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Em Marshall-Luck
MusicWeb International, August 2012

An excellent release from Naxos, this disc presents three orchestral operatic suites, from The Snow Maiden, Mlada and Le Coq d’or, and the “Musical Picture”, Sadko. Gerard Schwarz’s version of Sheherazade, also for Naxos, and again with the Seattle Symphony, received critical acclaim. This disc, likewise, gives the impression of a conductor who is fully in sympathy with the music and who brings out the best, both in the works performed, and from this really rather good orchestra.

The Dance of the Clowns is taken at a sensible tempo—not ‘hyped up’ to make it sensationalist as is so often the case. It nevertheless retains a wonderful sense of exuberance and energy. It is also good, in the same movement, to hear the tambourine actually in time with the wind, instead of a demisemiquaver behind: a common failing in The Dance of the Clowns.

There is also an impressive clarity in the timps, especially in the Cortege from the Suite from Mlada, each individual note being audible…these are extremely fine performances indeed. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Rob Maynard
MusicWeb International, March 2012

This new Seattle Symphony/Schwarz release comes hard on the heels of two earlier discs (Scheherazade and Capriccio Espagnol) in what is becoming a valuable series devoted to Rimsky-Korsakov's orchestral music.

Gerard Schwarz…has built up an orchestra that is self-evidently well drilled. Simultaneously, however, its members play with apparent spontaneity and imagination, as well as the verve and idiomatic style required by these colourful scores. They also display a degree of conviction in the music that is frequently missing from other accounts that treat it…

The suite from Le coq d’or is the most substantial on the disc and is delivered not only with the appropriate mixture of exoticism, swagger and aplomb but with lashings of musical wit too, as Rimsky relishes every opportunity to poke fun at his opera’s ridiculously pompous and self-important characters. Schwarz and his orchestra play so expertly and with such respect for the composer’s characteristic idiom that everything comes up as fresh as new paint.

Anyone who has already invested in the two earlier volumes in this series need not hesitate to add this third disc to their collection. Others can invest in all three with the greatest confidence and the prospect of enjoying them all immensely. © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Steven J Haller
American Record Guide, March 2012

I’m elated to report that this new release offering orchestral music from four of Rimsky’s operas is every bit on the same exalted level as the Borodin…Certainly this is a powerhouse Coq d’Or by any standards, with spectacular playing by the Seattle winds…there’s no point even assembling an orchestra before the microphones if you can’t be certain that they have the skill and commitment to do a fantastic job. That the Seattle players certainly achieve here, and they benefit from having a man on the podium who understands that this is music of the theater… © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



John Warrack
Gramophone, February 2012

Schwarz’s guiding hand gives the music a strong and coherent shape. The Seattle players are excellent, with a confident horn section that has plenty to rejoice in…the excerpts are more substantial, and are not only vividly presented but well shaped. The pieces are enjoyable as lollipops; perhaps they will also encourage listeners to explore Rimsky-Korsakov’s operatic legacy more fully. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



BBC Music Magazine, February 2012

Rimsky-Korsakov’s suites of shortish movements drawn from his fantasy operas can seem like too much icing on the cake, so it’s good that Gerard Schwarz turns to the early tone poem about the sea-obsessed minstrel Sadko rather than the later opera…The Seattle woodwind burst with character, and there’s some hair-raising trombone playing as the surreal drama of Rimsky-Korsakov’s slightly scary swansong builds up a head of steam. © 2012 BBC Music Magazine



Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, February 2012

Once again, Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony have come out with another terrific recording of Russian classics to solidify their special place among American orchestras. This time, it’s four sumptuously scored works by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, consisting of the suites from three operas, The Snow Maiden, Mlada, and Le Coq d’or (The Golden Cockerel) plus his musical tableau Sadko, not to be confused with his later opera of the same title.

Certainly, Gerard Schwarz is very much at home with Rimsky’s strong rhythms and his palette of bold primary colors backed by stunning orchestrations that add additional color and flavor to his music. And he has, in the high level of bravura musicianship found throughout the Seattle SO, just the right resources to bring it off. © 2012 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review



Blair Sanderson
Allmusic.com, January 2012

Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony have provided a fine showcase for these orchestral favorites, and the suites’ imaginative scoring and memorable melodies make this an enjoyable CD. © 2012 Allmusic.com Read complete review



Infodad.com, January 2012

the musicians play with verve and beauty, and Schwarz brings considerable understanding to suites that are essentially sequences of miniature scenes. The result is a CD that shows Rimsky-Korsakov’s orchestral effects burnished to a fine sheen. © 2012 Infodad.com Read complete review




Gary Lemco
Audiophile Audition, January 2012

this disc brings us a happy compilation of brilliant music derived from folk and fairy tales…

The most familiar and musically rewarding score, the suite from his final opera Le Coq d’or (1907), has had marvelous inscriptions from Markevitch, Beecham, Svetlanov, and Neeme Jarvi. No less enchanted, the Schwartz rendition combines piquant detail in the percussion and loving sweetness from the strings, especially in the episode of King Dodon with Queen Shemakhan. Rimsky-Korsakov seems to have spliced his own, limitless invention in Scheherazade with lessons on the Asian musical culture from Balakirev and Belyayev. The sultry veils of sound produced by the Seattle Symphony throughout these sympathetic readings should seduce any votary of the Mighty Five to the temple provided by Benaroya Hall. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review



James Norris
Audiophilia, January 2012

Musical Picture, Mlada and Golden Cockerel with Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony delivering energetic and crisp performances superbly recorded in the Benaroya Hall, Seattle.

surely a good indication of quality…Great entertainment and perfect for music lovers’ Christmas stockings. © 2012 Audiophilia Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2012

Four of the best known suites from the operas of Rimsky-Korsakov, a composer who thought of himself as a man of the theatre. He was particularly drawn to fairy-tales for librettos that seldom have happy endings, as in the case of Snegurochka (The Snow Maiden), the daughter of Spring and Winter has snow running through her veins and is safe from the melting effect of the sun providing she never feels the warmth of love. But she falls for the charms of Mizgir, and the sun kills her. Much the same sadness ends Le Coq d’or (The Golden Cockerel ); Mlada offers little more happiness, while Sadko ends in unhappiness for everyone. Fortunately we don’t have many such feelings in the technicoloured concert suites that Rimsky-Korsakov extracted from them. They all contain a Russian folk quality that he explored with his remarkable gift of orchestration. On disc the outstanding performances have usually come from Russia, for they have that innate sound the music requires, though the Seattle orchestra has already shown their credentials in this repertoire, and with Gerard Schwarz at the helm they offer a well played programme, the delicate passages—particularly the Dance of the Birds in The Snow Maiden—displaying their fine woodwind section. The powerful concluding section to Mlada is full of impact, while Le Coq d’or has its full quota of excitement. Unfussy and cleanly delineated sound.



Operavore
WQXR (New York), December 2011

Operavore 2011 Gift Guide

RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, N.A.: Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh (The) (Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, 2008) (NTSC) 2.110277–78
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, N.A.: Snow Maiden Suite (The) / Sadko, Musical Picture / Mlada Suite / The Golden Cockerel Suite (Seattle Symphony, Schwarz) 8.572787
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, N.A.: Scheherazade / Tale of Tsar Saltan Suite (Seattle Symphony, Schwarz) 8.572693
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV, N.A.: Capriccio espagnol / Overtures (Seattle Symphony, Schwarz) 8.572788

Naxos is on a Russian roll this month with a double-hitter from this member of The Five. Bass Mikhail Kazakov, who made an impressive star turn in Dallas earlier this year in the title role of Boris Godunov, headlines the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari’s The Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh, a dreamy work widely thought to be the Russian Parsifal. Also out this month on Naxos are orchestral suites from several of Rimsky-Korsakov’s other operas, including The Snow Maiden, Sadko and Le Coq d’or. Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony are in incredibly fine form with this repertoire, which you can also hear on recordings of Scheherazade and Capriccio espagnol, also released on Naxos this past May and September, respectively. © 2011 Operavore/WQXR (New York)



new-classics.co.uk, December 2011

[Rimsky-Korsakov’s] love of the sea influenced him in one of his best-known orchestral works, the musical Sadko, which is included in this collection of brilliant and wonderfully melodic suites. Gerard Schwarz also conducts the excellent Settle Symphony in suites from the composer’s own favourite work… © 2011 New Classics






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