Review of Reflections

“In its second release of 2009, the superb Cleveland chamber ensemble Panoramicos takes up haunting music by Michael Cohen, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Margi Griebling-Haigh, Paul Hindemith and Ennio Morricone. Cohen’s “From the Wall” and “I Remember” are touching evocations of Holocaust texts, sung with endearing purity by soprano Sandra Simon, and Griebling-Haigh’s “Night Swimming” is a score of brooding beauty. Lynne Ramsey and pianist Randall Fusco are eloquent protagonists in Hindemith’s Trauermusik. Grade: A.”
— Donald Rosenburg, Cleveland Plain Dealer

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Reviews of Joie de Vivre!

“The chamber ensemble of wizardly Cleveland musicians reflects the disc’s giddy title in a program of infectious, colorful works, including several by local composers. Poetic urgency and insouciance abound in two scores by Margi Griebling-Haigh. In Thomas Janson’s “Oboe Machinations,” oboe, English horn and piano engage in intriguing banter, while eerie things occur in Michael Daugherty’s “Viola Zombies for Two Violas.” Music by Astor Piazzolla, Gordon Jacob and Richard Strauss round out the enchanting menu. Grade: A”
— Donald Rosenburg, Cleveland Plain Dealer

“I am sitting doing some work, and I am listening to “Joie de Vivre!” As each piece gives way to the next, I find my mood shifting—now quiet, now soaring, now dancing, now contemplating—and I love this journey along which the music is pulling me. It’s brilliant!”
— Robyn Fearon

“Congratulations! What beautiful CDs. I was really blown away by the level of playing and the variety and attractiveness of all the music you chose to record”
— Eli Epstien, Music from the Inside Out, The Boston Conservatory, NEC Preparatory School, NEC at the Walnut Hill, School El Sistema USA/Abreu Fellows Program, Music Academy of the West, Aspen Music Festival & School

“This is a first rate performance”
—  Cleveland Plain Dealer

“…an absolute marvel!”
— Jeanne Baxtresser, former principal flute of the New York Philharmonic

“The works on this disc are beautiful and fascinating; it is an outstanding recording.”
—  American Record Guide

“Robinson plays music of graceful and vibrant character with lucidity and focus.”
—  Gramophone

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Reviews of Panoramicos

“The musical microcosm of northeast Ohio is celebrated by this remarkable recording that offers original works by Cleveland and Youngstown composers in readings by Cleveland musicians. Three of the pieces are by gifted composer Margaret Griebling-Haigh who likes to fashion melodies from the letters in a performer’s name-something she did in portions of La Bergere des Brises de Vallee (The Shepherdess of Valley Breezes). Scored for flute/piccolo, oboe/English Horn and piano, this evocative, 10- minute piece speaks an often quite consonant, sometimes fairly dissonant musical language, conjuring images of a French hillside. The melodies are lovely, as is the interaction among flutist Mary Kay Robinson, oboist Danna Sundet, and pianist Randall Fusco.

Hebert Variations opens with six chords that are based on the letters in William Hebert’s last name. Commissioned by 16 flutists who had been strongly influenced by the longtime Cleveland Orchestra piccolo player, the 12-minute work for piccolo and piano consists of eight variations (one per decade of his life) on that very interesting chord progression. While I cannot claim to be an expert on the little instrument’s literature, I can say that this is the most enjoyable piccolo piece I’ve heard since 1999.

Bocadillos Panoramicos is a 24 minute, four movement work for viola and piano. Some mournful melodies are played with passion by violist Lynne Ramsey, and little ripples by pianist Kathryn Brown are meant to portray birds fluttering high in the pine trees.

David Morgan’s Secret of the Golden Flower, for the rich combination of alto flute and string quintet, is titled after an ancient treatise that sets forth the idea of “action in non-action” or, in the composer’s words, “letting psychic processes occur without interference from the consciousness.” As the work progresses, “various musical styles evocative of the Silk Road symbolize the migration of the Golden Flower treatise from Persia to China.” Listening to this eight-minute work is like taking a sonic bath, what with the extra-full and deep sound of Ms. Ferguson’s alto flute and the extra depth added to the standard string quartet by double bass. The interplay between flute and strings is intricate, the harmonies and melodic ideas exquisite.

Jewish musician Erwin Schulhoff was born in Prague and died in a Bavarian concentration camp… like so many other gifted composers of whom the Nazis tried to remove all traces. Schulhoff was an experimenter who dabbled in many musical styles. Here, in his Concertino for flute/piccolo, viola, and double bass, he explores Russian Orthodox chant, Czech dance, Carpathian love song, Russian folk song, and so on. The four-movement, 16-minute piece is as beautiful and fascinating as the other works on this outstanding recording.”
— American Record Guide, Kilpatrick

“…a top North American pick” and “Eclectic in the best sense of the word…”
— Gramophone Magazine

A strong sense of place pervades most of the handsome works on Panorámicos, which takes its title from the piece by Margaret Griebling-Haigh that evokes panoramas of central New Mexico. Local color is far-flung, ranging from America and Europe to mystical Chinese terrain. But what binds these pieces is a clear sense of harmonic language, as well as haunting and sometimes jaunty personality. Griebling-Haigh’s viola and piano suite makes a mesmerizing impression as it paints vivied and alluring landscapes of the American West. The instruments scamper nimbly across the surfaces or sing in poetic voices influenced by Spanish sources. The performance has expressive champions in violist Lynne Ramsey and pianist Kathryn Brown. Griebling-Haigh moves to southern France for La Bergereres des Brises de Vallee, which embraces tender and ominous sounds of nature, idyllic visions and lilting waltz figures, here beautifully shaped by Mary Kay Robinson, Danna Sundet, and Randall Fusco.

Hebert Variations is a salute to William Hebert, former solo piccolo player of the Cleveland Orchestra, whose instrumental mastery is portrayed in music of graceful and vibrant character. The piccolo here is no Sousa-soaring patriot, but a compelling individual with numerous expressive aspects. Robinson plays the solo part with lucidity and focus; pianist Mark George is a superb collaborator. East Asian modalities and contemplative gestures are key to David Morgan’s The Secret of the Golden Flower, which derives much of its reflective color from the mellow timbre of the alto flute in gentle conversation with a string quintet.

Erwin Schulhoff’s Concertino uses Slavic-Russian folk inflections to perky and lyrical effect by way of the Baroque-inspired combination of flute (piccolo), viola, and bass. Robinson, Ramsey and Sperl relish its romance.”
— Gramophone 2005, The Best New Recordings from North America

“The five scores on this independent release by Cleveland Musicians are immediately appealing and vibrant. Margaret Griebling-Haigh basks in zesty rhythmic shapes and exotic harmonic language with a leaning toward Spanish and French accents.  “Hebert Variations”, a salute to former Cleveland Orchestra piccolo player William Hebert, throws out stereotypes of this high-flying instrument in music of haunting and charismatic personality.  Equally atmospheric is Griebling-Haigh’s “Bocadillos Panoramicos” for viola and piano, in which languid and suave ideas are beautifully balanced. David Morgan’s “The Secret of the Golden Flower” exudes oriental allure, while Erwin Schulhoff’s Concertino vividly embraces folk elements from Russia and eastern Europe. The performances and sound are first-rate. Grade A.”
— Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2005

“Fresh, original and exceptionally varied repertoire performed with artistry and taste.”
— Martha Aarons, Principal Flute, Iris Chamber Orchestra; Artist/Faculty, Aspen Music Festival; former member, Cleveland Orchestra