Journal of the Society for American Music (2015), Volume 9, Number 1, pp. 152-156.
“Johnson has done a remarkable job locating all of Foote’s piano music in various libraries throughout the United States, most of which has been out of print for decades. Her performance is brilliant, both in piano technique and expression. She has mastered the romantic style of the time and has communicated it to the listener. With her beautiful sound and exquisite phrasing, she has made Foote’s piano music come alive….Johnson’s recording of Foote’s music has created international interest in this American composer, with well-deserved rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. This writer agrees and hopes the recording will help bring Foote’s piano music the attention it deserves.”
Marilynn Jean Smiley
Crescendo (Germany), December/January 2014
„Mein Gott! Was ist das für fantastische Klaviermusik!“
My God! What fantastic piano music this is! ….It’s perhaps the year’s most exciting piano music discovery. Arthur Foote – as becomes apparent here – was no less than a supremely gifted composer when it came to the piano….Even the most narrow-minded of purists may well allow themselves to be quite beside themselves with enthusiasm over this 3-CD set, in which both interpretation and recorded sound are also absolutely impeccable. Even more: Kirsten Johnson is a complete pianist, with magnificent technique and enormous artistic personality.
Rainer Aschemeier (English translation by Lindsay Koob)
Gramophone, January 2014
Link to interview: http://www.exacteditions.com/read/gramophone/january-2014-37804/3/3/
Link to review: http://www.exacteditions.com/read/gramophone/january-2014-37804/5/3/
….Foote has a worthy champion in Kirsten Johnson, whose lovely sound and exquisite phrasing allow her to quickly locate the lyrical heart of a melody and invest it with pure streams of colour; Johnson makes a particularly persuasive case for the Five Bagatelles, Op 34, including a hypnotic, Chopin-influenced ‘Without haste, without rest’, a radiant ‘Idyl’ and a concluding ‘Valse peu dansante’, a total charmer.
Johnson is similarly at her best in the 17-minute Five Poems after Omar Khayyam, Op 41, in the space of which she lets herself be seduced by rolling waves of chords alternating with light Brahmsian lyricism, occasionally leavened by some gentle, deep emotion at the music’s heart, and even touched briefly by an epigrammatic wit worthy of Satie….
Two 10 out of 10s! Classics Today, October 8, 2013 http://www.classicstoday.com/review/an-unsung-american-master-arthur-footes-complete-piano-music/
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 10
Where has this delightful, well-crafted, thoroughly idiomatic, tuneful (though harmonically conservative), and unpretentious piano music been for the past century? Listen to any piece at random, blindfolded, and you’ll agree, although you’ll be hard-pressed to identify the composer. Unknown Brahms? Meatier than usual Mendelssohn? Or Richard Strauss as a prodigious teenager? Not Schumann—the piano writing is not crazy enough—but there’s that same rumbling energy….
The mystery man turns out to be the Boston-based American composer Arthur William Foote (1853-1937)…. Because most of these works have been out of print for decades, pianist and longtime keyboard rarity advocate Kirsten Johnson had to do considerable detective work in order to obtain the scores. More importantly, she appears to have put in comparable practice hours, borne out by her consistently sonorous virtuosity and tasteful musicianship, abetted by a first-rate Steinway grand and an appropriately resonant yet never muddy recording venue. A major addition to the catalog.
Music Web, January 2014
The piano music of Arthur Foote comprises perhaps the least known branch of his output. We are indebted to the enterprising Kirsten Johnson for recording it complete for the first time. Naturally many of these pieces are world premieres….
One of the major discoveries of this set is the Serenade Op. 45. Though seemingly slight, the five pieces of this suite show the composer at his most genial and even endearing. In some ways it is a musical counterpart to Foote’s charming autobiography (Plimpton Press, 1946). The much later 5 Silhouettes is more dramatic – with a Prelude reminiscent of those of Op. 15 and Op. 30. This is followed by Dusk – a variation on the Prelude’s musical material with a notable conclusion….
Having recorded all of the piano music of Foote’ colleague Amy Beach, Kirsten Johnson is eminently qualified to provide us with idiomatic accounts of Foote’s music. She shows special sensitivity to the composer’s brand of restrained emotion – moderately expressing the underlying feeling as the composer himself would have wanted. Ms. Johnson has a bright tone which is ideal for Foote’s out-of-doors works and enough sense of fantasy for Omar Khayyam…. Ms. Johnson’s discs are highly to be commended both for bringing us some wonderful music and as another milestone in the rediscovery of America’s early musical heritage.
American Record Guide, January 2014
…. Johnson engages these works with eloquence and expression….Her controlled approach, bordering on terseness, perfectly suits the most emotive of Foote’s works. Here her playing is understated yet deeply affecting….5 Pieces are moving, as Johnson reveals a sensitivity to harmonic colors with ‘Nocturne’. The exquisite ‘Serenade’ shows the same rich attention to hues. ‘Valse Triste’ of Silhouettes is lovely and delicate... With remarkable thoroughness, Johnson has indubitably produced a recording of American composer Foote’s complete piano oeuvre that will lay the groundwork for future studies and recordings. Sang Woo Kang
The Listener, September 23, 2013 www.the-listener.de.
“AN ABSOLUTELY OUTSTANDING AND SURPRISING DISCOVERY!”
Our second “exceptional CD” for the month of September is – in my opinion – one of the discoveries of the year thus far … and in every respect. Here we have not only wonderful music that’s well worth discovering, but also an outstanding interpreter: one who deserves stronger focus from the musical press.
Let’s begin with the artist: Kirsten Johnson has given us an impressive series of fabulous CD recordings, mostly for Guild: the British mini-label. In these she has shown a great spirit of discovery – as in her album of Albanian piano music; likewise the piano works of Amy Beach and Heinrich Schulz-Beuthen. Her enchanting phrasing combines with her breathtakingly soulful delivery to produce tremendous emotional impact. Kirsten Johnson breathes life into her music. Her performances are genuine happenings: never mere “jobs” done for some CD label….
But what we have in Foote’s piano oeuvre is worthy of far more than just the polite applause of passing recognition….With every note, Johnson shows her enthusiasm for these wondrously beautiful piano compositions that appear to bear the latter-day influence of Frédéric Chopin and John Field….
In a nutshell, this fascinating 3-CD set is very close to the top of our short list of possible choices for The Listener’s “CD of the Year.” I think it’s safe to say that this album will continue to maintain its lofty position on our list of choices through to the year’s end.
Rainer Aschemeier – English translation by Lindsay Koob
Fanfare, December 2013 http://www.fanfaremag.com/content/view/53431/10262/
It’s not often that you audition a recording where the artist is far greater than the composer, but that is exactly the case with this massive set of the complete piano music of Arthur Foote (1853–1937)….
Yet there is the remarkable playing of Kirsten Johnson. This is, quite obviously, an outstanding pianist who approaches everything as pure music and gives her all. There is not a single piece in this 3-CD set that she does not play well, bind the phrases, impart at least a bit of energy or drama, or bring out detail. She really does a splendid job on the Omar Khayyam pieces and has some fun with the teasing details in the “Scherzino” of the Two Pieces for Piano and the Non troppo Allegro of the 20 Studies for the Pianoforte.…
Lynn René Bayley