"... Neary is highly regarded for her performances in both mainstream repertoire and works by British Romantic and contemporary composers. Tovey’s cello concerto is thus a natural for her, and i have to say that her playing of it, even without another version to compare it to, is simply masterful. The richness and depth of tone she produces on her 1720 Gagliano cello are breathtaking, and its hard to imagine anyone bringing out the beauties of this score with more rapt feeling than Neary does. The Ulster Orchestra, too plays magnificently... This is Want List material..."
Jerry Dubins - Fanfare - July/August 2013
‘Toccata Classics, the record company arm of Toccata Press, furthers the aim of exploring the byways of classical music. And as a label it has turned up some real treats: encountering Donald Tovey as composer rather than as the author of a series of splendid analytical essays on music has been a real ear-opener.’
Gramophone - March 2010
‘...arcane and fascinating recordings. […] I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the music behind the writing on those two Tovey releases conducted with great sympathy by George Vass: the vast Cello Concerto (4/07), written for Casals, is quite a find … The language is richly romantic and Tovey’s skill as an orchestrator considerable.’
Gramophone - June 2007
‘It is good to have Toccata Classics available in North America at last… […] The mammoth Cello Concerto by Donald Francis Tovey, running nearly an hour, shows the author of the invaluable "Essay in Musical Analysis" to have been a composer of great originality and substance worth exploring further. All of these CDs [TOCC0042, TOCC0023, TOCC0038] are lovely surprises, and they create confident expectations for more of the same.’
Soundstage - June 2007
‘Alice Neary’s magnificent performance proves the worth of the music. She is thrillingly full-blooded in her sound and noble in her utterance, an inspiring lesson to all cellists who wish to understand the extraordinary emotional power of which the cello is capable, even when speaking in such an arch conservative voice. In harnessing the musical power of the modern orchestra and a fine young virtuoso, the Swedish label Toccata has done an immeasurable service to English music. […] The sound is outstanding, with tremendous space, size and impact.’
Audiophile Audition - 10 April 2007
‘Plans for a modern recording fell through a decade or so ago; now Toccata Classics have at last delivered the goods. […] Alice Neary performs valiantly… it adds up to yet another intriguing release from this young label.’
Gramophone - April 2007
‘...this elegant, lyrical work has found the perfect champion 70 years later in the gifted young British cellist Alice Neary, who strikes just the right balance between Brahms and Elgar’
The Observer - 4 February 2007
‘An archaic pre-war recording of [Casals] in the work survives, but the piece needs a fine modern recording, and this is it. Alice Neary copes with the difficult solo part very well indeed and Vass accompanies excellently. […] Any lover of British music of this period, and any self-respecting or aspiring cellist, will have to have this CD.I am very glad to have the opportunity of studying this music in such a good performance and in such trouble-free sound. I recommend this disc strongly.’
International Record Review - February 2007
RECORDING OF THE MONTH
‘Alice Neary makes every note tell in both cello works and each is played as if it urgently mattered – which it does. […] The Tovey Cello Concerto needs to be heard by all enthusiasts of the late-romantic orchestral world. […] It is fresh, keenly imagined, emotionally engaging and the performance, recording, documentation and presentation adroitly complement this major work.’
MusicWeb - January 2007
‘...the performance here is eloquent and beautifully shaped – really lovely. The recorded sound involving the orchestra is first-class, the balance between cello and orchestra expertly judged. […] Make no mistake, the Cello Concerto is a fascinating work that one wants to get to know better – and this recording now allows that to happen – and the Air is a jewel of a piece.’
‘Alice Neary’s magnificent performance proves the worth of the music. She is thrillingly full-blooded in her sound and noble in her utterance […]. Toccata has done an immeasurable service to English music. The sound is outstanding, with tremendous space, size and impact.’,
‘Alice Neary and the Ulster Orchestra under George Vass are satisfyingly masterful…. enchanting’
Music & Vision Daily - 8 June 2010
"Donald Tovey (1875–1940) will always be remembered as one of the UK’s finest writers on music, though in his day he was also admired both as composer and pianist. He was a favourite accompanist of Pablo Casals, who gave the premiere of his Elegiac Variations in 1909, and for whom Tovey also wrote his Cello Concerto in 1933. The Concerto’s notorious length – nearly an hour – proves its undoing. The central sections have great lyrical and emotional strength, but Tovey’s carefully wrought, Brahmsian idiom often sits uneasily with his quest for structural expansiveness, and the outer movements are worryingly diffuse. The Variations, self-consciously peering back through Brahms to Schubert, occasionally sound derivative, but are also infinitely more satisfying in their compressed austerity.
Alice Neary is the intense, persuasive cellist in both works, though neither she nor her excitable conductor George Vass can disguise the Concerto’s flaws. Gretel Dowdeswell is the weighty, impressive pianist in the Variations."
‘Its serene opening theme for the cello is a memorable inspiration […]. Alice Neary plays this demanding work with immense skill and dedication, and she is impressively supported by the Ulster Orchestra conducted by George Vass. A revelatory issue.’
The Sunday Telegraph - 18 February 2007
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