Amy Beach Reviews
Amy Beach: Z6747
Empress of the Night
with Joanne Polk, Piano
Beach: Piano Concerto in c-sharp minor,Op.45;
Piano Quintet in f-sharp minor, op.67.
“Here’s MY Take on the Best:” Pianist Joanne Polk and continued her tribute to American composer Amy Beach(1867-1944)with a riveting performance of the almost Brahmsian Piano Concerto of 1899. Paul Goodwin conducts the English Chamber Orchestra. The talented women of the Lark Quartet join Polk for Beach’s more modern sounding Piano Quintet of 1907(Arabesque 6738).
Sefton Wiggs, Classical Music
Sun Journal, New Bern, NC
Through recordings of Beach’s piano music for Arabesque, Joanne Polk has been (a) champion. Two full-length, meaty works make up the CD: the Piano Concerto
In c-sharp minor, op.45 and the Piano Quintet in f-sharp minor, op.67.
Both are unmistakably and regressively romantic … Still the pieces are robust, emotional and highly rewarding, especially in these performances. Polk is joined by conductor Paul Goodwin and the English Chamber Orchestra for the Concerto, by the Lark Quartet for the Quintet.
The third in the Arabesque label’s survey of Beach’s work, all featuring the esteemed pianist Joanne Polk, gives us two of this composer’s major pieces, the Piano Concerto and Piano Quintet. The richness of Beach’s late-romantic style, with its passionate melodies and Opulent harmony, is compelling in both works.
The Quintet sounds more like Brahms. In fact, its main theme comes from the Finale of Brahms’ Piano Quintet. Goodwin and Polk are expert collaborators in the Concerto and the members of the Lark Quartet give a bright, detailed reading of the Quintet. This is a group that seems to get better and better.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
The Quintet is shorter, more evenly balanced and tightly constructed, yet no less brilliant in its chamber ambience than the Concerto is orchestrally. Its themes are quite beautiful and its emotional contours are very listener-involving. The performances by Polk and the Lark String Quartet is the best I have heard. Both works ought to be in the standard repertoire ; and this CD makes a very compelling case for them.
Buffalo News, NY
Beach’s Quintet was once a wildly popular piece that fell into oblivion for quite awhile and is now finally being played and recorded again…The playing here is spectacular, as is the balance on the recording…The quartet’s handling of the difficult modulations to keys that cannot even be held by a key signature is admirable, as are their wonderful colors in the muted beginning of II.
American Record Guide, July-August 2000
Listening to the Quintet, is like discovering an unknown Brahms piece. Polk is a fine up-and-coming pianist and the Lark Quartet are marvelously sympathetic to this work-I am happy to know it and them.
Time Out New York, July 6, 2000
Volume Four of (Arabesque’s) marvelous survey of the music of Beach is a spirited pairing of her c-sharp minor Piano Concerto and the f-sharp monir Paino Quintet. The compositional craft is first-rate…record buyers can now enjoy the music-and perhaps, might inspire them to encourage more performances of her works.
Denver Rocky Mountain News, June 2000
These beautifully recorded performances cast fresh light on two of Amy Beach’s most played works. The quartet’s playing is appropriately American in its lushness, with generous use of portamento that is entirely in period. At her best, Beach is a composer of true distinction, fully deserving of Polk’s warm and sensitive musicianship.
Classical CD, June 2000
Joanne Polk and The Lark Quartet team up for a radiantly perceptive account of Amy Beach’s masterly Piano Quintet. Theirs is a notably thoughtful conception…music-making of rapt poetry and exquisite tenderness dominates the progress of the lovely Andante espressivo, while the Finale is as joyously articulate as one could hope to hear. Sound and balance are first-class.
The Piano Quintet of 1905 is in essence a chamber concerto. Polk plays with a wonderfully warm sound and with the devotion that Beach deserves. ..the Lark Quartet lends to the Quintet a huge variety of subtle shades as well as a gripping sense of drama.
BBC Magazine, May 2000
Arabesque’s Fifth disc of music by Amy Beach offers superb performances of some of the composer’s most enchanting chamber works. Performed by pianist Joanne Polk with the Lark Quartet, Morning Glories reminds listeners why Beach was so popular in her day.
These performances by the Beach specialist Joanne Polk and the Lark Quartet are exemplary, as is the recording. So if you already have Beach’s superb Piano Quintet in your collection, and are keen to discover more, this is the obvious next step.
BBC Magazine, May 2001