Critical acclaim

33 Variations, Ellen Burstyn, Andrea Katz.

33 Variations, Ellen Burstyn, Andrea Katz.

33 variations | comedy theatre

"And all the while, pianist Andrea Katz punches out those musical variations on the grand piano in a way that illuminates and colours the sophisticated and witty textual variations underpinning the drama."

ABR - March 12 2019. Reviewed by Tim Byrne

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★★★★★ from Arts Hub.

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★★★★½ from The Age - March 11 2019. Reviewed by Cameron Woodhead

"Ellen Burstyn raises bar, cast meet challenge in sublime production."

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Earlier on Saturday afternoon, another facet of this festival's identity was on display. Soprano Merlyn Quaife and pianist Andrea Katz of Songmakers Australia offered a fascinating program of lieder and contemporary Australian art song, including a world premiere by Roger Heagney. This wasn't the typical scenario of new music being smuggled onto a classical program next to crowd-pleasers, but rather an intimate afternoon of musical storytelling, care of homegrown creativity and blue-sky programming.

Particularly of note, joined by the festival's director Benjamin Opie on oboe, a thrilling account of Margaret Sutherland's 1938 penned ‘The Orange Tree’ was a revelation; a true Australian masterwork that deserves many more outings.”

The Sydney Morning Herald - 7 January 2019. Reviewed by Maxim Boon

Viola Romance | Melbourne Recital Centre

"Just as telling was the trio's performance of the Two Songs Op. 91 of Brahms: poised in attack, balanced in ensemble and pronounced with confident solicitude, the Die ihr schwebet  lullaby an experience you wished would go on and on."

The Age - May 10 2014. Reviewed by Clive O'Connell

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A Woman's life & love | Melbourne Recital Centre

"...soprano Merlyn Quaife and pianist Andrea Katz began with their recital’s title work, Schumann’s song-cycle offering a world of vivid emotion couched in impeccable, honest craft."

The Age - May 10 2014. Reviewed by Clive O'Connell

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A Rhine Journey | Art Gallery of NSW

"Katz and Russell make a devastating duo and I can't imagine any better way to take a headlong plunge into the Rhine, or walk along its banks. Thanks to a considered programme, this pair take us deep into the heart of German culture. It's as if they've built yet another castle, but one constructed with music, for us to regard with awe."   

Australian Stage - 10 October 2013. Reviewed by Lloyd Bradford

Lest we forget (Tall Poppies TP185)

ABC Classic CD of the week for the week beginning Monday 24 April 2006

Merlyn Quaife, soprano Andrea Katz, piano

"This is a remarkable and moving testament to human endurance and spirit. This collection of songs is inspired by war and its appalling human cost, and by our longing for peace. It's far from a run of the mill recital disc - the composers include Poulenc, Victor Jara, Bax, Weill and John Lennon, among others. There are art songs of all kinds, as well as cabaret songs from the infamous Theresienstadt camp."                           

"This self-proclaimed classical protest CD from Australia has gained lots of attention in that country, and rightfully so. It is intended, read the notes by soprano Merlyn Quaife, "to remind ourselves that the relaxed and comfortable culture our government was intent on bringing us was in fact based on lies, fear, threats, apathy, hatred, and the glorification of small-minded selfishness." The music, however, mostly focuses on the outcomes rather than the arising of such societal traits. Several pieces deal with the Holocaust and with the cultures it destroyed; the program includes the "Cabaret songs from Kamp!," a group of settings of texts written down by inmates of the Terezin concentration camp. But there are also pieces dealing with Irish revolutionaries (one, "Elégie," by Henri Duparc), the Spanish civil war, Australian aboriginal peoples, Chile's late dictatorship, and the American colossus. The last two of these draw on materials not conventionally associated with the classical repertory, and it is here that Quaife and accompanist Andrea Katz make their most distinctive contributions. Five rock and jazz songs are included: Randy Newman's satirical "Political Science" and chilling "In Germany before the War," Abel Meeropol's "Strange Fruit" (the signature song of Billie Holiday), Chilean Victor Jara's "Manifesto," and John Lennon's "Imagine." Each of these is treated slightly differently by the performers, with the straight-ahead pop rhythms of the Newman songs left alone, treated as a cousin to the cabaret song, while the other songs are given accompaniments that range from Schubertian to impressionist. It's a bit of a shock to hear "Imagine" in the version here, but the cumulative effect of the album is extremely moving; the protest is all the more effective because of the way it unites a variety of musical languages. Quaife sings directly, with clear enough enunciation that the lack of English-language texts isn't a problem (all songs in foreign languages have texts and translations). In all, this is a fearless performance that communicates more directly than most other song recitals."

All Music Guide - James Manheim

"... The sequence of some tracks is so hard-hitting as to almost defy listening in a single session."

The Sydney Morning Herald - June 2006. Reviewed by Peter McCallum

Music for Spring | St James' Church Sydney

"...In this enterprise, Kuusisto was fortunate to have Katz as his accompanist...This was the first time I had heard her, and I hope it won't be the last. Utmost technical authority combined with a refinement of phrasing and tone assured her place as the ideal partner in a program in which the piano is the equal partner of the violin"

The Sydney Morning Herald - October 1998. Reviewed by David Vance