The Guardian

There are six works in Philip Mead’s comprehensive survey of George Crumb’s solo piano music. All are substantial, but it’s the first disc, devoted to the two books of Makrokosmos, composed in the early 1970s, that offers most and best demonstrates both the strengths and shortcomings of Crumb’s stylistic approach. Both books are cycles of 12 pieces that follow the signs of the zodiac but also haul in all manner of other allusions and references: there are ghostly quotations from Beethoven and Chopin, pieces laid out on the page in the form of a ban-the-bomb sign or a cross, as well as chants and moans from the pianist himself. What just about saves it from total pretension is Crumb’s fertile imagination for all the timbres and effects that can be extracted from a piano – with the help of the odd paper clip or glass tumbler, of course. Mead manages them superbly. ***

—Andrew Clements