Reviews

Opera News

by Joshua Roesnblum

“Conductor Mark Sforzini and the orchestra are well attuned to the sweeping lyricism, encroaching dissonance and confrontational drama in the score”

ClassicsToday.com

by Robert Levine

“The remainder of the cast–a particularly fine quartet of the gossipy, judgmental wives of the Elders–is very good, and the chorus, with plenty to do, is mightily impressive. So, I might add, is the 35-member orchestra, all of them under the passionate direction of Mark Sforzini. The composer was in attendance for the performance, and a bonus track offers a fascinating interview with the charming 87-year-old Floyd, who talks about the genesis of the opera and the McCarthy era and its scapegoating.”

Fanfare Magazine

“The chorus and orchestra acquit themselves with honors, and conductor Mark Sforzini leads an exceptionally effective account of the score that enabled me to hear numerous instrumental details that heretofore had escaped my notice.”

Theater review: ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ by Ash Lawn Opera

by Clare Aukofer, The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, Virginia

“And, oh, the orchestra. Conductor Mark Sforzini blends 31 musicians and instruments into a single wave of music that can rush over you or gently flow, invisibly manipulating mood and scene, bringing out the best in the cast. You could go just for the music and not be disappointed.”

August 2, 2014

 Cosi Fan Tutte

by John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times

“St. Petersburg Opera excelled Friday in the first of three performances this weekend of Cosi Fan Tutte at the Palladium Theater. Right from the brisk pacing of the overture under artistic director Mark Sforzini, the orchestra and singers had a sure grasp of the masterful score, a huge swath of complex music.” John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times, January 17, 2010

Into the Woods

by John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times

“The 15-piece orchestra, conducted by artistic director Mark Sforzini, was wonderfully subtle. For all its moving individual numbers, Sondheim’s fairy tale score is most enchanting in its recurring choruses, such as the syncopated march of the title song, and awesome orchestrations. Sforzini has drilled his forces into good shape.” (Into the Woods)

September 12, 2009

Call Again Overture

Strauss, Mozart Color Orchestra’s Opening Concert

by Kurt Loft, Tampa Tribune

“Opening night was all about music, and Sanderling struck hard and loud with the national anthem, then the “Call Again Overture” by principal bassoonist Mark Sforzini. This percolating new work, beautifully constructed by the young composer, seemed to tip its hat to Gershwin’s “American in Paris” and packed a thrill ride into four fleeting minutes.”

October 3, 2004

Call Again Overture

Orchestra kicks off season in fine style

by John Fleming, St. Petersburg Times

“There was even a new work, “a little surprise…a present,” in the words of music director Stefan Sanderling, the Call Again Overture, composed by principal bassoon Mark Sforzini, which the orchestra played unannounced, right after the obligatory season-opening Star-Spangled Banner.   Sforzini’s four-minute piece, a brightly syncopated bauble on the cell phone theme, punctuated by slide whistle, suited the celebratory occasion perfectly. It was reminiscent in its energy and wit of Bernstein’s Candide Overture.”

October 3, 2004

Octet

Orchestra performs colleague’s melodious work

St. Petersburg Times

John Fleming

“Sforzini, who has had two other pieces played by the orchestra, is an unabashed melodist, building his Octet around what he calls the “song of the meadow”. It’s a serene, joyful tune in D major traded among a wind quartet and string quartet in many variations over three movements.”

“The Octet is very much an orchestra player’s work, passing around the instrumental spotlight in democratic fashion. It’s not without complexity and a certain droll unpredictability… but it never strays far from the main theme, which has the lilt of a Viennese Waltz with just a touch of decay to keep the material from becoming saccharine. The program note likens it to the chamber music of Poulenc, and that seems about right. The influence of a Beethoven Septet is also felt.   The orchestra principals, who premiered the 22-minute Octet in a 2003 chamber music performance, were at their best in the third movement sonata, bringing a flair to the infectious melody.”

Bassoonist’s New Work Stands Up to Beethoven

by Kurt Loft

Tampa Tribune

“The 22-minute Octet is in three movements and keeps listeners involved through a creative development of sunny D major themes, rich textures and colors, and a transparency that lets each instrument blend but stand on its own.”

“…kudos to the composer for a work full of fresh lyricism and a mature sense of form.”

Sense of joy pervades new theater’s opening

by John Fleming

St. Petersburg Times

“The theater is named for Ray Murray, a businessman and former chairman of the Florida Orchestra, and his wife, Nancy. For the occasion, the Murrays commissioned an octet by composer Mark Sforzini, principal bassoon of the orchestra, who performed the work along with seven of his first-chair colleagues. Sforzini likened aspects of his three-movement 21-minute work to “the song of the meadow,” or to a mountain hike, and it did have a lovely serenity and sense of joy, with a prominent, lively part for the orchestra’s excellent concertmaster, Amy Schwartz Moretti.”

Follow the money trail

by John Fleming

St. Petersburg Times

Dedember 25, 2003

“The best new music [2003] was heard in Mark Sforzini’s Octet, premiered by orchestra’s principals in the Palladium Theater’s exemplary Encore Series…”

Sextet for Winds and Bass

An anniversary present full of joyful music

by John Fleming, Times Performing Arts Critic

Published February 2, 2006

“The Sextet, running about 20 minutes in four movements, has Sforzini’s gift for melody. It is built upon a lively theme that begins, fittingly, with the clarinet and then is embellished and elaborated upon by the others.”

link to full review

Symphony for Seven

Symphony premiere has French flavor

By JOHN FLEMING, Times Performing Arts Critic
Published April 21, 2005

ST. PETERSBURG – Mark Sforzini must have been French in another life, judging from the premiere Tuesday night of his Symphony for Seven, performed by the Florida Orchestra Chamber Players (with the composer on bassoon) as part of the Encore series at the Palladium Theater. The Frenchness of Sforzini’s four-movement work, running about 35 minutes, is a matter of more than just its quotation of La Marseilles.

The influence of Poulenc or Milhaud or Stravinsky in his French period seemed palpable in the insouciant melodies, the somewhat unusual instrumentation (piano, violin, viola, cello, oboe, clarinet and bassoon), the eclectic mix of styles that included honky-tonk piano and the lean textures, especially in some sublime woodwind writing.

The rest of the program reinforced the French theme, with Francaix’s fiendishly busy Wind Quintet No. 1 and a pair of virtuoso violin pieces, Saint-Saens’ Introduction and Rondo capriccioso and the Meditation from the Massenet opera Thais, beautifully played by Ellen dePasquale. The concert drew a large, engaged crowd, including many people who supported the Encore commission of Sforzini’s composition.

There’s a political angle to the Symphony for Seven, suggested in a program note and made explicit by dueling snippets of the French and U.S. national anthems (perhaps a tip of the stylistic hat to Ives), representing disagreement over the Iraq war. There’s little doubt as to which side of the debate this chamber symphony comes down on, notably in the potent third movement, marked Adagio lamentoso, depicting the misery of war through extended techniques like skittering bows on strings. James Connors on cello, the most melancholy of instruments, was superbly expressive.

Sforzini, the orchestra’s principal bassoon, had an earlier success with his Octet. That tuneful work was widely performed in the community and made it onto an orchestra masterworks program. Now he has taken a giant step forward with the Symphony for Seven, which is complex and intellectually satisfying yet retains the innate sweetness that makes his music so listenable.

Rhapsody for Flute and Bassoon

1997 International Double Reed Society Journal

by Ronald Klimko

“This is a beautiful piece of modern music. Some of you might have been fortunate enough to hear it performed by Mark Sforzini himself on the bassoon, along with flutist, Catherine Wendtland-Landmeyer at the last IDRS conference in Tallahassee last June…..The music comes with a full score, along with two beautifully cross-cued separate parts….I strongly recommend this work to you as a beautiful, exciting and skillfully written piece of modern music worth reaching a wide audience.”

Two American Sketches

American Lyrique

by Thomas Josenhans

The Clarinet, volume 30, number 4

September 2003

Two American Sketches for clarinet and English horn by Mark Sforzini is a great addition to this disc. Sforzini has been principal bassoonist of the Florida Orchestra since 1992, and has written several works for wind instruments. The sketches were commissioned by [Karen] Dannessa and Henry Grabb. The combination of English horn and clarinet is rarely heard outside of the orchestral setting, and the resulting sound is refreshing. Grabb’s and Dannessa’s playing truly complements each other, and their musical maturity is revealed in their excellent ensemble. The work is made up of two contrasting movements: “Song of the Prairie” and “Atlantic City Rock.” The first overly exploits the personality of each instrument and is reminiscent of the “Largo” of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. “Atlantic City Rock” is a stark contrast: it is a funkier movement that has a groove found nowhere else on this disc. Both humorous and clever, one cannot help but imagine two mischievous students sneaking around looking for a good time. The only criticism of these sketches is that there are only two. Sforzini obviously has a great imagination, and it would be great to hear what else he could cook up for the English horn and clarinet.”

Purchase the CD:

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