Critical Reviews of Concerts and Recordings
Miriam Kramer and Nicholas Durcan set the new season in motion in fine style with a glittering dash through their arrangement of The Carnival of the Animals, reducing the Saint Saens to ten minutes but still including a few little surprises along the way before a bravura finish. Schubert’s Fantasia D.940 was contrastingly crespuscular, showing another aspect of Miriam’s tremendous technique . Robert Schumann’s Fantastiestucke op.73 began in a similar mood but moved through the gears, via some interplay between piano and violin on its way to fiery ending. It wouldn’t be sensible or possible to pick a highlight from the programme, not with an arrangement of the Brief Encounter music- Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no.2 slow movement and then more Saint Saens with Danse Macabre and all its ghostly effects, including the ricochet bouncing of the bow on the strings. Miriam and Nicholas would be a tremendous show whenever you saw them .
David Green, Music in Portsmouth September 2022
Miriam performed the Violin Concerto by the British composer, Benjamin Britten with the Cambridge Sinfonia on 22 January 2011 at the West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge. The conductor for this performance was Christopher Adey.
"In the Britten, Miriam Kramer had a beautiful tone which oozed over the stage in a virtuosic solo with impressive tessitura passages. The concerto was outstanding and very well received."
Laurie Kent of THE TAB OF CAMBRIDGE
"She plays with a gorgeous tone and seems well nigh flawless ... an immediate first choice for anyone wanting Szymanowski's violin music"
Carl Bauman, American Record Guide, July - August 2007
"Kramer has a big, passionate tone when it's wanted; a sweet, tender tone when it's needed; and a superb technique all the time."
James Leonard, allmusic.com
"Her interpretation is imaginative, yet sensitive, her technical command quite exceptional"
"...the cumulative effect was quite unforgettable"
Michael Church, THE SCOTSMAN, November 1995
"Kramer has the soul of a singer"
Orla Swift, THE MERIDEN RECORD, USA, August 1997
"Her playing is penetrating and hypnotic"
John Mangan, THE NEW HAVEN REGISTER, USA, August 1997
"...expressive and sensitive"
Erik Levi, BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE, August 1997
"CD of the month"
David Sonin, LONDON JEWISH CHRONICLE, April 1997
"Kramer's performance could hardly be more heartfelt. Scanning the catalogue for rivals, her musicianship is irresistible."
Robert Cowan, GRAMOPHONE, June 2000 EDITOR'S CHOICE
"...the third new CD devoted entirely to his (Bloch's) music released within a month and the most successful"
Luca Sabbatini, CLASSICS TODAY.com
"...strong, passionate performances"
Stephen Johnson, BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE, May 2000 FIVE STARS
"...exceptional, showing a commitment and flair...a rapturous reading"
John Kersey, INTERNATIONAL RECORD REVIEW, April 2000
Karol Szymanowski: Music for Violin and Piano
with Miriam Kramer, violin, and Nicholas Durcan, piano
Who is Karol Szymanowski? Is he the composer of the wildly romantic but still tonal Violin Sonata? Is he the composer of the lyrically impressionistic but no longer quite tonal Mythes? Is he the composer of the archly modernist and weirdly neo-tonal Berceuse d'Aïtacho Enia? In this superlative 2005 disc by violinist Miriam Kramer and pianist Nicholas Durcan, Szymanowski is all these composers and more, and best of all, he's always himself and always convincing. Kramer has a big, passionate tone when it's wanted; a sweet, tender tone when it's needed; and a superb technique all the time. She's amazingly ardent in the Sonata, deeply expressive in the Romance, radiantly colorful in the Mythes, austerely luminous in the Berceuse, palpably sensual in the Notturno and Tarantella, and supremely moving in the concluding transcription of the "Chant de Roxane" from the opera King Roger. Pianist Durcan is as much a partner as an accompanist and he supports Kramer with sympathy and affection. Recorded in Potton Hall in Westleton in Suffolk and produced and engineered by Michael Ponder, this disc will amaze those who know Szymanowski's music -- and confound those who only think they know Szymanowski's music.
Review by James Leonard
Ernest Bloch Violin Sonatas Nos 1 & 2 Suite Hebraique
with Miriam Kramer, violin, and Simon Over, piano
Kramer and Over have the same kind of dedication and reverence for Bloch that Heifetz and his partners had. Their interpretations are completely different, though just as personal and just as sincere. She (Kramer) has a fabulous sound in every register, plays beautifully in tune, and has an extraordinary wide range of colors. Over's piano colors are as wide-ranging as Kramer's and he and Kramer play together beautifully. But what I mainly hear is Bloch at his best.
American Record Guide
with Miriam Kramer, violin, and Simon Over, piano
I have never heard Miriam Kramer play Bach, Paganini, Mozart, or Bartok, but in the CD of Hasidic-oriented pieces, lasting 78 minutes, she reveals herself as a violinist of superior natural talent. She succeeds in getting beneath the skin of her music and is an exceptionally sensitive interpreter and a phrase-maker of uncommon expressivity. As to be expected, much of the 19 pieces are heavily ladened with sentiment which Kramer sagely exploits, while managing to avoid exaggeration or mawkishness. Her vibrato is multi-faceted and flows uninhibitedly.
Among the short works the joyous Bloch Simchas Torah from the Baal Shem Suite is particularly impressive Other outstanding efforts are the complete Bruch transcription of Kol Nidrei, Achron's dazzling Hebrew Dance and Ravel's moving Kaddish. Many of the brief odes are little known but deserve mention such as The Chassid and Prayer by Julius Chajes.
In contemporary mode are Four Pieces by Mark Lavry, while in opposite character is the traditional Eli-Eli, once a favourite of both Elman and Seidel (who both recorded it). Off the beaten path is an unedited arrangement of Eleazer's Song from Fromental Halevy's La Juive, an aria better suited to the voice than the violin.
This CD is notably enhanced by the polished, idiomatic piano accompaniments of Simon Over. In all, this release can be unreservedly recommended.
Joseph Achron Violin Collections
with Miriam Kramer, violin, and Simon Over, piano
The playing is fantastic. Miriam Kramer and Simon Over play wonderfully together - so wonderfully that in listening I cannot separate the "dancer from the dance." They are generous and open in sharing this rare and extremely special music with us, and especially kind in letting the wonderful inner harmonies come out in the piano part of the Hebrew Melody.
American Record Guide
An Evening of Superb Music Making
The violinist Miriam Kramer and the pianist Nicholas Durcan at the Durban Jewish Centre
Translation by V. Williamson
"Friends of Music launched its 2018 series at the Durban Jewish Centre on Tuesday (16 January) with a recital by the American violinist Miriam Kramer and her regular partner, British pianist Nicholas Durcan.
Engaging these distinguished artists, who delivered an evening of superb music making, proved a major coup. They opened their finely curated programme with Bartok’s six contrasting Romanian Dances, written for piano between 1915 and 1917, here arranged for violin and piano by Zoltan Szekely. These were followed by the sublime Adagio from JS Bach’s Sonata No 3 in E Major BWV 1016 for Violin and Keyboard, music straight from heaven if ever there was.
The centre piece of the evening’s programme, Sir Edward Elgar’s highly charged but rarely heard Sonata for Violin and Piano Opus 82 was performed with both intensity and tenderness, evoking the sense of nostalgia that is a hallmark of Elgar's oeuvre, particularly his late compositions. Composed in 1918, while staying at Brinkwells Cottage in the idyllic woods of West Sussex in England, the Sonata was among the last works he wrote.
As a timely nod to the current upsurge of global women’s solidarity, Kramer and Durcan opened the second half of their programme with an impromptu inclusion of the charming Romance Opus 23 by the American composer, Amy Beach (1867 – 1944).
The varied pace and tone of the programme continued with idiomatic performances of Robert Schumann’s Fantasiestucke Opus 73; two tangos by Astor Piazzolla, Oblivion and Libertango; and Swiss Jewish composer Ernest Bloch’s passionate Nigun (from Baal Shem). The evening ended with Kramer’s bravura account of Pablo de Sarasate’s flamboyantly virtuosic Zigeunerweisen Opus 20, which brought the audience to its feet."
A Moving Evening Infused with a Natural Musical Grace
The violinist Miriam Kramer and the pianist David Silkoff at the Chateau de Bourglinster
Translation by V. Williamson
Saturday, April 20, 2002
Hilda van Heel
There are concerts which leave a delicious impression, evenings infused with a natural musical grace when ease of playing and melody merge into sincere interpretation.
The recital given by Miriam Kramer and David Silkoff in the hall of the 'Chevaliers de Bourglinster' possessed these lyric and subtle qualities, that spirit, measured or passionate in turn, which inspires unforgettable dreams. The violinist had the rare gift of letting the music speak for itself-allowing herself the time to enter into the atmosphere, never forcing, her playing became increasingly expansive; her lightness developed into a most marvelous lyricism. It is true that such a relaxed attitude is most often found in Anglo-Saxon artists. This very natural approach, where the musician does not want to 'prove' anything and does not want to impose him/herself from the start, favors the fullness of sound and freshness of interpretation. The pianist also showed a subtle musicality and a playing full of finesse. The two artists live in England, where they have studied, which brings us the honor of welcoming the Great Britain Ambassador, Mr. Gordon Wetherell to this very fine concert.
A slight shadow was cast over the scene: the piano dominated at some points in the first part of the programme; therefore one could wonder why it had been left fully open. The harmony of the ensemble became perfect after the interval without any change to the instrument.
The first part of the programme, a 'Scherzo' by a young Brahms, is part of a sonata composed by 3 different composers. Albert Dietrich had composed the allegro, Robert Schumann the intermezzo and the finale. This 'Scherzo' in C minor by Brahms could be considered as an introduction to the recital. From the beginning one admired the warm impetuosity and the brilliant sound of the young violinist, her fine and spontaneous sensitivity. The Sonatine in D minor no. 1 op 137 by Franz Schubert is an equally playful piece recalling the charm of Mozart sonatas. By the clarity of her fluid playing, the joyous vivacity of rhythm, the violinist was able to draw us into her joyful musical vision. After the radiant dream of the andante, she gave us a scherzo as sparkling as champagne. The ensemble with the pianist was excellent; David Silkoff responded in a melodious and lyrical manner to the soaring flights of the violinist.
A very different atmosphere was created by the sonata in C minor op 30 no.2 by Beethoven. The two soloists gave an inspired and impetuous interpretation of this sonata which accords equal importance to both instruments. Tension and energy alternated with moments of great delicacy. The allegro con brio developed in an audacious/daring manner; pianist and violinist expressed themselves with passion. The interpretation did not lack originality; it expressed much more of a desire for victory, a luminous ascent, than the heroic engagement one is used to associate with this Beethoven sonata; moreover, any pathos was absent from the marvelously pure and musical playing of the two artists. The adagio cantabile, with great melodic flexibility, opened with plaintive nostalgia, which the piano, then the violin played in beautiful open phrases. Revealing the musical thought with playing inspired with a lively and spontaneous imagination, the artists followed the nuances of sensitivity with fresh intuition.
With its incisive and passionate rhythms, its brief passages and sforzatos full of temperament, the scherzo was delivered with virtuosity, while the dynamic allegro dazzled with its power.
However, it was after the interval that the two artists attained the depth of expression. The sonata for piano and violin by Cesar Franck, full of freedom and poetry, with its melodious motifs which flow from one movement to another, suited perfectly the subtle lyricism of the artists. The violinist knew how to find the lightest of notes to express the long, dreamlike and tender melody which opens the first movement; the pianist's playing also evoked the vast horizons of the soul. This work of great intensity, full of emotion, submerges the listener; the repetition of the cyclic musical refrain invites meditation-- dream and fervor, yearning, aspiration and mystery combine in a continuous evolution. The passionate second allegro, played with impetuosity, developed in a vibrant and lyric romanticism. Miriam Kramer captivated the public with her inspired and tumultuous playing; one admired her agility, her flashes, her sublime high notes. The poetry of the recitativo fantasia with its so soft final notes, then the allegro mosso and its harmonious canon between piano and violin plunged us into the most beautiful dream, the one in which melody lights up the world.
The versatility of the artists' talent showed itself in the interpretation of the 'Three Preludes' by Gershwin and Heifetz. Combining the elements of jazz and the blues, the nostalgic rhythms and accents, the sensuality of the insinuating portamenti and dynamism, they were enthusiastic and spontaneous. With the same spirit, they played us a brilliant Polonaise by Henryk Wieniawski (1835-1880) ending the evening with a fireworks display of virtuosity. The public, charmed and captivated, demanded several encores, which were generously granted.
Kramer steals the show
Despite a clutch of high-profile London concerts in December, a recital by young American violinist Miriam Kramer was by far the most persuasive, discovered Catherine Nelson.
The Strad, March 2000
The finest of December's concerts was to be found in that haven for chamber music the Wigmore Hall, where young American violinist Miriam Kramer gave a recital of startling originality, depth and proficiency (21 December), adeptly partnered by pianist Simon Over. The crisp edges and freeflowing yet clean-cut phrases of Mozort's Sonata in C major K296 promised much. Kramer followed it with an unusual and witty little piece: Josef Achron's Premiere suite in Ancient Style, written in 1906. She dashed through the Baroque-like arpeggios of the opening Prelude, the spectacular bow-work of the Fughetta and the tripping finale with grace and aplomb.
After this light relief, the intensity and rich allure of Kramer's performance of Brahms's D minor Sonata was nothing short of spellbinding. Her delicately etched tonal shading in the Allegro was full of charm, and in the long-breathed Adagio, her ease of modifying vibrato size to match bow speed gave her reading a quality of uncommon sensitivity, to which Over responded with delicacy and refinement.
The second half brought a clutch of rarities. Bloch's Sonata no.2 'Poeme Mystique' is often overlooked in favour of his Baal Shem: Kramer and Over gave its exotic and vividly passionate melodies the deeply felt readings they deserve. Heifetz's fiendishly difficult arrangements of Gershwin's Three Preludes were enticing for Kramer's relaxed command of their voluptuous harmonies and lilting rhythms, although the extreme complexity of the First Prelude made it sound rather frantic. Szymonowski's Notturno e Tarantella was full of rapturous intrigue, from the mysterious fifths of the opening to the violent panache of the Tarantella. Kramer's gift for lyricism was underlined by the potent simplicity of her encore, an uplifting reading of Kreisler's Melody, an arrangement of Gluck's Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Orfeo ed Euridice. Although not the most high profile of December's concerts by any means, Kramer's was certainly the most persuasive.
Going Out Reviews — “Miriam Kramer at Wigmore Hall”
London, 22 December, 1999
In the age of electronic information, a debut recital at the Wigmore Hall means rather less than it once did. Still, the emergent American violinist Miriam Kramer attracted quite a large crowd last night and, for all I know, the back row was full of record producers.
The brilliant debutante played a traditional programme: serious first half including a premiere, a light second half, then a sweetmeat encore. Mozart's Violin Sonata in C K296 which opened, bowled along eagerly with springy trills and a lyrical slow movement. Brahms's Violin Sonata in F OplO8 was sombre but buoyant. Kramer's smooth, weightless, firm tone avoided the stodginess to which Brahms is prone. The panting third movement had the barely suppressed excitement of a child awaiting Christmas.
The premiere was the Suite in Ancient Style composed by the l0-year-old Lithuanian-American prodigy Joseph Achron (1896-1943). It is a charming piece of pastiche baroque which Kramer played from memory. The second movement fugue was an exquisite balance between the violinist and pianist, Simon Over.
In the second half, Bloch's Poeme Mystique brought out the aromatic in Kramer's play.
The Steinway purred. Her account of Gershwin's Three Preludes (arranged Heifetz) might have been more smokily jazzy, but the fiery finale of Szymanowski's Notturno e Tarantella was clearly worth the encore.
Kreisler's arrangement of Gluck's beautiful Dance of the Blessed Spirits sent the record producers home happy. I left impressed.
A Violinist Is Enhanced by a Violin with a History
The New York Times, December 5, 2000
James R. Oestreich
Miriam Kramer, a gifted young violinist born in Meriden, Conn., and now living in London, gave some sort of debut on Saturday evening at Alice Tully Hall. A United States debut, the advance publicity said, but the program called the recital, coming at the end of an American tour, merely a Lincoln Center debut.
Whatever, it was auspicious, for Ms. Kramer, with Simon Over as the deft pianist, proved a soulful and virtuosic performer. And the program, ranging from a Bach sonata to a premiere, "Dreams" by Deborah Netanel, served well to show the breadth of Ms. Kramer's affinities.
The publicity also called the recital a "special tribute" to Alma Rose, the violinist who led a women's orchestra at Auschwitz, helping save the lives of fellow inmates, though she died there herself. Ms. Kramer, it seems, was playing the "Alma Guadagnini" violin from 1757, on loan. The program made nothing of any of this; perhaps just as well, given what the hapless notes made of the music. ("All of its movements have fugal components," an unidentified annotator wrote of the Bach; all, that is, except three of the four.)
Rose left the Guadagnini behind when she fled the Nazi-occupied Netherlands in 1942. Felix Eyle, who had studied with her father, Arnold Rose, a concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic from 1881 to 1938, acquired the instrument in 1947, just before becoming a concertmaster at the Metropolitan Opera, where he played it until he retired in 1970.
"The sound is so heavenly, so gorgeous and powerful, that it goes through anything," Eyle once said of the violin. And there was indeed a bold strength to Ms. Kramer's sound, allowing it to stand up to Mr. Over's full-throated playing in the Franck Sonata and in Brahm's Scherzo for the "F-A-E" Sonata.
But whatever the violin, credit must also go to Ms. Kramer, whose playing bore out a description by Ms. Netanel, evidently a longtime acquaintance, in her program note: "I envisioned a musical expression that would feature both her rich velvety sound in the lower registers and her uniquely facile shimmering quality in the higher registers."
Ms. Netanel's work, alternately plaintive, lyrical and perky, affords an apt vehicle for those qualities though the piano writing tends to fall into repetitive noodling.
In Ravel's "Tzigane," Ms. Kramer showed considerable flair and temperament; in Bloch's "Baal Shem," a fine sensitivity and warmth. Mr. Over's playing matched hers at every turn.
Miriam Kramer Recital — at Malvern Priory 21 October 2008
Unaccompanied violin solos were performed by Miriam Kramer, a stunning virtuoso violinist. Sonata by Ysaye demanded extremes of technical expertise as it progressed from brilliance to plaintive muted beauty and on to extrovert bravura, all accomplished superbly.
Prokofiev's Violin Sonata was a discourse of immense beauty. The tones of Kramer's wonderful instrument combined with her assured and sensitive perception of the music produced a memorable manifestation of this exposed and exacting music.