REVIEWS

Music Web International

14th July 2020

Review of ‘In Opposition’ KAIROS CD 0015067KAI

 

"Piano Sonata No. 2 is a tour de force […] Andrew Zolinsky demonstrat[es] remarkable dynamic control and accuracy […]

 

Sonata: In Opposition [… ] is another stretch for the player, and Elisabeth Smalt is magnificent throughout, with perfect control, remarkable technique and the kind of musical flair that makes such a work convincing at every corner and as a whole. This is the kind of piece that you won’t assimilate in one go, but even its gnarliest difficulties start to take on a poetic nature the second time around. This is a work that has its own rather special atmosphere, and as a result its own rewards."

Dominy Clements

Full review here

Paul Griffiths — www.disgwylfa.com

13th July 2020

Review of ‘In Opposition’ KAIROS CD 0015067KAI

"The viola sonata – made ‘in opposition’ to much that was happening, musically and politically, when you started it, in 1988 – is supremely consistent, the piano composition wildly not so […]  To put this difference another way, the viola sonata is inward, meditative, generally slow and generally quiet (except for the strong song at its centre and the eruptive, refusing finale), while that for piano is an oration. The viola, one might observe, sings from close to the musician’s head and heart, whereas otherness is inscribed into the relationship between pianist and piano.

 

[…The] piano sonata begins as the music of one deeply drawn to Barraqué (which was why you went to Bill, himself a Barraqué pupil). There is a rugged, heaving motion, whatever pauses may interrupt, that recalls Barraqué, and there is the same sense of entrapment – perhaps in preparation for a further careering plunge – when notes become repeated. Yet your voice is your own – almost literally in how the piece favours the baritone register, not least in this work’s own strong song, with accompaniment in the far bass, and then markedly in how the music’s decisive travel takes it to a long finale becalmed over a repeating arpeggio in a radiant expanded D major. This ought to come across as a thorough breakdown of style, aesthetic, the works. But it does not.

 

As you say, your music is always and everywhere tonal, even when all twelve notes (or twenty-four in the quarter-tone sequences of the viola sonata) are in play. This is evident. If one might think of traditional harmony as made of clear colours, then in yours the colours are hardened with metal, as much in the viola sonata as in that for piano."

Paul Griffiths

Full review here

Nieuwe Noten (Holland)

8th May 2020

Review of ‘In Opposition’ KAIROS CD 0015067KAI

“Een prachtig stuk en magnifiek uitgevoerd […] een volstrekt eigen signatuur […]  dit razend moeilijk moet zijn om te spelen, iets waar je in Zolinsky’s spel echter totaal niets van merkt. Glashelder en met een perfecte timing doet hij hier volledig recht aan deze bijzondere muzikale wereld. Prachtig is ook het vierde, zeer dynamische deel, waarin de componist de perfecte synthese bereikt tussen modernisme en traditie. […] Smalt speelt dit [Sonata: In Opposition] met veel overtuigingskracht, zonder de subtiele nuances uit het oog te verliezen. […] het album bevat tevens een prachtig essay van Ozzard-Low over de waarde van muziek als kunstvorm.”

Ben Taffijn

 

[“beautiful piece[s] and magnificently performed […] a completely individual signature […]  

this must be extremely difficult to play, something you don’t notice at all in Zolinsky's performance. Crystal clear and with perfect timing, he does full justice to this special musical world. Also beautiful is the fourth, very dynamic movement, in which the composer achieves the perfect synthesis between modernism and tradition. […] Smalt plays [Sonata: In Opposition] with great conviction, without losing sight of the subtle nuances. […] Also, the CD Booklet contains a beautiful essay by Ozzard-Low about the value of music as an art form.”]

Full review here

 

AMN Reviews (USA)

7 May 2020

Review of ‘In Opposition’ KAIROS CD 0015067KAI

 

"Piano Sonata No. 2 […] embodies a taut energy built up from the sometimes abrupt jostling against each other of harmonies and dissonances. The piece is essentially modern in its vocabulary, but it develops with the emotional power of a reconfigured Romanticism and retains a harmonic openness tinted with shades of Impressionism. Pianist Andrew Zolinsky’s performance is appropriately robust and compelling.

 

Sonata: In Opposition, for solo viola, [...] stakes out a ground between tonality and atonality; in construction, it draws on modern and pre-modern ways of phrasing. The opening sections are largely laid out as discontinuous sequences of events of dynamic and registral extremes; as the piece unfolds, though, it gathers itself in toward longer, more continuous passages that suggest the Bach sonatas for solo violin brought into the 21st century. In this regard In Opposition, like the Piano Sonata No. 2 but to a more marked extent, demonstrates Ozzard-Low’s aptitude for putting into dialogue forms taken from past and present musical practices. Violist Elisabeth Smalt’s realization of this demanding composition represents a deft handling of Ozzard-Low’s multimorphic idiom."

​Daniel Barbiero

Full review here

 

 

Percorsi Musicali (Italy)

23 April 2020

Review of ‘In Opposition’ KAIROS CD 0015067KAI

 

"La Piano Sonata no. 2 non replicale sotto-strutture drammatiche di Hopkins né l’andamento ossessivo del Barraqué, ma introduce “analogie” tonali, pezzi di progressione tonale sottoforma di accordi o note che si infiltrano in quell pozzo costretto di luce che è insito nella complicazione della struttura: alla fine il cambiamento guarda emotivamente indietro e rivela dei paradisi armonici che stabiliscono il nocciolo degli obiettivi di Ozzard-Low, che è quello di procrastinare The great fugue di Beethoven nell’epoca della logica del senso e del contrasto, per una musica che dev’essere forte, esuberante, misteriosa e caustica come in un pezzo di Brahms. Gli spiragli di una relazione tonale sono presenti anche in Sonata: In Opposition, con la viola che teoricamente dovrebbe suonare astratta, 6 parti di soluzioni silenziose, di pizzicati e di armonici che si defilano. Si sviluppa su piani asimmetrici, prima tenue e tendente all’esplorazione interiore dell’infinito come nel pensiero di Hoffmann a proposito della musica di Beethoven, poi fiera e propositiva, costantemente alla ricerca di una spiegazione […]

Alla fine dei conti, si capisce che questi sono due pezzi strepitosi, concepiti per essere impermeabili allo scorrere dei tempi."

Ettore Garzia

​​[“Piano Sonata No. 2 does not replicate Hopkins’ dramatic substructures or Barraqué’s obsessive progressions, but introduces tonal “analogies”, pieces of tonal progression in the form of chords or notes which infiltrate that narrow well of light inherent in the intricacy of the structure. In the end, the change hearks back emotionally and reveals harmonic paradises that establish the core of Ozzard-Low’s goals, as if to delay Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge until a later age, one of a logic of sense and contrast, in a music that needs to be as strong, exuberant, mysterious and caustic as in a piece by Brahms. The glimmers of a tonal relationship are also present in Sonata: In Opposition, with the viola theoretically sounding abstract, in six ‘parts’ (sub-movements) of silent solutions, pizzicatos and harmonics that slip away. They develop along asymmetrical planes, initially tenuous and tending to the inner exploration of the infinite as in Hoffmann’s thoughts on Beethoven’s music, then proud and proactive, constantly seeking explanation […]

 

In the end, it’s clear these are two tremendous pieces, conceived to be impervious to the passage of time.” (trans. Michael Benis)]

Full review here 

 

Los Angeles Times

19 March 2015
Monday Evening Concerts, Zipper Concert Hall, LA

"British music critic, novelist and Barraqué biographer Paul Griffiths curated Monday’s program. Although the [Barraqué] Piano Sonata was not played, Griffiths began his program notes by explaining how much the score meant to two generations of British Barraqué devotees — Bill Hopkins, Paul Keenan and Patrick Ozzard-Low — little-known in the U.S. and whose work was the revelatory business of the evening [...]

Ozzard-Low’s “Sonata: In Opposition,” which received its world premiere Monday, is perhaps the closest to Barraqué's Piano Sonata — which has the quality of Beethoven on 12-tone steroids — in spirit if not in sound, structure or style. Barraqué was also obsessed with death and in particular its representation in German novelist Hermann Broch’s “The Death of Virgil,” and Ozzard-Low follows suit with a death-obsessed sonata based on ancient literature. And like Barraqué, Ozzard-Low used abstract music to imply the existential states, in this case Sophocles’ “Antigone”.

 

Composed over a period of 19 years, this 32-minute sonata, though, is for viola, not piano. On a darkened stage, the exceptional Elisabeth Smalt moved to six different music stands, one of them behind a curtain surrounded by strings of blue lights on the floor. A vase of irises on stage represented the dead. The opposition was in the music, mournful and distant when the soloist was hidden or had her back to the audience, prophetic when she faced her listeners."

Mark Swed

 
The Sunday Times, London
12 January 1997
Park Lane Group Young Artist Series, Purcell Room, London SouthBank

"A fragment of a sonata in progress by Patrick Ozzard-Low, a pupil of the late Hopkins, was arresting for the almost Brahmsian felicity of its none the less barn-storming avant-garde idiom..."

Paul Driver

Tempo

12 July 1996

Cheltenham International Festival

"One of Nicolas Hodges' two solos was Patrick Ozzard-Low's Sonata Breve (1990), premièred earlier this year by Jonathan Powell - a terse yet ambitious work whose single movement exists in a state of dramatic flux between a tough-minded polyphony of sometimes stentorian dissonance and a soft, almost voluptuous harmonic writing which put me in mind of Scriabin's parfumé vein. Whether or not such disparate elements are capabale of a true resolution, this of all the new pieces was the only one which seemed passionately concerned about how the music was structured."

Calum MacDonald

Elisabeth Smalt plays Sonata In Opposition by Patrick Ozzard-Low