San Francisco Classical Voice reviews 'And the River' May 2018

...Most gratifying of all, the orchestra is good.  Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra doesn't use a conductor and doesn't need one...In closing their fourth season in Santa Monica's First Presbyterian Church on May 13, they offered a pretty convincing mixture of what they do, juxtaposing hot-off-the-press premieres with older classics...First off the mark was the world premiere of And the River by Donald Crockett, a long-respected member of L.A.'s new music community and currently the chair of the composition program at the USC Thornton School of Music. A concerto for duo-pianists and orchestra, And the River was partly meant as a memorial to Crockett's late friend and colleague, Steven Stucky, but there was nothing somber about the piece's ravishing washes of color after a brief raucous opening.  Crockett gave the piano duo HOCKET a lot of unorthodox things to do - cross-handed four-hands work on a Steinway grand, manipulations of the piano strings, excursions on a pair of white toy pianos that blended surprisingly well with the ensemble....there was an exceptionally beautiful passage at the 15-minute mark for swirling strings and flute with deep brass and percussion punctuation.  The piece is definitely worth hearing again...

                                                                                                                                  - Richard S. Ginell

Gramophone Review for Blue Earth CD

The orchestra is a vessel for swirls of colour and animated incident in the creative hands of Donald Crockett.  The three works the Boston Modern Orchestra Project perform on this new disc show the American composer fully engaged with nature, especially in his home state of California, as well as myriad emotional states.  Crockett has a knack for developing musical kernals and summoning rich contrasts of atmosphere.

The oldest piece from 1990, is Wedge, which explodes with striking motivic ideas and varied textures...what we hear in less than 10 minutes is an explosion of brilliant woven materials.

Crockett wrote his Viola Concerto (2012) for his wife, Kate Vincent, whose focus and sensitivity are stamped on every moment of this vivid four-movement work.  The piece takes the soloist and orchestra through a kaleidoscopic series of encounters – at turns warm, playful, argumentative and whirlwind.  It is a superb addition to the viola repertoire.

The five movements of Blue Earth (2002) portray aspects of nature – beauty, majesty and fury – without ever sounding like Debussy.  Crockett paints his land- and seascapes with exceptional finesse and power, finding inventive ways to meld winds brass, strings and percussion into something of elemental eloquence.  Gil Rose and the Boston ensemble raise the sonic roof when they aren’t savouring the delicate pleasures in Crockett’s music.

Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone magazine

See: Blue Earth

Boston Classical Review on 'Blue Earth,' April 2014

The five movements of this sinfonia concertante, as Crockett calls it, evoke the flight of birds in migration and the sweeping winds of the sea.  Waves of dissonance, as if warning of future environmental disasters, break the spacious harmonic language at the conclusion.  The result is a thoughtful and moving pastoral for the planet.

On the whole, 'Blue Earth' teems with life.  The solo instruments - violin, cello, flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon - engage in jerky riffs and energetic runs with each other and the full ensemble.  Eventually, these individual conversations unify into a unified voice.  The stentorian brass section punctuated the orchestral shout chorus with stinging chords, the trumpets adding the finishing touches with expertly-placed high notes.  The loveliest moments came in the second movement.  Its play-on-words title, The Four Winds, featured solo oboe, flute, clarinet and bassoon floating soft phrases.  To answer, strings supplied a thin harmonic veil that covered the space like a sheen of rain.  - Aaron Keebaugh

Huffington Post reviews The Face

Donald Crockett’s new opera made its world premiere to an enthusiastic audience at a newly vibrant Japan America Theatre.  The Venice Beach locale in which the action takes place – during the filming of a documentary on a middle-aged poet’s life including the death of his wife and the intervention of a Faustian devil – is felt mostly through the kind of obsessive introspective reflection that is Venice’s truest calling card and only tangentially through its sandy shores.  The music, played by an accomplished pit band of great tonal beauty and precision, is a treasure chest of sounds, intimate effects and bursts of lyrical beauty which sometimes provide background and often participate in the musical dialogue; the book delivers poetry that travels along synapses of the English language directly into private recesses of the heart. The production has a great sense of physical proportion and uses its simple set of materials even on a sparse stage to very great effect. The device of integrating a huge video screen, essentially one entire wall of the living room type space in which the one-act opera takes place, serves as an ongoing trigger for setting the poet, and the audience, off into flights of fancy.  The four singers formed an admirable ensemble cast… (the subtitles) position onstage brought an exciting laser focus to the opera’s magic.

Fanfare magazine, July/August 2012

"The first bits of melody in Donald Crockett's Night Scenes are clearly heard as additive constructions...The process is easy to follow at first hearing, yet leads to an irregular and unpredictable meter...The composer's ability to make his thought processes lucid while keeping the listener off-kilter is a key reason for the success of his fine new disc of chamber works performed by the estimable Firebird Ensemble."

"To Airy Thinness Beat is a chamber concerto for viola and six instruments, performed here with vivid color and palpable verve by soloist Kate Vincent.  The colors Crockett conjures are a marvel, and far more varied than one might expect from such a small contingent."

"This disc is an ideal collaboration between ensemble and composer.  The commitment and energy are palpable, and the works are uniformly top-drawer."

Michael Cameron, Fanfare magazine

American Record Guide reviews Tracking Inland

Whistling in the Dark…is full of interesting and fresh sound combinations and extremely effective use (not over use!) of extended woodwind techniques. It is energetic and rather quirky, with a contrasting section of glacial, beautiful calm. a work in two movements – the first a beautiful song for bassoon with gentle, crystalline accompaniment; the second a quick rhythmic interplay of rich chords with seemingly offhand bassoon comments. These are excellent performances, and the composer’s skill in making instruments work together as a team is very refreshing.’                American Record Guide

Press for Tracking Inland

‘…real freshness, energy, and a bracing clarity.  Not to mention a fine sense of humor…a mischievous sense of things rendered subtly topsy-turvy.  These qualities are most evident in Whistling in the Dark (1999) and Wet Ink (2009), itself a reworking for nine instruments of a violin/piano work written the year before. Extant (1997) is a two-movement chamber concerto for bassoon in all but name, whose sustained lyrical line for the instrument in its first movement is a wonder to hear.’   Fanfare Magazine