Albums - reviews




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© Since 2016  Kristina Socanski

New album out now:

Available on all streaming platforms, listen: HERE


All about Jazz, C. Michael Bailey (USA), 12. 10.2022:

Full review: HERE

"Socanski reaches deeply into Glass's minimalistic psyche to extract what exists inside and outside of those purposefully repeated melodies and motifs characterizing the solo piano work of the composer. The pianist identifies and presses her thumb on that brooding quality lurking just below the surface of Glass compositions. Socanski does this by accentuating the often hidden elements of the music, like the descending left-hand figures in the No. 11 Étude and "Wichita Vortex Sutra" and the dramatic tension created by carefully modulating the tempo and rhythm. This latter effect may be heard in both "Glassworks: Opening" and "Mad Rush" (both favorite recording subjects of pianists). What Socanski brings to Glass is a well-defined pathos, an emotive momentum expressed by inference and nuance. Full- blooded and robust, Socanski's performances are revealing and accessible, providing a new perspective on Glass and his piano composing."

Fanfare Magazine (USA), Huntley Dent , 20.09.2022:

Full review: HERE

“What sets apart the approach of the talented Serbian-Norwegian pianist Kristina Socanski is her intention to reclaim expression...Socanski sets out to dramatize each étude, and in a sense this is where she achieves her greatest success. Just because the printed score verges on the sterile, it becomes fascinating to see what the pianist’s imagination can extract for expressive effect. It is impressive to hear how much she actually finds, or creates…Because she doesn’t exaggerate her effects, I think Socanski has expanded the meaning of Glass’s music. She has made it her own, which after all is the performer’s prerogative, and thankfully so, because this is where great interpreters thrive.»

Brutal New Music, 05.09.2022:

Full review: HERE


"In her recent interpretation, Kristina Socanski creates a sense of beauty not often heard when listening to performances of Philip Glass' music. Socanski's second album release, consisting of a curated selection of Glass' solo piano pieces from across two decades, equally touches seasoned and amateur listeners with minimalist waves tinged with hints of pianistic romanticism. Too often Glass' brand of minimalism is deemed robotic and unemotional; to combat such, Socanski redefines what the music offers the performer and listener. She masks the mathematical repetitive structures behind the curtain, finally letting one experience the universal affect of this distinct musical world."

25.07.2022, Guy Rickards for

Full review:

" In this all-Glass programme, she grows into the playing as her programme proceeds, coping with increasing confidence and elan with Glass’ endlessly repeating rippling patterns and textures and sudden, lyrical chordal sequences. She is markedly swifter—and much less meditative—in the Glassworks Opening (at 4’ 36”) than Vikingur Olafssón (7’ 45”) in his acclaimed DG selection (479 6918) in 2016. Olafssón might be slicker (who wouldn’t be at such a tempo?) but Sočanski imparts a winning sense of dynamism otherwise absent. She also provides barnstorming accounts of Etudes Nos 6, one of the grander, most outwardly virtuosic of the sequence (Olafssón is half-a-minute quicker, as he is inNo 5), and 15, where she manages the slow build of grandeur and tension rather well... "

22.07.2022, Trond Erikson, Den Klassiske Musikkbloggen:

Full review: HERE

"...Socanski conveys the music in a very fine way. She does not overdramatize - she lets the music air where it needs it and she is faithful to the composer's writings (at least to the scores of his piano pieces that I have in my collection).

I have a great feeling for many of the pieces she has included on the record. "Metamorphosis II" is a piece of music that just flows - well suited to letting your own imagination run wild.

In "Mad Rush" it is liberating to listen to Socanski's perfectionism where, as the most natural thing in the world, she makes the three against four rhythms work in the best way. "Wichita Wortex Sutra" and "Opening" from "Glassworks" are two small favorite pieces that she fortunately includes on the record. Here again, the simplicity she prefers in the music is central. And it is of the very elegant kind that she serves these pearls..."

Previous album reviews: 

Review from:, Guy Rickards, 01.11.2019 (norsk):

English version:

Serbian-born Kristina Sočanski has been resident in Stavanger since 2001, where she attended the University, and has also studied in Oslo, Weimar and Copenhagen. Her interest in American music was sparked six years ago by a chance encounter with the music of George Crumb (b1929 and still active). The second book of his seminal cycle Makrokosmos (1973) is part of her repertoire and two of its twelve pieces, the opening Morning Music and the fourth, Twin Suns, are included here. Crumb remains one of the greatest and most influential pioneers in sound from the twentieth century. His music incorporates a wide array of timbres and playing techniques: for instance, Morning Music with it sheet of paper placed on the strings to create a vibrant buzzing sonority, and Twin Suns in which the ‘Aeolian harp’ technique of playing directly on the piano strings is used.

Sočanski sounds completely at home with these techniques and gives nuanced performances of both movements. She is equally at home with Glass’ minimalist idiom in three of his twenty Etudes (1994), whether the straightforward repetitive flow of No 9 (as it gradually traverses up the keyboard), or No 18’s more complex tapestry, with its wistful and nostalgic atmosphere reminiscent of his pieces used in the film The Truman Show. Her main competitor in the Etudes is Vikingur Olafssón, who recorded 10 for DG in 2016. Sočanski takes a markedly different view to Olafssón, not quite as fluent in No 9, smoothing out the wider tempo extremities that Olafssón revelled in with No 18. The Icelander has the edge, but Sočanski’s accounts make intriguing alternatives.

Edward Smaldone (b1956) is currently Professor of Music Theory and Composition at the Aaron Copland School of Music, Queen’s College, USA. 3 Scenes from The Heartland (1994) was composed for Donald Pirone, who recorded it for CRI. The Scenes were inspired by imagery in Amy Clampitt poetry, such as, “waves of chlorophyll in motion” (Introduction), “involuted tantrums of spring and summer” (the volatile central Scherzo), and “like figures in a ritual, violets are thick, a blue cellarhole of pure astonishment” (the concluding Nocturne). Sočanski handles Smaldone’s range of moods very adroitly, as she does Missy Mazzoli’s Isabelle Eberhardt Dreams of Pianos (2007), in which she interacts evocatively with a pre-recorded soundtrack to create aural memories of Schubert. Mazzoli (b1980) is a rising star of the younger generation, closer stylistically to Philip Glass than Crumb or Smaldone.

My main cavil with Sheva’s disc is its ungenerous playing time. Sočanski’s programme is carefully constructed and, as a musical sequence, works well, her focus on living composers and small groups of pieces that she feels are complementary. This may explain the absence of anything by Ives or Cowell, though not the inclusion of only three of the nine Arabesques by the extremely long-lived Leo Ornstein (1895-2002). Again, Sočanski’s selection nicely encapsulates the set but at only ten minutes long in total, there was surely room for all nine of these tiny pianistic gems, and indeed more by this very under-rated and under-played composer. The omission is all the more regrettable because they are played rather beautifully. Fine sound, too.

Guy Rickards