Ernst Krenek: Complete Piano Concertos vol. 2 (Toccata)

“All the soloists on this beautifully recorded disc deliver totally committed performances. Special praise, however, is due to the English Symphony Orchestra under Kenneth Woods, conductor, who negotiate this totally unfamiliar music with real flair.” Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine, August 2017


Colorado MahlerFest Orchestra, Mahler Symphony no. 10

“Kenneth Woods makes shattering impact at MahlerFest….Its shattering, dissonant climax arrived with walloping force, yet the peaceful, beautiful coda — which Mahler extended to an almost unbearable level — emerged out of the climax in a natural, wholly organic way. Where Woods and the MahlerFest musicians were most impressive, however, was in the second movement. A jubilant and rambunctious affair, this scherzo-type piece must surely be the most difficult Mahler ever wrote — and it is more challenging than many better-known 20th-century virtuoso orchestral works. Its constantly shifting meters, played at a dangerously fast pace, were a tour de force for the musicians of the orchestra. For a group of people who only come together once a year for this purpose, it was an amazing feat of brilliance.” Kelly Dean Hanson- Boulder Daily Camera, May 2017


An Eventful Morning in East London: 21st Century Violin Concertos with Harriet Mackenzie (Nimbus Alliance)

“Five Stars. Mackenzie’s playing is rivetingly incisive throughout, and Kenneth Woods, conductor obtains exemplary accompaniments from the English String Orchestra and English Symphony Orchestra.” Richard Morrison, The Times (London), May 2017


ESO at The Bridgewater Hall: Music of Kaija Saariaho, Thea Musgrave, Deborah Pritchard and Emily Doolittle 

“The English String Orchestra’s charismatic American conductor, Kenneth Woods, led a programme entirely of contemporary female composers. Thea Musgrave’s Green, Kaija Saariaho’s Terra Memoria and Emily Doolittle’s falling still were eloquently played” Alfred Hickling, The Guardian, April 2017


Gramophone Magazine, Critics Choice for 2016, Hans Gal Piano Concerto with Kenneth Woods, Sarah Beth Briggs and Royal Northern Sinfonia

“Kenneth Woods and the Royal Northern Sinfonia accompany superbly…With crystal clear sound, this is the most enjoyable concerto disc I have heard since Krenek’s Piano Concertos (4/16) and Pritchard’s Wall of Water (5/15). Hang on, didn’t Woods conduct those, too…?” Guy Rickards, Gramophone Magazine, December 2016


English Symphony Orchestra at St John’s Smith Square, London

“….Sawyers’ Third Symphony is a tremendously impressive accomplishment. If the subsequent commissions by ‘The 21st C. Symphony Project’ turn out to be only half as good, it will still be a cause for celebration. The ESO gave this opening instalment what was obviously a zinger of a performance, Woods’ detailed direction embracing both its ambitious scale and complexity of detail; the composer, certainly, seemed dizzy with pleasure when he took his bow, and we civilians in the audience knew we had heard something special…” Martin Anderson, Musical Opinion, July 2017

“The ESO and Woods were flawless….This Symphony, like the song-cycle, is a masterpiece; its form will surprise no-one but what Sawyers expresses within it is remarkably original and wholly compelling. The performance was of quite gripping quality and commitment, the ESO a splendid ensemble of musicians indeed.” Robert Matthew-Walker, The Classical Source, March 2017


English Symphony Orchestra at Kings Place, London

“Kings Place would be wise to plan a weekend for Woods and his fine players to devote to as many of Haydn’s Symphonies as possible… It says a lot for Mozart 40 that it sounded the most modern on the programme, aided by Woods’s exhilarating swift tempos and also his control of phrase, freed from the cinematic and theatrical associations accorded to this divine genius. With almost all repeats observed Woods strode forth and the musicians were equally fleet of foot, nowhere better illustrated by being able to hear the woodwinds (without the clarinets that Mozart added) and horns so clearly, Mozart achieving a concentration of expression that remains unique in his final three Symphonies, none of which he probably heard! Woods was a near-ideal guide and guest-leader Zoë Beyers’s playing was inspirational to all around her.” Edward Clark, The Classical Source


English Symphony Orchestra, John Joubert- Jane Eyre, An Opera in Two Acts, World Premiere, Ruddock Performing Arts Centre, Birmingham

 “…. Kenneth Woods conducting an on-its-toes English Symphony Orchestra and a totally committed cast of 12, among whom April Fredrick as Jane and David Stout as Rochester were simply outstanding…Joubert as a composer is unafraid to encompass the achievements of previous operatic greats…unleashing a wonderfully engaging well-structured language of his own…” Classical Music Magazine “Premiere of the Year- 2016

“…April Fredrick sang with a lyrically gleaming soprano, soaring rapturously on Joubert’s singer-friendly lines.  David Stout supplied virile tone as Rochester…Kenneth Woods conducted a well-prepared performance that ought on disc to win new admirers for the operatic Joubert'” — John Allison, Daily Telegraph, October, 2016

“The highlight of…a spectacular year for classical music in the Midlands…. Kenneth Woods conducted an on-fire English Symphony Orchestra, an array of soloists was headed by the totally committed April Fredrick and David Stout as Jane and Rochester, and the audience response to this gloriously lyrical, excitingly dramatic score was immense.” Chris Morley, The Birmingham Post

“Five Stars…the orchestra, under the astute direction of Woods, and in the warm and immediate acoustic of Birmingham’s Ruddock Hall, sounded polished and vibrant. In the presence of the composer, there was added poignancy in the standing ovation, and a feeling that something of real value had taken place: an important contribution to the repertoire, deserving of a place on the world opera stage.” Pamela Nash, Bachtrack, October 2016 


2015 ESO Elgar Pilgrimage, World Premieres by Sawyers and Donald Fraser

“[One] of the most exciting events I have experienced during a reviewing career approaching half a century…The ESO certainly played with an enthusiastic awareness that they were making history, and the devoted, unassuming Kenneth Woods conducted with an easy flexibility that recalled the work’s chamber-music origins.” Chris Morley, The Birmginham Post

“… but October’s performance under Kenneth Woods in the appropriately named Elgar Concert Hall at Birmingham University was a revelation… This triumph of transcription deserves to be heard worldwide.” Classical Music Magazine, Premiere of the Year, 2015

“Gorgeous depths of string tone…” Musical Opinion, December 2015

Tonight we were simply spellbound, thanks largely to the meticulous attention to detail on the part of conductor Kenneth Woods.” Spencer Allman, Hereford Times, October 2015


Scotia Festival Orchestra, Halifax 

“Somehow I have missed hearing this powerful work during long years of listening to classical music. Hearing it for the first time under the direction of so honest and intuitive a musician as Kenneth Woods was a shattering experience, leaving me speechless with awe and wonder.” Stephen Pederson, The Chronicle Herald, June 2013


Orchestra of the Swan- Premieres of new trumpet concertos by John McCabe, Deborah Pritchard and Robert Saxton

“It was gratifying to be given a chance to experience this challenging work in a reading of such heroic panache and fierce dedication: soloist, players and conductor valiantly negotiated the score’s fiendish polyrhythms and labyrinthine tempo associations, whilst building a convincing case for it to be regarded as one of Saxton’s finest utterances…expertly rendered by these musicians under the authoritative direction of Kenneth Woods.” Paul Conway, Tempo Magazine, January 2013


Orchestra of the Swan at St John’s Smith Square, London

“Under Kenneth Woods I was enthralled from beginning to end due to his diligence over perfect pacing and dynamic contrasts… Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis announced another musical genius, Vaughan Williams…Both works received superlative performances again due to Woods’s motivational abilities and his willing players…and an ability to hold the line in the poetic statement enshrined in this magical work ….Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge is an early work but one of Britten’s most endearing…a varied stream of musical inspiration. Woods bought out every facet of this virtuoso score…an evening of transcendentally beautiful playing by Orchestra of the Swan under the inspired direction of Kenneth Woods.” Edward Clark, Classical Source, February, 2012


New Queen’s Hall Orchestra debut, Royal Gala, St John’s Smith Square, London

“Beethoven Seventh is a test for any orchestra, one which the NQHO passed with flying colours. Kenneth Woods is building an impressive CV with some intriguing recordings to be made, not least the symphonies of Hans Gál. Speeds were consistently well-chosen, not too fast in the first movement’s 6/8 Vivace (exposition repeat taken) to give a spring to the step, forward-moving in the Allegretto, well-integrated between the scherzo and trio and fully energised in the finale. Of particular interest were the natural balances between strings and woodwind, the latter not having to strain to be heard and the bass line frequently clarified by not having to struggle to be heard over the brass. Woods paid special care to dynamics, in the scherzo achieving a genuine diminuendo to ppp before the reprise of the Presto section and, at the other end of the spectrum, an impressive fff at the finale’s culmination. Fortunately this Gala concert – with the Duchess of Cornwall, the NQHO’s Patron, present – was recorded.” Douglas Cooksley, The Classical Source, November 2010


BBC National Orchestra of Wales debut, Malvern Theatres

“Kenneth Woods was conductor of the fine musicians comprising the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Solo woodwind fragments against bell-like high strings set the scene, depth of orchestral sound quality and refined brass pre-eminent as the performance progressed. These attributes were also evident in Kodaly’s Hungarian Dances of Galanta alongside subtle integral changes of tempi and tonality, and solo clarinet episodes. In Copland’s Appalachian Spring, idiomatic of the vast expanses of Pennsylvania, sparsely spaced strings gradually developed into a rich combination of exciting harmonies …. Patricia Rozario was the splendid soprano soloist in Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne. These French songs were sung with immense beauty and given sensitive accompaniments. ” Malvern Gazette, July 2004


National Symphony Orchestra (USA) debut, Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts

“The true stars of the evening followed intermission. Kenneth Woods was confident on the podium, clear and economical in his gestures and knew when to actively lead and when to allow his players freedom to phrase. He  delivered a Strauss “Till Eulenspiegel” brimming with personality, affection and freshly imagined drama. Every moment was alive and engaging, and the riotous complexity of the score was rendered with admirable coherence.” An “up-and-coming conductor”
Joe Banno, The Washington Post, July 2 2001

Kenneth Woods’ Opera Debut With CCM Opera in Britten’s Albert Herring (Winner 1997  Production of the Year, Opera Society of America)

“Conductor Kenneth Woods was alert, efficient and confident, and stayed with the singers unflaggingly. The 13-piece orchestra created a sense of atmosphere between scene changes and punctuated the text colorfully.” Janelle Gelfrand, The Cincinnati Enquirer, February 17, 1997