"My favourite new work, though, as well as the best group performance, was the concluding one: Jonathan Cole's nadanu ...Cole's piece brought a fresh, experimental approach to sound together with a clear sense of structure. Slow slides from the strings were coupled with single, piercing piano notes and the clarinet playing directly into the body of the piano, and this tranquil sonic landscape was given a graceful rendition."
Paul Kilbey - Bachtrack.com
"Jonathan Cole's distinctive brand of music-theatre that is burburbabbar za made a lasting impression, its tranquil web of timbres (including water and suggestions of light winds) was therapeutic as well as engaging, a world away with the real one just outside! If not a drama, and maybe the idea behind burburbabbar za has its roots in John Cage and Stockhausen, there seems to be some very precise thinking here to realise something – that for this listener at least – was calming, assuring in an escapist way, and beguiling."
Colin Anderson - Classical Source
"This impression is confirmed listening to the works themselves, particularly burburbabbar za, from which it is hard to tear yourself, so compellingly does it hover in frenzy between movement and stasis, music and (the music of) the chaotic every day."
"burburbabbar za written in 2009 for the London Contemporary Orchestra, is a sort of wordless opera for three singers and five instrumentalists, what the composer calls an "ecstatic chaos" of shadowy, pre-linguistic utterances. It sounds a world away from anything being written by his British contemporaries"
Tim Rutherford Johnson INTO magazine
"Jonathan Cole's 50 Florentine Breaths is just that, a piece about what can be achieved just with the breath. Pitch is barely present, and you get a real sense of someone (Minelli) breathing."
"Cole’s intriguing 50 Florentine Breaths focuses instead on columns of wind, on the core of breath and silence, as the music flares up and recedes, a breath study replete with capricious little reveille-like figures; it lasts 14 minutes but never outstays its welcome. "
Jonathan Woolf - Musicweb-International.com
"The primordial avant-gardism of Jonathan Cole …..Ash Relics is fabulous-strange."
On Caught “..a 6-minute ‘chord study’ that constantly beguiles the ear.”
Colin Anderson - Classical Source
On Scrawling Out "the interplay between all four players was dazzling."
Paul Conway - Independent
On Assassin Hair "instrumental writing that veers from introspective brooding through expressionist violence to wild, delirious extroversion."
Andrew Clements - The Guardian
"The first half had ended with the undoubted highlight of the evening, the first performance of Jonathan Cole's Assassin Hair...Jean Rigby, whose rich and lucid mezzo tone stood out against the fastidious timbral and dynamic shades of Cole's ensemble writing, performed Assassin Hair with typical commitment. An undoubted achievement that deserves further performances."
Richard Whitehouse - Classical Source
"Jonathan Cole in A Passing Moment for viola and cello proposes a progression in two segments, starting from a simple nucleus that develops into a dramatic sonic complex, profoundly modal, embellished with dissonances that lead, paradoxically, to a sensation of void. The second segment retraces the way back, with a dynamic codetta and final structures that come out of phase and get lost somewhere. The association of timbres, the closeness of the registers of the two instruments, together with a great emotional involvement from the two performers, all gave life to these pages of outstanding inspiration, that complement the chamber music repertoire dedicated to this less common type of duo."
Corina Bura - Actualitatea Muzicala, Bucharest
On Ouroboros II
"remarkably well imagined"
Andrew Clements - The Guardian
"menacing and atmospheric"
Laurence Hughes - The Independent
"Jonathan Cole’s Penumbra presented yet another face of the phenomenon: this was the first outing for a revised version of a piece premiered last year by a pared-down London Symphony Orchestra. Remaking is at work within the fabric of the piece, too, the title denoting both the conceptual inspiration of exploring an image through its reflections, of an object approached ever more nearly through its shadows, and the musical ’shadows’ which effect this formal aspiration as the piece grows backwards and forwards from its central viola solo. With this kernel of intervallic and melodic substance, Cole is able to invent both the rhythmic propulsions of the middle-movement scherzo and the more sombre colours of its outer neighbours. The finale in particular achieves an uncommon eloquence of instrumental speech, with a real sense of meaningful space around the notes as the piece returned to where it began."
John Fallas Classical Source
" A quiet, haunting, finely detailed score written in
memory of Sue Knussen, “Testament” is music at ease with nature, an accompaniment to the rustling of leaves on a warm late afternoon, and deeply touching."
Mark Swed LA Times
On Testament "a short but eloquent tribute to Sue Knussen (the conductor's late wife, to whom composers were her 'lifeblood') opened in a still, small voice before erupting into rage at her premature loss. Underpinned by notes representing the name Sue, the 12-minute piece ended in reflective mode, it's European premiere confirmation of Cole's powers."
Anthony Holden - the Observer
"A well-crafted piece full of timbral detail" - Jeremy Eichler New York Times
"An Ojai Festival co-commission, British composer, Jonathan Cole's 'Testament.' an ethereal, intriguing 10 minutes, a kind of modernistic answer to the Prelude of Act I of 'Lohengrin," opened the afternoon's concert." Timothy Mangan The Orange County Register
"Jonathan Cole’s Testament spins out a long, sinuous melodic line, where fragments of chorale appear, briefly, especially towards the end. It was
written as a personal tribute to Sue Knussen, who passionately loved new music and inspired many around her. "The eruption towards the end", says Cole, "is a direct expression of grief at the way such a vibrant life was taken from us, and throughout the piece the notes E flat (Es in German or S) and E underpin the musical material, signifying S(u)E". When I first heard this piece I hadn’t read any notes, approaching it instead on its own terms.
For me then, it was impressionistically lyrical. I remember feeling how "open" it felt, as if it lived in nature, bathed in sunlight and heard against the sounds of leaves and birds. What a shock it was to discover that its first performance took place on a summer evening in California, in the open air! An expansive feeling of open space suffuses the piece with gentle lyricism, making the anguish of the ending all the more disturbing. Such goodness shouldn’t end, but like life, it does."
Anne Ozorio - Musicweb-International.com