The Scotsman (Edinburgh), 1985

The extraordinary physical composure of the Minneapolis-based Peter Arnstein on Friday night was in its way only matched by his formidable technical assurance, his sensitivity, his adroit choice of programme and his versatility. In this second of his three keyboard recitals in the St. Cecilia Hall, he alternated between Sir Donald Tovey’s mellow if ageing Bosendorfer grand piano and the modern, single-manual Morton Gould harpsichord normally housed in the Reid School of Music. His was therefore a double-barrelled concert, opening with a selection of English and Scots pieces for virginals, mostly Galliards, and dominated, almost inevitably by William Byrd, particularly by the performance of Hughe Ashton’s Grownde.

If Dr. Arnstein’s fingers were nimble, his perceptions were crisper still, as he subsequently demonstrated in his harpsichord arrangement of a Vivaldi guitar concerto in D. He would no doubt have preferred a larger, double-manual instrument for such a work. As it was, he had to content himself with the provision of a lute stop in the Largo, a movement that accumulated an astonishing emotional intensity. Its release came in the pyrotechnical brilliance of the concluding Allegro, with its firecracker vivacity and its whizzing scales.

The recitalist’s juxtaposition of Studies by Chopin and Debussy, plus a wild card by Rachmaninov, underlined his artistic acumen, but it was in Liszt’s Vallee d’Obermann that he produced his pianistic piece de resistance.

Reviewed by Christopher Grier

EdinburghGuide.com August 13, 2003

Scottish Fantasy was a delightful piece, crying out to be heard over again, an American eye on Scottish music….It was a wonderfully bright, spanking new musical tartan compliment. Though 2003 is the Trio’s debut performance, Michael Antonello and Peter Arnstein received rave reviews in the 1995 Fringe. They truly deserve rave reviews this year, too….The whole programme was a real delight.

Reviewed by Pat Napier

The Scotsman (Edinburgh), November 2, 1988

ARTFUL RECITAL DELIGHTS. To Edinburgh University yesterday, the young American pianist, Peter Arnstein, brought a programme which looked chaotic. Music by seven composers, starting with Debussy, working through Schubert and Skryabin and ending with the performer’s own Jelly Roll Fantasy, was crammed into a recital at the Reid Concert Hall lasting less than an hour.

But the result, far from being a muddle, was thoughtful and fascinating. Debussy’s Poissons d’Or from his keyboard Images was played so delicately and was so lightly pedaled, that it could have been an introductory Scarlatti sonata. Instead of clashing with Schubert’s A minor sonata, Op. 143, which followed, it led subtly into the skeletal octaves with which the Schubert opened.

Here, too, Mr. Arnstein’s severely pared-down approach to the music paid dividends. He emphasized the mysterious half lights and spaces of the first movement, and made the whirling finale look simultaneously backwards to early Beethoven and forwards to the finale of Chopin’s Funeral March.

The succeeding four pieces by Chopin, Schumann, Skryabin and Liszt maintained the Schubert’s sense of mystery, but, also, through unexpected thematic connections, formed an integrated group. Mr. Arnstein convincingly treated them as reflective, exploratory sketches, and conveyed the ambiguities of Liszt’s brilliant La Leggierezza particularly tellingly.

All four were as scrupulously articulated as the Schubert and Debussy, and the same could be said for Mr. Arnstein’s own neo-Lisztian fantasy on themes by Jelly Roll Morton which completed the programme. It sounded like extemporization but it was artfully and wittily controlled.

Reviewed by Conrad Wilson


North Shore Journal (Minnesota), June 5, 2010


              Special ties to the Silver Bay venue inspired composer & pianist, Peter Arnstein, to create a special piece celebrating the recently refurbished piano at William Kelly High School. Like an energized flock of birds, his fingers flew back and forth across all 88 keys captivating the audience with the amazing tones as well as overtones.

              This past May’s evening program shared a century of musical masterpieces including his own 2010 Serenity Suite. Brief but insightful comments between selections kept the audience focused as well as in good humor, as Dr. Arnstein took the group on a musical tour of two continents.

              Peter Arnstein’s great skill and virtuosity overwhelmed the group which spontaneously rose to its feet in appreciation and was treated to an encore piece by Scarlatti.


reviewed by Connie Baranabee



North Shore Journal (Minnesota), June, 2012


        Peter Arnstein performed a “Kennedy Center” quality piano concert to a welcoming and enthusiastic audience in Silver Bay May 10th. Entering a bare stage, except for the Steinway piano, and dressed in a charcoal gray tuxedo, Dr. Arnstein immediately captured our attention with his interpretation of Bach/Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in E Minor. He then performed three Muzurkas, a uniquely Polish polka style dance inspired form for piano developed by Chopin and concluded the first half of the concert with a masterfully performed Beethoven’s Sonata in E Major, Opus 109. Each piece introduced with a humourous, informative anecdote regarding the composer and the musical style of the piece.

         After intermission Dr. Arnstein presented seven preludes of his own composition. These introductory, experimental pieces (version 17.2, he noted) reflected an endearing, playful quality captured in some of the titles: Spry Rabbit, Sea Breeze, and Pale Visage.

         The final performance of the evening was a superbly rendered and nuanced series of Paganini variations by Johannes Brahms seamlessly interwoven with pieces of Dr. Arnstein’s own creation. Dr. Arnstein received a standing ovation from a very appreciative audience.


reviewed by Morris Manning

The Scotsman (Edinburgh), August 26, 1995

Antonello/Arnstein - For those that like their classical music light and schmaltzy, the formidable duo of Michael Antonello on violin and Peter Arnstein on piano will not disappoint. The two Americans were unafraid to take a conventional work like Handel’s Sonata No. 3 in F and give it the Liberace treatment. The piano parts written by Arnstein proved that improvisation was alive and well as his fingers raced up and down the keyboard. While this looked fun, his self-indulgence at times threatened to overwhelm Handel’s straightforward violin melody.

Arnstein’s own composition, Three Virtuoso Gospel Fantasies galloped through a variety of styles and well-known American tunes, with Antonello’s sweet-sounding Stradivarius stealing the show.

In fact it would be hard to better Antonello’s violin playing anywhere on the Fringe. His formidable technique was evident in Kreisler’s arrangement of Mozart’s Rondo and other fiendishly difficult works by Kreisler, the violin virtuoso. And not only is Antonello a joy to listen to, but also to watch, especially when he rises on tiptoes to reach the top notes.

Reviewed by Susan Nickalls
Fanfare September/October 1992 violin & piano

Mr. Antonello .... is accompanied by an excellent pianist and composer [Peter Arnstein], also Minneapolis-based, who studied with Robert Goldsand, and who has improvised here a marvelous accompaniment to the very familiar Leclair Sonata .... I was enchanted by Arnstein’s ornate, new accompaniment.

Reviewed by David K. Nelson
Fanfare, May/June 1993, violin & piano

Arnstein’s tinkering with the piano parts goes beyond what he did in the first release. Available gaps are filled with rapid notes and double-dotted passages, in the manner of the French Baroque, as if the piano had the harpsichord’s lack of sustain. But Arnstein admits that recording on the “Horowitz” Steinway (during its 1992 tour of the country) is his major inspiration here. During the Bach Bouree and the last movement of the Handel Sonata, he outraces Antonello, flying up and down the keyboard with rapid scales, flourishes of thick-textured chords, and a variety of other virtuoso devices that call Horowitz’s own arrangements to mind. Meantime, Antonello plays his parts absolutely “straight.” The effect is like standing outside of two practice rooms at a music school. In the third movement of the Handel, Arnstein throws harmonic caution to the winds, with a zany mix of pure Handel and Scriabin.

Reviewed by David K. Nelson

Minneapolis Star & Tribune, December 11, 1984

Peter Arnstein gave his wife sympathetic but rhythmically subtle accompaniment in all these works. And playing alone just before intermission he delivered a persuasive reading of Liszt’s “Vallee d’Obermann” (from Book One of the “Annees”) that was both brilliantly virtuosic and sensitively nuanced. It was the rare sort of Liszt performance that avoids both sentimentality and the sense of virtuosity for its own sake.

Reviewed by Michael Anthony, Staff Writer

Fanfare, November/December 2005 violin and piano

If Arnstein doesn’t linger in the shadows of Franck’s opening ninth chords, he plays the rippling figuration of the Allegro that follows with an etched clarity that makes their forward momentum all the less resistible—Antonello and Arnstein soar in this movement….if the canonic finale’s rapt mysticism has come to sound disappointingly perfunctory in many performances, it soars in Antonello’s and Arnstein’s intense reading. Engaging sonata readings by partners that consistently fire on all cylinders, in recorded sound that holds the instruments in dynamic balance and represents the full timbral range of each.

Reviewed by Robert McColley

Three Weeks; The Edinburgh Festival Online, (Trio di Vita)

Pianist Peter Arnstein’s performances were marked by a mixture of sensitivity and extreme emotion which was most apparent in his own composition, the quirky “Trio Jazzico Nostalgico.”

The Trio di Vita is mellow, with violinist Mike Antonello, Peter Arnstein at ease with his eighty-eight keys, and Scott Adelman playing the cello. Those who have started to cringe at a non-stop rock-and-roll binge will want to sample a trio that plays classics with brio--The hit of the Festival Fringe.

Reviewed by Online reporter

Fanfare Magazine, July/August 1999 violin & piano

Arnstein’s own composition /Grasshopper Suite/is worth mining for recital encores. …by no means unworthy of your attention. Arnstein is a proficient professional, a composer, pianist, and harpsichordist. Arnstein’s own composition, as wacky and agitated as one would expect from the source and the title, is worth mining for recital encores.

Reviewed by David K. Nelson