Selected Press Reviews

Reviews for Phi, the score for Caelestis, a new ballet with choreographer Jean Grand Maitre (2017). National Arts Centre Orchestra, Alberta Ballet. 

” Andrew Staniland’s score is full of brawn and energy(…)”

– Globe and Mail, April 21 2017. 

“Set to Staniland’s beautifully dramatic score and augmented by video images of shapes, equations and fractals projected on a large-screen backdrop, it was a powerful piece characterized by the exceptionally physical movement that is Grand-Maître’s forte.”

– Ottawa Citizen, April 21 2017

“Staniland’s composition, Phi, is more eloquent in conveying the cold beauty of numbers and stars (…)”

 “Thundering percussion, colossal blasts of brass, and sinuous, nervy woodwind lines create a seductive field of orchestral texture and colour.”

– Artsfile.ca,  April 21 2017

“Sur la partition très cinématographique et tarkovskienne d’Andrew Staniland, Caelestis a dansé une fin du monde athlétique et flamboyante où la planète partait littéralement en fumée.”

– La Presse,  April 22 2017

Reviews for Talking Down the Tiger on Naxos Canadian Classics (2015)

“Virtuosic, ingenious, and impressive, Talking Down the Tiger is a wonderful listening experience….”

Richard Todd – Wolfgang’s Tonic, September 2015

“Naxos a raison de titrer sur l’oeuvre avec percussion, Talking Down the Tiger, fascinant tour de force mimétique”

 C. Huss – Le Devoir, August 2015

“Andrew Staniland is among the heirs of the best Canadian electroacoustic music. He is a composer particularly stimulated by developments of the old classical composition, as well as by the new doctrines of electronics. He is a supporter of the interaction with the instruments and this monographic collection from Naxos is the best thing that you can hear from this Canadian composer and his research.

In these compositions, there is a modern concept applied to an old one: to examine all that can be contemporary (from compositional writing to the new electronic/informatic instruments) and put it in a classical harmonic structure (or at least to try)”  © 2015 Percorsi Musicali

Ettore Garzia – Percorsi MusicaliAugust 2015

Andrew Staniland, born in Canada in 1977, has established himself as one of today’s most progressive composers in combining instruments and electronics. The present disc covers works composed over the past eight years, each one written for a soloist in partnership with electronics that take many forms from looping to its straightforward use as an ‘instrument’. Opening with Ryan Scott as the percussionist in Talking Down the Tiger, Chinese/Japanese influences create a series of intriguing sounds, much of them quiet and pastoral. Dreaded Sea Voyage features the guitar of Rob MacDonald, his part almost imitative of electronics in its staccato rhythms. Flute vs Tape comes as the disc’s short scherzo, the flute playing with itself on tape in a mood of pleasure. If to this point I held mixed feelings as to the music, the most extended work, Still Turning, is in a very different world. Here we do have a masterpiece of our time. Think of Kodály’s unaccompanied Cello Sonata; add the cadenza from Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto; wrap it up in 21st century dress, and you have this riveting, and often brutal score that takes tonality forward into our time. It forms a daunting challenge for the cellist played with much technical brilliance and conviction by Frances Marie Uitti, the role of electronics both modest and skillfully incorporated. I have played the work many times with increasing enjoyment. By contrast True North has all the allure of a soprano saxophone and a dripping tap, but it is all over in ten minutes. Experimentalists tread a very difficult path as they take us into an unaccustomed musical world, but Staniland is succeeding. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

David Denton – David’s Review CornerAugust 2015

 

Reviews for Solstice Songs, recorded by the Gryphon Trio on Elements Eternal, Naxos Canadian Classics . (2015)

“Andrew Staniland’s Solstice Songs may or may not be ‘the poetry of sound’, as the composer describes it, but it is so beautifully written that it’s hard to imagine any piano trio not wanting to add it to their repertoire; the delightful cartoonish skitterings of the ‘Lively, dancelike’ last movement would make an ideal encore”

 Laurence Vittes – Gramophone Magazine 2015

Reviews for Four Angels, premiered by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Peter Oundjian, New Creations Festival, 2013.

(…) Andrew Staniland’s Four Angels , I thought, worked extremely well as a coherent work of musical art. Alberta-born Staniland is well into his composing career, and he created a piece, based on his reactions to early twentieth-century photographs that used the tools of music – identifiable motifs, pacing of louds and softs, surprise, originality – to create a powerful emotional reaction in his listeners. American composer Aaron Copland, in answering two often asked questions about music, once said: “Is there a meaning to music? My answer would be yes. Can you state in so many words what that meaning is? My answer would be no.” Four Angels was proof of Copland’s truth – that the piece had meaning, there is no question. But what that meaning might be lies just outside the realm of verbal understanding, where vital musical truth lies. Four Angels was, then, that rarity – a true work of musical art. Hopefully, the TSO will manage to repeat it some day in its regular concert series.

– Robert Harris, Globe and Mail, March 12 2013

The concert opened with the premiere of Four Angels by Canadian composer Andrew Staniland, commissioned by the Toronto Symphony. This dynamic piece was all about an analogue orchestra caught in a digital fourth dimension. The orchestra played while Stanliand, seated amidst the players at a desk containing his laptop and other sound-processing accessories, produced electronic responses to the acoustic sounds. At times through the 15-minute piece, the orchestra played solo. At others, it was Staniland’s turn to stand out. But the most interesting sonic textures came when everyone was working together. This is a piece I would be very happy to hear again.

 – John Terauds, The Toronto Star, and A Musical Toronto. March 11 2013 

 

Review for Peter Quince at the Clavier

The full range of color in Worth’s voice were most evident in Andrew Staniland’s song cycle “Peter Quince at the Clavier.” The texts by poet Wallace Stevens portray the Shakespearian character Peter Quince musing at the keyboard, pondering the nature of music and beauty as expressed in the biblical story of Susanna and the Elders. It’s a distinctly modern work characterized by often random-sounding piano tinklings and rumblings (played masterfully by Deaton), and enormous color contrasts, quickly moving from dark, low tones to falsettos. Worth negotiated these contrasts masterfully and with moving emotion.

– Gene Harris, Richmond Times-Dispatch. February 13 2013

Review for Protestmusik

The hidden gem of the night was “Protestmusik” written by Andrew Staniland in 2002, his own narrative of the then recent invasion of Iraq. The prefatory stroll through his work served to provide understanding of this trim and concise composition. The expectant fragments of the first movement, the minimalist, foreboding, and catchy second, and the purposeful third combined in crafty unification. The orchestra families were well utilized, with a spotlight on outstanding percussionist Rob Power to introduce movement three. This rhythmically enticing piece, performed with energy and clarity, was a pleasure. Bravo.

– S. Rowsell, The Telegram, October 17 2011

 

Reviews for Full Circle , Released on CD by Canadian guitarist Rob MacDonald.  December  2010

“This solo work Full Circle is a welcomed addition to the Canadian repertoire and will surely be a top pick for the upcoming younger generation of professions as it highlights a modern range of rhythm and sonic capabilities of the instrument. It’s both an excellent exploration of the guitar’s abilities and a meditative composition reminding me of Adams-like minimalism, Renaissance thematic play, and a very clear and open texture. I sense an almost Japanese aesthetic of clarity and flowing angular rhythms. This is a great composition and is executed wonderfully by MacDonald. He displays both an excellent dynamic range and a masterly control over the rhythmic developments in the work. A major contribution and should not be ignored.”

 – Classical Guitar Canada, December 2010

 

Reviews for Dark Star Requiem , premiered at Toronto’s Luminato festival June 11, 12 2010

“Artistically adventurous and intellectually provocative” and “exactly the kind of project that the Luminato festival wants to be about”, comparing it to “the best executions of new music you can find anywhere in the world.”

– John Terauds,The Toronto Star, June 11 2010

 “Striking, beautiful, and wonderfully weird. …..  The score is percussive, dissonant yet lyrical and evocative”  “very powerful and haunting“

– Joseph K. So,  La Scena Musicale, June 12 2010

 “very deftly written”, “an ambitious work with a noble aim” which “provides a valuable jolt out of complacency.”

–  Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun, June 13 2010

 “A modern Carmina Burana”,  “Staniland has utilized the modern orchestra and the contemporary media to produce a work of vital dramaturgy and lasting, thought-provoking power”.

– Gary R. Lemco, The Classical Music Guide, June 12 2010

 

A review of soprano Adrienne Danrich’s performance of Calamus 6, performed at Opera Grows in Brooklyn, Galapagos Art Space, July 9 2010.

“ …a sometimes frightening portrayal of madness…”

– Kala Kaxym, The Opera Insider, July 12 2010

 

A review of the Montreal Symphony performing Two Movements for Orchestra at Place des Arts, January 9 2010

“…une oeuvre atmosphérique post-brittenienne qui prouve que Staniland est l’un des quelques compositeurs talentueux et non pré-formatés au pays.”

– Christophe Huss, Le Devoir, January 13 2010