Reviews/Articles

REVIEWS OF CD “SEA OF REEDS”

Review of “Sea of Reeds” from Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, by Grego Applegate Edwards:
Cohen’s music is filled with vibrant melody, rhythmic clarity, drive and compositional construction that show a mastery of and a real sympathy towards the clarinet…This is a sheer delight to hear, a chocolate-fudge sundae of excellently intertwining musical syntax. Three cheers for this one.
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Review of “Sea of Reeds” from James Wegg Review, by James Wegg:
Three cheers to Navona Records for capturing these performances and sending them out into the world…[In “Yedid Nefesh”], Cohen’s imagination, sense of balance and contrast are expertly employed, making this work a truly cohesive whole and the highlight of the recording. “Grneta Variations” continues to demonstrate just how good Cohen is at taking a germ of an idea and expanding it into a varied, logical journey into fine art and personal meaning.
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Review of “Sea of Reeds” from Second Inversion (KING-FM), by Maggie Molloy
ALBUM OF THE WEEK for Second Inversion, week of January 12, 2015
“Yedid Nefesh” is based on a simple, sweet Sephardic setting of a mystical Jewish poem. Together, the three [performers] bring to life the piece’s rich tone and vibrant colors, highlighting both the vivacious and the meditative aspects of the delicate melody. Though each piece on “Sea of Reeds” has its own distinct character and style, Cohen’s gorgeous lyricism flows sweetly through each of them, tying together his exploration of the clarinet’s many diverse colors and dynamics.
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Review of “Sea of Reeds” from Sequenza 21, by Steve Hicken
The playing, by the Grneta Ensemble (clarinetists Vasko Dukovski and Ismail Lumanovski and pianist Alexandra Joan) with violinist Jennifer Choi and violist Maria Lambros, is outstanding–one of the virtues of Cohen’s music is how well the instruments sound and how flattering it is to the players. Navona’s recorded sound is lucid and warm. Most listeners will find something to like here, and more than a few clarinetists will find something they will want to play.
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Review of “Sea of Reeds” from babysue website, by “LMNOP aka dONW7 (Don W. Seven)
This impeccably recorded album features music that is smart, reflective, pensive, and ultimately very melodic. Cohen is obviously a man who loves making music and his passion shines through clearly on each and every track. This one will most certainly stand the test of time.
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Review of “Sea of Reeds” from Touching Extremes, by Massimo Ricci
First meeting with Cohen’s music and a rewarding experience overall…The initial “Variously Blue” and the poignant “Slow, Still, Tranquil” (the latter from the Yedid Nefesh cycle) are this writer’s preferred episodes, a number of unheralded turns and a range of adroitly organized contrapuntal climates interpreted by impeccable performers utterly involved with the material. When “harmonious virtuosity” rhymes with “moderation”, that’s OK with me.
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OTHER QUOTES ON “SEA OF REEDS”

“Gerald Cohen has been going from strength to strength for years, and this album of recent pieces for clarinet and other instruments shows just how powerful, how structurally tight, and at the same time how free and gracious his music has become.  The two sets of variations are riveting, albeit in completely different ways, and the suite of Hebrew songs reminds us yet again that Cohen is one of the great melodists of our time (anyone who can hear “Y’varech’cha” or “Adonai Ro’i” without being deeply moved is unmusical and has no heart).  But the real news here is Yedid Nefesh, one of the finest pieces Cohen has ever written, and one that I have played again and again, with ever-increasing pleasure. Everything on the disc is beautifully played, but there is something truly breathtaking about the combination of clarinet, viola, and piano in Yedid Nefesh that I suspect I shall never forget.”
Christopher Johnson, Director of Music at Oxford University Press (USA) (retired)

“The characterization of music as “accessible” often may contain pejorative implications. That is certainly not the case with this most impressive collection of works by Gerald Cohen in his recently released CD, Sea of Reeds. The list of adjectives to describe the music on this disc is long and varied. A partial list would include engaging, energetic, melodic, rhythmically vital, virtuosic, haunting, humorous. This appealing music, containing elements of klezmer and jazz, is decidedly modern with its imaginative harmonic use and dynamic rhythms. Cohen is fortunate to have his inventive compositions marvelously executed by an ensemble of superb musicians.
F. Gerard Errante, clarinetist, past president of the International Clarinet Association

OTHER REVIEWS

Review of CD “Generations” from Gramophone Magazine (Awards Issue 2002), by Ken Smith
A fascinating take on the mid-20th century composing tradition embraces Cohen’s Jewish heritage to telling effect.
Gerald Cohen’s publisher, Oxford University Press, claims that his Trio for viola, cello and piano was written ‘to fill a particular gap in the chamber music repertoire,’ but the committed performance here by the players to whom the work is dedicated reveals a much more personal involvement.  As the title of this recording implies, Cohen composes with a strong sense of tradition — one that embraces Brahms, Bartok and Britten on one hand and his own Jewish heritage on the other.
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Gerald Cohen on Music, Religion, and the Bridge Between By Molly Sheridan
Article from NewMusicBox, Amercan Music Center’s Web Magazine

Westchester Prize-winning composer Gerald Cohen is a cantor at Temple Shaarei Tikvah in Scarsdale, New York, and when I spoke with him, I have to admit that I was most curious about what that means with regard to his music. What it is to be a composer when work and art and religion overlap to such a degree in daily life. If your musical career (or at least part of it) is also your religion, is your religion inextricably tangled up in the music you create?
When I mention this, the 41-year old composer, father, and teacher laughs to himself in a way that signals he has asked himself this question a few times already.
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GENERATIONS: Music of Gerald Cohen; CRI 879:  Liner Notes, By Michael Kannen
We remember and we imagine.  We memorialize the past and nurture hopes for the future.  We use tradition as raw material for the new and the innovative.  These ideas are the motivating forces in Gerald Cohen’s music.  He is a composer, but he is also a cantor, a teacher, and a parent.  All of these pursuits involve a passing on of traditions- musical, religious, family- so that others may carry them into the future.

From life comes art, and so it is natural that the pieces on this disc are all, in one way or another, involved with the idea of tradition passed on.  There are contemporary settings of traditional Jewish texts.  There is a memorial to a late father and a blessing for a young child.  Even the musical building blocks- the forms and the language- reflect an engagement with tradition, making new ideas comprehensible by their relationship to the old.
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