ADELAIDE The Firm, Antony Gray
Michael Blake's A Fractured Landscape, in its first performance, underscored the tight, taut control this influential composer has previously shown. Angular, pulsing with energy and noisily exuberant, this challenging piece was approached by Gray in the cool, calm, objective manner that characterised all his performances, letting the music speak for itself and ensuring its voice was clear and unambiguous."
Adelaide Now
BRATISLAVA Slovak Radio, Evenings of New Music, London New Music
"Blake's composition
Let us run out of the rain persists in the memory, captivating above all with its search for playfulness and simplicity - with the infusion of a certain poetic sense characterised by clarity of ideas and delight in the creation of music." Musical Life, Bratislava
BUENOS AIRES Festival Encuentros, Ensemble Encuentros
"Michael Blake is the Béla Bartók of South Africa."
La Nación
CAPE TOWN Chisholm Room, 70th Birthday Concert, Antony Gray
[Afrikosmos] "Sounds that are so sculpturally aware of themselves as sounds, constitute a material take on music and musical material that seems to me profoundly indifferent to history and soul. In this sense, this is a completely hedonistic art, in the best possible taste. But an art, nevertheless, that doesn’t profess a single article of faith not governed by taste’s ordering sensibility." Herri Issue #08
DÜSSELDORF Tonhalle, Ohren auf Europa, Paolo Alvarez
"Michael Blakes
French Suite, zwei erstmals in Deutschland aufgeführte Tänze, setzt griffige afrikanische Rhythmusstrukturen und unstete Melodien zu einer leisen, wie meditativen Musik Zusammen." Rheinischen Post
* Michael Blake's
French Suite, two dances performed for the first time in Germany, combines tricky African rhythmic structures and asymmetrical melodies into a quiet, meditative music.
GRAHAMSTOWN, SOUTH AFRICA National Arts Festival, John Tilbury
"Michael Blake's
Ways to Put in the Salt was almost a Well-Tempered Klavier for the uhadi. It explored the forms of improvisation and ornament that traditional Xhosa players use to spice up their themes, but applied them to a theme that was brutally modern in its simplicity. Tilbury - and the audience - had fun with its wit and engagement. But there was fragility and dignity in the interpretation too, instantly recognisable to anyone who had heard [Nofinishi] Dywili perform." Cue Festival Newspaper

National Arts Festival, Fitzwilliam String Quartet
[String Quartet in memory of William Burton] "Like his players, Blake also paints with silence. He's a very visual composer; the spiky, rhythmic first movement unrolled like a graphic line drawn by Paul Klee, enfolding pockets of texture written with a miniaturist's care for detail. The slow second movement was simply beautiful: filled with the sounds of living breath, and breath halted, and the breath of those icy stars outside." Cue Festival Newspaper
JOHANNESBURG Linder Auditorium, Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Blake’s [Piano Concerto] Rain Dancing is stylistically deeply embedded in an African minimalism… The polyrhythmic layers which Blake mentions in his programme notes, bind the work together and make the piano an obbligato rather than a solo player. With the exploiting of timbres there are fascinating elements in the 22 minute span: exotic melismas, ingenious colour combinations, extremely demanding use of percussion), while the orchestral colours sometimes inhabit the impressionist sphere of a century ago… In this concerto there is indeed more contrast towards the end, with expressive, lyrical passages for the soloist — especially with very refined playing in the high register. The conclusion also unwinds slowly at first, but nevertheless ends with a surprise.” Die Beeld
KAZAN, TATARSTAN Europe-Asia Festival, Vladislav Zakharov & Tatarstan State String Quartet "
[Quartet for Flute and Strings] "… its melodic content was to a certain degree based on folk music, presumably from South Africa. It combined a moderately fast tempo and rhythmically busy dynamicism with a soft, subtle textural world and even a somewhat lyrical mood, with elements of dance textures, the latter becoming more prominent in the somewhat livelier middle section." Anton Rovner, Newmusicon
LONDON Purcell Room, Metanoia
Taireva for trumpets, prepared piano and electronics kept its textures reasonably translucent, as it subjected a Zimbabwean song to interesting reworkings." Financial Times

Purcell Room, Metanoia
"Michael Blake's
Self Delectative Songs fell gently and pleasingly on the ear." The Times

Purcell Room, London New Music
"Michael Blake's tight minimalist duet
Hindewhu exploited the fruity resonance of the early nineteenth-century clarinet through a witty manipulation of simple pentatonic cells." The Independent
NEW YORK Juilliard School of Music, Ubuntu Festival, New Juilliard Ensemble
"Michael Blake's
Rural Arias, for eleven musicians, was inspired by the living conditions in South African villages. Blake often feature unusual instruments in his music, and here the honour goes to the singing saw, its timbre, described by Blake as 'disembodied', representing the fragility and powerlessness of the disenfranchised inhabitants of South Africa's rural regions. Blake's vocbulary here is less strongly indebted to American/British minimalism than in some of his other pieces, but he takes this stylistic departure in a different direction, establishing an eerily interesting atmosphere with vague references to European modernism." Juilliard Review
PARIS L'Opéra Bastille, Festival d'Automne
[Ukukhalisa Umrhubhe] "Dans le même esprit de mixité, le Festival d'automne a passé commande d'une oeuvre au compositeur, Michael Blake, créateur du Bow Project, qui invite à unir la musique contemporaine et l'usage de l'arc musical rural." Le Monde
[Ukukhalisa Umrhubhe] In the same spirit of diversity, the Festival d'automne has commissioned a work from the composer, Michael Blake, creator of the Bow Project, which brings together contemporary music with the use of the traditional musical bow.
PERTH Callaway Auditorium, Tetrafide Percussion Ensemble
"… Michael Blake's
Let us Run Out of the Rain where melodic strands on marimba and vibraphone coalesced and separated in a beautifully intricate way. It reminded one of an exquisite piece of Brussels lace." OZartsreview, Melbourne
STUTTGART Mozartsaal, Stuttgarter Kammerorchester
Kwela Stück übersetzt den populären Tanz aus den schwarzen Townships der fünfzige jahre in die klangfarben des Streichorchesters. Stuttgarter Zeitung
* Blake's
Kwela translates the popular dance from the black townships of the fifties into the timbres of the string orchestra."
TORONTO Salle Jane Mallett au St-Lawrence Arts Center, Louise Bessette
38a Hill Street Blues de Michael Blake a très peu à voir avec le blues et nous fait entendre des rythmes africains qu'on aurait pas cru possible de recréer au piano. Quoiqu'il ait fait une partie de sa formation en Europe, Michael Blake s'estimmergé dans la musique africaine, s'intéressant aux rythmes et aux instruments traditionnels. C'est ce qui a nourrit la riche musique qu'il écrit. La pianiste obtient du piano un son tout à fait différent, le rythme définit à la fois la structure du texte musical et le type de son, plus creux comme si tout à coup les marteaux ne frappaient plus des cordes mais des pièces de bois." Neomemoire
* 38a Hill Street Blues by Michael Blake has little to do with blues but has us hearing African rhythms that no one could possibly think of playing on a piano. This is what enriches the music of the South African composer. Even though his did parts of his training in Europe, Michael Blake immersed himself in African music, mostly interested by the rhythms and the traditional instruments. The pianist gets here a different sound from the piano, the rhythm defines both the structure and the sound of the piece, and the piano sounds a bit as if the hammers were hitting pieces of wood instead of strings.
VIENNA Schönberg Center, Ensemble Reconsil
"Blake has nothing to prove and plenty to say. His music has an expressive spontaneity, which conveys in quick patterns that life is pitiless and that nothing can be taken for granted. His
Rural Arias is not a collection of folk songs but a magnificent, carggy lament for SA's rural population, feeling the devastating effects of climate change, poverty and HIV/AIDS. As he searched out original methods for evoking truth, and in a bid to jolt the listeners out of any complacency, Blake used a musical saw to produce a sonorous sadness which reverberated hauntingly." Business Day, Johannesburg
YORK Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, Lesley Schatzberger & Fitzwilliam Quartet
"Michael Blake's
Quintet for Basset Clarinet and Strings was an easy-going piece, based largely on African musical sources, its minimalist gestures reminding me of the Stravinsky of around 1914." Yorkshire Evening Press

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