Stark is an artist of the highest caliber
— Jim Aiken, Keyboard Magazine
strikes a rare balance between musical literacy and pure emotion
— Linda Kohanov, CD Review
a confident, fresh-voiced composer
— Daron Hagen, EAR Magazine
Bruce Stark’s Americana Wind Quintet (2009) is the takeaway discovery on this CD. A jewel, Stark’s quintet is gorgeous, engaging, complexly structured, and intellectually rewarding. Its four movements are as expansive as the American spirit, with lots of nice ensemble writing, delicious coloring, and motivic ideas cleverly linked by threads of repetition and special effect.
— Daniel Kepl, Performance Arts Review (2018)
. . . there is something about it that is unmistakably “American” in sound and spirit that’s hard to describe. Above all, I find it to be an exquisitely beautiful piece and one that has grown on me with repeated hearings and moved me deeply. Listen, for example, to the second movement, “Hymn to the Dawn.” What extraordinarily beautiful music this is . . .
- Jerry Dubins, Fanfare (Jan/Feb 2018)
This is a magnificent and engaging addition to the woodwind quintet literature.
- Ronald E. Grames, Fanfare (2018)
This well-crafted composition should be a staple in the woodwind quintet repertoire.
— Flute Talk (Nov 2017)
The four movements of the American composer Bruce Stark's Americana Wind Quintet abound in poetic and dramatic flights spiced with savoury flavours and rhythmic twists.
— Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone (2017)
Lisa Moore closed her part of the program with Bruce Stark's “Ode To 'Ode To Joy' “(1997), a fantasy on the theme from the finale of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, couched in jazzy rhythms, rumbling bass figures and a healthy measure of overt virtuosity. It was as if Liszt, while musing on the Beethoven work, were suddenly possessed by the spirit of Art Tatum.
— Allan Kozinn, New York Times
Tuesday's program opened with Bruce Stark's Fugue, a cool, ultra-precise composition whose extended, winding motifs, exchanged from player to player, created music that seemed to move in circular crosscurrents through the Bessie Schonberg Theater.
— Stephen Holden, The New York Times
A grand finale was provided by Bruce Stark, composer of an Ode To 'Ode To Joy'—and it was in this piece that surprising bits of the joyous melody would emerge amidst the frenetic passages of jazz, syncopation, and all kinds of different rhythms.
— Wendy Brazil, ArtSoundFM 92.7 Radio, Australia
Bruce Stark's music was performed to wonderful effect again in tonight's program. His 5 short pieces further explored how jazz stylings and American folk music influences can be used without merely evoking the achievements of the '50's. The explosive 5th prelude was fascinating in how it simultaneously and without feelings of pastiche evoked both Bartok and Gershwin.
Stark's work has been featured in every concert of the series and for good reason. He has an unusually rare gift in creating a recognizable voice, combining compelling content with forms that make sense and are full of surprises.
— Jeff Harrington, Sequenza21
Symphonic Dances is unlike any other work I have known. It is masterful and inspired music. The language is fresh, original, and instantly engaging to the audience . . . Mr. Stark has a unique voice.
- Timothy Muffitt, conductor
Bruce Stark is unquestionably one of the finest composers of his generation. His music is exquisitely sensitive, carefully crafted, hauntingly beautiful.
- Jeffrey Jacob, pianist
Fresh, refined, music that holds both the audience and the musicians captive...I love Bruce's pieces!
- Kaori Fujii, flutist
Rhythms that dance and spring from deep within your body, a myriad of colors and shades, tender, melodic passages…when I play Bruce's music, a world of images seems to rise from the piano, and my love and passion for the piano itself grows.
- Chika Nagisa, pianist
Bruce's works are innovative and exciting additions to the repertoire. They open up new doors for the performer and never fail to delight all who play or hear it!
- Megumi Kanda, trombone (Milwaukee Symphony)
("American Suite") Colorful, delicate, witty, fanciful--a charming and strong work
- Phillip Moll (accompanist for James Galway)
It is challenging to describe the range of Bruce's music in words, but here are a few: powerful and dynamic, yet tender and serene; complex yet always tuneful and accessible; funky and jazzy yet classically rigorous; challenging yet eminently pianistic, always fitting well under the fingers. It's also a heck of a lot of fun to play--and audiences adore it.
- Seann Alderking, pianist
When I commissioned Bruce Stark to write a piece celebrating the turn of the millennium, I was certain of only one thing: that his piece would be full of excitement! What I could not have foreseen was the daring structure of the piece, the extraordinary finesse of his orchestration, and the muscular main theme that could almost provide the soundtrack to an adventure film. Bruce Stark's 'Overture to New Beginnings' takes the listener on an exhilarating journey—albeit a six-minute one—and I hope to have the opportunity to commission many more, and longer, journeys from Bruce in the future.
- David Charles Abell, conductor