The 120th (how’s that for longevity) Season of the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto opened in grand style on October 5, with a recital given by two virtuosi extraordinaire, violinist Lara St. John and pianist Matt Herskowitz. Click here for full article
"Lara St. John happens to be a volcanic violinist with a huge, fabulous tone that pours out of her like molten lava. She has technique to burn and plays at a constant high heat. She is uninhibited, sometimes strikingly so."
"Ms. Langlamet manages these Impromptus in positively gorgeous fashion, gliding effortlessly through each number. You'll feel you're being carried away on a cloud on a spring day the way she plays them. .....What a thoroughly lovely disc."
"Most striking is a set of three Impromptus drawn from Op. 90, and all played on the solo harp with remarkable dexterity and sensitivity. Released on St. John’s own Ancalagon Records label, the collection is beautifully packaged, with a mesmerizing cover image of a ship under a moody sky."
"I have found each and every selection and performance to contain intricate detailing of not only Schubert’s personality, but the musicians also successfully imbed their own unique voices to naturally meld themselves into Schubert’s world. The smile on my face broadens with each listening until it hurts and I must stop the music in order to recover my senses!"
"As I have said before, Ancalagon continues to demonstrate first rate production values present in high class and informative booklets with texts and translations, and superior as-good- as-you-can-get SACD surround sound. This recital, redolent of the type of soiree that Schubert engaged in so often, will provide a boatload of pleasure. Five out of five stars."
"...absolutely fascinating and engrossing. St. John's relaxed and friendly presentation is perfect, and her commentary always apposite and perceptive. It's absolutely indispensable stuff for student violinists, and offers fascinating and revelatory insight for anyone interested in how concert performances are built."
"Violinist Lara St. John has become a special brand of raconteur in the classical music business. Her early Bach recordings are quite exceptional, but St. John has cleared a path with some well-conceived projects like her recent Bach Sonatas with harpist Marie-Pierre Langlamet and coupling of Vivaldi and Piazzolla over The Four Seasons. Entitled simply Schubert, St. John programs a recital of Schubert pieces from early and late in the young composer's life, using the unique format of violin, cello (Ludwig Quandt), harp (Langlamet) and soprano voice (Anna Prohaska). The vocal selections are songs based on Goethe. St. John's daring pays off in a highly listenable recording that has much to teach us about performance and interpretation."
"On her new album, released on her own Ancalagon label, St. John displays nearly superhuman technique as well as a vast appetite to learn, assimilate and advance music of many cultures. With the ideal performing partner and inspired arrangers, this Shiksa is a storm of perfection."
Five-star Review: "St. John magnifies this approach, building a monument to the folk center of Babylon".."The music here is densely conceived and performed. There are layers of pathos and ethos to be discovered. St. John's tone and double-and triple-stops are pan- virtuosic while Herskowitz' muscular approach is well suited to the peasant origins of these pieces. Music like this is beyond imagination and talent. It exists only in the loosely-held molecules found on the razor's edge of Creation."
"Mix in the talents of jazz pianist Matt Herskowitz, and you have the perfect storm of scintillating and passionate close-to- the-roots native song with a breathless improvisatory feel."
"Truth is, St. John can play anything, from the most classical of classical music pieces, to things that are waaaaay out in left field, and she does it all without a hint of pretentiousness or stuffiness. In fact, she knocks the stuffing and the stuffiness out of music in the best possible way.....a great new CD"
"As she so often does, she has released a recital that doesn’t resemble anything else that I have heard, and it is consistently refreshing to listen to. Superb sound as always from Ancalagon."
"No other classical player can play with this kind of real gypsy style, and while gypsy players technique can dazzle, St. John virtuosity is on a whole other planet entirely. Its as if she has managed what both classical and gypsy fiddlers both aspire to but can never totally achieve in their reach to the other side."
"What is truly remarkable is the way in which St. John effortlessly and completely captures the sound, style, mood and flavour of these evocative works; Shiksa may be a Yiddish term for a non-Jewish woman, but there’s no hint here of St. John’s being an outsider or anything other than totally and genuinely immersed in this music – you get the feeling that she’s playing these pieces from the inside out."