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Wahnfried Arts venue SA january 19th 2014

Relaxing in McGregor's wonderful new arts venue, Wahnfried, on January 19 evoked memories of sitting in the Wigmore and Carnegie Halls of my youth ... because of the quality of performance from cellist Michael Kevin Jones. That this little historic village in the Western Cape of South Africa can host such a memorable evening is all credit to Jones for being prepared to come here, and to Wahnfried owners Michael and Freddie (and four-footed mascot Lola) for welcoming him. Jones had the packed audience enthralled, from the evocative J.S. Bach's Anna Magdalena Suite no 3 in C major, to Rodrigo's rarely heard Como una Fantasia. But there was more than technical facility, sensitive phrasing and emotional empathy with the works. He was also atuned to his audience, and apart from easy introductions between the pieces, he prepared his listeners for the close harmonies, clashing chords and swirling unconventional treatment of the Rodrigo by playing a couple of pieces which Maurice Gendron wrote as taxing exercises for his pupils at the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey. And ending with Pablo Casals' favourite encore, Song of the Birds, was an equally smooth way of "easing the audience back to reality". Enthusiastic applause was one thing. Another, for me, was the fact that after two movements of Bach's Suite no. 2 in D minor, which evoked the memory of his late first wife, the audience was sufficiently moved to sit in silence for a few seconds after the last notes died away - something I've always regarded as the ultimate accolade.
Marilyn Poole (Jenkins)

 

Village Voice

 
Bach suites. Hong Kong audio review 2009

Michael Kevin Jones' Bach Cello Suites [EMEC E-056/7] is a must-have version no matter how many other recordings you have of this immortal work. First, the British cellist performed on a 1667 Stradivarius cello, one of the oldest celli 'alive' from the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection. Considering that Bach was born in 1685 when the viola da gamba still enjoyed much in favor among composers, it's a priceless experience to hear this for the times "revolutionary" instrument. It does sound very much like a viol. But that's not the only special element of this recording. Jones' authentic approach to the Baroque dance form comes as a true revelation. His elegant yet spirited phrasing frees the pulse and rhythm which has nothing to do with tempo. In fact, Yo-Yo Ma and Starker in most cases chose faster tempi. Jones is British.
     
Gibraltar Chronicle May 2007

BACH BRINGS A SCENT OF RESIN TO THE READING ROOM
One thing that the emergence of Gibraltar’s finance centre has done for culture on the Rock is undoubtedly boost the access to quality classical music to a level that was at one time unthinkable locally.


The Garrison Library last week was the relaxed setting for a return performance by cellist Michael Kevin Jones. Sirius Investment Management were the main sponsors.
His performances of Suites No 2 and No 4 by JS Bach had a distinct approach and sound. He launched into No 2 Suite with an energy and acceleration which took me some moments to grasp. But the combination of darkness, even moments of cold, with the warmth and lyricism which usually characterise performances these pieces was engaging.
Jones brought a very physical feel to the instrument that brings the listener close to the relationship which exists between performer and instrument. The scent of resin in the air, the Regency mood of the upper reading room, not perfect acoustically, nonetheless lent itself to allowing the mind to be pulled into the music’s journeys.
The decision to introduce the audience to a composition by a contemporary musician Ionel Petroi was a good one. Solo cello compositions have a quality which make even the most eclectic composers more accessible and the brief Cantalena and Dance by the New York-based Yugoslavian born musician was no exception.
Jones started playing the cello at the age of 13; first teachers were Pauline Ballard and Dulce Haigh Marshall. He studied at Dartington with Michael Evans before going on to the Royal College of Music where he was a pupil of Joan Dickson. During his time in London he won prizes for solo and chamber music playing, was chosen to perform for the British Royal Family and was awarded a scholarship from the German Government to study cello under the great teacher Johannes Goritski in Germany.
Plans for 2007 include concert tours of Japan, Canada, USA and China as well as the recording of a new cello guitar concerto in England. DS
 

New York 2006

Regardless, the duo was fantastic. Several pieces on the program were dedicated to the Maruri/Jones duo, one of which, ironically entitled "Songs from America: after traditional American Folk Songs" for the two European men. Yes, they are European (and flaunt charming accents, of course, and fine technique) but there is something about American songs, particularly the Blues, that only an American can pull off really well. Their approach though, because it was foriegn, was playful and humourous. (After all, it's not often that you see a classical guitarist and cellist playing the blues! ) Though an unusual approach, the audienced was fully seduced by the charming duo. Check out the photo of the two below: Jones and Maruri, both sport the "stern look" common among classical musicians (it's a serious business!) but their personalities shone through in their music. There were tender moments and fiery rages in De Falla's "Suite Espanola", which was perhaps the strongest on the program. Maruri's fingers ran up and down the neck of the guitar, pinging the strings and knocking the body. Jones demonstrated so well the fascinating sounds that harmonics can produce on strings. Though tedious in some parts, they were ear-catching and dark. Both men throughout executed fast and clear runs and were respondant of one another when in dialogue as if together in a dance. A well-recieved performance always demands an encore, and Bach-Gounod's Ave Maria was a gentle and appreciative "thank-you" to the crowd.

- Sarah Elia

 
American Record Guide 2011 Don Quijote CD

Marchielie: Don Quixote & Dulcinea; Eclipse; 3 Estampes; Dance.

American Record Guide Jan-Feb , 2005

MARCHIELIE: Don Quixote & Dulcinea; Eclipse; 3 Estampes; Dance; REBAY: Waltz; Tango; HAUSWIRTH: Konzertino: GNATTALI: Sonata; HEMENGER: Songs from America; JENTSCH: Sonata

Michael Kevin Jones, vc; Agustin Maruri, g

Emec 63--75 minutes

With the exception of Gnattali, I did not know any of these composers before putting the disc in my player. Nor did I expect the unusual pairing of cello and guitar to be particularly revelatory or even reasonable. I was wrong. This release gripped me immediately, largely because of the superb playing of Jones and Maruri. Cellist Jones is the main attraction, his magnificent tone and expansive phrasing an irresistible figure against the ground of Maruri's accompaniment. The music is largely conservative, neoromantic fare; without Jones's beguiling cello I suspect much of it would be forgettable.

The six works by French composer Erik Marchelie that open the program are the most satisfying of the safely lyrical pieces here; Marchelie's rich harmonies and soaring melodies are ideally suited to Jones and Maruri's approach. Works by Ferdinand Rebay and Hans Hauswirth inhabit the same tonal landscape, but by this point in the program I was itching for something less saccharine. To my surprise, Gnattali's sonata largely failed to deliver on this front; it is blander, formally stiffer than much of his music, and it is not until III that it really leaps out with some spirited textures and exchanges between the two instruments.

Seven American folk song and spiritual arrangements by the young American composer Drew Hemenger follow. The almost vocal directness of Jones's playing carries these simple arrangements. It is not until the final work that a real affective contrast finally arrives: Walter Jentsch's sonata, one of several world premiere recordings here, is coarse, angular, and austere. After so much triadic sweetness its effect is paradoxical: a bitter palette cleanser.

The packaging is very attractive, the sound is excellent--with a realistic balance between guitar and cello--and the notes are extensive.

COPYRIGHT 2005 Record Guide Productions.

 

German Duo CD Review

Jones' Cello-Ton, wunderbar aufgenommen, ist überaus reich und voll und weder hart, noch weich.
In Madrid haben die beiden 1990 erstmals zusammen gespielt, der Cellist Michael Kevin Jones und der Gitarrist Agustín Maruri , und kurz danach beschlossen sie, als Duo auf Dauer zusammenzuarbeiten. Eines der weltweit sehr wenigen Cello-Gitarre-Duos war gegründet und musiziert bis heute regelmäßig. Jones und Maruri treffen sich jedes Jahr zu Konzerten und zur Erarbeitung neuen Repertoires für neue Aufnahmen. An Stoff mangelt es nicht. Ihre Tourneen führen sie von Kanada bis nach Neuseeland. Seit 1991 bereist das Tandem alljährlich die USA. Und 1996 folgten die beiden sogar einem höchst speziellen Ruf nach Fernost: Ein taiwanesisches Label lud sie ein, sich traditioneller chinesischer Themen anzunehmen!
Was das Repertoire betrifft, so zeichnet sich das Jones-Maruri-Gespann durch edle Janusköpfigkeit aus: Heute schreiben immer mehr junge moderne Komponisten für das Duo. Und was den Blick zurück betrifft, so ist Agustín Maruri der unermüdliche Quellenforscher. Erst im Sommer dieses Jahres konnten agas-Besucher über des Spaniers Einspielung von Kompositionen Andrés Segovias lesen, die dessen Landsmann auf einer 1962er Hauser aus Segovias Besitz einspielte (s. hier, auch zu Maruris Bio).
Die Ermittlungsarbeit des Gitarristen ist so fruchtbar gewesen, dass ein Album, mit dem 1999 die Zusammenarbeit von Jones und Maruri und dem New Yorker Metropolitan Museum of Art eröffnete, tatsächlich weltweit erstmals Kompositionen für diese Duo-Besetzung aus dem Spanien des 19. Jahrhunderts vorstellen konnte, "The Charm of Spain - La Sal de España" [EMEC E-034]. Eingespielt wurden die 29 kurzen Stücke von Andres Bosquellas, Mariano Ledesma, Cristobal Oudrid, Pablo Huertos, Manuel Rucker, Pablo Bonrostro, José Melchor Gomis, Luis Cepeda und, besonders prominent vertreten, Ramon Carnicer auf Instrumenten, die das Met Museum zur Verfügung stellte. Maruris Gitarre war eine Lacote von ca. 1825, Jones' Cello war ungefähr 25 Jahre jünger.
"La Sal de España" - der (Unter-)Titel deutet es an: Auch im iberischen Raum fand die Musik des 19. Jahrhunderts vor allem im Salon statt; es war die "U-Musik" der Zeit, singbare Themen, relativ leicht verdauliche Harmonien, Leichtes ohne Leichtgewichtigkeit, musikalische Köstlichkeiten in kleinen Portionen von kleinen Leckereien bis zur Haute Cuisine - das 19. Jahrhundert von seiner besten, schönsten und durchaus auch unterhaltsamsten Seite.  Das Album ist ein Genuss, der sich nicht zuletzt ergibt aus den höchst unterschiedlichen Klangbildern beider Instrumente. Jones' Cello-Ton, wunderbar aufgenommen, ist überaus reich und voll und weder hart, noch weich. Die Lacote, sehr nah, sehr präsent aufgenommen, hat einen Klang, wie man ihn von einer Gitarre mit diesen (kleineren als normalen modernen) Maßen eigentlich erwartet, aber noch klarer, noch eindeutiger und ein wenig "drahtig", ein Eindruck, der wohl nur deshalb aufkommen kann, weil eben die königliche Klangpräsenz und -fülle des Cellos sich in engster Nachbarschaft zur Gitarre befindet. Was am meisten überrascht, ist, dass das Klangbild beider Instrumente zusammen nichts zu tun hat mit den Erfahrungen, die man beim Hören von Musik des 19. Jahrhunderts für Violine und Gitarre sammeln konnte: Hier, im Cello-Gitarre-Duo, ist endlich für eine Ausgewogenheit gesorgt, die der Gitarre die ihr zustehende Stellung garantiert. Sie ist nicht nur Begleitinstrument. Sie ist Partnerin, in Ohrenhöhe.
Und noch einmal Agustín Maruri, diesmal wieder solo, aber wieder mit dem 19. Jahrhundert. "Fernando Sor (1778 - 1839) - Minuets - Minuettos - Menuets - Minuetos" [EMEC E-069]. Diese Platte versammelt, abgesehen von einigen wenigen Arbeiten, die streng genommen nicht dazu gehören, das gesamte Menuett-Werk Fernando Sors, 35 Stücke mit Längen zwischen 53 Sekunden und 3 min 12. Maruri spielt sie auf einer Lacote von 1840 mit wiederum ganz klarem, durchaus anmutigen und zugleich erstaunlich kräftigen Klang. Zum Gutteil Bekanntes (zumindest für praktizierende Klassikgitarristen), aber auch viel Überraschendes ist zu hören. Das Gros dieser Miniaturen gehört zeitlich in die frühere, "spanische" Zeit Sors, in deren Zentrum die zwölf Menuette Opus 11 stehen, zu denen sich im Booklet der britische Sor-Experte Brian Jeffery ausführlich äußert. Er weist nach, warum das Opus 11 entstanden sein muss, bevor Sor 1813 sein Heimatland verließ, unter anderem aus der Tatsache, dass die ersten drei Stücke dieser Gruppe in der ungewöhnlichen Skordatur mit auf G herabgestimmter A- und auf D gestimmter E-Saiten gespielt werden; dass in zweien die Bass-Arpeggios gespielt werden, wie sie in späteren Arbeiten nicht mehr verwendet werden; oder dass Drei-Ton-Akkorde 16tel-Vorschläge aufweisen, die später auch nicht mehr zur Anwendung kommen.
Das größte Vergnügen der Musik dieser neuen Soloplatte Maruris ist ihre  Räumlichkeit, ihre Recital-Initimität, ihre Nähe zum Hörer. Aktiven Sor-Interpreten aber sei Vorsicht angeraten! Was sich da nämlich so leicht und freundlich und scheinbar harmlos in die Gehörgänge ergießt, klingt vielleicht "einfach". Aber es bedarf eben doch eines Agustín Maruri, um aus einer kleinen Gitarre große Musik zu holen.
Wer es gewohnt ist, Sor als easy listening abzutun, wird das nicht schaffen.