Reviews

Kritik des Herzens:

“… a contemporary composer, not totally averse to tonality, who knows how to make skillful use of recent innovations. He has a real affinity for Wilhelm Busch’s humor and the lyrical sections are also spot-on.”
— Gerhard Seitz, former concertmaster, Bavarian Radio Symphony

Fantasy Sonata:

Celestial Encounters is an absolutely beautiful piece making full use of the sonorities and expressive qualities of the piano. Creating sound pictures miraculously…, this original work breaks the mold and creates its own.”
— Molly Schrag in 20th Century Music, February 1997

Nebulae … started out with a rumbling, twirling feeling, just as you might imagine vast columns of stellar dust would be; the sounds of this piece were both minute and gigantic, like the universe itself.”
— Cassandra Hemenway Brush in The Hardwick Gazette, August 1998

Arcadian Symphony:

“In [Arcadian Symphony] Kimbell utilizes intricate counterpoint in the strings and winds, with much imitation and interplay between parts. The scherzo is lively, sardonic, amusing, and motivically concise — again with a great deal of contrapuntal interplay. …Particularly noteworthy were the theme and variations, which featured an arresting section of brass choir writing interwoven by the strings, with often as many as three distinct motives combined in complexity. A short Russian gavotte is the most playful and charming number; the final tarantella is a strange one indeed, full of mysticism and wildness.”
— Nancy Bloomer Deussen in 20th Century Music, March 1998

“[Arcadian Symphony] reflects its homage to Carl Reinecke (1824-1910), a now-neglected German composer who, Kimbell said, successfully drew on old traditions to create something fresh. To my ears, Reinecke passed the ball to Prokofiev who passed it to Kimbell. The result was skillfully written, ambitious music that transmitted something fresh through old forms. … The opening overture displayed imaginative orchestration; for example, a virtuoso clarinet solo penetrated the haze of a droning double bass and brief, plucked viola figure. A theme-and-variations movement yielded one idiomatically luscious wind solo after another.”
— Ken Keuffel Jr. in The Arizona Daily Star, Dec. 7, 1998

“The concert … began with Kimbell’s piano rendition of an orchestral Gavotte, drawn from his Arcadian Symphony. Neoclassic in design, the work takes unexpected Prokofievian shifts on a number of occasions, always leaving the listener alert.”
— Phillip George in 20th Century Music, October 1998

Ballade Arctique:

“Harpist Katrina Szederkényi has set herself a prodigious task with this [CD] album: presenting fantasias and fugues from the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries by a variety of composers, including J.S. Bach, Joaquín Turina, Elias Parish-Alvars, Michael Kimbell, and Henriette Renié. All consist of themes with fugal variations, and two of them (including Kimbell’s Ballade Arctique, written for Szederkényi and presented here in its world-premiere recording) are essentially tightly-structured tone poems. This album offers not only a portrait of an exceptionally talented young harpist, but also a handy catalogue of harp style and techniques from across four centuries.”
CD Hotline, reviewing Fantasias & Fugues, MSR Classics MS 1527

“Katrina Szederkényi, born in Canada and educated in Vienna and Frankfurt, has come out with a gorgeous-sounding, consistently pleasing recital of works from Bach to the present that show off all the finer qualities of her instrument.
We hear [these glissandi] right at the beginning of the opening section of J. S. Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, BWV 903. They engage our attention immediately with their whirling arpeggiated figurations for which the harp, though not the original instrument Bach had in mind, seems ideally suited today. In the Fugue, precise articulation of notes for which the harp is also well-equipped, and which Szederkényi realizes so beautifully, make the subjects stand out in high resolution.
A different sort of effect is used in Ballade Arctique (2013) by American composer Michael Kimbell to capture the atmosphere of the far north and the seriousness of an Inuit legend of an old woman’s curse on a hunter who refused to share his caribou kill with his starving fellow men.”
Audio Society of Atlanta, August 2014, reviewing Fantasias & Fugues,
MSR Classics MS 1527

Rondino capriccioso:

“Dr. Kimbell’s Rondino capriccioso fit perfectly with the titanic gems [Dvorak Cello Concerto and Beethoven Symphony No. 9] of the early and late nineteenth century. Harmonically, the melodic material is treated in an original neo-Romantic manner that Prokofiev, Stravinsky or Poulenc might have chosen had they been interested in extending the styles of, for example, the Classical Symphony, Pulcinella or the Concert champêtre. Even in scarcely four and a half minutes, the work is a veritable orchestral kaleidoscope, with witty effervescences that are obviously as much fun for the players to perform as for the audience to listen to. Structurally too, this Rondino would not have been unfamiliar to either Beethoven or Dvorak: the work is a charming Quodlibet, or assembly of popular tunes that are interwoven throughout its entirety. Although less well-known today, many of the melodies would have been recognized by nineteenth-century audiences, some having been popularized in Carl Reinecke’s Musikalischer Kindergarten or similar musical anthologies. The primary theme is based on a Turkish march written by the deposed Sultan Mustafa V for his younger brother, the notorious Abdul Hamid II “The Red” — in both line and harmony, it could (had it already been written) served as the basis for the à la turca section in the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth. Other tunes that flit in and out of the texture, often skillfully disguised so as to be mysterious to all but the most hardened of musical trivia cognoscenti, include Haydn’s tune Austria (today known as Deutschland über alles) and Home, Sweet Home. In a mischievous, if bittersweet comment on events of the early 21st century, the latter tune is superimposed on the Dies Irae. There are many more musical quotations and allusions, but neither the composer nor this listener is telling!
It is refreshing to hear such vibrant music that attempts neither to be a pastiche of the past, nor to explore some abstract and abstruse school — “it is so inaccessible, therefore it must be good” — nor even to address some “fashionable” issue, but instead stands firmly and unapologetically on its own frank enjoyability.”
— Edmund Kimbell in 21st Century Music, March 2002