"Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Pale As Centuries is the album’s most striking piece. Its wary guitar theme recedes for Terry Riley-ish upper-register circles, clarinet floating amid piano turbulence and eerie concentric circles just below: it wouldn’t be out of place in the Darcy James Argue catalog."
"I came away with a newly discovered composer to get all enthusiastic about–Sarah Kirkland Snider, whose 'Scenes from Unremembered'...were the most musically compelling songs of the whole show. Angular melodies, chromatic mediant harmonies, overlapping ascending scales, rich rhythmic density arising from Monkishly interlocking ostinati...A Renaissancey minimalism, and quite honestly some of the coolest stuff I’ve heard in a long time.”
“...Sarah Kirkland Snider’s colorful 'Something for the Dark' [is] a sort of concerto for orchestra. Each section enjoyed its moment to shine as the piece cycled through a series of themes and rhythmic variations. It begins with an ethereal high note played by a single violin, and expands into a Mahlerian world of sound and textures.”
“'Something for the Dark'...approaches sound as a vast, malleable substance. In this sophisticated piece, repetition transforms the emotional charge of musical motifs. A turn of phrase may appear pretty at first, then take on shades of nostalgia before registering as a creepy obsession haunting the ear. Ms. Snider skillfully draws a wide arc, with throbbing brass accents and slashing chords driving up tension. The work ends quietly, as if on a question.”
"The gorgeous, haunting song cycle updates Homer's Odyssey from the perspective of its female characters. Snider has been taken to task for writing music that is too vulnerable and too expressive. In "The Lotus Eaters," she answers her critics powerfully with restless music that overflows from an intoxicating desire to forget." (from "The 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women")
“…as a showcase for [Williamson and Snider’s] emerging talents, 'Embrace' makes an exciting impression…Snider’s score is perfectly suited to Williamson’s theme, rooted in classicism but attuned to the modern ear, with its lushly filmic, melodic quality...I hope she will be commissioned for more dance works henceforth.” (Best Ballet Premieres of 2018)
“'Embrace is a new work by up-and-coming dance-maker, George Williamson, to a tremendous commission from the notable American composer Sarah Kirkland Snider. Snider creates a thrilling sound world, using the many sonorities of a full orchestra and building her music into truly impressive climaxes. It is rich and satisfying, an impressive first dance score from her, making one wish to hear more of her work very soon….superb.”
“The experimental possibilities for holiday tunes are endless…The recursive structure of “Twelve Days of Christmas,” for instance, is a standing invitation to a modern composer’s reappraisal, like a Sarah Kirkland Snider song cycle or a pointillist symphony that echoes the ideas of Steve Reich.”
“['The Currents'] effectively avoids indulging emotion, favoring subtle atmospheric suggestion, true to 19th century impressionism...The piece, however, is not without its surprises... At times tempestuous, at others placid, The Currents is a force of nature—both monsoon and mild breeze.”
"...[Something for the Dark] represents the best of what a commission can yield. It is an imposing achievement marked by Snider’s unique musical language and decisive artistic vision…The charms of Something for the Dark serve a grand structural purpose. Snider persuasively develops a complex music form...a veritable master class in the craft of contemporary music composition."
“In entrancing the listener with the slow dazzle of its intertwining patterns, ['The Currents'] sets the mark high at the outset. There’s a lilting, Debussy-like flow to the material that does, in fact, suggest water movements, especially when the music fluctuates between the rapid motion visible at one stage in a river and the peaceful calm evident elsewhere…"
“…this solo piano piece carries the same flowing lyricism and sensitivity as Snider’s vocal music—but without any of the words. Mizrahi’s fingers swim gracefully through the ebb and flow of the piece, beautifully capturing the depth and breadth of colors that make the currents come to life.”
“Snider excels at capturing the hazy swirl of memories that can haunt an entire lifetime. Her tonal language is often quite sophisticated and harmonically probing, with impressively layered textures of voices and instruments...otherworldly and ear-catching...Snider clearly has a lot to say that’s worth listening to…”
"[Ouroboros, from Epiphany: A Cycle of Life] reflects upon luminosity, music, time, space, life and death, with members of the audience becoming a part of the work and, in the process, connecting with themselves and with the present — the elusive moment of the here and now…Marked by a clear sense of ease and cohesion…energizing yet also soothing and meditative, poetic.
“groundbreaking...one of the most acclaimed song cycles of the last decade…What makes “Penelope” so gently devastating is the way Snider precisely captures the mood of McLaughlin’s text: alternately desolate, agitated, or coldly detached. Musical syntax matters less than the complex web of loss, recrimination, and self-understanding evoked.”
"[Unremembered] is Snider’s own brand of New England gothic that would make Edgar Allan Poe proud...multilayered, often angular, and deftly blends ideas from rock and post-minimalist composers…meticulously orchestrated...painterly, intimate...But it is Snider’s fresh, instinctive way with voices that sets her apart from most of her peers.”
“…[Hiraeth] is quite dark, though never grim. She achieves this effect in ways both obvious and subtle: large swaths of minor-key harmonies; well-placed bursts of dissonance or eerie drones that cut against the cheerier melodies; dense orchestral writing that feels heavy, like the humid summer air of her memories; and the overall architecture, which never quite functions how you expect...Overall, Snider’s command of the orchestra is fantastic...engrossing.”
“...glorious, even luxuriant, with its rich palette of dark and light hues. One could well be reminded of the wonderful tone poems of Richard Strauss. The honored composer was present, appearing on stage to make her well-deserved bows to the exuberant audience.”
“Each song [of 'Unremembered'] is its own vividly colored vignette, a mesmerizing narrative brought to life through Snider’s rich textural and temperamental palette…musically she recalls the strict rules and structures of the classical tradition, but she does so in a way that is blurred, broken, and beautifully contorted.”
“The composer Sarah Kirkland Snider is a refreshingly slow worker: She spent four years weaving the richly textured polychrome tapestry of this [Unremembered] recording. Silver threads of medievalish counterpoint twist together with twinkling electronics, faux folk tunes, vintage pop melodies, and avant-garde choral techniques to create an intricately magical landscape.”
“...Music of thoughtful inquiry and humane emotion…a heady blend of thoughtful intricacy with forthright emotional appeal…the setting composed for each [song] is rhythmically and tonally distinct, a sequence of craftily detailed tableaux, rich with surprise and nuance.”
"Once in a while, Snider exposes the mechanisms that drive the music—as if the listener needed reminding that what she gets up to here is as cerebral as the more emotionally remote music of her concert-hall contemporaries—but she seems less interested in austerity than in generous displays of affect, and deftly tucks the clockwork back in between the score’s orchestral exuberances…"
“Composers such as…Sarah Kirkland Snider — names that crop up with increasing frequency in America’s concert programs, opera brochures and record labels — draw with perceptible freedom and lack of anxiety from a wide array of musical sources, without worrying about musical-political correctness or tribal affiliation.”
“In 13 warped and eerie songs, Snider [channels] the ghostly simplicity of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. [Unremembered] refracts reality just as memory does. From the first stabs of strings and militant drums, “The Witch” throws you in the middle of a hunt...Snider’s forceful orchestra, led by sharp stomps from the cellos, chases Worden, sometimes enveloping her completely.”
"The most striking composition on the bill might have been [The Orchard]...In its dark heart, it turned out to be a pensive, folk-tinged art-rock anthem for choir. After a descent into moody ambience, the ensemble let it linger austerely at the end. In its own understated way, it was a showstopper."
“'Daughter of the Waves' proves to be a compelling exercise in dark liquescence, its initial surface calm disrupted and disturbed by dream-like interjections that border on the hallucinogenic and nightmarish in places...wistful and restless, an imaginative and rewarding new work for classical chamber ensemble.”
“yMusic’s rich timbral colour comes especially to the fore during Sarah Kirkland Snider’s evocative “Daughter of the Waves”...Filled with contrasts of mood, Snider’s standout piece exudes a dream-like flow as it moves through its myriad passages, with a late ruminative episode especially powerful.”
“[Penelope] embraces the sort of slow, aching beauty that pours out of Iceland these days: Sigur Rós, Múm, the composers on Valgeir Sigurðsson’s label Bedroom Community. Snider’s songwriting floats though its melody, cycling notes, leading the ear forward without adhering to the relentless A-B-A forms that can clobber similarly gorgeous pop songs.”
“Penelope is a gorgeous piece of music, but it is more — it is also a hauntingly vivid psychological portrait, one that explores a dark scenario with a light, almost quizzical touch, finding poetic resonances everywhere… No matter what perspective you bring to this album, it bears profound rewards.”
“In the last decade or so, a new breed of conservatory-trained musicians has reinvented crossover in unprecedented ways, fusing classical tradition with hip-hop, indie rock and world music and providing new, exciting audience bridges among these forms at the same time. A good example is New York composer Sarah Kirkland Snider’s song cycle “Penelope”, with a score that combines strings and harp with drums, guitars and electronics.”
Snider has taken a fascinating idea from playwright Ellen McLaughlin and turned it into a song cycle that works on several levels...Penelope deals with big ideas -- memory, identity, "home" -- but it's also an intimate portrait of a woman who, like Homer's Penelope, is confronted with finally getting what she's wished for. (from "The Best Five Genre-Defying Albums of 2010")
“Snider’s score is the very model of smart, contemporary “music savant”—”knowing music” engaged with the “classical” tradition but unafraid to trot out the tools of “popular” music to suit its purposes… Penelope is, for me, the finest, most indispensable and potentially lasting new work I have heard or am likely to hear this year.”
“…The journey through Penelope—achingly stark, sparse, swaying, and soaring—begs repeated listening with an attentive ear. The way hints of Radiohead and David Lang materialize and mingle with St. Vincent and Chopin only to be reabsorbed into an aural landscape that is uniquely—ineffably—the voice of Sarah Kirkland Snider, results in what is easily the most beautiful album of the year.”
“Penelope is such an accomplished and remarkable work, it’s hard to believe that it could possibly be [Snider’s] debut album… This year or any year for that matter, one would be hard pressed to hear melodies that are more gorgeous and soul-stirring… Material so powerful places Penelope head and shoulders above much else that was released in 2010.”
“The phrases and the underlying harmonies would sound completely at home on a Radiohead record...It’s long, narrative arc is dramatic in the manner of Schumann and Schubert, but the understated, ambiguous resolution captures the questioning stance of so much of Radiohead’s material…”