" ...emotionally far-flung, beautiful...its music weds perfectly to texts, ranging from a dreamy, legato-filled nocturne to an intensely personal dirge for fallen soldiers to a love poem flecked with shy, shivery little horn figures. It's a splendid work..." San Antonio Express-News/January 2002" music that is at times beautiful, at times dramatic, and always faithfully reflective of the poetic text...The mood is generally pensive...and the addition of the horn gives an unusual dimension to the songs." Dallas Morning News/January 1999" The horn is an integral melodic counterpoint to both the voice and the piano. Sometimes serving as percussion or emphasis, it also carries its own melodic material as if it were another voice...
In 'Dirge for Two Veterans,' horn and piano set the stage for a scene after battle. This opening could easily be music for the documentary 'The Civil War,' so clearly does it capture the mood.
The fluttery, yet darkly moody accompaniment of 'O You Whom I Often' touches on the homoerotic elements of Whitman's poetry. It is decidedly unplayful and not the least bit flirtatious..." National Association of Teachers of Singing, Journal of Singing/June 1999" Professor Sargon's compositions, and these songs are no exception, invariably contain strong images for the listener and would be categorized as 'neo-romantic' in style.
The songs are powerfully portrayed, spanning a lifetime and beyond of human hopes and fears...
I am not aware of any finer set of songs for this combination." The Horn Call/February 1997
A Clear Midnight (CD)
" Sargon is an outstanding composer. This album contains four of his song cycles, with music that is at times beautiful, at times dramatic, and always faithfully reflective of the poetic text...
Throughout this album, the music for piano demonstrates that Mr. Sargon is a savvy accompanist, both as composer and performer." Dallas Morning News/January 1999" Drawing on some of the best poetry of the English language, and of the most poignant of Yiddish poems of the Holocaust, Sargon has turned his considerable talents as composer to enhance the recital literature for voice. Lyrical, melodic, spare yet fitting the voice perfectly, Sargon's songs can stand easily with the best the twentieth century has to offer.
This important compilation of Sargon's vocal music deserves to be widely heard and frequently performed. Extremely satisfying both for the performers and listeners, his songs elegantly combine word and music into almost visual emotion. With the composer at the piano, we here have an authoritative archive of his work...
The recording is top notch in every respect." National Association of Teachers of Singing, Journal of Singing/June 1999
A World of Romance: Chamber Music of Carl Reinecke (CD)
" The trios recorded here are wonderfully inventive examples of Reinecke's musical syntax, exhibiting his complete command and mastery of form...I found myself plunging headlong into this one and coming back for more, captivated by Reinecke's arching phrases and the immaculate interpretations served up by these artists. Klavier's sound is rich and full, favoring a blend. This is some of the best chamber music I have heard in a long time." American Record Guide/ Nov.-Dec. 1994" Masterful... gorgeous performances introduce music that is straightforward, satisfying, and uncommonly beautiful. Each work features different instrumentation, piano being the only constant...Violist Barbara Sudweeks and clarinetist Stephen Girko work together magnificently in the A-major trio... Gregory Hustis is a standout on the other two pieces...he displays versatility and virtuosity throughout. Rounding out the players are Eric Barr, whose poignant, singing oboe graces the A-minor trio, and pianist Simon Sargon, who plays with a keen sense of ensemble, knowing instinctively which phrases should be soloistic and which should be integrated and subdued." theMet/ 1994
Ash un Flamen
" The music is always deeply moving but by no means predictable. For instance, a poem called 'Smoke of Jewish Children' is set to eerily understated rather than angry or dramatic music." Dallas Morning News/January 1999" Sad and ironic, still there plays the undercurrent of of hope, as in 'Passover in Treblinka,' in which prisoners of the camp at Treblinka prepare for Seder. In 'Kaddish,' survivors remember those who are no longer with us. 'Roichen' (Smoke) spirals eerily as children, along with their toys, leave the earth as wisps of smoke...[an] emotionally difficult set..." National Association of Teachers of Singing, Journal of Singing/June 1999" strikingly beautiful...[its] ambiguity is heightened by the music ('Shifreles Portret'). 'Kaddish' is direct and bleak." Dallas Morning News/April 2003
Before the Ark
" ...a lovely work for violin and piano...a gem of a piece, plaintive and passionate by turns; it was the perfect way to open another season of Music of Remembrance- a series devoted to honoring Holocaust musicians and their work." The Seattle Times/November 2008
Blue Mountain Ballads
" By far the most successful crossover work of the evening was Simon Sargon's chamber ensemble arrangement of his seductive Blue Mountain Ballads, a setting of poems by Tennessee Williams. Here was an ideal example of what creative use a serious man of music can make of jazz and blues idioms." Dallas Morning News/November 1988
Cohler on Clarinet (CD)
" Vigorous, leonine readings of cornerstones in the clarinet repertoire sit comfortably alongside Jonathan Cohler's world premiere recording of Simon Sargon's recent work 'Deep Ellum Nights.' This evocative three-movement suite...is skilfully crafted and convincingly performed. There's an enticing, street-wise colloquialism in Cohler's playing...The F minor Brahms Sonata is commandingly played...With excellent support for the pianist Judith Gordon, this is playing of real distinction. Weber's Grrand Duo Concertant, Op. 48, finds these artists in total command of every demonstrative and virtuosic gesture in this taxing three-movement work; scintillating playing..." BBC Music Magazine/ 1993" This fine collection marks the recording debut of an outstanding, Boston-born, American clarinetist. He has a splendid technique and a lovely tone, and he is already master of an extraordinarily wide range of repertoire. The opening Brahms 'F minor Sonata' is a supreme test, and he passes with distinction...The Baermann 'Adagio' shows how ravishingly Cohler can shape a melting legato line with a breath-catching pianissimo at its peak. He then throws his hat in the air in the three exuberant '[Deep Ellum Nights] Sketches' of Simon Sargon...Only an American musician could play this with such understanding spontaneity. "Highest Rating." " The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs 1994" With a clear, ringing tone, combined with technique and taste, Cohler has produced a disc that features the finest in clarinet playing...Cohler delivers a full-blown, dramatic and forward-moving performance. Cohler then makes seemingly effortless work of Carl Maria von Weber's The Grand Duo Concertant (Op. 48), a virtuoso piece from beginning to end. This is music in the grand tradition, requiring absolute control of the instrument from high to low end, and Cohler achieves this brilliantly...'Deep Ellum Nights' by Simon A. Sargon...[is] a wonderful piece played to perfection which, fittingly, ends this recital on the highest note of the clarinet's range-- double-high C. A great disc!" Windplayer Magazine/ February 1994
Concerts of Chamber Music
" Sargon proved to be a vigorous and poetic pianist, not overbearing as an ensemble player, but on the other hand properly keeping the piano 'primus inter pares' in the Mozart and Dvorak pieces. His playing of the demanding Dvorak Piano Quintet was especially impressive." Dallas Times Herald/ May 1976" Simon Sargon and Emanuel Borok should be declared official municipal resources of the city of Dallas. Sunday night the two musicians teamed up for as magnificent a program of piano and violin sonatas as you're likely to hear by anybody, Dallas-based or otherwise...The andante [of Mozart's Sonata for Violin and Piano, K. 296] was beautifully played and the whole was a pleasing demonstration of musical finesse by two gifted musicians." Dallas Times Herald/ February 1987
Deep Ellum Nights
" 'Deep Ellum Nights' by Simon Sargon are exactly what they claim to be: three sketches. They evoke the mood of a certain section of the city of Dallas in the first half of the 20th century- its local analog of the Bourbon street area in New Orleans. The names of the parts fairly describe the character of each. 'Dark and Smoky' starts as a relaxed, almost improvisatory, blues, which is interrupted by a sharp-edged, bumpy episode, and is gradually restored. The jazzy abilities of the clarinet are put to good use here- but are still better in the second sketch, 'Quiet and Easy.' This one has some Gershwin flair, in its steady piano pulse and sliding harmonies. It reaches an impressive climax and then calms away...The music is light and careless, and the two instruments are like two dance partners who know their steps so well that they dare to improvise." MusicWeb International, September 2010" A star item [on Cohler on Clarinet] is 'Deep Ellum Nights: Three Sketches' by Simon Sargon. This is a major addition to the clarinet repertoire by an American composer, inspired by a section of downtown Dallas, Texas where consecutive waves of different ethnic groups have lived..it accordingly admits diverse musical influences. It is this major work...which distinguished this disc and lifts it to that of a special disc well worth seeking out." New CD Guide/September 1993" The treat here [on Cohler on Clarinet] is 'Deep Ellum Nights'...It is worth the price of the disc. About 12 minutes of music with a jazz flavor, these three morsels are terrific- and technically demanding. I will play this record again and again. The last piece ends with a glissando up to a high C above high C, the highest note on the clarinet. Nice!" American Record Guide/September 1993" This evocative three-movement suite, recalling migrant life in the ethnic melting pot of a decaying Dallas suburb earlier this century, is skilfully crafted... " BBC Music Magazine/October 1993" The three movements are built around blues, jazz styles and ragtime. A wonderful piece..." Windplayer Magazine/February 1994" exuberant...sultry melodic lines are interrupted by all kinds of jazzy glissandos and uninhibited syncopations, notably an explosive burst of energy intruding into the 'Quiet and easy' central section. The finale is like a flashy cakewalk. " The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs 1994
Divertimento for Piano & Chamber Orchestra
" This makes an excellent companion piece, with some flavour of the 1920's, even though it was written many decades later-- especially in the witty and parodic moments in the first movement. The second and third movements are more profound: reflective and dramatic by turns." British Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles, Wind Magazine/2003" A three-movement work of diverting generosity. The opening movement is indeed bright and cocksure, with ebullience and a freshness that is immediately appealing. Sargon knows all about rhythmic insouciance and gives the first trumpeter a forceful and effective part to play. Sargon gives the wind some effective lines as well-- it all ends well and excitingly and I enjoyed the work." Classical CD Reviews MusicWeb (UK)/2003" What a marvelous, tuneful, appealing piece this is! ...Sargon's is a name to be reckoned with among those in the know, and he has even been the subject of one of Karl Haas's radio programs. I can see why. This work is tinged with jazz elements-- though with discretion and taste-- yet sounds like American music should: vigorous, wide open, and optimistic, even in the face of tragedy. The piano writing is linear rather than chordal, and the orchestra contributes some lovely solo playing. Certainly this is a composer worth paying attention to. Three discs are devoted to him on the Gasparo label alone, and I intend to delve more deeply into his music." American Record Guide/Sept.-Oct. 2003
Divine Grandeur (CD)
" ...thoughtfully planned and marvelously executed...the disc should appeal to a wide range of listeners. The singing is of a high standard, as is the sound. Recommended." Fanfare/July-Aug. 1997" This is an anthology of contemporary sacred choral music that makes you say 'oh my God' for the right reasons. [The selections] convey an impression that they were composed for real people to connect with and worship to...I found plenty to admire and enjoy. From the Yom Kippur liturgy ('Eil Nora Alilah') to the gospel of Luke (Zwilich's 'Magnificat'), Judith Clurman and her troops sing with great feeling and commendable technique." American Record Guide/Sept.-Oct. 1997
Dusting around with Scott's Rag
" ...Mr. Sargon starts by jabbing motifs of Scott Joplin's 'The Entertainer' from one instrumental group to another. But the more extensively the fragmentation is pursued in subsequent variations, the more the piece engages." Dallas Morning News/April 2006
El Nora Alilah
" Sargon's tender setting...captures the essence of the text simply but intensely." Choral Journal/October 1997
Elul: Midnight - A Cantata of Penitence
" The cantata is a work of great intensity and real beauty, and it seemed to me that it would have an appeal to audiences outside the Jewish tradition. I was struck by Sargon's dramatic sense and by his originality as a composer. While his musical idiom is modern, it is not acerbic or forbidding, and one quickly becomes engrossed in the cantata.
The overall effect is strong, but several sections in particular stick in the memory. Part four ('The Lord, the Lord God') is a simply gorgeous piece for chorus...In the mysterious and and tortured 'Our God and God of Our Fathers,' short baritone phrases in Hebrew are juxtaposed with choral singing in English; it is very effective. Also quite striking is the 'Angels of Prayer,' in which the baritone sings amid a kind of chant in the chorus...The tenth and final section is another haunting and melodically appealing section for soprano and chorus... Sargon is no ordinary composer." Dallas Times Herald/ September 1981" . . . a moving and solidly built piece that deserves a place in the repertory.
The texts, in English, Aramaic and Hebrew, are drawn from the penitential services held during the month preceding Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The cumulative effect, though somber is never merely gloomy, and there is not a touch of self-indulgence in words or music.
Sargon is especially skiillful in using the forces at his disposal...the dialogue between choir and soloist is expertly handled, giving shape and direction to the individual movements." Fort Worth Star-Telegram/July 1984" As for 'Elul,' it proved to be a remarkable work by a remarkable composer. Based on traditional and modern texts concerning the Jewish penitential season, it transcends sectarian limits and takes on a universal significance; it may be regarded (to borrow a phrase from Ernest Bloch) as part of the 'gift of Judaism to the whole of mankind.' " Dallas Observer/August 1984
Fantasy on 'The Miller's Tears'
" From SMU professor Simon Sargon came a Fantasy on 'The Miller's Tears,' a song by the Yiddish composer, poet and performer Mark Warshawsky. The song's upward-spreading intervals are a unifying gesture, as the music speeds up into cheery then frenzied dances. After a shrieking climax, the gentler opening mood returns." Dallas Morning News/March 2008
Flame of the Lord
" 'Flame of the Lord' is a cantata based on selections of the Song of Songs scored for solo soprano, baritone, flute, harp and cello. It is melodic, attractively romantic fare...very pretty..." American Record Guide/ May-June 2001
Flame of the Lord (CD)
" Judaica is the unifying theme here... these compositions show a loving connection to the Jewish experience in all its stunning diversity. Many expressive styles are on display here as well...Everything is well played by these estimable musicians. Mark Kashper is especially good in 'Reb Mendele,' which speaks of a universal experience, even amid all the ethnically charged writing. His playing is a very classy element in an enjoyable, unusual, and admirably diverse program." American Record Guide/ May-June 2001
For All Your Miracles
" Described as a 'Chanukah anthem,' For All Your Miracles is a light-rock commemoration of the Feast of Lights. Stylistically, this relaxed yet spirited composition could be termed 'contemporary Jewish'...The voice parts and accompaniment are easy to perform...With simple but bracing harmony and a most comfortable feel, For All Your Miracles is a pleasant and engaging piece of music." Choral Journal/September 1995
Francis Poulenc Memorial Concert, Carnegie Hall, New York
" Sargon is an excellent accompanist..." New York Sun/ April 1963" Sargon is an admirable accompanist..." New York Times/ April 1963
From Hafiz to Firewing (and beyond) (CD)
" Another well annotated anthology from Crystal. I held onto this disc for review because of the Dunhill but discovered Sargon. I hope to hear much more of Sargon." MusicWeb International/June 2008" ...oboist Erin Hannigan...has a warm, liquescent tone and expressive eloquence...Simon Sargon...is a warmly expressive pianist, as well as a deft composer..." Dallas Morning News/July 2008" Hannigan presents a user-friendly recital designed to showcase her talents, and like DeAlmeida, her playing is accomplished, beguiling, and both demonstrates and celebrates the high level of musicianship found in our current American orchestras...Sargon's 'Homage to Hafiz' ...is well served by Hannigan's flexible phrasing and warmly plangent tone." Fanfare Magazine/September 2008" [Hannigan's] tone is supple and sweet..and she seems to easily navigate the difficulties of the instrument through a variety of styles while projecting an unerring confidence no matter what she is playing...I can heartily recommend the two works by Simon Sargon (also the pianist here) as being completely involving and lovely works..." Audiophile Audition/Aug.-Sept. 2008" 'Homage to Hafiz' is full of exotic and Eastern sounds with lyrical and haunting melodies. The music and Hannigan's playing is fluid and very attractive. 'Haas Trio' contains jaunty, carefree themes, intense lyric emotion in the second movement, and impudent humor in the final movement. The playing of Hannigan and Walzel is engaging and flexible, especially with the interchange of jazz rhythms and slow eulogy music when the second movement's theme is restated...
Hannigan and Sargon perform 'Duologue' with tasteful precision and elegance. Their performance is very engaging and delightful to listen to...
I recommend this disc for a number of reasons: Erin Hannigan's fine playing; the variety of works performed; new and interesting works that are recorded for the first time." The Double Reed/September 2008
Gregory Hustis, horn: Three Horn Concertos (CD)
" Gregory Hustis, principal horn of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra since 1976, has it all: nimbleness and unfailing expressivity, bright shiny tone where called for, mellow fluency elsewhere...Buy it. You'll like it." Dallas Morning News/February 2006" Gregory Hustis gives solo performances that are masterful. He exhibits abundant control, flexibility, power and expressiveness. The Dallas Philharmonia, conducted by Paul Clifford Phillips, is an excellent ensemble. The Philharmonia has moments as an accompanying ensemble and moments when it serves as an equal partner to the soloist. Both roles are filled beautifully. The recorded sound is present with ample clarity and richness to the sound." The Horn Call/February 2006
Haas Trio for Oboe, Bassoon and Piano
" The title honors the late classical-music broadcaster Karl Haas, but only the central 'Andante espressivo,' tender and lyrical, is specifically memorial... Mr. Sargon is a fine and fluent craftsman and contrapuntist. " Dallas Morning News/May 2006" The trio is vividly alive, playfully touching and with a gallic edginess. The 'Vivo' even has a faintly absurdist tone. This is music brimming with genuine life- melodic, tonal and pleasing." MusicWeb International/June 2008" [Sargon's] largely American, quirky 'Haas Trio for Oboe, bassoon, and Piano' shows another side of his talent...the moving elegy to Haas's memory is now the central movement of an otherwise unabashedly lighthearted expression." Fanfare Magazine/September 2008
Homage to Hafiz
" In this case I can heartily recommend the two works by Simon Sargon ['Homage to Hafiz' and 'Haas Trio'] (also the pianist here) as being completely involving and lovely works tinged with a sort of eastern exoticism that fits the nature of the oboe very well." Audiophile Audition/June 2008" A three movement work which rolls back seven centuries to take us to the city of Shiraz. These are mood pieces which... evoke ancient evenings and messages to do with beauty transcending the passage of time. Sargon writes in an accessible language which is intensely and memorably melodic." MusicWeb International/June 2008" Sargon's 'Homage to Hafiz' is appropriately exotic in flavor...'Hafiz' shows him to be a fine colorist." Fanfare Magazine/September 2008" Sargon...is a deft composer. His 'Homage to Hafiz' evokes the 14th-century Persian poet in fragrant 'Eastern' sounding music." Dallas Morning News/July 2008
Huntsman, What Quarry?
" Though the entire CD was wonderful, I found the piece 'Huntsman, What Quarry?' to be magnificent. As a classical singer I am always looking for interesting and beautiful pieces. Simon Sargon is a truly magical composer. I performed these on my senior recital in undergrad and they were very well received. Standout pieces! I think what distinguishes a good composer from a great composer is whether or not the music helped the audience find a deeper meaning in the poetry than they might have gotten from a straight reading. That is certainly the case here. In the future I will be looking for all the Simon Sargon music I can find. I highly recommend this work." amazon.com Customer Review, September 2007" Mr. Sargon's pair of songs for soprano, horn and piano were especially handsome pieces. Strongly crafted and immediate in their communication, the pair had Brahmsian textures and a strong melodic girth. Both songs made fresh use of the evocative powers of the horn (the texts deal with the hunt and the kill), with the first almost like a miniature opera scene and the second like an elegiac aria. " Dallas Morning News/May 1991 " Using the unusual but not unprecedented combination of soprano, horn and piano, Sargon created two haunting and memorable works, 'Huntsman, What Quarry?' and 'The Buck in the Snow.' The first opened with a late-20th-century salute to the early 19th-century...'The Buck' was somewhat gloomy and mysterious. Both were quite lyrical-- and further evidence that Sargon is a valuable resource to the community." Dallas Times Herald/May 1991" ...vivid, strong...beautifully made pieces that make graphic and imaginative use of this special combination of sounds. Mr. Sargon has a superb feeling for the voice, and what he writes is not only effective but spins a mood and transports a listener." Dallas Morning News/June 1992
Huntsman, What Quarry? (CD)
" Because of the special character of the music spanning three centuries, nearly every work on this record is a discovery, and all demonstrate how effective this unusual combination can be... color and elasticity is heard in Mr. Hustis's suave playing, which is never simply supportive, but equally limpid and dramatic. Mr. Sargon, too, is a strong presence on this recording and the wealth of unusual material it contains is in itself enough to assure the disc widespread appeal." Dallas Morning News/June 1992
I Have Taken an Oath to Remember: Art Songs of the Holocaust (CD)
" This striking CD contains 17 songs by eight composers. Unified by one theme, the agony of the Jews in the 20th century, they vary widely in expressiveness and textual approach to the subject...[T]he best are strikingly beautiful as well as bleak. Among the latter is 'Shifreles Portret' by Dallas composer Simon Sargon, whose ambiguity is heightened by the music. 'Kadesh,' by Mr. Sargon, is more direct and bleak. Among other songs with an unusual impact are Lazar Weiner's 'Beneath Your White Stars' and 'Merciful God.'" Dallas Morning News/ April 2003
If You Will It...
" Stirring...ethereal...atmospheric...inventive. It presents a cross-section of various emotions which stir all Jews at the thought of Israel...
A full and rewarding experience. It should definitely be repeated." The Jewish Advocate/May 1983
Jennie Tourel Voice Recital, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
" Accompanist Simon Sargon did a wonderful job serving the singer with faultless exactitude and eliciting from his piano parts maximum support for his singer." Jerusalem Post/ June 1970
John Magnus Voice Recital, Graz, Austria
" The best part of Schumann's 'Dichterliebe' was the piano accompaniment, in which Simon Sargon was shown to be a superb pianist, tone poet, and shaper of musical lines. He was clearly the champion of the evening." Kleine Zeitung/ August 1974
Kenley Players, Columbus
" ['Sweet Charity's] production numbers were performed with a certain snap that added life and meaning to the overall. Simon Sargon's work in the pit was largely responsible for that, giving a glittering edge to everything." Columbus Dispatch/ July 1967
" ...exuberantly urbane..." Star Time/Aug.-Sept. 1996" ...exhilarating...an ingenious imitation of klezmer music..." American Record Guide/Mar.-Apr. 1997" ...delicious...The opening cadenza is a tour de force, showing off the virtuosity of the clarinet and setting a somber mood. It picks up once the piano enters and the entire work is a remarkable blending of klezmer dance and brilliant writing." San Diego Jewish World/April 2009
Legacy Trio for horn, violin and piano
" ...highly personal and frankly emotional...it explores traditional formal structures and the timbre possibilities of this unique combination of instruments on the highest artistic level." Fort Worth Star Telegram/1995" [A] dramatic testament...compelling...Set in four brief movements, the largely tonal, 20-minute score is built on echoing melodic fragments, frenetic episodes or introspective passages that are interrupted in various ways...These emotional conflicts were resolved masterfully in the finale..." San Antonio Express-News/January 2000
" Titles such as 'Calm,' 'Irascible,' and 'Wistful' reflected the varied moods created by a composer with a strong penchant for tonality...[A]n impressive collection, stronger, really, than some of the commissioned pieces for the Cliburn Competition through the years." Dallas Morning News/ March 1998
" 9/11 rises from the depths, but at first with contrapuntal elaboration. With little shudders along the way, there's again a pair of impassioned climaxes. The end is harmonically surprising, leaving us-- tellingly-- with something less than full resolution. This is bittersweet music...beautifully crafted." Dallas Morning News/September 2002
Questings for Horn and Orchestra
" ... the horn writing is idiomatic, and the orchestration is skillful...[T]he concerto is impressive, imaginative...and quite accessible for the orchestra and audience. It is a very fine new work and we hope that the composer continues to keep us in mind when he lifts his talented compositional pen!" The Horn Call/October 1991" One of the high points of the evening was Mr. Sargon's 'Questings'...the result was impressive, with some lovely music in the middle movement (of three) that was among the most immediately appealing Mr. Sargon has put before a Dallas audience." Dallas Morning News/November 2002" ...full of musical substance, creative material, and well-crafted melodic material that exhibits a wide emotional range. The music is forthright and honest without pretense...worth hearing and learning!" The Horn Call/February 2006
" ... lovely stuff where the fiddle and piano spin out interludes of reverie, passionate prayer, and joyous celebration. The concluding 'Freilach' (Wedding Dance) would have fit perfectly into the wedding scene in 'Fiddler on the Roof.' It's got the touch." American Record Guide/ May-June 2001" Klezmer music in full flower..." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/ June 2009
Regina Resnik Presents! Colors of the Diaspora (DVD)
" The great American soprano Regina Resnik is the narrator, producer, and occasional performer in this exhaustive compendium of the Jewish experience in song... The American program ["American Jewish Composers in Classical Song"]...has some significant first performances and first recordings, including...first recordings of Simon Sargon's 'Cantare' [from the cycle "Shema"]...Much of the first program speaks (or sings) of a Jewish experience riddled with sadness, loss, and injustice; and the performances are filled with emotional intensity... This video would be very useful to enhance any high school or university course that involves the Jewish experience...I'm also very pleased that this set celebrates living composers like Pasatieri, Barab, Corigliano, Sargon, Senator and Schiff, who continue to write music that reflects the emotionally expressive naature of European and American Jewish culture." American Record Guide/ January- February 2012
Renew Unto Us A Good Year: Music of the High Holy Days (CD)
" The CD features the choir of Temple Emanu-El of Dallas under the superb direction of its conductor, Simon Sargon, very ably assisted at the organ by Ms. Kathryn Johnson...This is precisely the kind of grass roots participation in a quality enterprise that infuses our worship service with beauty as well as reverence through the performance of Jewish music of quality...This is a truly excellent CD, one that not only does credit to Mr. Sargon, conductor and composer, to the singers of the choir, but ultimately to the temple where this superb music making regularly takes place. This disc is very highly recommended." National Jewish Post/July 2001" Mr. Sargon arranged or composed much of the music here, and most of it is in Hebrew. The expression ranges from the tenderness of 'K'rachem Av'...to the intensity of 'B'rosh Hashana,' a sobering meditation on human mortality. [Sargon's] Uv'chen pulses with assurance that the day is coming when 'evil will vanish like smoke' and God alone will have dominion...Given the prominence of Mr. Sargon's music, you have to figure that the performances bear an authenticity that only this choir and this director could give them. 'Renew Unto Us' makes a fine souvenir of Mr. Sargon's distinguished tenure as a liturgical composer and musician." Dallas Morning News/September 2001" The music for the High Holidays moves from solemnity to majesty to hope...reverent, dramatic, always heartfelt, fervent, and deeply moving...Excellent as the soloists are, it is the choir that is the outstanding entity at all times, singing with fervor and with a rich, warm tone and commendable control as well as clarity." American Record Guide/Sept.-Oct. 2001" ...Sargon and his choir of 27 years have combined many familiar melodies and many beautiful new ones into a musical and spiritual journey through the moods and feelings of the holy days. Also included are traditional pieces wonderfully arranged for this 100-voice choir by Sargon, and many of his own compositions which are written true to the melodic prescriptions of the high holy day 'nusach.'
In a commanding yet understated way, [Sargon] conveys the beauty and passion of a piece with clarity, bringing the heart of the piece and the heart of the performer together... " The Living Church/April 2002
" A simple but beautiful setting of this traditional Hebrew prayer...The text, a prayer for peace for the people of Israel, is appropriate as an occasional anthem or concert piece. Those conductors looking for a short introductory piece in Hebrew or a well-crafted anthem that is immediately accessible should consider this work." Choral Journal/Vol. 45 Issue 5
" Composed for soprano, flute, clarinet, cello, and piano, it is nevertheless a work which feels larger...the work makes its artistic point in the contrast between an Italianate vocal line and the distinctly modern instrumental setting. By casting the poet's words in an older, familiar musical style, Sargon reminds the listener that those who were victims of the Holocaust were normal folks like us...[It is] the accompaniment that raises images of violence and pain... eerie...heartbreaking..." The Star Ledger (NJ)/November 1994" Sargon lets dissonance express the anger and bitterness of the theme, and it is powerful, but not the prevailing mode of the songs." Dallas Downtown News/October 1988" Sargon has achieved an unqualified success in his settings of this powerful literary material... Shema is a work that deserves broad attention. If there is justice in the musical establishment, it will win him the larger audience he deserves." Fort Worth Star Telegram/October 1988" ...a haunting and sometimes heart-wrenching musical tableau..." Dallas Morning News/September 1996" ...ranks as one of the most impressive works in Dallas-based composer Simon Sargon's impressive canon...beautifully capturing Levi's sense of sorrow and incurable wounding." Star Time/Aug.-Sept. 1996 " ...vividly dramatic..." Richmond Times-Dispatch/April 1998" One of the most striking pieces of new music to be played in Dallas in the last ten years...It premiered in 1988 and for eight years remained, vaguely but powerfully, in the memory... It makes a stronger impression upon repeated hearings..." Dallas Morning News/June 1996" ...beautiful...It begins with a clarion call to remember, and goes from sadness and yearning to circus music to forget by, with a memorable 'Song of the Crow' bringing bad news in squawks..." Seattle Post-Intelligencer/May 2007" ...sensitive...compelling..." San Francisco Classical Voice/April 2009" A moving work by a superb composer." Dallas Times Herald/January 1989" Generating the greatest impact was Sargon's 'Shema,' a gut-wrenching suite..." North Shore Magazine (MA)/June 1990" ... a haunting work of dark beauty and tense atmosphere. It stayed in the mind long after the program was over...Like any excellent writer of vocal music, Sargon mirrors the atmosphere of his texts. The vocal part is dramatic...It is also ingratiating music, often quite lyrical. The instrumental backing is original and often eerily atmospheric...'Shema' is another striking piece from one of Dallas's most impressive musical creators." Dallas Times Herald/October 1988
" ['Shema']... is sung evocatively by soprano Lila Deis...Elsewhere, Mr. Sargon explores Eastern European and Yiddish folk traditions." Dallas Morning News/September 1996" The 19-minute song cycle 'Shema', which gives this disc its title, ranks as one of the most impressive works in Dallas-based composer Simon Sargon's impressive canon...Soprano Lila Deis does justice to the intense vocal and emotional demands of the set. Four instrumental works and two brief song cycles (one in Yiddish, one in Ladino)... explore various aspects and levels of the Jewish heritage, ranging from an exuberantly urbane, klezmer-inspired KlezMuzik for clarinet and piano to a Schubertian 'Meditation' for cello and piano. 4 1/2 stars." Star Time/Aug.-Sept. 1996" ...a varied program of Sargon's music in excellent renditions...His music carries a high sense of drama, good knowledge of voices and instruments, and a thorough professionalism. This is a very attractive disc, well worth its price ... 'Shema'...is most evocative, including some quotation of Jewish chant and word-painting in addition to some gorgeous writing for soprano Lila Deis. 'At Grandmother's Knee' is a setting of five Yiddish songs for tenor and piano, sung well by Stephen Dubov. 'At Grandfather's Knee' is based on five Sephardic melodies with texts in Ladino. They are the highlight of the disc, especially 'Los arvoles llorosos', sung with great power by Deis. Sargon plays the piano and is an ideal partner for the vocalists...The excellent instrumentalists are mostly members of the Dallas Symphony. This is a delightful disc that I enjoyed from start to finish. " American Record Guide/Mar.-Apr. 1997" One of the problems with new music is that there generally are few opportunities to hear it repeatedly-- and thereby confirm or reject first impressions. This premiere recording of 'Shema' presents that opportunity. If anything, the work makes a stronger impression upon repeated hearings... A superb group of musicians...The album is an impressive survey of the art of Mr. Sargon, who is a master of atmospheric music with a strong melodic impulse. The Dallas Opera should consider commissioning a work from him." Dallas Morning News/June 1996
Simon Sargon Piano Recital, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
" ...a touch that was melodiously conditioned. Faultless execution of technical and musical demands." Jerusalem Post/ April 1972
Sonata for flute and piano ("Sunflowers")
" A debonair sonata for flute and piano whose spirited outer movements and lyrically pastoral centerpiece were reminiscent of the wittily sophisticated Parisian music of Poulenc." Dallas Morning News/ March 1998
Songs of Alma Mahler (CD)
" The themes of darkness, inner loneliness, with brief moments of rest and reconciliation, permeate all the songs. In sensibility, the songs reflect much of Brahms, though their syntax is more wayward harmonically, a legacy of Hugo Wolf. The piano is the lead singer, the voice often doubling the instrumental tissue... All 14 songs are lovingly rendered by Ms. Dupuy...She is what Rorem calls a smart singer of smart music. Intellectually, she might be a successor to Jennie Tourel. Mr Sargon seems acutely aware of harmony's relation to rhythmic movement. The sound is quite close and resonant." Audiophile Audition/ June 1999" In summary, these Lieder are fascinating examples of their era, challenging, expressive, reflecting both the new techniques and concerns of the turn-of-the-century as well as a link with the past, both in poetry and music. Virginia Dupuy's rich mezzo-soprano is ideally suited to these Lieder... Her sense of line, even with the challenge of angular leaps, is highly musical, and her pitch is consistently exactly in the middle-- secure and accurate. Her accompanist, Simon Sargon, is an experienced conductor and composer as well as pianist/accompanist. His understanding of the style, sense of unity with the singer, and his fine technique provide outstanding piano partnership. From a purely musical standpoint as well as representations of a fascinating stylistic period and 'women's work,' this disc deserves a wide audience." Pan Pipes/Spring 1999" Mezzo Virgina Dupuy of Southern Methodist University...has recorded all the published songs of Alma Schindler, written before she married Mahler in 1902. Rich and luscious, as is Dupuy's voice, they are notable for the breadth of the poets she set...Pianist Simon Sargon partners her beautifully, and these accompaniments are not easy." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Symphony No. 1 - Holocaust
" Form is not the thing in this piece, although it certainly is not shapeless. Feelings, impressions and even theater in the best sense of the word are its major components...It employs an enormous orchestra that ranges beyond the norm...'Holocaust' is cast in three sections, but the impression is of a single movement. Its lyricism is deeply felt, often very gripping and at time Mahlerian in its thematic material. The effect is decidedly emotional..." Dallas Morning News/ March 1991" ... a dramatic and effective work that used a broad orchestral palette- including a number of unusual instruments- and stark contrasts between reflective passages and moments of angry dissonance. Included among the former was some very attractive melodic material. The first movement is a kind of lamentation, lyrical but sad, with ominous overtones. There are brutish interjections in the anguished middle movement, and the final one- a setting of the 'Kaddish,' or Jewish prayer for the dead- is more contemplative but with restless reminiscences of what went before...[Sargon] has added something important and rare to music..." Dallas Times Herald/ April 1991" Sargon approaches history's most horrible slaughter with a succinct, subtle artistry... Despite Sargon's obvious extramusical intent, this 'Holocaust Symphony' speaks in purely musical, almost classical terms. At its heart, a simple melody is repeatedly opposed and overwhelmed by relentless orchestral forces; at its conclusion, a lyrical setting of the Kaddish for baritone solo and male chorus triumphs- ever so quietly- through persistence. And, given a chance, this work will persist in the orchestral repertoire by virtue of its intellectual strength. " Star-Telegram/ March 1991
" 'Tapestries,' a four-movement work based on music from Mr. Sargon's opera 'Saul, King of Israel.' But even if one didn't know its origins, it would have been abundantly clear that 'Tapestries' was music of and for the theater, its dramatic pulse perceptible even in its highly lyrical sections. It is also a piece of fascinating musical textures." Dallas Morning News/ December 1998" The full range of color of the modern orchestra serves magnificently to evoke ancient times in 'Tapestries'... operatically straightforward, largely tonal and unfailingly energetic music. Most impressive of all, Sargon provides lavish, abundant melody while at the same time capturing the energies and aura of a time barely removed from primitivism." Star-Telegram/ December 1998" Caruth Auditorium was SRO for Friday night's concert by the Meadows Symphony Orchestra, SMU's excellent student ensemble. Music Director Paul Phillips is increasingly daring with his programming. The first half of the orchestra's season opener comprised a 23 minute orchestral suite from faculty composer Simon Sargon's opera 'Saul, the King' and Copland's rarely played Piano Concerto.
Sargon's 'Tapestries' is very much in recognizable biblical-epic manner. The outer movements, 'Saul Among the Prophets' and 'The Supreme Command,' work up dramatic clashes and turbulent rhythms. The central movements, 'Sanctuary' and 'The Oath,' weave haunting melodies, with a touch of cantorial exoticism, through soft-focus textures. (Presumably many of the suite's melodies have been orchestrated from vocal lines.)
The performance left one curious to hear the opera, which has yet to be performed in its entirety. There were numerous eloquent wind solos..." Dallas Morning News/ September 2011
Theatre of the Stars, Atlanta
" Where the production ['Showboat'] deserves its greatest single credit is in restoring the songs to prime luster. The musical director [Sargon] kept the numbers moving at a brisk pace that put new life into them and allowed us to see their virtues in a fresh light." Atlanta Journal/ August 1969
The Shining Place (CD)
" Once again, soprano Janeanne Houston and pianist Robert Jorgensen have collaborated on an exemplary collection of modern art songs, featuring the work of some of our finest current composers... these are approachable, accessible songs that are highly expressive and largely tonal. And yet this does not feel like a safe or especially conservative collection....
" Journal of Singing/ November-December 2006
The Singing Violin
" ...truly inspired...One of the many musical delights of this work is Leila's beautiful aria 'Singing of Love,'...This aria enchanted the convention listeners with the stunning counterpoint between the soprano and flute. 'The Singing Violin' was one of the 'great finds' at this convention. This music is basically tonal and the vocal lines are beautifully shaped for the singers. Sally Gall's colorful libretto used contemporary language and idioms to move this folk tale forward into the 20th Century. This work should enjoy many successful performances in the future and is to be praised for expert craftsmanship, charming and clever style, and genuine beauty." Opera for Youth Journal/ Spring 1997
The Weeping Shofar
" ...excellent...creates a powerful impression on the listener. This is by far [Sargon's] most dissonant work, portraying deep-seated anger in the low, dark sonorities of the piano and anguished cries of the horn. At times, the horn weeps with hand glissandi and at others, calls out in wider, dissonant intervals...This is not a piece to be taken lightly... The composition conveys such a powerful message that the listeners should be granted at least a few minutes afterward to recover." The Horn Call/ August 1999" 'The Weeping Shofar,' an eerie evocation of a desecrated synagogue in Prague, puts the horn and piano to work in a sad, often angry single-movement work full of bending pitches and hand-stopped effects." American Record Guide/ May-June 2001" ...engaging...The multiple associations of the ram's horn in Jewish lore and ceremony are evoked in celebratory fanfares, drooping chromatic laments, woozy oozes and low growls. The piano lends turbulence, but also something like balm in the hushed epilogue. Greg Hustis did well by the horn part, and Mr. Sargon proved himself a superb pianist. " Dallas Morning News/ November 2002
" A brief, intense musical drama... an absorbing work... Sargon's spare setting created a musical atmosphere that was consistently in harmony with O'Neill's drama." Dallas Times Herald/ November 1984" ...important... In 'Thirst,' Sargon draws on the Italian verismo tradition of lush lyricism and identifiable character and mood motifs, successfully distilling these techniques to an intimate scale. The small instrumental ensemble was used to maximum effect, and the three members of the vocal ensemble each owned a rewarding role, both vocally and dramatically. Drawn almost word for word from Eugene O'Neill's sea play of the same name, the opera 'Thirst' effectively enhances the text and creates a captivating emotional effect. It deserves repeated and widespread performance." Dallas Observer/ Nov.-Dec. 1984
Toward the Light
" Sargon's 'Toward the Light' offers neo-romantic charms... Mr. Sargon's 15-minute, four-movement suite for clarinet and piano is a charmer. In the first two movements the instruments often wreathe ideas around one another, first dreamily, then dancingly. The clarinet floats serenely above added-note chords in the third movement, working up an ardent climax. The finale is a jazzy dance. " Dallas Morning News/ April 2006
Waves of the Sea
" Wonderful... a supercharged score that was as graphic, caressing, charming and lilting as the poetry it enveloped and framed." Dallas Morning News/ April 1992
Weill, Kurka and Sargon (CD)
" The two wind band works are well-known...and are given wonderfully suave and idiomatic performances...While the ensemble playing cannot be faulted, Delaney allows the individual musicians freedom of expression, and this pays dividends, giving a maturity to the interpretation rarely found in College ensembles...With the limpid acoustic quality, well-matched choice of music and fine playing, this CD is hugely enjoyable." British Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles, Wind Magazine/ 2003" The Meadows Wind Ensemble and Symphony...do themselves and their school proud..." American Record Guide/ Sept.-Oct. 2003" No complaints from me about the repertoire essayed by the Meadows forces- both wind and symphonic. The mix is potent...The performances are enthusiastic and accomplished and the recording attractive." MusicWeb (UK)/ November 2003