Reviews Section:Press MOHAMMED FAIROUZ


The New York Times

"Mohammed Fairouz, a talented composer... experiments with dissonance and microtonality to expressive effect. "Four Critical Models" (2009) uses the violin for its penetrating tone and the saxophone for its insinuating smoothness in a spiky opening; a slow, haunting second movement; and a pensive finale. Inspired by writings about music and Orientalism, the piece features a brilliantly handled third-movement indictment of stereotypically "Arab" music. (Think of snake charmers.) Every time a clich馘 riff emerged, it would quickly disintegrate, exhausted and uncertain. That piece followed Mr. Fairouz's warmly sympathetic 2010 setting of the Borges poem "The Poet Declares His Renown" for baritone and string quartet"
—Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times

The New York Times

"Mohammed Fairouz痴 'Refugee Blues' is an arresting, self-contained melting pot: it begins with Middle Eastern modal writing and moves decisively into Western melody, with driven rhythms that convey the shape (metrically and emotionally) of that dark Auden poem. "
—Allan Kozinn, The New York Times

The Boston Globe

"First, there was a Borromeo-only curtain-raiser: Mohammed Fairouz痴 鼎horale Fantasy,鋳 premiered by the quartet last year. Fairouz痴 music is thoughtfully cross-cultural; the 鼎horale Fantasy鋳 explores that trope with restrained effect. Modernist tangles turned into medieval austerity, while contrapuntal lines starting in Romantic territory, reminiscent of, say, Max Reger, tipped over into more maqam-like inflections. Kitchen cantillated against a rhythmically insistent drone from the other three, which then transformed into a whirl of dance. But the overall tone was contemplative, searching, and optimistic. The gentle friction between notes and styles and eras resolved, at the end, into a glowing triad. "
—Matthew Guerrieri, The Boston Globe

[Q]onStage

"Biblical in sweep, the opera (Sumeida's Song) tells a story of a clash of old thought and new thought and, while written in 2009, comes, for Western listeners, on the heels of the unrest in Egypt that has led to the forming of a new type of government for that region. Fairouz is dedicated to bringing Eastern and Western thought together, and breaking down the barriers that prevent people from being everything they are, and moving forward together. This opera has winds of change swirling around and through it, and it痴 one you must see. This young composer is someone to watch."
—Sherri Rase, [Q]onStage

San Francisco Chronicle

"At 26, the Arab American composer Mohammed Fairouz writes music that is sprightly and inventive, drawing on both Western and Eastern modes to forge a style that is winningly cosmopolitan... The ascetically scored chamber music includes a fanciful set of airs for solo guitar, a deftly funny suite of piano miniatures, and "Lamentation and Satire," a fierce, abrasive string quartet splendidly performed by the Lydian String Quartet. All are dexterously crafted... The most urgently heartfelt piece here is the opening "Litany," a fantasy on the Muslim call to prayer..."
—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

Gramophone Magazine

"The Borromeo players achieve the special balancing act of paitence and ferocity in Mohammed Fairouz's Lamentation and Satire, an intensely felt score in which the instruments engage in compelling duos, a fugue of doleful uregncy and a farewell utterly bereft of hope."
—Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone Magazine

WQXR

"Mohammed Fairouz痴 Refugee Blues, a riff on W.H. Auden痴 poem of the same title, was one of the sharpest emotional impacts of the evening with a Marc Blitzstein brand of anger and white-knuckle piano accompaniment to such stanzas as "Thought I heard the thunder rumbling in the sky;/It was Hitler over Europe saying, 奏hey must die:/O we were in his mind, my dear, O we were in is mind.
—Olivia Giovetti, WQXR

Vermont Times Argus

"In the sublime column was Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz痴 short song-cycle, Three Fragments from Ibn Khafajah, an 11th century Arab poet, for soprano, flute, violin, cello and guitar. The three short poems, sung in Arabic, dealt with morality, religion and love.
[Mary] Bonhag sang the tiny first part, almost plainsong in style, with a warm but haunting lyricism. The second part began with exotic, Middle Eastern-flavored instrumental music, joined by Bonhag passionately delivering the text. Finally, warmth and tenderness still with the same exotic flavor ensued in this short but powerful work.
—Jim Lowe, Vermont Times Argus

CultureMap Houston

"Mohammed Fairouz's Akhenaten: Dweller in Truth... Think relentless and tireless uneven metrics within a common time framework, breathless rhythms and a shrieking piccolo that surges faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive intensifying en route to a climactic whip. The throbbing grooves suck you in; the thunderous textures don't let go. As an audience member, I couldn't help breaking a sweat. The work dangerously verges on the fringe of lusty turbo flash. But with ample inventiveness that hint at Fairouz's thoughtful craftsmanship, his Akhenaten will be heard as often as the composer's popular vocal works.
Fairouz may be a child of the cosmopolitan Internet age: His music synthesizes minimalism, hard rock, jazz and jazz hands, musical theater, avant-garde and ethno-folk styles. But he does so in such a way that diverse creative impulses coexist and keep their individual distinct character."
—Joel Luks, CultureMap Houston

The New Civil Rights Movement

"Mohammed Fairouz痴 treatment of W.H. Auden痴 Refugee Blues rises to the historical and emotional scope of the poem膨allousness to immigrants humanity and desperation, alas, still a topic of no small relevance. Gaissert痴 rich, resonant, varicolored tone was aptly suited to Fairouz痴 dramatic vocal writing."
—Scott Rose, The New Civil Rights Movement


The Boston Phoenix

For Lamentation and Satire:
"The Borromeo Quartet was back for a 20th- and 21st-century program at Jordan Hall, leading off with an accomplished recent piece by the 24-year-old Anglo-Arabic composer Mohammed Fairouz, Lamentation and Satire, whose two connected movements expressed those contrasting sentiments and made them seem inextricable"

For Tahwidah:
"...eloquent clarinettist, Vasko Dukovski, played in a haunting Mahmoud Darwish setting by Mohammed Fairouz."
—Lloyd Schwartz, The Boston Phoenix

Fanfare Magazine

For Lamentation and Satire:
"Mohammed Fairouz... is a marvelously talented composer. Most of what he has written so far is vocal music, but Lamentation and Satire shows that he certainly can write for string quartet. Hopefully we will be hearing a great many new pieces from this fine new talent. Kudos to the Borromeo Quartet for being the first to record it. It痴 a wonderful piece with imaginative harmonies that play directly to the emotions with plaintive tones in the Lamentation. The Satire is a complete reversal, with technically polished, percussive playing. It痴 an excellent finale for this fine disc"
—Maria Nockin, Fanfare Magazine

Fanfare Magazine

For Bonsai Journal: "Mohammed Fairouz痴 Bonsai Journal... It痴 a technically difficult piece and the poetry seems deliberately separated from the music, as if the two are competing for air space, though there is an underlying dance. By including this piece by a 渡ewer generation composer, we get a view into the world to come, which, as demonstrated here, seems serious, intense, complex. "
—David Wolman, Fanfare Magazine

Three Penny Review

"The twenty-four-year-old Fairouz (who was present at the event, and who shyly got up from the audience to take his bows with the musicians) is obviously very talented, with a distinct musical voice of his own already."
—Wendy Lesser, The Threepenny Review

Vermont Times Argus

"The audience proved enthusiastic about Arab-American composer Mohammed Fairouz痴 knotty and complex but finely crafted 2008 鏑amentation and Satire. The 25-year-old New York City resident was on hand to introduce the intriguing work. The 鏑amentation proved to be a heart-wrenching plea, while the satire was a raucous fugue, but it all held together as a distinct and convincing statement. The Borromeo seemed most comfortable with the work; in fact, it recently released a recording of it."
—Jim Lowe, Vermont Times Argus

Classical Voice of New England

"The occasion was the world premiere of Mohammed Fairouz's double concerto for violin and cello entitled "States of Fantasythe music alone was a rich experience; in the greater context of the music's origin, the experience was intellectually and psychically provocative. The program on Saturday evening entitled "Duologues: Beethoven and Fairouz" At first the juxtaposition of these two composers on the program seemed random, but the experience of the two composers' music in proximity revealed similarities of intensity and passion, along with the integration of literary and historical inspiration It is most difficult to critique a new work such as this because there is no point of comparison, except to the larger context of music's ability to project directly as feeling and meaning without intellectual intervention. By this measure the concerto succeeded without question."
—Phyllis Nordstrom, Classical Voice of New England

The New Yorker

"The concert event that began as an act of healing in the wake of 9/11 has endured as an annual testament to peace. In this program the Borromeo Quartet, the Imani Winds, and the baritone Randall Scarlata gather to perform work the world premi鑽e of 擢uria by Mohammed Fairouz ."
The New Yorker

Lucid Culture

For Piano Miniatures 1-6: "The waves of intensity, if not the intellectual rigor, lifted for a minute with a handful of miniatures by Mohammed Fairouz, who was in attendance. Still young (he痴 in his twenties) and amazingly prolific, Fairouz is a wide-ranging thinker with several considerably powerful, unselfconsciously deep works to his credit and he can also be very funny. Joan assembled a set that was both amusing and captivating: an attempt to make an etude interesting, in a very successful, Schumann-esque way; a challenge to write a piece containing no dissonances (it was mostly arpeggios); a joke that began way up the scale and ended way down; an austere twelve-tone piece and a brief, vividly autumnal requiem"
—Lucid Culture (Alexandra Joan)
For Lamentation and Satire: "...Mohammed Fairouz's ambient, aptly titled Lamentation and Satire, the first part a tone poem whose tensely acidic counterpoint moved between restrained mournfulness and full-out grief, the second featuring cellist Yeesun Kim expertly walking a tightrope between the swirling violins of Nicholas Kitchen and Kristopher Tong up to a couple of devious false endings, and a bell-like staccato device on the cello that despite itself reverted to the anguish and loss of the preceding segment"
—Lucid Culture (Borromeo Quartet)
For Ughnia't Mariam :: Mohammed Fairouz's Ughiat Mariam (another world premiere) stoically, stately and soulfully expanded on an understatedly brooding Arabic theme"
—Lucid Culture (Grneta Duo)

Arts Editor

"Fairouz's juxtaposition (in his solo guitar work Airs) of modal, Middle Eastern music and strains of Baroque figuration with modernist techniques in the third movement were subtly crafted and executed"
—Arts Editor