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When a work is not published, it falls into the musical no-mans-land, subject to possible obscurity or careless destruction. The works that do survive through the ages, these musical anomalies, are fascinating glimpses into the musical process of the composer, and also our musical journey through time. The unpublished manuscripts for violin and piano affords us new insight into our American musical heritage. The unique style and musical genesis of composer Quincy Porter is chronicled through the works on this world premiere compact disc compilation. This disc was recorded in Wright Auditorium at East Carolina University in August of 1997.
"When the latest batch of recordings arrives from Tenafly, I am sure most of Fanfare's staff sometimes wonders, "Why me?" (or at least I do). Well here, amid dismal vocal recitals by people who cannot sing, singing music not worth singing, and music made by balloon and other horrors, is a completely recommendable release...Throughout the entire recital, Porter's exquisite craftsmanship in writing for his chosen instruments charms the ear. There isn't a misplaced or poorly written note anywhere. His champions, Fritz Gearhart and John Owings, do him proud and are given recorded sound worthy of their efforts. Although most unexpected this gets the highest recommendation."
Fanfare, September/October, Vol. 23, No. 1
"Fritz Geahart is a persuasive advocate of the music. His intonation is impeccable, even in passages where the music toys playfully around a change of key, and he has a large dymnamic range at his disposal. The quiet moments are especially attractive, his instrument singing with a beautiful tone quality even in hushed passages. In John Owings he has a fine partner, Porter often giving the pianist an independent role which is here meticulously balanced with the violin...[the disc] is of significant interest and well worth hearing."
The Strad, Vol.110 No. 1314, October, 1999
"Why the music of Quincy Porter (1897-1966) is not performed with any frequency is a mystery. Fritz Gearhart, a magnificent young violinist, goes a long way to remedying that situation... Mr. Gearhart is an exceptionally lyrical and intelligent player whose warm, burnished tone complements perfectly his suave yet purposeful phrasing. He finds plenty of color even in piano passages. There's an earnestness about his musical outlook that migrates into his sound without degenerating into the overbearing. The shrill and athletic brilliance of so many of today's superstar virtuosos is anathema to him."
American Record Guide, Vol 62, No. 5, September/October 1999
"There would appear to be no good reason why these attractive, accessible and by no means unoriginal works for violin and piano, spanning much of the creative career of an acknowledged composer (1919 through 1963) remain unpublished...the warmly expressive E minor Sonata (1926) and the Variations (written for Oskar Shumsky in 1963, in a more astringent, less Romantic but no less direct and communicative style) have a real depth and passion, and a full-blooded strength of purpose. Highly recommendable."
Records International, July 26, 1999
"The musicians are totally inside the music. Just listen to Gearhart playing at about 4:30 into the Andante of the Sonata from 1926. It makes me almost run out of breath because he sounds like he is holding that note, exploring its possibilities as if he was holding his breath, too. Owing' piano playing has a liquid touch to the keys. This is emotional playing, no doubt, but not overboard. The recorded sound is just right. This is the sleeper of the year. Thumbs up, Roger, wherever you are."
Classical Net, June 19, 1999
"Every single piece here is of some merit. In fact, I'll venture beyond that evaluation by opining that the Sonata in E Minor is a minor masterpice. The same might also be said for the Four Pieces for Violin and Piano...Violinist Gearhart is attuned to every nuance in the score, every turn in emotional expressivity, every virtuosic challenge--and there are plenty here. Pianist Owings is similarly alert to the demands...The [program] notes provided by the two performers are insightful and the sound is excellent. Highly recommended."
Classics@Cosmik, March 1999
"Mr. Gearhart's concentration and involvement...brings out surely everything this fine music has to offer. Fritz Gearhart, like Quincy Porter, is one of America's treasures, as anyone who has heard his previous CDs will attest. He is a violinist of formidable technical skill, masterful phrasing, and total commitment. Particularly astonishing is his sense of tone color, which makes a perfect marriage with the iridescent harmonies of Porter's music. This is no throwaway, make-work recording: It is first-class chamber music played by first-class artists."
Bill Parker, NetRadio, March 29, 1999
"Gearhart plays with graceful sincerity and noble passion, in music which is regal yet carefree...In breathlessly Romantic atmosphere, the violin weaves poetically over the subtle piano score. "Poetic" also describes Gearhart, who ...delivers his phrases as naturally as one would recite or sing verses close to one. There is such an admirably musical way in his articulation, breathes, pauses and bridges. What is amazing is how often [the music] is lyrical without being quite entirely melodic; how it uses minimal effect to produce subtle shades of light and dark,...like the nervous skipping and swirling figures in the E minor Sonata's final Presto, played with such range of expressive individuality by Owings - he has a very articulate picture of the music. Owing's role and his score are wonderfully simple but effective, and much more than just an accompaniment. Very admirable duet playing indeed, and in the Four Pieces the musicians makes the music seem absolutely fun to play, especially the fast-paced Rondo...It is indeed strange that, with the exception of the Four Pieces, the music of this album remains unpublished (if they have been, someone please tell me). Fritz Gearhart and John Owings are without doubt on a worthy crusade, and they have made here at least one convert. "
The Flying Inkpot, May 23, 2000