Donald Rosenberg, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, "Scene and Heard," Tuesday, November 10, 1998.
"Pianist gives eloquent voice to black composers"
"Karen Walwyn is a musician on a mission… is devoting much of her energy to the championing of music by living black composers. Walwyn brought a taste of her project to the Cleveland Museum of Art's Gartner Auditorium Sunday, where she offered a lecture-recital of works by Dolores White, David Baker, Ellis Marsalis, and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson... did a first-rate job talking about the composers and music and then honoring them with bold, sensitive performances.
Walwyn was fearless throughout, managing every challenge with precise fingers and heroic command of textures… the pianist relished rhythmic shapes, leaned into dissonances and gave splendid definition to the variations. On this occasion, she accomplished her mission".
Mark Lehman, American Record Guide, March/April 1998. Review of : Dark Fires: 20th Century American Music, Karen Walwyn: Pianist (Albany Records)
"Walwyn is a confident and impressive pianist, and her well-recorded program (almost all first recordings, surely) is varied and interesting…. at nearly half-an- hour in length, Adolphus Hailstork's First Sonata is much the biggest and most ambitious piece here-a powerful and virtuoso four- movement work in a dense, chromatic, often dissonant but never pointillist idiom. This is a disc that I will return to with pleasure and admiration, particularly for the White, Dickerson, and Hailstork pieces."
Mark Stryker, Detroit Free Press, Sunday, February 15, 1998. Review of : Dark Fires: 20th Century American Music, Karen Walwyn: Pianist (Albany Records)
"A fine collection of contemporary piano music."
Peter Burwasser, Fanfare, May/June 1998. Review of : Dark Fires: 20th Century American Music, Karen Walwyn: Pianist (Albany Records)
...this is a diverse and compelling selection of music, by any standard. All of this music is marked by distinct personal styles and passionate, anxious momentum….. Karen Walwyn, ….gets through this technically demanding program with aplomb. Her rhythmic nimbleness is especially notable. Here is a collection of composers who deserve a higher profile.
Records International Catalogue, November 1997. Review of : Dark Fires: 20th Century American Music, Karen Walwyn: Pianist (Albany Records)
A diverse collection of piano music by living African American composers…. this music runs the gamut of 20th century styles and influences, from the lyrical serialism of Hale Smith to the almost English-pastoral tonality of Roger Dickerson, providing a fascinating sample of a neglected area of contemporary repertoire".
Bill Faucett, The American Record Guide: The Newest Music II. Review of : Dark Fires II: Karen Walyn and Friends (Albany Records)
Pianist Karen Walwyn's Dark Fires, Vol. 2 is very much a Marsalis family affair. Walwyn is joined by her husband, trumpeter Rodney Mack, and his cousins Branford and Jason Marsalis; the program opens with a selection by the family elder, Ellis Marsalis. This recording presents the music of five black composers without the accompaniment of political statement-several exceptional works speak for themselves…. Mack's performances make me want to hear more from him, and, and Walwyn's pianism is superb.
Peter Burwasser, Fanfare, September/October 2000. Review of : Dark Fires II: Karen Walyn and Friends (Albany Records)
Walwyn's playing captures the smoldering power of the music. . The program opens with a lovely ballad by patriarch Ellis Marsalis, played with warmth and affection by Walwyn. Alvin Singleton's quartet In Our Own House seems to refer as much to cultural unity as to the energy achieved when a group of fearless jazz players get together and jam. Adolphus Hailstork's Sonata for Trumpet and Piano… has a jazzy profile, but Hailstork starts with a solidly European basis, accented and characterized by syncopation, blues (in the slow movement), and virtuoso riffing, in the manner of similar Old-World/New World concoctions from Stravinsky, Marinu, and Copland, to name but three. As with Volume 1, Karen Walwyn and her friends present a fine clutch of pieces that touch on a variety of cultural influences with confidence and adroitness. Excellent recorded sound and robust performances only aid and abet the cause.