Crits

Critical Praise

“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”
The Washington Post, July 2 2001

“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.”
Classical Source, February 29, 2012

“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, theNQHO’s Patron, present – was recorded.”
Classical Source, November 4, 2010


“On Friday at the Townsend Hall, in Shipston, we were treated to a concert of quite exceptional quality, entitled ‘Essential Mahler’ in which the Orchestra of the Swan was joined by contralto Emma Curtis, tenor Brennen Guillory and baritone David Stout, all experienced international singers. The performance was conducted throughout by the orchestra’s principal guest conductor, Kenneth Woods, a man of great and varied musical talent.”
Stratford Herald, November 26, 2010


“Moving ahead to 1970, Hans Gál reached his ‘opus 100’ with Triptych, a set of three movements for orchestra, the opening ‘Impromptu’ energetically if severely introduced, every note significant, the contrasting mellower invention sometimes suggesting Richard Strauss’s late-in-life autumnal music (specifically “Capriccio”), but with an independence of thought and a timelessness of invention that is at once Mozartean yet also crisply contemporary. The central ‘Lament’ is sparse if tellingly personal; and the final ‘Comedy’ is joyous and inviting, and not without a flourish or two. Gál’s art has the enviable ability to say so much without being tempted to decorate, augment and make denser. Such transparent and highly-crafted scores are given superbly  prepared performances here…. playing here is first-class, so too the quick-witted response of Northern Sinfonia under Kenneth Woods. Both the recording and the booklet’s annotation are excellent”
Classical Source, June 20, 2010

“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, Ledbury Reader, thisis.co.uk, July 2
2004

“American conductor Kenneth Woods certainly knows his way around the orchestra, in terms of cueing, balance and structure, as was evident throughout the culminating performance of Dvorak’s Eighth Symphony…  a full-bodied, rich performance of a high standard…  ”
Michael Tumelty, The Herald, Glasgow, December 4, 2006

“American rock and classical musician Kenneth Woods seemed a born conductor in his recent city debut. His second appearance with the Nottingham Philharmonic underlined that impression with performances
combining excitement and integrity.”
Peter Palmer, Nottingham Evening Post, March 12, 2007

“Conductor Kenneth Woods had the toughest draw. Stravinsky’s mercurial “Danses Concertantes” rides on small strokes from individuals in this reduced chamber orchestra… but the piece took on the playful brilliance
of this underplayed gem.”
The Austin American Statesman, Wednesday June 23,
1999

“Kenneth Woods revealed a strong empathy for Vaughan Williams’ music in his introduction to the composer’s Fifth Symphony. He followed this up with a convincing performance of this major work which, although composed during World War II, seems to hark back to more placid times.  The slow movement was a profoundly spiritual experience while the closing passacaglia sounded decidedly upbeat as if confident of better times ahead…   Schumann’s Second is the greatest symphony written since Beethoven, Woods’ tense and driven interpretation certainly confirmed it as  a work of stature. Schumann composed it after his first mental breakdown, and the monumental first movement mirrored his titanic struggle to recover his sanity. A few rays of hope could be spotted in the bustling Scherzo but a dark mood underpinned it. Nor was there any respite in the Adagio which a strong performance from the string section rendered intensely moving.”
The Cheltenham Echo, May 28, 2009

“Surrey Mozart Players’ latest concert, at the Electric Theatre, drew a capacity audience and proved a memorable conclusion to this year’s Guildford Spring
Festival. The overture to Schumann’s opera Genoveva, with its richly varied moods, showed the orchestra at its best under Kenneth Woods and convinced us that the piece deserves a more central place in the repertoire”
The Surrey Advertiser, March 13, 2008

“In the Shostakovich, each instrument enters pianissimo, trembling like a new crack on a frozen pond. The intensity builds by wonderful increments, marching to terrible peaks of passion before falling again under a growing weight of discordant tones… a sensitive and impassioned performance … with Kenneth Woods”
Durango Herald, July 4, 2006

“At 38, Woods looks like a younger, dark-haired William Hurt…he and Pendleton’s unlikely symphony orchestra give Mahler the ride of his life”
David Stabler, The Oregonian, Sunday, May 27, 2007

“The second half was devoted entirely to Brahms’s Symphony No 2. This ambitious undertaking was pulled off with considerable aplomb, much credit being due to the conductor Kenneth Woods’s obvious affinity for the work and his ability to convey his intentions to his willing subjects. The performance had real drive and was especially commendable for the beautifully judged timpani and some excellent solo horn playing. The string sound was fulsome and the woodwind played with forthright agility”
The Hereford Times, November 10, 2008

“The Nottingham Philharmonic have long been an orchestra to be reckoned with, but on Saturday there were signs that American guest conductor Kenneth Woods could give a new dimension to their playing.  His combination of vital detail with the broad view was impressive. Sibelius’s masterpiece got a worthy performance. A concert to stir and delight.”
Nottingham Evening Post, October 29, 2006


“Scotia Festival’s young artists sank their teeth into Arnold Schoenberg’s First Chamber Symphony and bit hard. Conductor Ken Woods from the Cincinnati
Conservatory marshaled the forces with admirable consistency, securely initiating tempos, shaping the endless flow of melody and instrumental acrobatics and balancing the embarrassment of musical riches to clarify the main line. A brilliant job… played with the kind of ardency that goes with a passionate commitment to a great work.”
The Halifax Mail-Star, June 7, 1997

“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.”
The Cincinnati Enquirer, February 17, 1997 (CCM Opera
Theatre’s award-winning production of Britten’s Albert
Herring).


“A very fine… deeply felt, performance of Beethoven’s powerful Leonore Overture No. 3…The orchestra, too, responded splendidly to this demanding score, Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto no. 2…with a formidable technique, and … a luscious, surging tone…The concert ended with a superb performance of Schumann’s Symphony no. 3— Its success was helped enormously by Kenneth Woods…an enthusiastic capacity audience  ”
Surrey Advertiser, May 1, 2006

“Mahler’s Second Symphony was a total triumph of sound and music… intimate, moving and intense. The concert of concerts…. Woods casts a spell over the audience.”
The East Oregonian, April 25, 2006


“The concert ended with the young Beethoven’s symphony no. 1 in C under Kenneth Woods.  The execution of this work was a triumph, well articulated,
vigorous and controlled. It was tempting to break into applause after the first movement. Strong dynamic contrasts, steady, harmonious woodwind, brass and string combinations and delicate phrasing featured in the Andante. The Minuet was successfully Allegro molto e vivace and the last movement was impressive, the dynamics, intonation, unison playing and other details, all a pleasure to listen to. Congratulations to the violins and the brass sections in this last movement for their excellent coordination.”
Surrey Advertiser, March 9, 2009

“Conducted by Kenneth Woods, Carmen inspires performers and audience.. . Bizet’s opera shows depth, range of the OES!”
The East Oregonian, April 29th 2004


“A remarkable finale to the evening: Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony op 73a. The Surrey Mozart Players produced a very moving performance of this very difficult work. The cataclysmic nature of the third movement certainly produced an effect I think not experienced by the Electric Theatre ever before. This performance was a triumph.”
The Surrey Advertiser, July 3, 2007

“Dvorak‘s Symphony No.6 is a Woods favorite, and he promised in his introduction that its joy and radiance would come through. It did. The musicians performed all four movements with such energy they must have been exhausted by the final note…  People were on their feet to show their appreciation. The Rachmaninoff piano concerto (no. 3) brought international prize-winner William Wolfram to the stage, and with the orchestra keeping perfect pace, the sound couldn’t have been richer with the New York Philharmonic. There was another standing ovation and everyone on stage
deserved it.”
The East Oregonian, October 7, 2003


“Tchaikovsky, the Oregon East Symphony, Kenneth Woods and guest pianist Dickran Atamian: WOW!”
The East Oregonian, February 25, 2003

“A glorious concert…. Conductor Kenneth Woods opened with a lively performance of Dvorak’s Czech Suite. Here the dance rhythms received an authentic Czech flavour…. Dance rhythms also predominated in  Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, full of vitality and energy, but with enough pathos reserved to make the ‘slow’ movement utterly convincing.. a tour de force of virtuosity! Brilliant and incomparable…”
Surrey Advertiser, April 7, 2006


“Woods’ mastery of the material was evident in his command of the orchestra. Both works were conducted in a way that inspired each member of the orchestra to perform at his or her best. Both works were played to perfection. The string playing was particularly lush, complimenting the clean precision of the winds, brass and percussion… The orchestra accompanied with exceptional grace and fine intonation.”
The East Oregonian, October 28, 2001

“…played with intense conviction”
The Spokesman Review, Spokane, August 1994

“The Oregon East Symphony has a new conductor, Kenneth Woods, a rising star bringing “grade A” talent to Pendleton in his trajectory.”
The East Oregonian, June 1, 2001

“Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was the Oregon East Symphony’s May 21 concert. Listening to this magnificent concert brought tears to my eyes more than once. At the end, I was exhausted because I was so full of music. I didn’t think I had the capacity to hear one more note, and simultaneously, all I wanted was to continue to listen to more.”
The East Oregonian, Tuesday May 22, 2001

“Kenneth Woods led a performance of Elgar’s Enigma Variations with such commitment and passion that one could not help but be stirred by the power of it. Working without a score, he conducts with a fiery passion and a deep respect for the composer’s work.”
The Elgin Valley News, February 25, 2001

“Symphony No. 9 “From the New World” by Dvorak… was played with a lush, full sound of great beauty. The Overture to “The Barber of Seville” by Rossini  must be played with great precision and the orchestra did just that. Conductor Kenneth Woods pushed the orchestra to the next level. The orchestra received and deserved standing ovations.  Profound insight . . . stunning refinement and virtuosity. Extraordinary concerts!”
The East Oregonian, November 29, 2001

“From the first note of the concert, conductor, orchestra and audience seemed to breathe as one.”
The East Oregonian, January 27, 2004

“A classic example of Charles Ives – his Symphony No 3 ”The Camp Meeting” (1904) – deserved the attention Ken Woods gave to balance and ensemble tuning, allowing all the snippets of melody to come out of the “organized chaos” that Ives was a master of. Ken Woods’ interpretation of Barber’s Adagio for Strings was powerful, almost aggressive. A far cry from the bland ”Classic FM” style that this piece so often attracts. The work was underpinned by some perfect intonation in the ’cellos and bass section…”
Swann Reviews.co.uk, July 5, 2005