Reviews

“…luminous” — Los Angeles Times

“…richly scored, dazzling, glossy, luxuriant” — Orange County Register

[Piano Trio, Movement One, “Pas de deux”] — Review of the Nashville Ballet’s presentation: “The major artistic achievement of the evening was the Act I closer, “Ploughing the Dark,” a gut-check of a ballet piece….Conceived originally as a single movement in a larger trio composition, Vanderbilt composer Michael Kurek’s music embraced the sonata form and indulged the synthesized shimmering harmonies and daring rhythms of Ravel, Debussy, and Rachmaninoff. As pure music, Kurek’s piece is a dazzler. But it’s also fabulous program music for dancers, eliciting all the passionate romance and sadness of its inspiration: the love shared — often through a stream of poignant letters — between Russian playwright Anton Chekov and his wife, noted actress Olga Knipper.” — Nashville Scene, Feb. 22, 2007

[Sonata for Viola and Piano] “This is a work of exceptional quality; it is very lyrical and highly charged emotionally. The work is very thoughtful in composition. This work will have an immediate appeal for the performer and the audience, especially for the colors, texture variety, and blend of somber emotional moments, and exciting bravura sections. There is a tendency to exploit slower and deeper moods throughout the work; however the ending is full of virtuosity, a trait that is welcomed, as much of our repertoire does not do this….This work should prove to be a welcome addition to our repertoire. I enjoyed every moment of reading this work — discovering the colors and harmonies as they went by.” — Journal of the American Viola Society , Spring 2003, Vol. 19, no. 1

[Sonata for Viola and Piano] “Ingeniously combining the special idioms of both instruments, this work exceeds in musical power and imagination the considerable reaches of Kurek’s earlier compositions. Engaging and exciting.” — Marcel Smith, Nashville Scene


“It’s always gratifying to encounter a new and exciting musical voice, and this debut release of four works by Michael Kurek meets all such expectations…. [ 2nd String Quartet:] As this lovely one-movement twenty-minute work certifies almost from its first few measures, this pupil of Leslie Bassett and William Bolcom writes in an effortlessly vibrant tonal idiom which suits him naturally and without any forced self-consciousness. Eschewing the kind of stylistic pluralism of someone like Bolcom, Kurek simply follows his expressive instincts and gives us music which falls consistently and naturally into place with its ceaseless tides of lyrical ebb and flow, embellished with impressionistic atmosphere and a sure sense of dramatic pacing…  But it’s with the harp concerto that Kurek really demonstrates the range of moods and effects he is capable of. Its three movements underscore the authentic power of his writing: instead of the conventionally diaphanous treatment of this instrument, we get a full-bodied work of truly symphonic proportions.  All four of these works build upon the kind of stylistic foundations established by Barber and Rorem and their epigones such as Stephen Paulus. But instead of opting for the kind of impersonal eclecticism favored by the phenomenally talented Paulus, Kurek is obviously trying to carve out a personally distinctive niche for himself, and this release proves that he has all the potential to become known as one of the major figures of his generation.”    — Paul A. Snook, Fanfare Magazine (Sept./Oct. 1996)

“A few things struck me immediately regarding this piece. Dr. Kurek has solos and/or independent lines occurring in every part. He makes very solid use of all the instruments in a challenging fashion, not just relegating the work to one or two players. He provides ample technical challenges, such as fanfare tonguing, while also maintaining interesting and very listenable melodic and harmonic structures. I have to admit that the thought of an operative low brass processional had never crossed my mind, but he has found a way to make this a viable and interesting work. I hope that he will find the time to write more music for our genre.” — International Tuba-Euphonium Association Journal (fall 2006)

“Fresh, lovely, and musical” — George Rochberg in World Harp Congress Review

“The evening was launched with Mario Falcao’s commanding performance of Concerto for Harp and Orchestra by Michael Kurek…delicately exquisite… a marvel…immensely gratifying …inventive…riveting.” — World Harp Congress Review , Fall 1999 (Radio Prague Symphony performance at the Seventh World Harp Congress, Prague)

“Michael Kurek is one of our most talented [University of Michigan] graduates…a wonderful composer” –William Bolcom in Musical America

“An extremely effective and successful composition” — International Trumpet Guild Journal

“Opening the evening was a little jewel of a piece by composer Michael Kurek. His nougat-filled Concertino for Celesta and Orchestra: Fairy Dreams, presenting Charlene Harb on the featured instrument, was a dainty confection that soothed nerves soon to be frayed in the [Elliott] Carter that followed.” –The Tennessean (Oct. 26, 2002)

“Pride of place goes to Michael Kurek’s Chimera … a keen ear for sonority and pacing…dreamily impressionistic writing” — Atlanta Journal Constitution

“Yes, there were some standard items — quartets by Brahms and Haydn — but most of the audience came to hear the premiere of Michael Kurek’s String Quartet No. 2 ….. meaty and impassioned…arresting…. I have mentioned Ravel as an influence on this work, but the real locus classicus is the work of Janacek. Kurek’s work is in no way derivative, however, because he quite clearly has his own ’emotional scenario’…. The image of tears staining a face pressed to the window of a departing train kept fleeting through my imagination….The farewell scene developed into a section that ushered in the emotional pay dirt. Kurek certainly has a sure sense of what he is about.” [Related article:] “The Kurek piece was especially evocative, calling up strong images.” — Larry Adams, Nashville Scene

“A complex and brilliant fantasy” — Bridgeport Post (CT)

“A sensuous, accessible piece … unashamedly Straussian” — Indianapolis News

“The work itself is a superb one…a rich but delicate tapestry of orchestral effects. This is an outstanding composition which combines beautiful sounds, a coherent structure, and an authentic expressiveness. It is a piece that will not be forgotten.” — Green Bay Press Gazette

“Composer on a Hot Streak….This is a composer with a glowing future…the excitement of the evening. This delightful piece was crisply contemporary but certainly not abrasive. It was filled with romantic, lush melodies…a fine work, deserving to be heard again.” — Lansing State Journal (MI)

“A career that, if present indications hold, will leave him as successful in his field as any musician or songwriter in Nashville.” — Nashville Scene

“Evocative melodies, effective use of unison, beautiful tunes, and skillful scoring…Lovely…an important addition to the repertoire…An expressiveness appropriate to the work’s romantic heart…should soon enter the standard repertory.” — The Tennessean

“Kurek’s music is brilliant and highly inventive. It also retains a traditional balance and structure that make it easily approachable… good use of orchestral colors.”— Nashville Banner

“The best of those good things [of the evening] was a new work, Michael Kurek’s Sirens …. Their voices invite a kind of climb toward a peak of emotional and spiritual fulfillment that resolves into serene contentment…The music, solid and engaging, suggests seascape or mountainous seashore.” — Nashville Scene

“The opening work was the world premiere Kurek’s Serenade for Violoncello and Harp. In keeping with Kurek’s reputation for the celesta, the beginning featured shimmering lines in the upper register of the harp. Falcao’s harp sang beautifully, in the most passionate work on the program.  Can I say “conventionally beautiful” in a new music review? If Marinescu’s cello playing was a person, it would be Elizabeth Taylor. It was that gorgeous…. The closing work, the one everyone will write home about, was the world premiere of Michael Kurek’s Goodnight Moon (yes, that Goodnight Moon), sung beautifully by Crystal Kurek. The work was presented with projections of the picture book, and the role of storyteller benefited from Ms. Kurek’s musical theater background. This work will surely have a life beyond Nashville in “young people’s concerts” around the English speaking world.” — ArtsNash, Oct. 30, 2013