reviews

 

The Star (Toronto)

"We might live in a global village, but it has produced few transnational musical pairings like Australian-born violist Kathryn Lockwood and her husband, Lebanese-born percussionist Yousif Sheronick. Based in the New York City area, the musicians and their composer friends (including Philip Glass) are fearless seekers and synthesizers of disparate instruments and cultures. My favourite track here is the sneakily seductive 'Klezmer à la Bechet,' a 1997 piece that composer David Krakauer adapted for this duo a couple of years ago. But there are plenty of other treats. Sheronick applies impeccable technique to a wide range of percussion tools, from the bodhran in the opening piece to a goat-hoof shaker in Glass's 'Duo for Solo Viola and Percussion.' Lockwood is all slow, sensuous allure with her bowing arm one moment, a tempest of notes the next. If this is what world music's future holds, bring on the party." (3.5 out of 4 stars)
by John Terauds

KFJC 89.7 (Los Altos Hills, CA)

"Lockwood’s tone on the viola is varied and rich, occasionally even sounding like a wind instrument … Stunning, gorgeous! Another winner from Innova/American Composers."
by

Jordan Times

"Lockwood and Sheronick play with extraordinary technical skills and artistic talent. Their sound is some of the most musical one can hear. The warm tone of the viola is perfectly used by the artist to generate long, melancholic phrases. As for Sheronick, whether he is playing the Arabic durbakeh or the Irish bodhran drum, he makes all percussions sing and come alive.

"Listening to 'A Different World' is an exhilarating sonic and somewhat mystical experience. If you are looking for a change of sonic scope look no further, the new CD will more than gratify your senses."
by Jean-Claude Elias

Gapplegate Music Review

"Kathryn Lockwood combines classical technique, a ravishing tone, and a most definite feel for the mideastern musical mode. Yousif Sheronik adds his mastery of traditional mideastern and south Asian hand drumming (frame drum, tumbek, etc.).

"Both artists show excellence in stylistic grasp and nuanced execution. Duo Jalal breathes a freshet of new wind into the sails of a form of music that goes back countless centuries … The music we hear transcends those borders, sometimes. Duo Jalal does just that with a very memorable album. Very much recommended."
by Greg Edwards

Strad - Review by Carlos Maria Solare
This CD brings together the viola music of the Russian-born, New York-based pianist-composer Inessa Zaretsky in fiery interpretations from Kathryn Lockwood. Fiery is indeed the word, since the piece that gives the collections its name was actually inspired by fire in its diverse manifestations. These are realistically created - with effects like sul ponticello runs and the plucking of piano strings - within a mainly tonal framework. Even if the thought of a tango opening a suite of Russian Dances might raise a few eyebrows in Argentina, that movement is effectively written, and the whole suite - of autobiographical content - has an attractive, melancholic charm.
Dervishes for viola and percussion is a five-movement suite portraying the interpreters for whom it was written, who of course give it a definitive interpretation. The piece was inspired by Yousif Sheronick's improvisations on Middle Eastern drums, and does sound as if partly improvised.
Humoresque for unaccompanied viola is a short character piece in several small contrasting sections, exploring the different "humours" that make up a person's character. Lockwood is absolutely inside the music's idiom, finding appropriate tonal shadings both for its lighter moods and for the deeper recesses of the Russian soul that are tapped elsewhere. With agreeable recorded sound, the whole CD is a recommendable 'portrait of the artist'.

Classics Today - Review by David Vernier

There was a time--the late 1960s, to be exact--when new music meant anything that stretched an instrumental technique or a traditional form to its limits and beyond. And that was it. The sole justification for a new work was how drastically it tore apart conventional formal structures and, more importantly, the fundamental mechanics of instrumental (or vocal) performance. Bartók's tapping the wood of the bow across the strings was one thing, but creating wounded animal sounds, grating, ear-injuring effects, or pointless "see what I can do" stunts to incomprehensible "melodies" and mathematically improbable rhythms was another. The real question was: where is the music? Well, here is a wonderful, very musical response to any such notions of what "new music" really should be, and what should rate our serious and continued attention as listeners.
Russian-born composer Inessa Zaretsky is a superbly confident artist who really knows her instrument and idiom, in this case the viola. Yes, she's a pianist by formal training, but these works for viola and piano show no favoritism toward the keyboard; rather, the partnership is so well groomed, so well conceived, that we don't so much notice the two instruments as the overall expressiveness of the work at hand. Indeed the writing for both instruments in the opening sonata (also titled Fireoptics) is virtuosic, but it also comes across as totally natural--no gratuitous gimmicks or out-of-character, "clever" tricks. And, as she does throughout this thoroughly engaging recital, Kathryn Lockwood (known for her work with the acclaimed Lark Quartet) delivers expert, artful performances that not only keep us interested, but also make us want to come back for more.
The solo-viola Humoresque and the Russian Dances--Tango, Riding Dance, Round Dance, and Valse--are works of unfailingly solid technique, bold, assertive expression, and a kind of ripe and raw lyricism that suits the viola well. The Five Pieces for Viola and Percussion (Dervishes) features some really inventive and tasteful accompaniment by various percussion instruments--riq, marimba, bodhran, dumbek, cymbal, and bells--that gives both a new and old flavor to these very modern-sounding but always enjoyable, accessible works. If you want to hear the brighter side of new music, excellently played and vividly recorded, don't hesitate to try this fine release. [10/4/2005]

New York Viola Society - Review by Myron Rosenblum

Kathryn Lockwood comes with many credits to her name. An Australian by birth, she has performed with many prestigious groups and is currently the violist in the Lark Quartet. This CD is devoted exclusively to the music of the Russian-American composer Inessa Zaretsky. On it are Fireoptics - Sonata for Viola and Piano; Humoresque for Solo Viola; Russian Dances - Suite for Viola and Piano; and Dervishes - Fives Pieces for Viola and Percussion.
This CD is full of wonderful playing and viola music by a composer who seems to understand the viola and its capabilities and doesn't fail to maintain interest for the listener. The first piece - Fireoptics - is a three-movement piece of great contrast (I: Allegro; II:Adagio; III:Presto). From a first movement with great musical color, intensity and mood changes, the second movement is like a somber processional. The last movement is short and wild with much use of pizzicato and the pianist brushing over the strings in the piano.
The Humoresque, a six-movement work for viola solo, is filled with contrasting moods, strong rhythms and making impressive use of the wonderful, dark registers of the viola. Russian Dances - Suite for Viola and Piano is a substantial 18-minute work. The "Tango" has a seductive quality to it. "Riding Dance" is full of energy while the "Round Dance" comes across as a pretty strict round with a folksy character. The last movement, the "Valse" is wistful, sad and melancholic.
The last piece on this CD is Dervishes - Fives Pieces for Viola and Percussion. As the program notes, this work is a mix of Western and Middle Eastern music. In this five-movement work the viola blends wonderfully with the riq, marimba, bodhran, dumbek, cymbal and bells.
Ms. Lockwood, the composer at the piano and Yousif Sheronick on percussion are all first-rate musicians. Kathryn Lockwood is an outstanding violist who has a fine understanding of this musical idiom and succeeds in making the music come alive and interesting. Inessa Zaretsky is a most talented composer and we look forward to having more of her works for viola.   Highly recommended, especially for those who may shy away from contemporary music.

STRINGENDO; Journal of the Australian Strings Association LTD Vol 27/2 - Review by Patricia Pollett

This engaging CD features works for viola by the Russian – New York based pianist composer Inessa Zaretsky, wonderfully played by Australia violist Kathryn Lockwood. Originally from Queensland, Lockwood is now based in New York and is a member of the Lark String Quartet as well as on faculty at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Concordia College. Regular duo partners, Lockwood and Zaretsky give the performances passionate treatment indicating real affinity with the music. The playing is strong and technically assured. Melodic material is sensitively shaped and the energetic sections are propelled forward with enthusiastic drive and momentum.
I could not help draw similarities between Zaretsky and Australia’s Russian pianist-composer Elena Kats-Chernin; both not only compose with originality flavoured by Russian seriousness, but also play the piano very well indeed. Underlying all works here is a somewhat dark, somber sensibility, reminiscent of the works by recent Russian composers such as Schnittke.

Particularly appealing is the unaccompanied work, Humoresque. Always a difficult task to write for a single line instrument, this manages to engage the listener by linking a host of diverse ideas and characters seamlessly through the six sections. The title belies the drama and intensity herein.

Light, if somewhat dry relief is found in the Tango, part of a Suite of Russian Dances for viola and piano. These quirky pieces are imaginative and appealing, and I can imagine them gaining considerable popularity with violists and audiences alike. Kathryn Lockwood’s playing of the Valse is beautifully etched, hinting at disturbing emotional undercurrents.

The title work, Fireoptics, is a substantial three-movement sonata for viola and piano. Zaretsky writes in a traditional tonal language. The music is approachable and well crafted.

Some exotic spice is added to the mix in Dervishes for viola and percussion, with Middle Eastern influences permeating. Lockwood is partnered by percussionist Yousif Sheronick in a challenging and colourful work that explores the contradictory textures of the instruments. These are substantial, original contributions to the viola repertoire, convincingly performed and recorded with good clarity and balance.