Dec 15, 2021
American Classical Orchestra brings wit, freshness to Mozart program
"The Sinfonia Concertante was just as satisfying. Here the orchestra sounded more settled, especially the oboes. And as with the concerto, the soloists were excellent. Crawford talked about the orchestra’s collegiality in his opening, and that came through with Nosky and Murchie playing their orchestra parts when not soloing. This produced a great feeling of ensemble that one rarely hears with more hierarchical modern style orchestras.
The contrast between Nosky’s shining violin tone and Murchie’s throaty viola was also a pleasure, adding a heterogeneity that was strong and stimulating. That quality reinforced not just the antiphonal passages but a real musical conversation, the two working together to achieve something.
There was personality in the playing throughout. In the final movement, the two indulged in some portamento here and there, showed an appreciation for pleasure in making music and in entertaining the listener. That was Mozart’s own bottom line as well."
By Jon Sobel
Dec 16, 2021
Concert Review (NYC): American Classical Orchestra Plays Mozart at Alice Tully Hall (14 December 2021)
"The orchestra saved the deepest music for after intermission, with the famous Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Viola in E-Flat Major. Like the flute and harp concerto, this piece is one of a kind. The original-instruments setting further revealed - to my ear, anyway (and granted I hadn't heard this piece in a while) - Mozart's advanced thinking, especially in the glorious and tragic Andante as it looks ahead to Beethoven' proto-Romanticism.
Concertmaster Aisslinn Nosky and violist Maureen Murchie stepped forward as soloists. Though members of the ensemble, they endowed the performance with star quality that went beyond virtuosity. From their first entrance, I felt I could hear Mozart, who played both instruments, putting his all into the music. But the soloists' fluid phrasing was their own. Both evinced supple dexterity and melodic feeling. Murchie drew a warm, almost buttery tone from the viola, whose merits are often hidden in the middle voices of ensemble music. The pair's grace and skill carried through the cadenza, even expressing some high- spirited humor that reeked of Mozartian hijinks.
All the more contrasting seemed the tragic and somber Andante, one of Mozart's most affecting pieces. The musicians were at their very best here in a transportive performance of balletic delicacy. The same emotional weight carried through to the end, running in tandem with the "Presto" finale's upbeat spirit. Motifs and harmonies of almost otherworldly beauty seem to float above the physicality of wood and brass."
Dec 17, 2021
American Classical Orchestra – Virtuosity and Showmanship in an All-Mozart Concert
"And then came the wonder-eliciting duet of Aisslinn Nosky’s violin and Maureen Murchie’s viola in the Sinfonia Concertante. As a former opera singer, I am always tempted to reflect in operatic terms. The superb dialogue between violin and viola made me think of the duet between Aida (a soprano voice) and Amneris (a mezzo-soprano voice) when the mezzo is attempting to entice the soprano into friendship. True, Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida had its premiere almost a century later and Verdi belongs to the Romantic era of music not to the Classical. Besides, there is no structural or thematic similarity between that Italian operatic duet and the virtuosic dialogue between Nosky’s violin and Murchie’s viola, so why even think of it? Still, Mozart also composed operas and had a flair for beautiful and theatrically effective duets between human voices. To me, there was a singing quality to the gleaming, brilliant, soprano-like tones of the violin as to the sensual, earthy, mezzo-like sounds of the viola.
Nosky excelled in both showmanship and skill: she entertained the audience with her expressive body language and movements. They were dance-like, teasing, sharp, subtle, sometimes simply meant to stimulate both audience and players. Even when silent, one perceived that she always encouraged and communicated with her duet partner, with the orchestra, and Crawford. Nosky’s indomitable energy, sense of fun, and attention to detailed collaboration were already palpable from the very start of the concert when she played as concertmaster. But as a soloist this winning combination of qualities conquered the entire hall. Murchie proved a strong partner in their flirty, agile, mournful (in the Andante) exchange of expressions, and the two regaled the audience with breathtaking virtuosity. And with immense joy."
By Steve Siegel
May 15, 2017
Review: Chamber Music in the Saal at Bethlehem Bach Festival a beautiful, intimate experience
"Here also Murchie demonstrated she's as much a virtuoso on Baroque violin as she is on viola d'amore."
Dec 15, 2014
El Mundo finds its strut with festive seasonal offerings for Music Before 1800
"The group seemed entirely more attuned to the music of Spain and its colonies, which dominated the second half of the program. A pair of instrumental works by Santiago de Murcia showed off two sides of their playing: Savino began the Grave with a sensitive, reflective guitar solo, and the Allegro that followed displayed fiery zest from the violinists Adam LaMotte and Maureen Murchie."