reviews

Selected Reviews of Albums

Reviews of Daniel Lentz’ River of 1,000 Streams, one of the Alex Ross’ The New Yorker Notable Recordings of 2017

“Pianist Vicki Ray does an astounding job with this obviously virtuosic work. One of the hardest parts of performing minimalist textures over long periods of time is maintaining control over the long-term effect. Ray handles this magnificently.” – David Kulma, MusicCorner, 2017

“…as performed by renowned pianist Vicki Ray, River of 1,000 Streams shadows the performer’s playing with up to eleven layers of ‘cascading echoes’… If anyone is up to the challenges of Lentz’s piece, it’s Ray.” –  Ron Schepper, Textura, 2017

“…when the composer is Daniel Lentz and the performer is Vicki Ray, the combination is bound to be enlightening. There is beauty, power and soul in this music.” – Marc Medwin, Fanfare magazine

“The performance by Ms. Ray deserves special credit—River of 1,000 Streams will only add to her deserved reputation as one of our premiere interpreters of contemporary music. The many subtleties in this piece rely on the perceptive playing of Ms. Ray, who manages to perfectly articulate the slight variations in density and texture from moment to moment.” – Paul Muller, NewClassicLA, 2017

“There is so much abundance of detail that one is likely to encounter new listening approaches each time this recording is played.”  – Stephen Smoliar, The Rehearsal Studio, 2017

“Vicki Ray is now the official tremolo queen for Cold Blue. She’s premiered Adams, Subotnick, Chasalow, Hartke and others. She’s big with Bang on a Can. She’s recorded Feldman’s Crippled Symmetries (beautifully I might add) and Reich’s You Are (Variations).” – Andrew Violette, New Music Connoisseur, 2017

“This is an excellent example of the Cold Blue school of mesmeric tonality. It speaks with a sprawling yet disciplined eloquence and takes us on a trip as would a river’s endless flow…Vicki Ray brings life to the part with sureness and sensitivity. ” – Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, 2017

“It’s lush and lyrical, but there’s no coy phrasing or élan, just vigorously palpitating chords unfolding into majestic expanses.” – Nick Storring, Musicworks magazine (Canada), 2017  

“From the second the piece roils into existence, Ray seems to pull Lentz’s sonorities out of the instrument by sheer magic…Ray merits nothing but praise for her execution of this score. To sustain a series of tremolos for thirty minutes is to test one’s endurance and technique. To shape that continuous flutter into a colorful, nuanced, arresting statement like this is to demonstrate first-rate artistry. Her rendition should eliminate any suspicions that the piano lacks the finesse to handle extended textural compositions. With a pianist like Ray at the keyboard, anything is possible.” – Nick Stevens, I CARE IF YOU LISTEN, 2017

Reviews of YAR by Scot Ray and Vicki Ray

“…quite unique, quite marvelous and quite beautiful…truly a delicious sonic experience. It delights with improvisational constructions, austere sonic fields that define their own territories, by way of harmonic language, timbral depth, and instrumental content.” –  Eliot Goldkind, New Classic LA, 13 July 2017

“It’s an album of texture: knocked wooden surfaces, jangles of slack string and trapped object, rolled tongues and rasps of exhalation…striking a balance between material impact and levitating resonance…” – Jack Chuter, ATTN:Magazine UK, 15 AUG 2017

“…confidently sensitive, texturally nuanced, sonically fascinating, darkly introspective, and starkly ritualistic.” – from the liner notes by Alex Cline

“…a winding road across various states of suspension…characterized by intoxicating scents, quasi-ironic grimaces and unpolluted poetry…where the alteration of the original voices moves the textural gravity into a sort of lunar psychedelia.” – Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes, 28 July 2017

Reviews of Feldman: Piano and String Quartet by Vicki Ray Eclipse Quartet

“… From the first moment to the last, Ray and the Eclipse stretch each sonority to breaking point, blocking anything that came before and thwarting any anticipation of what comes next. For nearly 80 minutes, they keep the listener focused entirely in the movement. Any music student can play the notes; Feldman requires musical shamans who can summon the spirits in between. Suffice it to say, pianist Vicki Ray and the Eclipse have that power …” – Ken Smith, Grammaphone, 2012

“Vicki Ray and Eclipse Quartet provide an impeccable performance, with a crystalline sound from beginning to end.” – Kirk McElheam, Music Web-International, 2012  

“This glowing yet understated account represents a near-ideal vision of the piece. The performers -pianist Vicki Ray and the youthful contemporary-music specialists of the Eclipse Quartet – aren’t afraid to bring a radiant life to the tiny nuances that give the piece meaning, yet they never go too far. The quartet subtly alters its chord weighting to respond to a new piano arpeggio, for example, or gradually undoes its impeccable ensemble playing to demonstrate the different tunes that make up a particular harmony.”  – David Little, Strad Review, April 2012

“…there’s no denying the brilliance and subtlety of this performance, with crisp but shimmery playing by pianist Vicki Ray and delicately turned contributions by the Eclipse Quartet.” – Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, 2012

“This is a gorgeous recording … everyone feels more closely miked (though never artificial, the sound is excellent in its spaciousness), the strings seem to surround the piano, and one hears more detail and is aware of each individual part in every sonority even when purely chordal. There’s a greater sense of telling detail … it’s a welcome thing to hear this landmark work opening up to more than one interpretation, and hence starting to assumer its part in the repertoire.” – Robert Carl, Fanfare, 2012

“… In the hands of pianist Vicki Ray and the Eclipse Quartet (violinists Sarah Thornblade and Sara Parkins, violist Alma Fernandez, cellist Maggie Parkins) the music emerges with an effortless, poised continuity, and is allowed to gradually reveal its intimations of tension and repose …” – Art Lang, Fanfare, 2012

Reviews for From The Left Edge by Vicki Ray

“Pianist Vicki Ray looks like some pop angel on the cover of her CRI album, but she plays like the devil….” – 21st Century Music, March 2000

“Let me be blunt. From the left edge is the best record of contemporary piano music I have heard in ages. The best pianist, the best works. Period. The emotion, the passion she puts into her playing give these pieces a human soul, something too often missing from contemporary music. Vicki Ray’s playing is charged with a great evocative power and the listener falls quickly under her spell. Let us wish that this is the first of a long series of recordings for her.” – Francois Couture, Delire Actuel, 28 Dec. 1999

“To my ear, however, Vicki Ray, does a far superior rendition of it on the CD under review here. In her hands, Klaviersonate nr. 7 (by Krenek) Ray makes the separate phrases link into a sequence which has a chaconne feeling. If musical phrases have their origin in breathing, Ray’s concept is one which communicates a wonderfully breathed and breathable line of pianistic events.” – Making Time, Dec. 1997

Selected Reviews of Live Performances

“Exquisite. Every sound sounded considered, alive, worthy of our wonder.” (Review of Ray/Kallay Duo)  – LA Times

“How do they do it? This play anything/anywhere/any time duo managed to take the most difficult keyboard duo ever written (Enno Poppe’s RAD! for two microtonal keyboards) and present it with grace, power, terrifying technique and a sense of humor, all at the same time. After tonight’s performance, I would go anywhere to hear them play anything, any time.” (Review of Ray/Kallay Duo)  –The Global Village – KPFK

“For the Piano Spheres season finale, pianist Vicki Ray and soprano Elissa Johnston gave a haunting and beautiful account of Messiaen’s hour-long song cycle, “Harawi.” Ray and Johnston were so inside these 12 songs, written by Messiaen after Peruvian folksongs, that their performance of this profound meditation on love and death reached an almost cosmic scale. Johnston’s dramatic flexibility and wide vocal range, along with Ray’s imaginative and near-hypnotic collaboration on piano, made these songs of fatal love irresistible.” – LA Times, 2010

“On Tuesday night…Vicki Ray and the Eclipse Quartet were responsible for a spell-binding performance….Ray has had long experience with Feldman. She played with a hypnotic intensity, making each note of each arpeggio feel like the discovery of a new star.” – LA Times, 2010

“….Ray’s languid, sumptuous performance made something else apparent…(her) radiant playing served to reveal the significance of Adams’s feminine side…Yet even with all that, the real whirl came from Ray’s fingers, which were on continuous virtuosic dancing display…” – LA Times, Feb. 2009

“From abstract to earthy, from solemn to giddy, Ray proved articulate and engaging, unflappable in technique or endurance, and completely focused on the sound of the music at hand.” – John Henken, Special to The Times

“Messiaen himself described the solo piano part (in Trois Petite Liturgie) as “studding the texture with diamonds” – and it’s hard to top that as a description of pianist Vicki Ray’s performance, so we’ll let it stand.”- LA Times, 5 May 2009

“At the season’s final “PianoSpheres” concert Vicki Ray’s program ended with Subotnick’s The Other Piano, a piece for piano with surround-sound processing. Vicki played while Mort, at his laptop, captured her notes and formed harmonies that floated through the hall…Talk about your magic.” – LA Weekly, 17 May 2007

“….a first-rate performance of music that, once it starts twirling around a “formula,” just gets twirlier and twirlier. Their virtuosity went beyond technique (with which they are fully equipped). They added the element of joy, and even humor, as if to say that Stockhausen may be over the top but that “Mantra” is a great piece anyway. I thought they got it just right.” (Review of Mantra by Karlheinz Stockhausen, performed by Vicki Ray with guest pianist Liam Viney) – LA Times, 9 Oct. 2005  

“Vicki plans programs with a knack for marvelous freeform artistry; what she draws from her piano always relates in wondrous ways to all the senses.” – LA Weekly, April 2005  

“….Vicki Ray offered what we’ve come to expect of her – new music played with an ideal mix of acuity and passion” – LA Times, Nov. 2002  

“A pianist with a sparkling tone and a gripping rhythmic sense, Ray makes everything she touches a pleasure to listen to.” – Mark Swed, LA Times, April. 2000   

“Vicki Ray…our noble, prodigiously talented new-music evangelist….” – LA Weekly, Jan. 1997  

“Los Angeles’ Vicki Ray is one of our more intrepid champions of new music, piano division, bringing to the task technical strength expressive moxie and infectious enthusiasm. Add to that a sense of historical overview and you had an inspiring display of 20th century pianism…” – LA Times, Jan. 1996

“Through it all, Ray showed that kind of musical thoroughness and technical panache that puts a composer’s thought directly before the listener.”- Daniel Cariaga, LA Times, 1995  

“…what American pianist Vicki Ray coaxed out of her electronically amplified piano – pizzicati and overtones, but also Chopin-sweet sounds – was breathtaking….” – Munsterisches Feuilleton,  22 Jan. 1994  

“…the American Vicki Ray (played) with a sensuousness of sound that is so often lacking in pure avantgarde players, with that rhythmic precision that does not belong to the standard equipment of the orchestral player, and with the long breath that only players with total commitment to this music can have.” – Munsterische Zeitung, 22 Jan. 1994