Colin Clarke, Fanfare
“… There is a wistful improvisatory, almost Chopinesque feel to the opening ‘Mémoire triste dans un café’, and a darker, more funereal nostalgia in ‘François et ses yeux dangereux’, … The final piece, ‘Madeleine déteste les devoirs’, on the other hand, has a driving rhythm, with disobediently boisterous hints at children’s songs. The three Impromptus, … are dreamy and again nostalgia features highly, particularly in the wandering second. The third however is much livelier … Astro Dogs … are great little character pieces, from the quirky, even eastern-inflected melody of ‘Beagle (Aquarius)’, and the humorous rhythmically uneven ‘goofy gait’ of the ‘Labrador Retriever (Sagittarius)’, to the cartoonishly playful ‘Irish Wolfhound (Aries)’, with its energetic variations on ‘The Irish Washerwoman’ melody. ‘Saint Bernard (Leo) is slow and rhapsodic, whilst hints of Prokofiev return in the prancing ‘Standard Poodle (Libra)’. … the characters of the dogs are cleverly portrayed here, and Graff brings this out with great variety of articulation and expression. A great discovery – and always a good sign when a recording of a ‘new’ composer makes me want to seek out more of their music.
Nick Boston, Classical Notes
“… Madeleines, a set of five pieces, was inspired by the composer’s (long ago) trip to France, and the title is an allusion to Proust, of course. Astro Dogs “casually” aligns the 12 signs of the zodiac with different dog breeds; … Carbon is an example of a composer whose music sets an excellent example for his students, and yet it is not textbook dull or under-inspired. … these are attractive works—enjoyable to hear … Carbon uses more progressive writing as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. …. All of this music is emotional and communicative. … Carbon gets results. So does pianist Steven Graff … He plays this music with clarity and expressiveness, and paints it with a colorful palette.”
Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare