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Remy Franck
Pizzicato, November 2017

The US All Star Orchestra with the best musicians from the American orchestras plays a varied program with works by Elgar, Goossens, Hovhaness and Britten. Technically flawless, the performances depend on Gerard Schwarz’s inspiration. …The film also contains carefully prepared introductions to the works. © 2017 Pizzicato

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2017

Last year The All Star Orchestra was on public television stations for a total of around five thousand hours, making it the world’s most watched classical music. That is the mission of the conductor, Gerard Schwarz, who, you will recall, turned the Seattle Symphony from an ‘also-ran’ provincial orchestra into an internationally acclaimed ensemble. He now brings together ninety-five of the principal musicians from the most famous orchestras in the United States to showcase this orchestra for television. From a technical point of view these performances are impressive, though for the serious record collector Schwarz has chosen two works by British composers that have been conducted by a glittering array of British conductors on disc. Much of the Elgar is too slow with Nimrod assuming the role of an impassioned Elegy. That is offset by a stunning account of Benjamin Britten’s ‘Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’, in which every department displays incredible virtuosity, and with fascinating close-up filming you will see, for instance, two oboists playing their instruments in a totally different way. Schwarz’s choice for his American programme is strange, opening with the Second Symphony by the hugely prolific composer, Alan Hovhaness, subtitled ‘Mysterious Mountain’. Purely tonal in concept, and easily accessible, it is still a work that I guess anyone coming to the classics will find ‘difficult’, much though I personally enjoy Hovhaness. Then a total rarity with the ‘Jubilee Variations’ commissioned in 1944 by the British-born conductor and composer, Eugene Goossens, during his tenure as the music director of the Cincinnati Symphony. He composed the theme and finale with ten composers, all born or living in the United States and including Copland, Piston, Hanson, Harris, Schuman, Creston and Deems Taylor, writing the variations. It was rather a ‘patchwork quilt’ idea, that has some interesting moments. In the Elgar we tend to see too much of Schwarz, but otherwise the filming and the sound quality is of absolutely excellent. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

Richard Haskell
The WholeNote, October 2017

Programs 15 and 16 take the viewer from Northern Europe to England and America of the 19th and 20th centuries. “British Enigmas” presents Elgar’s noble and dignified Enigma Variations and Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Less well known are the ethereal Symphony No.2Mysterious Mountain” by American composer Alan Hovhaness and the Jubilee Variations, a collaborative work by English composer Eugene Goossens and ten American composer friends. The final movement of the variations, written by Goossens himself, is a true tour de force requiring the ensemble to pull out all the stops, thus bringing the work—and the DVD—to a fitting conclusion. The viewer is left almost wishing there was a live audience present to offer a round of well-deserved applause! © 2017 The WholeNote Read complete review, September 2017

ALL-STAR ORCHESTRA (THE): Program 13: Russian Treasures / Program 14: Northern Lights (G. Schwarz) (NTSC) 2.110561
ALL-STAR ORCHESTRA (THE): Program 15: British Enigmas / Program 16: Mysterious Mountain (G. Schwarz) (NTSC) 2.110562

The recordings of The All-Star Orchestra conducted by Gerard Schwarz remain excellent ways for people unfamiliar with classical music to learn about it in an enjoyable rather than strictly educational way. These DVDs are not as groundbreaking as the Bernstein concerts that are their musical and educational heritage, but they are uniformly well-produced, well-played and packed with commentary that can help make classical music as understandable and vibrant in the 21st century as Bernstein’s TV shows made it in the 20th. © 2017 Read complete review

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