“The solo playing is spectacular on all counts.”
American Record Guide (United States)
"The winner of the Geneva International music Competition provided us with an overwhelming masterful performance."
The Geneva Journal (Switzerland)
"Hong-Mei Xiao played with the highest measure of ringing warmth of tone and brilliant technique. The concert demonstrated a special artistry."
Berlin Morgenpost (Germany)
"Hong-Mei Xiao provided an unforgettable evening of music making on the highest artistic level."
Newsday (United States)
“Distinguished violist Hong-Mei Xiao showcases not only her virtuosity but also her keen interpretive skills in this appealing compilation of English works. … She plays with complete conviction and passion, and a luxuriantly warm tone that vividly captures its picturesque Celtic charm. There is the requisite drive and focus with the fast passages played in taut and lively fashion, while the opulent middle section conjures the Irish landscape with her all-embracing sound palette. Her unfailingly sweet, expressive tone ranges from spine-tingling high notes to calm and evocative, always retaining the momentum of this big-scale, concerto-like [Arnold Bax] Phantasy to its sizzling climax. … Recognized among viola aficionados and players as the doyen of works in the genre, the glorious [Walton Concerto] score is done full justice by Xiao, her rich and varied sound highlighting this magnificent work as she pours her heart into every phrase. … The Budapest Symphony under János Kovács makes the most of the exciting orchestration, sensitively backing the soloist every step of the way.”
Strings Magazine (United States)
"The Chinese violist Hong-Mei Xiao, thanks to her expressive qualities and noble playing style, is the ideal interpreter for the (Schnittke) concerto. Her rich tone, her brilliant virtuosity and her sense of phrasing let the music express itself in a pure way."
Geneva Tribune (Switzerland)
"Hong-Mei Xiao drew enchanting sounds from her viola. Her technical ability stands on an extraordinarily high level. She held the listeners in her grasp with this highly musical and energetic interpretation."
Westdeutsche Allgemeine (Germany)
"What most stands out on the whole CD is the wonderful craftsmanship of Hong-Mei Xiao. Her deft touch and feeling for the music comes shining through in this performance with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra."
Worcester Evening News (United Kingdom)
"The soloist Hong-Mei Xiao was wondrous."
"The talented violist showed herself to be an admirable instrumentalist and an intelligent musician. Her playing manifested an ideal velvet sonority and a purity of legato in the cantabile passages, and a prestigious and flexible technique with solidity and energy in the virtuoso passages."
The Courier (Switzerland)
"Xiao and the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra give a lively and exciting performance.”
The Strad (United Kingdom)
"Ms. Xiao's playing sings so beautifully with a full and rich enticing sound; in the meanwhile the fast passages were really clear and strong technically. It was very impressive that she had such command of perfect rhythm and brilliant technique."
Ongaku no tomo (Japan)
"Hong-Mei Xiao's performances are amazing technically and expressively."
Sunday Telegraph (Australia)
"Xiao is obviously a gifted violist. Her playing has great gusto and she's the closest to Primrose (the original performer) in spirit and sound that I've yet encountered. Her soulful, expressive approach is ideally suited to this warm-hearted music."
American Record Guide (United States)
"Hong-Mei Xiao has demonstrated to us that she is a highly expressive artist with consummate individuality."
"As characteristic of English music from this period, Bax's melodies roll ever onward, perhaps like the endless waters surrounding the island country. At other times, the
rustic roots of folk music, rife with pentatonic melodies and jaunty rhythms, break forth with nostalgia and playfulness. Hong-Mei Xiao engages both ends of this spectrum with great energy and ease. She has the astounding ability to maintain a sense of newness and exploration throughout the sprawling melodies that wind through this twenty-minute piece, and is able to carry the listener on a riveting journey. The way she handles both dolce, emotion-laden themes and the virtuosic gymnastics of rapid double-stops and octaves enables the listener to hear the spirit of the music and of the violist for whom it written."
Journal of the American Viola Society (United States)
“This performance, by superb viola soloist Hong-Mei Xiao, demonstrates all the classical virtues of superior string playing: warm tone, excellent intonation (even in double-stops), and vocal, cantabile phrasing. Her arrangement of Baal Shem (originally composed for violin) is wholly persuasive, and both this and the late (1951) Suite Hébraïque combine with the Viola Suite to present a winning portrait of this still-neglected master of the orchestra. An excellent disc.”
Classicstoday.com (United States)
"This first recording of the revised version of Bartok Viola Concerto, superbly played by the rich-toned Chinese viola player Hong-Mei Xiao, proves fascinating."
The Guardian (United Kingdom))
"Ms. Xiao, the soloist with the North German Radio Orchestra, gave a truly outstanding performance. Her playing was full of expression and confidence. Her technique was impeccable."
The Ming News (Hong Kong)
“Hong-Mei Xiao is magnificent. She is an excellent soloist with a lovely full rich tone.”
The Classical Reviewer (United Kingdom)
“This (Bloch) CD is beautifully played by Hong-Mei Xiao.”
Penguin Guide (United Kingdom)
"Delos Phantasy epitomises success in its surrender to Bax's romantic sun-soaked peace as well as his martial kinetic excitement. The performance has great torque with an eager response to the mercurial mood shifts. There is much to enjoy here."
MusicWeb International (United Kingdom)
"The most striking element about this (Bartok Concerto) disc is the thrillingly dark tone and passionate playing of Xiao, a superb Chinese musician."
Editorial Review, Amazon.com (United States)
“There have been many fine viola recordings released in the past two decades, but this Bloch CD from Hong-Mei Xiao is very much in a league of excellence all of its own. Born in China, she came to worldwide attention in 1987 when winning the Geneva International Music Competition. Since then she has enjoyed a major career as a concert soloist, her recordings having included Bartók’s Viola Concerto in its original and revised versions for Naxos. Here she has chosen a program of music by Ernest Bloch linked with his love of Judaism in its contribution to culture. At times it is ecstatic in mood, the viola sweg upwards as if a bird in flight, the technical hurdles simply swept aside, Xiao’s viola producing the most gorgeous sounds. Baal Shem is one of Bloch’s best-known works, and was conceived for violin and piano, the original accompaniment later orchestrated and now arranged by the soloist for viola. As her instrument has a violin quality high in the register, the change is hardly noticeable. If I would commend the disc for the viola playing, I would then go on to say that it is one of the most idiomatic and colourful orchestral discs of Bloch I have yet encountered. Add the excellence of the recording and you have my fervent recommendation.”
David Denton, David’s Review Corner (United Kingdom)
“You would think that a piece written in 1923 for viola and piano wouldn’t have to wait until 2005 for an arrangement for viola and orchestra. Yet such is the fate of Baal Shem. So we owe a lot of credit to dual violist and arranger Hong-Mei Xiao for her commitment to the cause. In any event, Bloch usually only gets credit for his “Jewish music”…and so rather than avoid that fact, Xiao and Naxos relish it will three suitably exotic works of varying far-east flavors. Whatever your thoughts on the “Jewish” or “Eastern” nature of the music, you can’t deny that it is well-crafted, drenched in color, and worthy of further exposure. Nor can you escape the fact that Xiao is a simply wonderful player, fully attuned to the various moods of the composer…The disc lasts just over an hour, and yet the music never tires the ear. Xiao is very well balanced against the Budapest forces, who clearly enjoy the rich tonal palette on display…this project is about a neglected composer’s writing for a neglected instrument, and has to be considered a success on all counts. Awesome.”
Classical Net (United Kingdom)
"Xiao brought the fullest measure imaginable to its (Hindemith Sonata) expressive and lyrical contour... She burst through its manifold hurdles with aplomb, winding through blazing accelerations and sudden shifts in momentum with mechanical precision. What came through was more than mere technical prowess. The underlying intellect and emotional landscape permeated the dazzling performance... The slow movement of the Brahms was particularly moving as Xiao coaxed graceful singing lines from her instrument over the supple accompaniment. In the Hummel she ornamented her manicured lines to utmost perfection."
Tucson Citizen (United States)