About Us

Owners, Carol Greenley and Edward Hollcraft, are both former professional musicians, pianist and clarinettist, who have turned their passion towards helping the recording careers of outstanding classical musicians. We understand how much of your life needs to be devoted to your art; we have helped many musicians gain recognition in ways that are too time-consuming for them, and developed a catalogue of top quality CDs. Our artists' CDs are available on the internet, and in retail stores all over the world. They have been reviewed and publicized in internationally read classical music publications.

If you are too busy practicing, rehearsing, making contacts for playing jobs, and travelling, then you are ready to find out how to get the time-consuming jobs of distribution and publicity done by professionals. We have an information sheet that we would be happy to email to you.

Please email us for more information: mail10[at]ConBrioRecordings[dot]com

Visit our recording studio website! See what is involved in making a CD of your own. http://www.HollcraftStudios.com

Con Brio (Italian for with brilliance) is a record label which features classical musicians from all over the world. Each one has earned a reputation as an exceptional musician, and their recordings reflect that marvelous talent. If you would like more information on how to become a Con Brio artist, please contact us.

Submissions

If you are a serious, touring and practicing musician who is investigating the services of labels, you are welcome to contact us and submit a sample or finished CD project. If you are in the planning stage of your next recording, we would like to present a few guidelines for you to incorporate in your plans.

Find an experienced engineer who has successfully recorded classical music. If you are editing together, ask him/her to save all of the edited, whole movement files in AIFF or WAV format. Have him save everything as separate tracks (assuming that you have more than piano or instrument solo) with no added enhancements. We will need all of this even if he masters the entire project. Beware of an engineer who puts microphones inside of the piano.

You will need professional photographs. You don't need to spend thousands of dollars; you might be able to find a budding student photographer at a local school who needs to build up a portfolio. We need a few standard shots of you smiling with your instrument, but also several with you in casual poses, with or without the instrument. Wear a solid color shirt (bring several to the shoot) - no big stripes, no Hawaiian prints. Take shots with your clothing matching the background, some with you contrasting with the background. Remove your watch and big jewelry. Your photographer should know to be careful of reflection in eyeglasses. We need head shots, waist up, full body standing, sitting, leaning against a wall, etc. Encourage your photographer to get creative. We occasionally see photos of musicians walking away from the camera.

We have a downloadable PDF with more information PDF

If you have any questions about these guidelines, or would like further information about our services, you may contact us by email (you must type it in - there is no clickable connection):

mail10[at]ConBrioRecordings[dot]com

Thank you!

CD Release Packages

We have several packages to choose from; we are sure that one of them will fill your needs and budget, but if you have a special set of needs, we can modify our services to fit. Email us for specific information.

Our packages in brief:

New "Quick and Easy"

Includes replication, graphics, printing, and distribution services. You may purchase copies in any quantity for $6.00 each.

Standard publicity:

Artists receive 300 CDs; your CD is sent to 30 reviewers, and 10 classical internet radio stations.
Your CD cover and name is featured in Con Brio Recordings’ ad in Fanfare Magazine for 1 year
Your CD cover and name is featured in the next year’s Musical America Directory in Con Brio Recordings’ ad

Expanded publicity:

All of the standard coverage above
Artists receive 700 CDs. Your CD cover and name is featured in Con Brio Recordings’ ad in Fanfare for 18 months
You have your own full page color ad in two issues of Fanfare Magazine and an accompanying online ad for both issues. The second issue will include an article about you in the form of an interview.

Worldwide publicity:

All of the standard coverage and Expanded publicity above
Ads for your CD in Gramophone, BBC Music, American Record Guide, and Classic FM Magazines

Quick & Easy

No charge up front. Includes replication, graphics, printing, and distribution services. You may purchase copies in any quantity for $6.00 each.

Please email us with any questions or more information about our services: mail10[at]ConBrioRecordings[dot]com

Reviews for Con Brio CDs

Most artists not only are far too busy to distribute and publicize their CDs, but also find it difficult to speak up about themselves. This is where we excel - we love bragging up all of our artists. They are accomplished musicians who have worked all their lives to play their instruments at the highest standard of excellence.

Con Brio’s distribution includes submissions to all online music sellers and digital download sites as well as Naxos' Digital Library. Artists are featured on a page on our site with photo, bio, reviews, CD cover, links. New releases are submitted to NARAS for a Grammy Award.

The following is a sample of some of the reviews we have generated for our artists:

For the Icicle Creek Piano Trio (now Volta Piano Trio)- Haydn, Turina, Shostakovich

Gramophone Magazine: [Headline] Icicle’s spreading WARMTH
Shostakovich given a bittersweet emotional charge
Elegance absorbed in this new take on Shostakovich’s highly charged Trio

"Curiously tucked away on a disc that begins with innocuous Haydn and some marvelous Turina, the Icicle Creek Piano Trio uses elegance of tone and grace of line and texture to give the composer’s bitter music, written on the death of his close friend Ivan Sollertinsky, a bittersweet emotional charge.

"The famously treacherous and vividly expressive harmonics, which open the piece, instead of being ghostly let alone eerie, are played with a transforming sweep of gossamer beauty. No less absorbing is the merging of the strings with the throbbing lines of the Moderato. After a gloriously healthy Allegro non troppo, in which pianist Oksana Ezhokina is spotlighted in her beetle-like pursuit of Shostakovich’s endless semiquavers, the Largo is strong and forthright in an oddly sexy way and the Allegretto struts, swaggers and soars as only the Russian soul dares, more affirmation than tragedy, more human love and less political context.

"The Trio takes its name from the Icicle Creek music centre in Leavenworth, Washington, one of those Shangri-La-cum-Northern Exposure wilderness places. The wonderful sound, rich and powerful low down and spreading warmth as the frequency and dynamic ranges grow, was record not in Leavenworth but at Butterfly Productions in Seattle. The sound in the Turina, which is particularly gorgeous, loves lots of volume."

Laurence Vittes, Gramophone Magazine

"[A previous longtime favorite] performance of the Circulo Trio, wonderful as it is, must now cede pride of place to this new one by the Icicle Creek Trio which plays the piece as if spellbound by its mood painting.

"I can honestly say that the ICT’s Shostakovich is another award winning performance that, in my opinion, demotes even the best of the rest to second class.

"The cello’s artificial harmonics at the beginning of the first movement shimmer like hoar-frost, as silvery as I’ve ever heard them. The entrances exchanged between the instruments in the second movement—one of those backbiting, nose-thumbing Shostakovich scherzos—are so perfectly timed and balanced, they’re like the workings of a Swiss watch. And those curling-iron, hairpin swells and diminuendos throughout are discharged like so much flatulence to pollute the air with gaseous gossip. The sullen, bleak tragedy of the Largo is given voice by Shostakovich in the form of that age-old lament composers from earliest times expressed in the falling progression of the chaconne. And here in the ICT’s performance, one hears the underlying foundation in stark relief. In the concluding Allegretto, never have I heard any ensemble make more of the dynamic contrasts or differentiate as sharply as the ICT does between various pizzicato techniques, some soft and fleshy, others hard and percussive.

"Con Brio’s latest Icicle Creek Piano Trio album is a must for all chamber music lovers."

Jerry Dubins, Fanfare

San Francisco Classical Voice [Headline] A Cakewalk For Icicle

"The Icicle Creek Piano Trio — Oksana Ezhokina (piano), Jennifer Caine (violin), and Sally Singer (cello) — is an ensemble new to me, but one I’ll be following closely in future. Its new disc on the Con Brio label, of Haydn, Turina, and Shostakovich (its second CD), reveals an ensemble that can cover a lot of stylistic ground without missing a beat.

"Caine and Singer are in eerie accord all the time, matching timbres and dynamics with what appears almost casual perfection. Singer’s opening harmonics are inhumanly clean and pure. Ezhokina is simply magnificent everywhere; you get the impression that she can put out any amount of power and still maintain perfect clarity.

"The performance’s flaw is that sometimes it doesn’t seem hard enough work. It’s not natural to sail through the Shostakovich’s brutal F-sharp-major scherzo so elegantly; the thing’s obviously designed purposefully to sound ugly, and in all its early recordings, it does. There is, alas, such a thing as doing stuff too well."

Michelle Dulak Thomson, San Francisco Classical Voice

"It is a pleasure to be able to report the creation of an absolutely superb disc of chamber music -- and one, moreover, whose virtues lie in the realm of exceptional technique and insightful interpretation rather than in some unusual innovation. This is just one of those rare chamber music recordings that draw you in immediately with their sensitivity and execution

"The trio does not flag in the most substantial work on the program, the (Shostakovich) Piano Trio No. 2 in E minor, Op. 67, increasingly looking like one of the absolute masterpieces of twentieth century chamber music. Violinist Jennifer Caine delivers superior tragic melody in the slow movement. Not a single detail is lost here. The sound, frequently a problem with small independent releases, comes from a studio in Seattle and does a good job of staying out of the performers' way. Highest possible recommendation."

James Manheim, AllMusic

For Inscapes - Trio Voce

"Trio Voce plays every bar of the Weinberg for everything it’s worth… They approach the Shostakovich Trios with equally straightforward, sturdy appetite and the result in Op. 67 is rich in rustic peasant gaits and attitude. Meanwhile, every chord and each slide and glissando is captured by Bill Maylone’s crack crew working at WFMT in Chicago."

Laurence Vittes, Gramophone

"While Shostakovich’s great Second Trio has been recorded as often as some of his more popular symphonies, and while Weinberg’s remarkable Trio is finally getting its due on disc, it appears that Trio Voce is ahead of the curve in offering the two together with Shostakovich’s precocious First Trio. This makes for an ample and in every other way desirable program. Luckily, Trio Voce’s performances are fine ones…"

Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition

“deeply committed and passionate performances”

“(Trio Voce) brings a singing quality and suppleness to the sentimental melodic curves of the (Shostakovich) First Trio, and a sense of gravitas to the Second Trio.”

“This is impressive music-making, technically and interpretively.”

“…a fully persuasive, gripping performance.”

Art Lange, Fanfare

"The performances are sensitively nuanced and dynamic and the recording, done at WFMT Studios in Chicago last May, is immaculate."

David Olds, Editor’s Corner, The Whole Note

"These are compelling and characterful performances evincing immense concentration by Trio Voce. A slightly rough edge suits these scores far better than smooth refinement. The playing has the spontaneity of live music-making. Recorded at the WFMT Studios in Chicago, the sound is vividly clear and extremely well balanced. This excellent disc would prove an important addition to any serious collection of twentieth-century chamber music."

Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International

For 100 Years of Mexican Music for Wind Quintet - Quinteto Latino

"These musicians, who like to explore new twists on traditional folk songs, are also dedicated to playing works by living composers.

"…this one allows them to demonstrate more of their consummate virtuosity

"…makes this an important disc for lovers of contemporary Latin American music to have in their collections."

Maria Nockin, Fanfare

For El Vuelo de tu Alma - Alturas Duo

"This is a most unusual disc by a most unusual duo, Scott Hill on acoustic guitar and Carlos Boltes on the viola and charango. Though their basic style favors the highly eclectic, dance-like Latin pieces, played in a style much closer to flamenco than to Spanish classical (which means using the charango much more often than the viola), they quite obviously can play classical music arranged for their duo with flair and style.

"For those who enjoy an unusual mixture such as this, the disc is not only enjoyable but musically surprising, a nice combination."

Lynn René Bayley, Fanfare

For Rhythms & Blues - Jocelyn Swigger

Gramophone Magazine
Just the right amount of swagger from Swigger, with a brave coda to boot

This imaginatively programmed recital begins with Samuel Barber’s Excursions, where pianist Jocelyn Swigger’s tenderly phrased Allegretto and incisive melodic projection in the Allegro molto finale stand out. Although an improvisatory impulse hovers over Amy Rubin’s American Progressions, a palpable sense of form and balance governs the music’s open-hearted eclecticism and rich harmonic resources. While Rubin’s own performances dig deeper (a funkier Blues movement and punchier accentuations in the concluding Pascoalette), Swigger’s easy command of the notes is nothing to sneeze at. It takes some time for Martin Scherzinger’s rhapsodic When One Has the Feet of Wind to find its bearings and I like the piece’s rapid gospel-tinged section the best. While Swigger conveys marvelous characterization and rhythmic verve in William Bolcom’s rag cycle The Garden of Eden, she doesn’t consistently sustain the rapid tempo she sets in Jelly Roll Morton’s Finger Buster, where her right hand dominates to a fault (Dick Hyman’s 1974 CBS recording remains the best modern-day version). At the end of the recording sessions, Swigger found herself “hungry for dissonance and simplicity” and improvised four little pieces. True, they’re not memorable, yet give Swigger credit for being brave. After all, has Maurizio Pollini ever improvised freely on disc? Has Murray Perahia? LangLang? Alfred Brendel? Get my drift?

Jed Distler, Gramophone Magazine

Recording of the Month

MusicWeb

What a great surprise: American rags, blues, and minimalism together in a superb program. 

"This is a fantastic surprise. Every year, it seems a piano recital of unusual material curated by the performer drifts into my shortlist for Recording of the Year, and Jocelyn Swigger’s Rhythms & Blues is no doubt the 2011 contender. Her lineup is a great deal of fun, and essential for lovers of contemporary piano music too: we range from short explorations of American folk rhythm by the great Samuel Barber to a series of living composers - Amy Rubin, Martin Scherzinger, John Adams, William Bolcom and four improvisations by Swigger herself.

"Jocelyn Swigger’s lineup here meshes extremely well, and the pieces she has chosen both go naturally together and make a very satisfying program. She digs into the rags with relish - though, wisely, not too much relish; Scott Joplin warned that the only way to play a rag poorly was to play it fast. She projects the blues rhythms very well, and feels at home in the more abstract visions of Scherzinger and Adams, where the repetition never wears. The Jelly Roll “Finger Buster” does sound rather finger-busting; Jelly Roll himself dispatches it with jaw-dropping ease, but then, as Swigger herself admits in the booklet, the composer “had much larger hands than mine.”

"…this back-roads tour of the lovely, unexplored bits of American classical and folk music is a one-of-a-kind journey. Rhythms & Blues is my most pleasant surprise of the year so far."

Brian Reinhart, MusicWeb

For Romantic Serenade - Raymond Burley and John Feeley

'Romantic Serenade' Recording of the Week on Lyric FM
Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"This recording offers more variety than might initially seem to be case, given that it features guitar duets by two near-contemporaries who composed according to musical traditions established in Central and Northern Europe. But whereas Sor wanted to revitalize the guitar repertory with works that could rival Beethoven’s piano compositions in scope and seriousness, Mertz (1806-1856), born a generation after Sor (1778-1839), is closer in spirit to Mendelssohn and Schumann.

"The playing of Messrs. Burley and Feeley is amiable, fluid, colorful—in short, they bring all the right stuff to these largely undemanding but entertaining compositions; the pair is given an attractively bright and intimate recording as well. Sor doesn’t need the advocacy half as much as the less-heard Johann Mertz, and this recording does him and guitar aficionados a real service. So whether you’re placing your bets on the favorite or on the surprising dark-horse entry, this is a recommendable recital."

-- Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition

"Fernando Sor and Johann Kaspar Mertz led the way in developing the classical guitar repertoire by exploring the duet. Here, two Englishmen take their music into a Hampshire church and whip up a sparkling confection, bursting with the kind of elegant, courtly melodies you might find floating above a Viennese masked ball. Many of these compositions originally featured the high-strung terz guitar; here the simple use of a capo captures that same rippling clarity over the supporting standard-tuned instrument and allows for a wonderful contrast in tone between the two players. Burley plays immaculately throughout, while Feeley matches him stride for stride."

Steve Bennett, Acoustic Magazine

Burley and Feeley have an excellent ensemble and a blended and lovely tone. Their playing is more elegant than exciting, but that’s just fine for these works. There is no mention about the artists in the notes.

KEATON, American Record Guide

For the Icicle Creek Piano Trio (now Volta Piano Trio)- Ravel and Schubert

"The performance by the Icicle Creek Trio comes as close to being “definitive” as any I expect to hear in my lifetime. …This is a chamber ensemble I look forward to hearing soon in much more of the mainstream piano trio repertoire. A five-star recommendation."

--Jerry Dubins, Fanfare

"Don't judge people by their names–this is a wonderful album! It even made me take delight in the Schubert, a work that usually drives me out of the room. …This is one album that is absolutely worth having."

--Gil French, American Record Guide

"The playing is warmly considered, meticulous in articulation and blend, and silken in sonority. Violinist Jennifer Caine, cellist Sally Singer, and pianist Oksana Ezhokina gauge Schubert's brooding lines with affecting subtlety. They emphasise the music's contrasts of light and dark within a true chamber-music context, as if they're seated in the room feet away from your ears.

"The Icicle Creek musicians pair Schubert with Ravel's Piano Trio, which they limn in shadings of exquisite sheen and vibrancy. The score's mysterious radiance receives as much attention as the sweeping activity. Icy it most definitely is not." --Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone Magazine

"For their debut on disc, the players have bravely chosen works already over-subscribed in the present catalogue. They catch all the subtle, shimmering shades of the Ravel Trio, but this is essentially a young, virile and robust view of the score. I particularly enjoyed the piano's spiky introduction to a second movement that is illuminated by brilliant flashes of light."

--David Denton, the Strad

“The name “Icicle Creek” doesn’t really do this piano trio justice. They perform with such fiery passion that there couldn’t possibly be anything frozen within 100 yards of them. But at the same time, this superbly talented group seems to be at its finest when they’re interpreting Ravel or Schubert’s more melancholy passages, each melody tinged with mourning. So maybe there is something to be said for the chilliness of their chosen name. But hot-and-cold clichés aside, this stellar recording captures some truly stunning musicianship.”

--Chris Robley, CD Baby

For Richard Arnell Symphonies 4 & 5 - MusicaNova Orchestra, Warren Cohen, director

"This CD is a fine independent project coming out of a collaboration between a small California record label and the founder and conductor of the MusicaNova Orchestra of Scottsdale, AZ."

"Sonics on the recording are excellent, and the MusicaNova Orchestra plays like a highly professional aggregation."

--Audiophile Audition - John Sunier

"I was surprised and then delighted to discover this disc."

"Cohen conveys the natural pulse of the music whether in syncopated exertion, benign sanguine reflection or the uproar of conflict (#4) and celebration (#5)."

"I trust that Con Brio and Warren Cohen will give us the other Arnell symphonies but of even greater value now is for us to hear works such as Sinfonia Quasi Variazione and Ode to the West Wind – works which are already under the belt of MusicNova and their free spirit of a conductor. The MusicNova concert programmes should be an education to the administration and policy people in the world’s ‘great’ orchestras with their tired programme choices and dowdy predictability."

--MusicWeb May 2008 - Rob Barnett

"Lest the music be forgotten, it is simply gorgeous....a glorious experience not to be missed."

--Jerry Dubins, Fanfare Magazine

 

For Stephen Reck, guitar Saudade

"...perfectly enjoyable. He's clean, has a pleasant tone..."

"His best work here is in the most challenging piece, Dodgson's Fantasy Divisions, which he navigates with more involvement and imagination than in any other piece."

--American Record Guide - Keaton

 

For Patrick Beckman - American Scenes Vol 1&2

"Individualistic, innovative, and inspirational American Scenes Vols 1 & 2 provides a highly polished musical experience expertly written and performed by one of the country’s leading Urban jazz pianist/composers."

-- Jeff Perkins, BlogCritics (France)

For "Bach: Three Sonatas for Violin Solo - James Greening-Valenzuela

"[Greening-Valenzuela has] more courage and imagination than the average (and above-average) modern-day virtuoso..."

--American Record Guide

"Greening-Valenzuela plays expressively throughout, and his technical resources are impressive...
From the opening bars of the G minor Sonata we are clearly in for a thrilling time..."

--Roy Brewer - MusicWeb

For "Ernst Bacon: Violin Sonata and David Diamond: Chaconne for Violin and Piano" - James Greening-Valenzuela, violin and John Walker, piano

"... this is a performance of potency and passion..."

--The Strad

"Both works on this short CD are written in an immediately approachable idiom that is most appealing. Both, also, are carefully and successfully crafted in their own ways.

"...this Violin Sonata is a thoroughly confident affair, given here in a most committed performance by Greening-Valenzuela and Walker. The violinist has an expressive, but not distracting, vibrato and a strong sense of line that suits this music perfectly. In addition, Greening-Valenzuela’s sweet top register is well-captured in the first movement."

"The Chaconne (Diamond) is quite a remarkable work… Greening-Valenzuela suavely characterises the various variations."

--Colin Clarke - MusicWeb

For "Delectable Pieces" - Volkert-Walther String Trio: Mark Volkert, violin, Geraldine Walther, viola, Jan Volkert, cello

"Violinist Mark Volkert's skilful arrangements for string trio are felicitous and idiomatic, so much that one quickly forgets the originals."

"All three veer towards the espressivo side of romantic..." and "The recording is pleasingly full and rounded..."

--Julian Haylock - The Strad

"Chamber music CDs rarely contain such a diversity of composers as are collected here. Mark Volkert's arrangements are attractive and are played with good pace that gives a fresh appeal to the pieces. There is optimum balance between players... The studio acoustic adds an attractive bloom in resonance for the lower register of the cello and this gives an enhanced richness to the recording. "

--Raymond Walker - MusicWeb

"The playing abounds with a spirit of unanimity and good humor… The players make an elegant case for this music; the individual voices are distinct, and the blend they achieve is dynamic.

It's highly recommended for chamber music aficionados.

--Georgia Rowe, Contra Costa Times