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Review from The Arts Fuse (Ralph Locke) 

"I was particularly delighted to get to know Carl Czerny’s “Fantaisie brillante” on themes from Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro; Grainger’s stirring take on the Gershwin song “The Man I Love”; Ditlow’s evocative version of Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona’s famous “Malagueña”; and Béla Bartók’s intriguing “Eight Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs.” The selections, and the arrangers, come from many lands, including Italy (Mascagni’s passionate orchestral Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana) and China (“Mongolian Shepherd Song” — the evocative arrangement is by Ditlow herself). 

The most surprising tracks, perhaps, are four of the Twenty-Four Negro Melodies (1905) arranged by Afro-English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The melodies (what are sometimes called “spirituals”) are relatively simple, often consisting of a single phrase repeated several times with slight but telling adjustments. (This musical simplicity helps throw attention to the words, which deal with suffering,  consolation, and hope.) The vocal range is sometimes restricted to a sixth, well short of the octave-and-a-half that is typical of many songs and arias, but very appropriate for group singing. Coleridge-Taylor took the relative modesty of the musical materials as an invitation to be inventive, gradually breaking a tune up into phrases and motives that he tosses back and forth through different keys and with imaginatively changing figuration, much as he did in the development sections of his many sonata-form movements for a purely instrumental chamber ensemble. I was reminded at times of the stirring climaxes in Romantic masterpieces such as Brahms’s “Edward” Ballade, Op. 10, no. 1.

I have played this album repeatedly for weeks, sometimes on CD, other times through streaming, yet I have never tired of it. Ditlow’s performances are not hyper-virtuosic. (For a fleeter reading of Liszt’s arrangement of the Spinning Chorus from Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman, I recommend the 1928 recording by Alexander Brailowsky.) But they are deeply affectionate: I sometimes felt I could hear Ditlow thinking about the (silent) words, noticing a surprising modulation, or responding to the tension-and-release within a musical phrase. 

Review from the Rome Tribune (Harry Musselwhite) 

Kristin has a new recording out which I highly recommend. Her solo recording on the Affetto label is entitled, “Passages – solo piano works inspired by opera and song.” The recording (I have it on CD) is sonically breathtaking and her playing ranges from intimate pianistic thoughts to thundering room-shaking outbursts. She is a consummate interpreter.

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