Reviews Archive


“A second work by Adams, “Road Movies” for electric violin and piano, was brought to audience acclaim by renowned pianist Lisa Moore and violinist Karen Bentley Pollick. This three-movement minimalistic work, based on the manipulation of short cells, recalls the all-American sounds of George Antheil and Steve Reich.  Bentley Pollick’s violin playing was nothing short of astonishing, delivering absolute precision with double and triple stops, as well as accented bowed staccati. In the scordatura second movement, she produced low tones of a truly extraordinary timbre. Lisa Moore demonstrated incredible stamina with her effortless presentation of the relentless piano part, particularly in the vigorous final movement.”   – Canberra City News

“Musically, the most riveting moment of the evening came in the Largo of a Leclair Sonata in A for Flute and Violin, with its sinuously, sensuously intertwining lines. Karen Bentley was the fine violinist.” – The New York Times

“Bentley was more than a match for the music’s volatility, continually transforming her tone with sudden shifts of mood and temper.” – East Bay Express

“Bentley played with a rare degree of maturity and artistic discernment.” – Peninsula Times Tribune

” ‘Another Face’ featured violinist Karen Bentley in the bravura soloist role, a technically imposing part that she executed with dazzling ferocity.” – The Buffalo News

“Karen Bentley’s violin represented the mind in creative tumult, a beautiful lyric performance in which her fellow instrumentalists joined in with comments, agreement and disagreement.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“Bentley capitalizes on the expressive possibilities of her assignment.” – San Francisco Examiner

“Pleasure was also the key to Karen Bentley’s performance of the solo part in the Violin Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Major, K. 207. Bentley keeps growing as a performer with each of her local appearances. Technically her performance was flawless, and her warm tones in the Andante and her lightheartedness in the fast movements were well chosen for this particular piece.” – Peninsula Times Tribune

“Bentley played the work with remarkable authority. It was not only her technique and tone but a kind of electricity that made it exciting.” – Peninsula Times Tribune

“Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D, K.218, was gratifying, with Karen Bentley clearly in her element as a soloist” – Anchorage Daily News

“…a brilliant performance by Karen Bentley. Bentley, 17, the orchestra’s concertmistress, played the Mozart concerto with clean technique, exact intonation and bright rhythms. There were innumerable little cadenzas in decorative passages, but the large cadenza, charmingly developed, was her own.” – Peninsula Times Tribune

“…the absolute precision, intonation, beauty and depth of feeling of Karen Bentley’s rendition of Mozart’s Violin Concerto #5 in A Major was flawless. I don’t believe Mozart would have wished it otherwise.” – Peninsula Times Tribune

“Karen Bentley gave us a fine performance of Schoenberg’s “Phantasy”.  Bentley brought power and grace to the performance, as well as virtuosity. Both her and Sprecher were attentive to Schoenberg’s sense of phrase and the result was a wonderful performance of a work too infrequently heard.” – Bloomington Herald-Telephone

“The hardest thing to do is describe what defies description. You can feel that a concert is special because it has that magic spark which makes the music come alive and strike a responsive chord in the listener. But what is that magic? Is it the technical perfection of the performers? Their insight? Their responsiveness to each other? Is it their own intensity of feeling which they communicate to you? Whatever it is, Bentley and Wodehouse had it in their spell-binding performance on Friday. It made the Debussy a study in sensuality and the Gershwin preludes a revel of robust vitality. Under their fingers the music took over so completely that the listener lost awareness of the performers.” – Peninsula Times Tribune

“Conventionally, this piece (Bartók Violin Concerto No. 2) is often treated quite narrowly as a 20th Century, often dissonant work. It took violinist Karen Bentley, a local product, Maestro Eric Kujawsky and the orchestra to dig deeper into that complex mass of notes and phrases to expose to the ears the hitherto overlooked Romantic content that expands it into a moving emotional experience. Bentley, a straightforward and utterly unaffected performer, has an outstanding interpretive musicianship that had the audience demanding her back again and again for curtain calls.” – Redwood City Tribune

“Charm is not the word that springs immediately to mind when contemplating the powerful visions of David Felder’s Crossfire. Karen Bentley’s elegant and powerful violin, and trombonist Barrie Webb’s awesome stunning power coupled with the stark video images made a powerful impact…’What a Show!’” — Yorkshire Post

“Bentley, as first violinist and soloist, led the small chamber orchestra, most of the musicians standing as they played. This included five additional violinists, harpsichordist Jonathan Salzedo, an early music specialist with wide experience nationwide, and several others. All provided solid, spirited support for the frolic. The sense of rustic bliss was enhanced by the lighted redwoods visible outside the church through an enormous window just behind the low altar.The Concerto for Oboe and Violin featured Roger Wiesmeyer and Karen Bentley, the latter a Palo Alto musician whose career has ranged from playing in and with renowned orchestras and ensembles around the world to progressive rock. Bentley’s tone was bright, her style ranging widely from lyrical to almost fiery in the final Allegro. Wiesmeyer’s oboe sang out in the Adagio over neat pizzicato strings and sprinted through the closing movement.” — San Francisco Classical Voice

“Andrew Imbrie’s Impromptu for violin and piano (1960) is a continuous work in several connected movements. It also treated the instruments with great independence. Atonal in language, rhythmically free and varied, sensitive to color and texture in shaping its materials, this piece still showed the classical roots underpinning its form and its use of motives. Karen Bentley and Gwendolyn Mok were in control of the work’s considerable challenges, and communicated its freshness, lyricism, and vitality.” — San Francisco Classical Voice

“Perhaps I was most taken by Karen Bentley and her violin. Her adaptation to the changes in the improv selections, her mastery over arpeggiated scales and her sheer control over her instrument all came together and made for the epitome of a disciplined classical musician. All in all, Electric Diamond put on a killer demonstration.” — John Foxworthy

“Another instrumentalist new to me as I believe that this is her first issued disc. Scandinavian composer Ole Saxe has written a superb suite of dances for solo violin and viola. Although the viola has just a short section of the Dance Suite, I so thoroughly enjoyed the disc and the talents of Ms. Bentley that I just had to review the record for the Journal. Her tone, phrasing, and technique provide all the background she needs to impress any music lover. I have been in touch with Ms. Bentley and she promises a disc devoted to the viola in the not too distant future. Brava! “– David O. Brown  Journal of the American Viola Society

“Bentley, swaying energetically as she played, amplified the tango spirit …”  Santa Cruz Sentinel

“Chorale Times Two, the second movement of Dresher’s 1996-97 violin concerto, pitted a rhapsodic violin soliloquy, superbly played by Karen Bentley Pollick, against Dresher’s more piercing electric guitar riffs. Again, the music depended on the contrasts — in both time and texture — between these two veins. “— Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

“Yet the strongest impression was made by Onute Narbutaite, a 47-year-old Lithuanian whose work had apparently never been performed in America. Her most characteristic mode is slow, ruminative, gorgeously lyrical and utterly haunting. “WinterSerenade” (1997) — exquisitely played by Mr. Shmidt, the flutist Paul Taub and the violist Karen Bentley Pollick — is constructed of motifs from “Gute Nacht,” the first song in Schubert’s cycle Winterreise (“Winter Journey”), set for the ensemble of Beethoven’s early Serenade in D (Op. 25). But it is not a pastiche. Its wispy texture and absorbingly sustained mood keep it going three times as long as the original and make you forget it — until the ending, which releases your attention with a whispered quotation from Schubert’s piano introduction. For the rest, Schubert is magically transformed into nature sounds, sighs, sobs and faltering steps.”— Richard Taruskin, The New York Times

“There were many exceptional touches in this bracing performance, often conspicuously abetted by Preucil’s engagement with the music and the participating artists, too. There were exceptional and frequent contributions from cellist Charae Krueger, the work of violist Karen Bentley Pollick was both prominent and distinguished in the slow movement of “Summer,” and harpsichordist Timothy Albrecht was a delight to hear, when he could be heard. Little moss grew on this reading, which – like the Bach – was a high-tension traversal of the score. Like the Bach, this music was received with tremendous enthusiasm by the crowd – the audience gave the artists a standing ovation that, in this instance, was most richly deserved.” – CVNC Arts Journal in North Carolina

“Invariably, a program of modern music will contain one or two works that won’t stand the test of time — they will be performed once or twice and never again. For the eight pieces on “Alternating Currents,” violinist Karen Bentley Pollick assured that wouldn’t happen… Rarely will a recital such as this engage the ear from beginning to end, yet each piece at Birmingham Museum of Art event had a unique style and temperament, reflecting Pollick’s keen sense for gleaning quality in experimental music and giving these scores their rightful due… To those following the thread of the avant garde through the tame apologies of post-modernism, there was no denying these composers’ skill and vision. Pollick not only extended that thread, she vitalized and emboldened it.” – Michael Huebner, Birmingham News

“The stylistic cohesiveness in the “Prophet Birds” program Monday at Hill Recital Hall was made all the more convincing by Karen Bentley Pollick’s and Lisa Moore’s determination to make it lucid and palatable. The violin and piano duo — both ardent protagonists for the new and the good in modern classical music — chose as its featured work a world premiere by Sam Adams. A 24-year-old Californian who happens to be the son of a more famous composer named John, Sam has written a work that bears a small resemblance to Dad’s post-minimal stylistic amalgamations, but is most concerned with sonic exploration. In “Aves Nostradamus,” the piano becomes a percussion instrument — pedals knocking on the floor, hands tapping on wood and rubbing under the keyboard. In the first movement, titled “Stutter,” its expressiveness comes from a winsome physicality inside a coherent rhythmic framework. “Prophecy” toys with silence, enhanced by violin ornaments.”- Michael Huebner, Birmingham News

“In his comments, Samuel Carl Adams mentioned his Piano Trio as a kind of “tribute to 18th-century forms,” and for a young composer whose output regularly includes “noise, pulsating rhythms and slow harmonic movement” it is a departure, with a definite input from jazz. The coda was especially fun, and with Karen Bentley Pollick on violin, the trio enthusiastically captured Adams’s playfulness.” – Bruce Hodges, Seen and Heard International

“The world premiere of  Samuel Carl Adams‘ Piano Trio featured another guest soloist,Karen Bentley Pollick, whom you may know from not only a previous interview we did but also from the band Electric Diamond. This was a genuinely exciting work, and to see Pollick perform with the duo was a long-awaited treat as you saw a great deal of hard work and history being displayed on the stage. Along with intensity and rhythm from the soloists, a humorous-sounding conclusion seemed to surprise the audience, and in turn they met the piece with their approval.” – Chris McGovern, The Glass

“The roster of excellent performers included violinist Karen Bentley Pollick, who navigated brilliantly between sumptuous melodies and timbral noodlings, and mezzo-soprano Nadine Whitney, for whom Bresnick composed the cycle. Most impressive was Australian pianist and would-be contortionist Lisa Moore, who, while engaged in traditional ivory tickling, also slapped, stomped, vocalized and narrated.” – Michael Huebner, Birmingham News

“It’s rare to see the violin and piano played simultaneously – by one person. Karen Bentley Pollick, a violinist, pulled off that exciting feat when she played Dan Tepfer’s “Solo Blues for Violin and Piano” on Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham. The piece, which ended the first part of an Artburst concert with Pollick and percussionist Grant Dalton, called for the violin and piano to alternate between melody and accompaniment. Pollick gallantly bowed away on her violin while her free hand bounced across the keyboard. Fortunately, Tepfer’s fine piece was worth the effort…Toward the end, she and Dalton were able to let loose on a piece called “Salsa for Karen for Violin and Percussion” by Ole Saxe. Pollick clearly has a personal connection with this piece, and she pretty much lit the house on fire with her movements as well as her playing as Dalton kept up the beat. But after having played the piano and violin simultaneously, she deserved to go wild….” – Richard LeComte, Birmingham News

“Few cities can boast new music forums as active as the Birmingham Art Music Alliance. Most of the works this tenacious organization presents will never achieve masterpiece status, and its concerts won’t set any attendance records. Yet they consistently turn up gems. Saturday’s BAMA event at Hill Recital Hall featured guitarist Paul Bowman, whose passion for the moderns has landed him solo engagements at places like Carnegie Recital Hall and Alice Tully Hall. The concert had Bowman busy on all six works, four of them premieres. An exceptionally versatile musician, he negotiated a pastiche of styles with ease. Equally devoted to the cause, violinist Karen Bentley Pollick performed with enthusiasm and expertise in four of the pieces.” – Michael Huebner, Birmingham News

“Karen Bentley Pollick, who played either violin or viola on four of the six pieces, played with unflagging skill, with strong support from violinist Julia Sakharova, cellist Craig Hultgren, Ardovino, pianists Adam Bowles and Kathryn Fouse and bassist Abraham Becker.” – Michael Huebner, Birmingham News