Walter.
Alsop should please both the eager newcomer on the lookout for a recommendation and the seasoned collector who knows and loves the music but fancies listening between the staves. There’ll be no disappointment on either score.”
Rob Cowan, Gramophone, August 2010
“The bewitching scherzo of the seventh and the lyrical adagio and allegretto grazioso of the eighth stand out in these meticulous live recordings, Alsop drawing some wonderfully sensitive, silky playing from her Baltimore players.”
Stephen Pritchard, Observer, July 2010
“… in the slow movement and the Finale, the cellos’ singing tone is ravishing and the strings and wind are charmingly delicate. On the evidence here, Marin Alsop’s Dvořák series will be well worth collecting.”
Richard Lawrence, Classic FM Magazine, four stars, June 2010
“This splendidly recorded performance stands very high among available recordings with Alsop both infectious and persuasively symphonic.”
Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine, June 2010
“Marin Alsop brings to this disc of two of Dvorak’s finest symphonies her customary taste and judgement. Excellent performances.”
Paul Gent, Daily Telegraph, June 2010
“Alsop’s account of the extrovert Eighth shows off the virtues of the Baltimore orchestra well.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, May 2010
Royal Scottish National Orchestra / COLLINS: Daughter of the South [Albany Records 1210]
“The opera is beautifully performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra & Chorus and energetically led by Marin Alsop.
The recording is a valuable document of early 20th century American post-Romantic opera, a genre that's virtually invisible to most listeners and opera lovers.”
Stephen Eddins, Allmusic, November 2010
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / GERSHWIN: Piano Concerto; Rhapsody in Blue (with Jean-Yves Thibaudet) [Decca Classics 478 2189 2]
“Engaging across the board.
Alsop is one of the rare classical conductors who can swing naturally. She gets this music innately, knows how to pace it, bend it, push it. And the BSO responds with an impressive mix of fluency and character. It's a fun recording that stands up well in a crowded field.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, June 2010
“…this enjoyable performance is currently the finest recording of Grofé's version.”
Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone, May 2010
“…this is arguably one of the closest performances to the kind Gershwin himself was after.”
Mark Forrest, Classic FM, March 2010
“…hearing this ebullient interpretation is akin to returning a piece of folk art to the masses after years in a museum.”
Andy Gill, Independent, four stars, March 2010
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / HARRIS, ROY: Symphonies Nos.5 & 6 [Naxos 8.559609]
“Marin Alsop and the Bournemouth Symphony deliver heartfelt, sincere performances entirely in keeping with the spirit of the music, and they are very well recorded. I welcome this release with pleasure, and so will you.”
David Hurwitz, Classics Today, February 2010
“… excellent performances from Marin Alsop and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, January 2010
“… the music has considerable power and fervour, and Marin Alsop's effective advocacy ensures strong-boned orchestral playing from her Bournemouth forces.”
Nicholas Kenyon, Observer, January 2010
Colorado Symphony Orchestra & Opera Colorado / ADAMS: Nixon in China [Naxos 8.669022-24]
“Conductor Marin Alsop’s approach – vigorous and transparent – is apparent right out of the gate, as the pulsing A-minor scales begin their cyclical variations. Orchestra clarity is unfailingly impressive. When the Opera Colorado Chorus enters a couple of minutes later, it’s clear they have been drilled with the same emphasis on precision. Alsop makes the Colorado Symphony Orchestra sound like a force to be reckoned with – even more vital than the Orchestra of St. Luke’s under Edo de Waart in 1987.”
Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News, March 2010
“This live recording made in Denver in 2008, with Marin Alsop conducting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and the Opera Colorado Chorus, is a superb realization of a difficult opera to bring to dramatic fruition. […] Alsop emphasizes the contrasts found in this score, revealing all of its dramatic possibilities and insuring that it is always emotionally satisfying. She does a superb job in bringing this music to life, as do the soloists who are exemplary. The orchestra sounds committed and plays with a thrilling bravado when the drama is heightened. This is a brilliantly realized performance of one of our finest modern operas.”
Mike Birman, Audiophile Audition, five stars, February 2010
“Naxos’ new Nixon seems doubly auspicious... given the guiding experience of Marin Alsop, a vastly more inventive and subtle conductor that Edo de Waart who presided over the Nonesuch version.”
Peter J. Rabinowitz, International Record Review, December 2009
“Alsop lets you hear the workings of the music; the orchestral introduction to the second act has lightness and definition; the significance and weight of the famous ‘meeting’ scene is driven home with pounding rhythms.
Adams’ score hasn’t dated a bit. It’s come up gleaming anew... Naxos’s Nixon really is one for our times.”
Andrew Mellor, Classic FM Magazine, Disc of the Month, five stars, December 2009
“[Alsop] leads the score with grand sweep and understanding, and her Colorado forces bring out its colors vividly; moreover, she inspires her cast to sing as if they’re having a great time with this no-longer-new but still odd opera.”
Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com, 10/10, October 2009
“The Naxos label’s recording of John Adams’ Nixon in China for Opera Colorado, featuring Colorado Symphony Conductor Laureate Marin Alsop and the Colorado Symphony, is receiving rave reviews.
… it is wonderful now to have this second recording reminding us that Nixon has more breadth and durability than its initial newsworthiness might have indicated.
Alsop conducts the Colorado Symphony and chorus of Opera Colorado in an incandescent performance.”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, five stars, October 2009
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / BERNSTEIN: Mass [Naxos 8.559622-23]
“To his dying day Bernstein himself felt [Mass] to be among the most important things he had done […] Now public opinion has caught up with his own…and Marin Alsop has had a great deal to do with that.
As one of Bernstein’s last students, Alsop has tirelessly evangelised for this work. She understands it better than almost anyone, telling Seckerson in this magazine last year, “What’s interesting about Mass is just how prophetic it’s turned out to be. All those boundaries between genres, between different styles of music—they’re gone.” As it happened, Alsop’s long-awaited recording of the piece was pipped to the post by another, also fine, recording from Chandos conducted by Kristjan Järvi. But it is the Alsop on Naxos, with her fine Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which to my mind shows the greater understanding of its myriad styles and undergoes the more convincing and coherent dramatic arc.
So we finally have a worthy successor to Bernstein’s own recording. “[Alsop creates] a dramatic slipstream that is powered relentlessly onwards by the awkward discontinuities and jagged narrative…go tell it on the mountain”, wrote Philip Clark in his review. Power—emotional, musical—is the word.”
James Inverne (Editor), Gramophone, 2010 Gramophone Awards Winner (Editor’s Choice)
“Marin Alsop, a Bernstein acolyte, […] has done her mentor proud with this performance of his wild and wooly Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers. Everything here is in pure Bernstein mode; no revisionists need apply. And while Bernstein himself will always own the work as its prime interpreter, Alsop brings a lot to the table.
I think it makes Mass sound less like a period piece and more like something we own ourselves nearly four decades after the premiere.
Alsop and her fine orchestra come to us in excellent sound. […] In sum, no one who loves (or even likes) Mass should be without this.”
Philip Greenfield, American Record Guide, January 2010
“Marin Alsop, who studied conducting under Bernstein, delivers a hugely cogent, taut performance as she directs the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and 150 sundry singers. […] It is so good that it has you itchily wanting to hear it again and again.
Graham Strahle, The Weekend Australian Magazine, five stars, December 2009
“Marin Alsop’s fiercely committed rendition of Bernstein’s crisis-of-faith masterpiece is right up there with the composer’s own – and that really is saying something.
Edward Seckerson, Gramophone, Critic’s Christmas Choice, December 2009
“This new Naxos brings to three the complete recordings in addition to the original cast, conducted by Bernstein himself with a smell-of-the-greasepaint vitality that remains unique, Marin Alsop, a Bernstein protégé who’s made the work a specialty, handily eclipses the other two and rivals the composer’s own. Leading her Baltimore Symphony and two choruses, Alsop is easily his match for command of the score and its kaleidoscope of musical-stylistic idioms […] for me this is the album of the year.”
Paul Seydor, The Absolute Sound, December 2009
“Alsop is better than her competition, even better than Bernstein, at making sense of the musical threads that actually hold together what struck so many early critics as just a mishmash.”
John Shinners, Enjoy the Music, five stars, November 2009
“Ms Alsop does a phenomenal job; she has clearly studied Bernstein’s recording, and effortlessly inhabits the score. But she enhances the piece; certain tempos are altered in a manner that heightens the emotion and adds an element of danger.
But it is Ms Alsop, and Mr Sykes, who take this worthy “theatre piece for singers, players and dancers” and give us an even finer recording than Mr Bernstein’s original. Those of you who have been missing out on this score for years be prepared for the reward of this thrilling Mass.”
Steven Suskin, Playbill, October 2009
“Happy times a go-go for fans of Bernstein’s Mass […] [Marin Alsop] relishes the stylistic smorgasbord, from which flows an incisive dramatic whole.”
Philip Clark, Classic FM Magazine, Editor’s Choice, October 2009
“Alsop’s eye-opening performance shows it to be what it is: a genuinely daring attempt to fuse a huge mix of musical genres into a theatre piece which explores faith and doubt, loss and gain, and pulling it off remarkably successfully.
The playing is fantastic from everyone. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conjure up the cacophonous racket of the Kyrie as if it was Stockhausen but demonstrate great beauty in the first Meditation and the touching simplicity of the final Pax section.
Highest praise of all must go to Alsop, however. Having once been Bernstein’s pupil she has now become the most convincing advocate on disc for this previously problematic work. She holds together every strand of this endlessly diverse score, welding it into a convincing musical and dramatic whole. This is perhaps her greatest recording to date, and I don’t doubt that she would say it’s the one closest to her heart.”
Simon Thompson, MusicWeb International, Recording of the Month, October 2009
“Alsop, who studied with Bernstein at Tanglewood, clearly knows and respects [the 1971 Bernstein] durable and inspiring recording, but she has her own complementary vision. She knits large sections together coherently and does a particularly good job of reconciling the schizoid series of variations in Meditation No. 2.”
Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News, October 2009
“Marin Alsop takes on Bernstein’s Mass and emerges triumphant.
To all the naysayers, bug-eyed sceptics and disapproving doubting Thomases, listen up: a third apostle has spoken.
If Leonard Bernstein’s own 1971 recording of his Mass is Gospel, Marin Alsop is the latest disciple to evangelise Bernstein’s most ecstatic, charismatic and sanctified music.”
Philip Clark, Gramophone, September 2009
“This Naxos issue is a virtual triumph from beginning to end, and the only recording for me worthy of sitting next to the composer’s own. In terms of overall technical achievement, it trumps all.
Alsop’s tight-knit symphonic pacing delineates the structure of the work without diluting its exuberant eclecticism or softening its hard road towards spiritual reawakening: the final Communion is among the most moving passages ever recorded. She is no slouch, too, when it comes to that elusive Bernstein groove; if you aren’t dancing around the room during the Gloria in Excelsis, you haven’t got a soul to save, my friend!”
Howard Goldstein, BBC Music Magazine, five stars, BBC Choral Choice, September 2009
“One of the highlights of Marin Alsop’s tenure at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the exuberant performances of Bernstein’s “Mass” that played in Baltimore, New York and Washington in the fall of 2008, was issued this week on a Naxos CD […] Alsop’s recording is certainly the best of the recent crop.”
Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, August 2009
“Alsop passionately believes in [Mass] and, if anyone can pull together its diverse traits and make them gel into a dramatic entity, she can.
Alsop directs a performance that attests not only to her admiration for the piece, but also to the way she can tap the music’s colour and spirit … enthusiasts need look no further for a first rate recording.”
Geoffrey Norris, Daily Telegraph, Classical CD of the Week, August 2009
“Marin Alsop knits the whole ensemble together with infallible insight and verve. Her tempos, a bit different from Bernstein’s, quicker here ('God Said'), a touch slower there (the wild dance in the Offertory), are no less right.
Alsop never has made a finer recording—it’s both a tribute to her mentor Leonard Bernstein, as well as to her exceptional talent as an exponent of his music.”
David Hurwitz, Classics Today, 10/10, August 2009
“Mass demands total belief from its performances if its theatrical power is to conquer its self-referential zaniness. Alsop obliges. Conducting the BSO and massed choirs, she inspires a reading of joyous finesse.”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, July 2009
“Marin Alsop has done her mentor proud […] from the start, Alsop conducts with inspiring rhythmic energy … her pacing is superb from every point of view, this can be counted a triumphant success.”
Nigel Simeone, International Record Review, Outstanding Award, July 2009
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / COPLAND: Dance Symphony; Symphonies Nos.1 & 2 [Naxos 8.559359]
“We are fortunate, therefore, that Marin Alsop seems to have the beat of this music pulsing in her veins, and has been able to instill the feel for it in her Bournemouth players; for on every level—from technical precision and style-savvy, responsive readings to superb sound and recording—everything about this release is a winner. Strongly recommended.”
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare, May 2009
“The playing here is fantastic. Alsop creates a satisfying orchestral balance all the time, especially in this version of the first symphony that leaves out the organ in favor of heavy brass. Wind and string parts pop and sparkle, and all the angular moving lines have good shape and vitality.”
Christopher L. Chaffee, American Record Guide, March 2009
“At the helm is Marin Alsop who, as a Bernstein protégé, has assimilated her mentor’s instinctive feel for Copland’s music in general and his infectious rhythms in particular.”
Dan Morgan, MusicWeb International, January 2009
“Persuasive performances of neglected early works make this an essential CD.
There are two attractions here: the only current recording of the Short Symphony and a fine recording of Symphony No 1—at last.
Alsop and the Bournemouth players make a fine case for this neglected score [the Short Symphony] with many characteristics of mature Copland.”
Peter Dickinson, Gramophone, December 2008
“Under Marin Alsop’s incisive direction, the Bournemouth musicians perform all three works with just the right blend of power and finesse, and negotiate their sometimes extremely complex rhythms with confidence and precision […] This is a corner left bare by recent deletions: there is no other Short Symphony, the First Symphony is available only in a tense, dimly recorded live performance conducted by the composer on Etcetera, and the Dance Symphony in Decca and EMI compilations can only be found in occasionally uncertain accounts under Dorati and Bátiz respectively. This disc knocks the socks off that limited competition, and surely ranks as one of the crowning achievements of Alsop’s six immensely successful years on the south coast.”
Anthony Burton, BBC Music Magazine, five stars (performance), December 2008
“Alsop’s vision is a real vindication of the rewrite, with the Bournemouth players’ sinuous woodwind, biting brass and lush strings doing incomparable service for the absent organ through a kaleidoscopic range of colours. The orchestra is at its most incisive in the Prokofiev-like motoric rhythms of the scherzo—one of Copland’s most captivating movements—but the whole performances is superbly judged.
The brilliantly captured moods of the Dance Symphony, derived from an early ballet score, round off a revelatory and richly recorded disc.”
Matthew Rye, Daily Telegraph, Classical CD of the Week, October 2008
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / DVOŘÁK: Symphony No.9 & Symphonic Variations [Naxos 8.570714]
“The reading of the symphony is a fine, direct one. In the first movement, after a caringly phrased introduction, the main allegro is urgent, with crisp rhythms.
On the evidence of this disc Ms Alsop’s partnership with her new orchestra promises much and has been launched auspiciously.”
John Quinn, MusicWeb International, October 2008
“New orchestra, New World, and a terrific reading of a firm favourite…
Marin Alsop, having moved into main-line repertoire with a highly praised set of the four Brahms symphonies, now undertakes what for me is the greatest individual 19th-century Romantic symphony, Dvořák's New World – already recorded by almost everyone who matters! But she makes it very much her own, with her fine Baltimore orchestra responding with an account full of warmth, moments of high drama, and, above all, finely paced with a flowing, spontaneous feeling.
Yet overall, Alsop's is not a histrionic reading but one full of affectionate touches, the appealing little nudge at the end of the second subject of the first movement for instance, while the closing retrospective section of the finale is particularly satisfying, leaving me saying to myself yet again in pleasure: ‘What a lovely work this is.’
The recording is outstanding in every way, well balanced and vivid in detail, heard within the naturally captured acoustic of Baltimore's fine Symphony Hall.”
Ivan March, Gramophone, August 2008
“The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Dvorák’s ‘New World’ Symphony has a verdant freshness which strips away any over-familiarity. We are reminded of its melodic charms, but even more of its structural originality. The disc is also worth having for the lovely and loving performance of the Symphonic Variations. The scoring is Dvorák at his most colourful, the gaiety of the music lifts the heart, and there are tenderly lyrical passages which conductor Marin Alsop treats with just the right amount of sentiment.”
Michael Kennedy, Sunday Telegraph, July 2008
“Recordings [of the New World Symphony] are legion and any newcomer to a field in which there are well over a hundred has to establish clear credentials. Performances vary hugely, ranging from Václav Talich’s winning but very flexible treatment (on Supraphon) to István Kertész (on Decca) and Nikolaus Harnoncourt’s (on Warner) […] Marin Alsop’s new version with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is certainly one to take very seriously, even in this exalted company. There is plenty of attention to detail […] But while the detail constantly catches the ear, there is also a very powerful sense of forward impetus, at its most accute in a thrilling conclusion to the movement.
The celebrated Largo is given one of the most perfectly shaped and unaffectedly straightforward performances I have heard.
It is rare to be able to say that a performance forces one to listen to a work anew, but this is exactly what Alsop’s reading achieves. Excellently recorded and with an elegant and witty performance of the Symphonic Variations as makeweight, this is a superb issue all round.”
Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine, Disc of the Month, five stars, July 2008
“Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony remind us of its [Symphonic Variations] charms and richly inventive colours in this vivid, incisive account. They also do the symphony proud, proving that a warhorse such as the New World is hackneyed only in the minds of jaded performers and listeners. Not having heard the work for a long time, I was captivated by it.”
David Cairns, Sunday Times, June 2008
“With the New World Symphony and the Symphonic Variations, Alsop's programme with the Baltimore Symphony couldn't be friendlier. Nor could the acoustic: no sign of the brash American sound. Her conducting is assertive, but her strong direction never knocks out the folk warmth or the malleable speeds the music needs.”
Geoff Brown, Sunday Times, June 2008
“… Alsop has the Ninth unfurling with plenty of fire and lyrical power. The orchestra, recorded live at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall last June, sounds terrific, with a full-bodied string tone, lots of vivid coloring in the woodwinds […] and a good bite from the brass.”
Things are even more effective in the Symphonic Variations. Alsop brings out the delectable play of light and shadow in the eventful score, all the while providing a lively pulse, and she gets warmly expressive playing from her musicians.”
Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, March 2008
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / BARTÓK: Bluebeard’s Castle [Naxos 8.660928]
“Marin Alsop has made a series of impressive recordings for Naxos, of which this is one of the finest yet, with gloriously rich sound, very well focused. The big climax when Judith opens the door on to Bluebeard’s vast kingdom is thrilling, a wonderfully weighty focus for the whole sequence of doors, a sequence which Alsop sustains masterfully.”
Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music 2009
“Filled with magic and ambiguity, Bartók's neglected fairytale ballet, completed in 1916, proves fruitful material for Marin Alsop's baton. The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra tuck into its multiple riches, from the dawn opening to the Hungarian rhythms.”
Geoff Brown, Times, February 2008
“Alsop finds a compelling way to open doors into Bartók's grisly world.”
Rob Cowan, Gramophone, February 2008
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / ORFF: Carmina Burana [Naxos 8.570033]
“In a market awash with recordings of this popular work, a new version has to be pretty special. And American conductor Marin Alsop and her Bournemouth Orchestra, chorus and soloists have produced just that. Alsop avoids sentimentalising the music and directs her vast forces to bring a driving, forward momentum to the music, always ratcheting up the tension and keeping the excitement going – this performance pulses with life. Listen to the explosive chanting of ‘O Fortuna’, after the opening whispered section, where the timpani line is particularly clear and audible – it’s a visceral, thrilling effect […] This recording is a must-have for any collector.”
Emma Baker, Classic FM Magazine, May 2007
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / BARTÓK: The Miraculous Mandarin [Naxos 8.557433]
“Marin Alsop conducts powerful, colourful performances of the controversial and violent ballet. The Miraculous Mandarin in its full form, coupled with the Dance Suite of 1923, demonstrating in both the orchestra’s virtuosity and the conductor’s versatility.”
Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music 2009
“I’ve yet to hear a mediocre disc from this Juilliard-trained conductor [Marin Alsop], and on the basis of what I’ve heard so far, I believe that she is in the very top rank of conductors active on the recording scene.
Alsop follows the score from its start to its bitter end, never forgetting its origins as theatre. The Boulez recordings are very fine, but his approach to this music is more analytical and less stage-aware than Alsop’s. If I were a ballet dancer, I’d much rather dance to Alsop’s, not just because of her pointed rhythms, but because she brings so many of the music’s piquant, poignant details to life.
I don’t mean to use Alsop as a cudgel with which to beat Boulez, but if one compares these new performances with the most recent ones recorded by the French conductor, one immediately notices the freshness, wit and rhythmic drive that Alsop finds, and that Boulez lacks.”
Raymond S. Tuttle, International Record Review, June 2005
“Marin Alsop finds an ideal balance between the music’s facets of showpiece and dance, with its lurid storytelling never giving way to pure display.
…the orchstra plays superbly, and Alsop captures the rhythms and textural detail with an innate sense of the music’s style.”
Matthew Rye, Daily Telegraph, May 2005
“Britain’s “provincial” orchestras are enjoying a renaissance, but the most dramatic transformation has been on the south cast, where Marin Alsop has turned the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra into a newly dynamic ensemble. Alsop’s structural command of Bartok's brutal ballet is absolute, her transitions confident and dramatic.”
Anna Picard, Independent on Sunday, May 2005
“Everything about Alsop’s performance has a genuine, steely integrity; her grip on the sometimes garish dramatic structure is always utterly secured and the way in which the intensity is steadly ratcheted up as the drama unfolds is totally convincing.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, April 2005
“Energetic Alsop and players have the measure of Bartók’s great stage work.
Marin Alsop’s Miraculous Mandarin can claim among its virtues stealth, colour and energy.
… Alsop has her own distinctive take on the piece, assertive but never rowdy, and which really does deliver.”
Rob Cowan, Opera News, April 2005
“Marin Alsop and the BSO rise to its challenges: vibrant woodwind and snarling brass offering appositely garish colours, while the music’s more static moments have the right, eerily seductive feel. Most impressive is the combination of such atmosphere with technical precision. Alsop has something of the mature Boulez here.”
Stephen Pettit, Evening Standard, April 2005
London Philharmonic Orchestra / BRAHMS: Symphony No.1 [Naxos 8.557428]
“I have the feeling in listening to this performance that I am hearing the piece architecturally; that Alsop has a vision of the work as a whole, focusing on the necessities of the structure, but without sacrificing the niceties of the measure-by-measure phrases. Stated another way, she sees the big picture.
Nor can it go unnoticed that Alsop draws from the London Philharmonic some of the best playing I’ve heard from this ensemble in recent years. She definitely has their attention. […] The whole orchestra, in fact, sounds alive and energized, and the recording captures them in luminous sound.”
Jerry Dubins, Fanfare, July 2005
“There is a buoyancy and organic flow to the symphony and overtures on this disc that make Brahms' familiar music sound fresh and vibrant. Alsop doesn't push the tempos; she allows Brahms' full-bodied melodies ample breathing room. But she and the London Philharmonic bring a refreshing sense of spontaneity to music they doubtless could play blindfolded.”
Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Sun-Times, May 2005
“There is much to admire in her reading of Brahms' First. She is unafraid of slow tempos – that gorgeous chorale in the final movement, for instance – and she is not fearful of refusing to exhibit muscle at every turn of the road. There is a sense of organic growth, carefully judged dynamics and a handsome roundness to some of Brahms' familiar tunes. Alsop brings fresh ideas to overworked terrain.”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, April 2005
“This is a strong start to a new Brahms symphony cycle from Naxos. Marin Alsop, already well established on the label as a powerful advocate of American music, brings the right balance of freshness and tradition to Brahms’s First Symphony, with that sense of the piece looking forward as much as it peers back towards Beethoven.
There is a judicious subtlety to the tempos – not doggedly following the same pulse from one end of a movement to the other, but stretching and breathing in tune with the emotional immediacy of the music; and Alsop admirably captures the symphony’s mixture of dynamism and lyricism.”
Matthew Rye, Daily Telegraph, Classical CD of the Week, March 2005
This is a recording that announces an emerging conductor’s credentials in the standard German repertory. In the famous dirgelike opening, Ms Alsop wants our ears to put Brahms’ pounding drums front and center. Elsewhere, she is not afraid of slow tempos at the composer’s more brooding moments, and even at his most songful ones. Otherwise, we hear the Brahms symphony we know and love treated with respect, an appropriate sense of drama and at times even a little impetuosity.”
Bernard Holland, The New York Time, March 2005
“With her debut Brahms CD, Marin Alsop offers a sumptuously lyrical rendition of the composer’s First Symphony and two overtures. Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony, lauded American music proponent and a famous Leonard Bernstein protegee, Alsop blends Romantic symphonic convention with the organic phrasing and transitions of a chamber musician. She summons a bright, singing sound from the London Philharmonic, and each gesture flows, yoga-like, into the next.”
Adam Baer, Los Angeles Times, March 2005
“These are the kind of bold, generous-spirited performances which a Stokowski or a Koussevitsky would probably have been pleased to hear […] a good advert for the virtues of studio recording – superior to the recent LSO Live super-budget Brahms First […] humane, affectionate performances.”
Richard Osborne, Gramophone, March 2005
“There’s much to admire here: the brisk drama she brings to the first movement, her fine generation of tension on the way to the recapitulation; the sympathy and intimacy with which she treats the inner movements. In the finale, the “great tune” is beautifully delivered at its first appearance, the tempo deceptively relaxed, the leonine strength no more than implied until it is needed in the dramatic sequels.”
“Alsop’s approach somewhat reminds me of Bruno Walter’s classic version (Sony), and I couldn’t have complained if it were a full-price entrant in the lists. As it is, anyone needing a first-rate budget Brahms First may snap it up with confidence. There’s nothing routine about the overtures, either; the Tragic has plenty of fire and atmosphere, while the Academic works up a fairly bacchic merriment.”
Calum MacDonald, BBC Music Magazine, March 2005
“Alsop’s warmly affectionate overview is evident right from the start. She lacks nothing in power.
… it’s Alsop who proves the more thematically illuminating. By keeping the music on more of an even keel (first-movement exposition repeat intact) one senses the work evolving organically, the melodic lines expanding, contracting and mutating before one’s ears as the music flowingly progreeses. Alsop’s clear-sightedness ensures that the music never overheats too soon.”
Julian Haylock, International Record Review, March 2005
“Leonard Slatkin’s successor as Britain’s leading champion of the music of her native America, Marin Alsop makes a welcome return to the traditional European repertoire with the launch of a complete cycle of Brahms’s symphonies for the ever-enterprising budget-price label Naxos. And it gets off to a very promising start with this sweeping, richly-detailed account of the first symphony, its majestic themes expansively realised, the composer’s inner angst never far beneath the surface.
With the Academic Festival and Tragic overtures thrown in as a welcome bonus, this is the start of a series that should prove well worth collecting.”
Anthony Holden, Observer, February 2005
“Marin Alsop is one of those conductors whose individual style is sufficient to justify yet another Brahms cycle. Here, with the LPO at its sweet-sounding best, she delivers a warm and shapely reading of the First. Refusing to be hurried, she sculpts the gorgeous solos in the slow movement with loving care. The intermezzo is easy and relaxed, though not casual, and if the finale at first seems slightly too deliberate, the clarity she achieves in the glorious counterpoints of its later stages magnificently justifies her approach. It’s a gigantic, uplifting performance. Her dark-hued account of the Tragic Overture and rousing reading of the Academic Festival Overture have just as much finesse, and the recording is first class.”
Stephen Pettitt, Sunday Times, February 2005
“Marin Alsop appears to be an excellent Brahms conductor. She begins the First Symphony with an imposing introduction that would have made Klemperer sit up and take notice: it's that grand and imposing. […] This is the genuine article, make no mistake.”
David Hurwitz, Classics Toda, January 2005
“So, it’s not over yet but Marin Alsop’s Brahms series has got off to an excellent start. I shall await the next instalment will great anticipation. Newcomers to the work will do well to start here, old hands are advised to avoid any temptation to yawn and get listening – this is indeed "top-notch".”
Patrick C. Waller, MusicWeb International, January 2005
“…sharp-profiled rhythms, clean-cut textures and neat […] phrasing, combine to keep the music moving forward at all times. As a result, even if she does explore every emotional depth, Alsop manages to avoid portentousness in the First Symphony, a work that can easily become overbearing, while both the overtures have a sturdy athleticism. Exuberant in the Academic Festival Overture, starkly dramatic in the Tragic, the orchestral playing is consistently first class.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, February 2005
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / GLASS, PHILIP: Symphonies Nos.2 & 3 [Naxos 8.559202]
“Alsop is capable of not just intellectually grasping but emotionally understanding that this music tends to aspire to occasionally contradictory states at the same time: Intimate and imposing, tender and towering, sensual and sweeping, spacious and maximally condensed.”
Tobias Fischer, tokafi, November 2010
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra / ADAMS: Shaker Loops; The Wound-Dresser [Naxos 8.559031]
“If you are seeking an introduction to the music of John Adams, you cannot better this splendidly played anthology from Marin Alsop and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, vividly recorded within an ideal acoustic.
This is now by far its finest performance on disc.”
Penguin Guide to Recorded Classical Music 2009, Key Recording
“In 2002 Ms. Alsop became its music director: the first woman to head any major British orchestra. Today, things could not be going better in Bournemouth. The orchestra sounds great, the players are energized, and the recordings they have been making for Naxos are exciting, including this impressive program.
Best of all, perhaps, is Ms. Alsop's intense yet magisterial performance of The Wound-Dresser.
This album makes me eager to hear Ms. Alsop's recordings of the complete Brahms symphonies, due from Naxos this year.”
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, January 2005
“Marin Alsop has directed various British orchestras in really excellent performances for Naxos’s American Classics series, and the good work continues here. She coaxes superb playing out of the Bournemouth strings in Shaker Loops. I was very impressed with the way Alsop shapes the slow third movement of Shaker Loops, building to a powerfully emotional climax, and then climbing beyond to the still, calm heights from which the finale begins. I don’t think I’ve heard this work better done, not even by Kent Nagano and the Orchestra of St Luke’s (Nonesuch), which I’d previously have considered the benchmark.”
Calum MacDonald, BBC Music Magazine, December 2004
“Alsop's interpretations and her Bournemouth orchestra's playing are every bit the equal of those on the continuing Nonesuch series of recordings, which has the composer's imprimatur.
The Wound Dresser’s plangent, slow moving orchestral tapestry is beautifully woven by Alsop, finding a neat sense of continuity with Adams’s 1989 orchestration of Busoni’s Berceuse élégiaque that follows.”
Matthew Rye, Daily Telegraph, November 2004
“Ms Alsop leads a quite splendid performance.
All of Marin Alsop’s discs that I’ve heard to date have impressed me but I fancy that this disc may be her most important achievement to date in the studio.”
John Quinn, MusicWeb International, October 2004
Royal Scottish National Orchestra / BARBER: Complete Orchestral Works [Naxos 8.506021]
“[Barber’s Symphony No.1] is one of the best American symphonies, and Marin Alsop fully realizes its synthesis of romantic and modern idioms.”
Robert Moon, Rossmoor News, June 2012
“It’s becoming clear just how subtle an interpreter of Barber Marin Alsop is. I’m not sure if there’s a better conducted version of the glorious Knoxville in the current catalogue.”
Mark Lowther, BBC Music Magazine, January 2005
“With deeply expressive playing from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the result is ravishing […] this is one of the finest versions of Knoxville to date […] Alsop's ear-opening Barber series reaches a new high-point with this instalment. Strongly recommended.”
Andrew Farach-Colton, Gramophone, June 2004
“Sensitive, scintillating accompaniment of the RSNO under Marin Alsop.”
Anthony Holden, Observer, Classical CD of the Week, May 2004
“The often chamber-like delicacy of the orchestral writing is defined with idea […] The RSNO combines power and instrumental candour, and Alsop reveals her characteristic skill in orchestral characterisation.”
Matthew Rye, Daily Telegraph, May 2004
“Her Barber series with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra has won many friends. Not only is the music instantly accessible but the passion she brings to it sweeps you up.”
James Jolly, Gramophone Awards 2003 (Artist of the Year)
“She raised the Messiah in Denver and brought Bernstein to Bournemouth. But Marin Alsop’s greatest miracles are yet to come […] Her recordings of Barber for Naxos, now in four CD collections, manage to have both sparkle and weight […] She understands him. Clarity is her trademark.”
James Naughtie, Times, October 2003
“[Alsop’s] Naxos recordings of Samuel Barber orchestral works with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are good enough to make one regret she could not have made them with her own Colorado Symphony Orchestra.”
John van Rhein, Chicago Tribune, July 2002
Colorado Symphony Orchestra / TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No.4 [Naxos]
“Music Director Marin Alsop more than justifies yet another Fourth Symphony (Tchaikovsky). The full and blazing opening fanfares immediately announce a performance with the right sort of tension […] Alsop keeps everyone on their toes […] there are countless felicitous touches. Not a million miles away from Mravinsky at his razor-sharp best.”
David Nice, BBC Music Magazine, September 2002
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra & Chorus / BERNSTEIN: Chichester Psalms [Naxos 8.559177]
“One of the best recordings of Leonard Bernstein's music in years […] her idiomatic touch and clear empathy for her mentor's music is manifest on this recent disc. In the ‘Symphonic Suite’ from On the Waterfront – Bernstein's only film score and still one of the finest ever written – Alsop brings out the urban loneliness of the solo flute writing as surely as the combustible energy of the jazz episodes. There is great bite to the brass playing and edgy rhythmic accents, as well as an almost Impressionistic delicacy to the brooding introspection of this terrific score. The dance episodes from On the Town brim with sassy panache […] Alsop and the Bournemouth players provide a suitably raucous finale in "Times Square 1944." But it is the performance of the Chichester Psalms that makes this disc a must-buy. The three vocal settings in Hebrew contain Bernstein in all his varied elements: sensitive lyricism, tremendous jazz-flavored energy, searching spirituality, and, always, a relentless optimism. Alsop and her forces bring brilliant dynamism to the syncopations of the opening movement […] The final setting of Psalm 131 comes across richly with Alsop's orchestra and chorus conveying the solace and peace with a radiant benedictory glow […] Alsop’s disc is essential for all Bernstein fans.”
Lawrence A. Johnson, Sun Sentinel, February 2004
“Not only is the music instantly accessible but the passion she brings to it sweeps you up […] She brings to it the same immediacy and zest that characterized Bernstein’s own performances. Indeed, her performance of the On the Waterfront music must be the finest since the composer’s own, and she invests the delicious suite from On the Town with a loose-limbed ease and rhythmic vitality that is simply bewitching. For the Chichester Psalms, Bernstein’s choral work for Chichester drawing on so many diverse elements, she galvanized the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus into giving a performance of tremendous flair.”
James Jolly, Gramophone Awards 2003 (Artist of the Year)
“Splendid, authoritative and above all thoroughly entertaining performances […] one of Naxos’s finest recordings […] Chichester Psalms, rightly the centerpiece of the programme, is an absolute treasure.”
Paul Serotsky, MusicWeb International, Recording of the Year 2003
“When she conducts three dance episodes from Leonard Bernstein’s On the Town on her latest CD, you hear the brassy Broadway side of the music but also something deeper – the bluesy loneliness of urban alienation, a musical counterpart to an Edward Hopper cityscape.”
David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 2003
“Sensitive, exciting, and impressively lucid performances [...] The Bournemouth Symphony, in technically adept, bracing performances, plays like a top-notch orchestra.”
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, October 2003
“Her approach to leading American music mirrors [Bernstein’s] ability to swing as only a Yankee can. Further proof of Alsop’s way with his music […] Superb work from Alsop, the Bournemouth chorus and orchestra […] brings to life all of the many moods that pop up in Bernstein’s music: jazzy swing, heart-on-sleeve tenderness, unstoppable energy and total joy. This sunny disc is just another piece of evidence that Alsop’s star continues to shoot above the world’s musical landscape.”
Kyle MacMillan, Denver Post, October 2003
“A charismatic Bernstein triptych from one of his most talented protégées:
“It seems entirely appropriate that Marin Alsop’s first recording with her Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra should be of music by her teacher Leonard Bernstein. She studied with him at Tanglewood and shares with him a real feeling for rhythm and colour – beautifully illustrated in this well-balanced (if rather lightly filled) CD. The On the Waterfront Suite is drawn from Bernstein’s music for Elia Kazan’s film shot on the dock in New York. Like the On the Town music, it is very much about New York, but a darker kind of city (one glimpsed in West Side Story perhaps). A native New Yorker, Alsop readily responds to the restlessness of the rhythms and the constant sense of movement and rush. The Chichester Psalms make a nice coupling showing Bernstein turning towards England with this commission from Walter Hussey, Dean of Chichester."
Gramophone, Recording of the Month, October 2003
“Proves that she is in tune with her mentor’s temperamental emotional world. She avoids self-indulgent speeds for the more reflective passages in the Suite from On the Waterfront, likewise in The Chichester Psalms, balancing the composer’s natural displays of sentimentality with his more visceral music as a result.”
Music Week, September 2003
“No wonder the Brits are crazy about Marin Alsop. On this new release of music by her late mentor, Leonard Bernstein, she directs the Bournemouth Symphony, of which she became Principal Conductor last year, in expressive, charismatic performances that do justice to the many sides of the composer – jazz, Broadway, sacred [...] Alsop’s lovingly sculpted performance reveals unexpected depths in the score, and shows a rare chamber music sensibility in the orchestra.”
National Post, September 2003
“Chichester Psalms is delicately shaped. The suite from On the Waterfront has sultry weight, while the dances from "On the Town" are as effervescent as Gene Kelly's grin.”
Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Sun-Times, September 2003
“Alsop's immersion in the American musical idiom - so much like Bernstein's own - makes her the ideal interpreter of this composer's works. Her jazzy rhythmic touch is especially welcome in the On the Town set.”
Clarke Bustard, Richmond Times-Dispatch, September 2003
“Dynamic direction […] the orchestra and chorus [are] nimble and incisive in the first psalm and the forceful interruption to the second, and expressive without being sentimental in the lovely winding lines of the last […] A powerful account of Bernstein’s concert suite from his only film score, and a lively performance of the suite from his first musical.”
Anthony Burton, BBC Music Magazine, September 2003
“There is marked verve and sensitivity to her interpretation, but sentimentality is kept at bay. I heard her conduct them [...] at the start of her tenure at the helm of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and this recording is equally assuring of her clear-sightedness and affinity with the music [...] Alsop’s dramatic instinct establishing contrasts, homing in on the music’s expressive nub and illuminating the orchestral colouring – is just as keen in the suite from Bernstein’s score for the 1954 film On the Waterfront and in the three dance episodes from this 1944 musical On the Town.”
Daily Telegraph, August 2003
Royal Scottish National Orchestra / BARBER: Piano Concerto (with Stephen Prutsman) [Naxos 8.559133]
“An elegant yet open-throttled reading of this underplayed and too-infrequently recorded masterwork.”
Danny Felsenfeld, Time Out, November 2002
“At bargain price, this newcomer has its attractions, not least Alsop’s pliant and purposeful accompaniment. The sound is immensely vivid.”
Gramophone, November 2002
“This splendid CD […] with its stunning interpretation of Barber’s 1962 piano concerto fusing some fantastic playing from the RSNO and breathtaking virtuosity from Prutsman all under the masterful direction of Marin Alsop.”
Observer, September 2002
Royal Scottish National Orchestra / BARBER: Violin Concerto (with James Buswell) [Naxos 8.559044]
“American conductor Alsop coaxes a full range of dynamics and orchestra colors from the accomplished Scottish ensemble.”
Daniel Cariaga, Los Angeles Times, March 2002
“Marin Alsop’s Samuel Barber series with the RSNO is providing one of the real successes of Naxos’s ‘American Classics’ strand […] The excellent RSNO gives a poetic and ardent account of the early tone poem inspired by Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound […] And Alsop, herself a former violinist, coaxes some beautiful sounds from the strings in Barber’s assured Op.1.”
Anthony Burton, BBC Music Magazine, March 2002
“Alsop’s pliant yet clear-headed conducting is a treat […] There’s [a] wealth of felicitous detail uncovered by Alsop.”
Gramophone, January 2002
Colorado Symphony Orchestra / TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphony No.4 [Naxos 8.555714]
“Alsop was a judicious and clever colleague [in the Rouse concerto]. In Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances she avoided any hint of the bombastic Russian-in-exile cliché, but gave us a nostalgic interpretation which was lucid, flowing and very effective.”
Hamburger Abendblatt, October 2003
“For its Tchaikovsky the company has now turned – and not I hope for just this once – to Colorado, where music director Marin Alsop more than justifies yet another Fourth Symphony. The full and blazing opening fanfares immediately announces a performance with the right sort of tension; with keen profiling of the lopsided valse triste that follows, Alsop keeps everyone on their toes. There are countless felicitous touches [...] Romeo and Juliet is another slice of vivacious story telling […] Overall, then, not a million miles away from Mravinsky at his razor-sharp best and […] a useful tool in persuading sceptics that ‘classic’ Tchaikovsky still thrives.”
David Nice, BBC Music Magazine, September 2002
“Alsop draws a vital, richly lyrical reading of the fate-haunted Symphony No. 4, with playing of unbridled commitment and punch from her Colorado orchestra […] This disc further burnishes Marin Alsop’s reputation as one of the finest young conductors of our day.”
Lawrence A. Johnson, Sun Sentinel, August 2002
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