From the Huffington Post by Rodney Punt:
“Cohn’s Winter Soul (2010) is a precision-cut jewel …Despite the formal treatment, the work’s emotional climate struck me as not so much about a winter’s melancholy as a frisky solstice jog that stimulates the mind and warms the heart. It deserves a concert life…”
From the Los Angeles Times by Timothy Mangan:
“… Being that it is inspired by principles of Chaos Theory, the work puzzlingly impresses through its orderliness. Constructed in palindromic form, it states accessible, contrasting ideas -- dance-like, songful, mostly tonal -- moves them towards a center of high-tessitura lyricism, then unwinds them in reverse order to conclusion. … a friendly, engaging piece."
From The Chicago Classical Review By Wynne Delacoma:
“Cohn’s Anticipation of Light for violin, cello and piano offered a serene interplay of individual voices… (an) inventive piece, full of rich color and gritty edges, gentle light and dark shadows… clearly designed to communicate with an audience.”
From the Huffington Post by Rodney Punt, two works Premiered at Shumei Hall:
…the highlight of the afternoon arrived immediately after intermission with the world premiere of a new work by the Emmy-winning, Los Angeles-based composer Stephen Cohn. It was the Shumei Arts Council's fourth commission from the composer. Entitled American Spring, this one was set for the unusual combination of string trio and marimba… American Spring is a musical analogue to the principal of opposites coming together and achieving unity while respecting their diversity, first codified in the Hegelian "thesis-antithesis-synthesis" model. That philosophy has also served as the idealistic framework for America's progress as a nation, which in turn dovetails beautifully with the Shumei Arts Council's mission.
Sea Change is at turns romantically translucent and ferociously driven. A solo flute intones a seraphic ditty with embracing impressionistic piano chords in the manner of a Ravel chamber work, but soon a rhythmic romp from the rest of the instruments follows. The pensive flute returns, joined by a violin and all instruments in what feels like a searching, curious, "I'm-late-for-a-very-important-date" state of mind. Soon the musical characters are skirting off again on a frenetic journey with building tension. A furious tutti concludes the charming work. The effect overall is that of a dreamer (the flute) caught up in an urgent agenda it hadn't quite planned on.”
From Out of the West Review of the Hear Now Festival by Rick Ginell:
“…Of the other pieces on Sunday's program, Stephen Cohn's Sea Change for violin, cello, flute, clarinet and piano …made the biggest impression. The lyrical sections had attractive, pertinent things to say; the driving sections had substance and accent-driven momentum that roared headlong toward the finish line.”
From Ted AYALA’s Review in the Crescenta Valley Weekly:
…”That yearning for classical order and civilized musical discourse was also grasped at by Stephen Cohn in his “Bellscape” for winds and piano, the 110th work commissioned by Pacific Serenades. … Bell scape” was a piece of luminous, if frosty, beauty … A fascinating, if somewhat inscrutable, work.
From the LA Times review
by Timothy Mangan
"Stephen Cohn's 'Noah's Rhythm' built up from quiet dawn through 'beehive texture' to a rich edifice of inspiring lines and log arches, and then turned around and went back again, reminiscing on the rebound and all the while offering attractive, glowing sonorities."
Parents' Choice Foundation website review
by Lynne Heffley
"Ahh. Parents, too, will want to close their eyes and drift off with this serene, resonant offering for lullaby and family quiet time. Composer Stephen Cohn’s lovely orchestral suite, based on American folk and traditional children’s songs, is expertly woven with layered melodies from "Scarborough Fair" and "Shenandoah" to a surprisingly playful "Home on the Range," performed by philharmonic artists and chamber ensembles on flute, cello, piano, English horn and other instruments aptly chosen to express the character and warmth of each."
LA Opus Review by Rodney Punt of two Los Angeles Premieres :
“Most composers would be happy to have one commissioned work premiered in a year. Los Angeles based composer Stephen Cohn has enjoyed two in the L. A. area just this past month. The first (March 17) w as Aerial Perspectives, for flute, viola, cello and piano as part of the ongoing Chamber Music (Pacific) Palisades series. The second (March 29) was Aria for Winds, for a quartet of winds that concluded the Clyde Montgomery concert series at Pasadena’s Shumei Hall.
…Cohn’s style, by contrast, is today’s answer to the intense craftsmanship of eighteenth century composers like J. S. Bach and Joseph Haydn. His works don’t in any way sound like those of the Baroque or Classical eras, but, like them, they treat elements of music as intellectual exercises, constructing and deconstructing thematic material from all sides in a variety of tempos and keys. They may possess colorful titles, but they are really all about their own organic construction.
… Cohn nods to the kind of jokes Papa Haydn played on his audiences when his bassoon enters well into the work on the same high C-note that famously launched Igor Stravinsky’s Sacra du Printemps, raising the eyebrows of audience recognition.
Aerial Perspectives at Chamber Music Palisades…more than any recent piece of Cohn, a seeming emotional struggle expresses a desire to breakaway from restraining bonds.”
From the Daily Variety review of The Sea Jewel
by Julio Martinez
"...exotically beautiful pre-recorded music interludes and songs of composer Stephen Cohn...
From New Classic LA by Steven Niles
… Close Ups (Through Tiny Eyes) by Stephen Cohn derives inspiration from Realist painting: “The art of depicting nature as seen by toads…,” notes Cohn. Augmentation and diminution—contrapuntal devices extant from Palestrina to the present—power the work in an interplay of expansion and contraction, ultimately heightening listener perception.
Meditative sonorities alternated with crashing chords and driving scalar figuration in 15ths. A cute, understated tremolo figure between the hands recurred continually, unifying contrasting elements and restoring listener orientation at regular intervals, finally returning in full forte for a decisive last word."
From Sequenza 21 by Paul Muller:
…The alternating pattern of fast, darting figures and slower, more mysterious stretches made for an expressive combination, flawlessly performed by Ms. Shpachenko whose formidable technical skills and sensitive touch were equally engaged. A series of long, rapid passages seemed to arc out across the audience as the piece concluded. Close Ups (Through Tiny Eyes) is full of expression and a cogent study in musical perspective.
American Prize Comment on "Sea Change"
I enjoyed your masterful ability to create an organically unfolding piece of music, and the ability to deal creatively with coloristic possibilities within your chosen ensemble.The material is presented clearly the contrasting sections are crafted with care and the details, in terms of structure and in terms of instructions for the performers, are the
marks of high professionalism. I loved the ending! The ensemble has the courage, freedom and ability to reach for the defining moment of the piece, having been so
elegantly laid out. The musicians performing on your CD are superb and their respect for musical detail and their ability to collaborate in this endeavor is truly special. Bravo for
creating a luminous sound world in which they can interact.
from the article in Grammy Magazine
by Dan Kimpel
Stephen Cohn is both an Emmy-winning composer (for the PBS-aired film Dying With Dignity) and a composer of commissioned classical pieces. He ponders whether one can make a living as a composer without the lucrative Hollywood pay scale. "It's hard to think of it as a way of making a living," laughs Cohn, "though it's about half of my income. I wrote a string quartet piece, and a well-known group, Arditti Quartet, took an interest. Through their manager, I was introduced to a concert producer in Europe and invited to have the European premiere, which led to more commissions writing chamber music. When the same producer had an event in the south of France, I was commissioned to write a piece. Following the festival, I was then commissioned to write music for a pianist at the next event."
Is Europe, with its noted reverence for classical forms, a better market for commissioned classical pieces? Answers Cohn, "Wherever a composer can get the support he needs is the right place. The more visibility a composer has, the more momentum he can achieve."