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Paul Corfield Godfrey
MusicWeb International, January 2013

One is most grateful to Naxos for their continuing rescue job on the old Delos Seattle Schwarz catalogue, in which they are including not only the invaluable issues of American works but also a large number of other readings of works which have either never been previously issued—such as the Pfitzner symphony here—or have had only limited circulation and critical notice in the past. This disc…assembles a number of valuable performances which would otherwise have slipped through the net.

The major work here is indeed the Pfitzner Third Symphony…Schwarz’s performance here is much more than just a ‘run-through’. He has obvious affection for the music, and he gets his orchestra to deliver a performance than is ripe and satisfying; the brass playing at the beginning, rich and virile…one cannot imagine that they would have bettered the reading here.

The other real rarity on this disc is Gerard Schwarz’s own transcription of Webern’s early “slow movement”, originally written for string quartet but here realised for full string orchestra.

The Brahms Hungarian Dances and the Mendelssohn overture are also well performed…The Schumann Konzertstück…is a real masterpiece…The four players here are splendid, rising to the challenges with no signs of effort. Schwarz accompanies with a will, and this is a scintillating performance. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Mark Lehman
American Record Guide, January 2013

All are worth hearing; but the highpoint…is Pfitzner’s Symphony in C.… since I first heard it, I’ve loved this noble, melodious, delightfully eccentric creation…

I begins with an unforgettable motto-like theme with soaring phrases punctuated by a droll staccato-repeatednote figure, at once grandly ceremonious and quirky…announced by the solo horn, that proudly establishes the work’s C-major tonality. A more lyrical theme offers contrast…Both ideas are extended, but instead of building to a recapitulation, the music slows and quiets, seamlessly merging into the second-movement adagio with a long, lovely, sighing melody sung by the English horn and later strings…Pfitzner truncates the mood of love-drenched longing with a surprise plunge into a presto finale, tossing off episodes of intricate, giddily swirling polyphony before culminating in the long-delayed recapitulation of the first movement’s opening motto-theme, this time as a sonorous fanfare with thrilling modulations that finally, and with appropriate splendor, re-affirm the work’s home-key tonic in a blaze of glory.

Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony on this new Naxos play with plenty of gusto…

…if you love beautifully-crafted and wonderfully engaging symphonies, are curious enough to want to discover more of them…do seek out Pfitzner’s joyous, one-of-a-kind contribution to the genre. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online



David Denton
David's Review Corner, October 2012

To describe this as an unusual collection could well be a contender for the ‘Understatement of the Century’ award. It opens with the Seattle horn team entering with great gusto into the Konzertstucke, a score that sounds as if it could have come from Richard Strauss, though he hadn’t been born when Schumann completed the work in 1849. The performance is as good as they come, the exemplary balance between them adding to the excitement the music generates in its outer movements, the creamy tone ideal for the slow central movement. The tuneful Mendelssohn overture was for his parent’s Silver Wedding celebrations, and never originally intended for publication. Tchaikovsky’s orchestration of the two piano etudes is robustly played; the Hungarian Dances are boisterous and lead to Webern’s Langsamer Satz, a work for string quartet in the composer’s late-Romantic mode, and here orchestrated by the disc’s conductor, Gerard Schwarz. I would commend the Pfitzner symphony, a tonal score from 1940, but in style dating from the late Romantic era. It lasts less than eighteen minutes, and is scored for a conventional orchestra. The recordings date from 1988 to 1996 and there are some ambience jolts, the material having already appeared apart from the Pfitzner which are the most recently recorded tracks. It is given a strong and likeable performance that in itself makes the release desirable. © 2012 David’s Review Corner






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