Celestial Harmonies CD Reviews Extracts

KLASSIC COM   “THE GLORIOUS FIVE”
….. Their interpretation turned out to be a masterpiece through the use of lean, but colorful sound effects, the finest agogic and an intimate understanding of the possibilities of musical rhetoric.

This makes the extensive essay in English written by Roger Woodward even more informative. It is unusual for a performer to provide such a well informed and intelligent discussion of the interpreted pieces, and equally unusual for the underlying performance principles to be discussed in such a straightforward and sensible fashion….

Moreover, the unusual instrumentation, at least from current perspectives, is not out of line with the performance practices of Chopin’s time.  By creating a rich and highly nuanced sound spectrum these glorious musicians have taken it on themselves to rehabilitate Chopin and, respectively create the most translucent sound effects.

Given that Chopin’s most exceptional accomplishment lies in the fact that he somehow manages to transmit the sound of the Italian bel canto opera, especially Bellini’s, to the keyboard——interpreters. This applies to both phrasing these are the ideal Chopin, and articulation, and as far as the strings are concerned, to sparing, but yet powerful vibrato openings.  ….. it is a remarkable level of technical mastery that is displayed by the performing musicians.
Dr Daniel Krause, klassik com

FRANKFURTER ALLEGEMEINE ZEITUNG 21 JANUARY 2010 CLASSICS OVERVIEW
COOL CHOPIN

….. But before it is again relegated to the odd storage cabinet, the following exceptional interpretation of Chopin’s f-moll piano concerto, opus 21 is most memorable. A refined piece of chamber music with brilliant sound stripes well suited to more intimate settings.  Roger Woodward’s clear, if not cool, keyboard sound (he plays a Bosendorfer) mixes suspensefully with the well balanced sound of the Alexander String Quartet. To top it all off Beethoven’s Piano Quartet follows.

MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Roger Woodward is entirely sensitive to the setting however, and, while giving plenty of the usual pianistic fireworks where the music demands, fills his chamber-music role with a fine balance and synergy between solo instrument and string quartet accompaniment. …... You can discover the work anew, and have a wonderful performance and recording into the bargain.

This is one of those CDs which feels ‘right’ from start to finish, and one which I can imagine playing endlessly without feeling the slightest fatigue. Throw in the superb booklet notes and that dreamy painting by J.M.W. Turner on the cover, and you have a package to treasure for very many years to come.          Dominy Clements


CHOPIN Complete Nocturnes (Celestial Harmonies)

What Roger Woodward does so well is preserve the illusion of line, working on the imagination by drawing us in and making us ‘believe’ – something which all pianists have to do, a true legato line not being in the nature of an instrument for which every separate note has its own set of levers and countless other mechanical bits and pieces. . These qualities are built into the way the music is written, but it takes a true master to turn a true masterpiece.

These recordings are the kind which grow on one,… but the more I return the more I want to hear…
Dominy Clements

CD tip for Klassik-Zeit (Classic time)
Thursday, 21/09/2006 Edited: Gisela Walter
TRANSLATION
Admittedly Woodward plays these familiar pieces in a very individual way. Some people might find his interpretation even a bit daring:  nevertheless it is based on decades of serious contemplation of this music.  In quiet introversion a mature musician is searching here for the essence of the work and interprets Chopin’s Nocturnes in his very own way. 
Woodward’s interpretations of Chopin’s nocturnes are mature and mellow.  He provides unusual stresses and surprising accents.  He completely avoids special effects or rubati

“fingers and nerves of steel”   Andrew Porter, The New Yorker