These are some of the comments we’ve received from distinguished musicians who have heard our concerts or recordings:
|•||I received the CDs and am enjoying listening to them. The musicians sound thoroughly professional and play with great sensitivity. The acoustics in the church really enhance the sound. Thanks for sending them. I am excited about my appearance next season! They should be very proud of their performances!|
|—Colonel Arnald D. Gabriel, Conductor Emeritus, The USAF Band and Symphony Orchestra (who, at the time, was scheduled to guest-conduct the October 2003 Musica Bella concert; at some point after this, we unfortunately had to change our plans); Mr. Gaskill played under Col. Gabriel for seven years, many years ago
|•||I got the CD’s [for the first four Musica Bella concerts]. Thanks so much. Took the time to start sampling them, and really enjoyed them. You have a lot of good players, and they make a yummy sound (especially for Beethoven — and I want to hear them do the Romantics, to which they seem suited)!
You are a poet when it comes to phrasing, you make them shape everything, it’s quite gratifying. Plus, what a grateful room you have to play in, so warm. . . . Sounds like a very strong solo violinist, too.
|—Composer/conductor/percussionist/bass-baritone David Avshalomov, who will guest-conduct and sing with Musica Bella in a concert consisting mostly of Mr. Avshalomov’s compositions in October 2004; this E-mail from late 2002
|•||Phil, I got them [CDs of the Brahms concert]. I already listened to the 3rd [Symphony], and was in many places deeply touched. I normally don’t care for most other conductors’ renditions of music I love, but you are such a poet, and your people are so responsive, especially in the slow, soft lyrical passages, that the performances really touch the heart. I was getting teary, no exaggeration. I have a lot more to say, I’ll write it later. Now I’m looking forward to conducting and singing with them more than ever.|
|—David Avshalomov again, January 2003
|•||Thanks very much for the CDs of your Brahms concert! I’ve heard it in “installments” for unhurried savoring, and I’ve listened with great enjoyment and admiration.
I’m steeped in Brahms, to begin with, so this has been a treat. You’ve assembled a fine orchestra which performed this demanding program at a high level — with verve, lyricism, wide range of color, and “intuneness.” (I didn’t even have to think about “intonation.”) Everything sings, which is the major criterion with me — whatever the medium.
Verve, yes — but you also take time to mold phrases, let the crescendi build, etc. This is evident in both the Academic Festival Overture and the 3rd Symphony, where you provide a wide range of color, dynamic contrasts and climaxes. I say “you” because a compelling reading is more than just observing the dynamic indications in the score, since the different choirs have to be balanced. I liked your tempi and clarity of the voicing: I thought I was hearing “everything!” Well, that’s a large order — I may be bragging! Every hearing of a great work reveals new riches.
Congratulations, Anahit, on your splendid reading of the Double Concerto with Rachel Varga — warmly expressive, technically adroit, beautifully together. Your opening cadenza is the most meditative one I’ve heard to date! It’s convincing — postpones the brio, the excitement that looms ahead — creates suspense — meanwhile you’re there. I’ve found that beginning to be problematical. Suddenly there you are, with no “props,” as it were — setting the stage for what’s to follow. But as a cadenza it certainly lends itself to different readings. Acoustically the cello is at a disadvantage in live performances — this is one instance where skillful recording can redress the disparity. Still, I heard you throughout — lovely singing tone. There are places, of course, where the soloists merge in the tutti; there's much that recalls the Baroque concerto grosso. Were you and the violinist miked separately in this performance — or miked at all? I had no problem hearing your dialogue.
|—Gordon Epperson, world-renowned cellist and teacher, published author of many books on many subjects, and, many years ago, Mr. Gaskill’s cello teacher in college
|•||Dear Phil and Anahit,|
I attended the performance yesterday [Musica Bella’s January 27, 2002 concert of Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos 3, 4, and 5 and the Vivaldi Double Cello Concerto]. I found it excellent. I was impressed with how relaxed and well focused all the musicians seemed. This is no amateur orchestra.
The Vivaldi was special for me. The playing and sound of the cellos complemented well, I thought, though the Heberlein [Anahit’s cello] seemed a little louder and not as refined as Jim’s cello. Not that it was offensive in any way. In fact I liked its more aggressive tone in comparison to Jim’s cello, though I also liked the rich warmth of Jim’s cello. I’ve always found individuality in timbre to be more interesting than seamless tonal blending between instruments.
I enjoyed the performance very much.
|—David Mignano, professional violin maker and technician, and the technician for both Vivaldi soloists’ cellos
|•||Dear Phil and Anahit,|
I had not had any time to listen to music since our last rehearsal (when I picked up the CDs [of our two previous concerts]) and was packing this evening for a weekend trip and decided to pop in the CD of the Beethoven [4th piano] concerto — and it stopped me in my tracks, completely preventing me from packing and I just had to get on the computer to write to tell you how impressed I am — they are wonderful! And as beautiful as they look (very professional, I must say), the real treat was in the music. Beautifully recorded (my compliments to the sound engineer) . . . and such a sound. It's not that I had anything less than high expectations of what we would sound like in concert, but I am incredibly impressed. The two of you deserve tremendous praise and credit for putting together and directing an orchestra of such high caliber (and only with a few Monday night rehearsals even). I am very proud to be a member of Musica Bella and I am going to continue to spread the word around (and will probably want to purchase a few more copies of the CDs to give to my family)!
|—A member of the orchestra|
This page was last modified Wednesday, January 28, 2009.