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John J. Puccio
Classical Candor, May 2012

Schwarz’s disc makes an excellent alternative to Hanson’s own recording of the Second Symphony for Mercury.

The introductory segment of this three-movement symphony begins with a grandly melodramatic sweep and then opens up to a beautifully melodic theme…Schwarz takes particular delight in the more poetic aspects of the score, while giving full measure to its rhapsodic qualities.

The concluding Allegro con brio…starts with a flourish worthy of Hanson’s teacher Ottorino Respighi and The Pines of Rome before settling into its lush, rhapsodic closing material. Schwarz…emphasizes the recurring theme, this time on a more grandiloquent scale, closing the show in fine fashion.

The sound is quite expansive, stretching across the speakers and beyond, with a smooth response and a reasonable degree of depth besides. A strong dynamic thrust and a touch of ambient bloom complete a fairly lifelike acoustic picture. © 2012 Classical Candor Read complete review

Laurence Vittes
Gramophone, February 2012

the two companion pieces benefit from Naxos’s reissuing…Lux aeterna, with its elaborate solo roles for ‘viola obbligato’ (sweetly played by Susan Gulkis Assadi), double bass and violin (a wonderful, Elgarian cadenza), emerges as music that American audiences would gratefully benefit from. Mosaics…ripples with glorious symphonic muscle.

As befits Schwarz’s elegant approach and the Seattle Symphony’s noble playing, the sound is layered with the tonal radiance, effortless dynamic range and large sound stage that were trademarks of legendary recording engineer John Eargle’s work. The Seattle Opera House…also deserves superstar status for its part in recordings that sound smoother and more powerful now… © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Donald R Vroon
American Record Guide, January 2012

utterly gorgeous music, gorgeously played and recorded. If you don’t have it, you must—and if you don’t have this recording, it is hard to beat. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2011

Those who admire the music of the American composer, Howard Hanson, will have long treasured Gerard Schwarz’s 1988 recording of the Romantic Symphony. It was  with this score, begun in 1930, that Hanson found a place on the international concert stage, though its style to the modernists was so outdated that the musical establishment chose to ignore it. As I wrote in my October review of the First Symphony, his Scandinavian parentage, and the time he spent in Italy studying with Otterino Respighi, blurred his American status. Yet listen to that seductively creamy theme at the heart of the first movement to hear one of the most inherently beautifully melodies of the 20th century. It is a mood that carries over into the second movement, while the finale, a big red-blooded affair, has a smell of Hollywood in the orchestration and grips attention from beginning to end. Lux Aeterna dates from his twenty-seventh year—at the end of his time with Respighi—and is scored for orchestra with viola obbligato. It is a spin-off from Hanson’s mentor, massive climatic moments sending out massive blocks of sound. Mosaics was composed for the Cleveland Orchestra and its conductor George Szell. In a series of variations that seek out the subtle virtuosity of orchestra departments, it has a suitably high impact and audience-pleasing conclusion. The recordings were made in the 1980’s and 90’s and issued by Delos, whose American music discs Naxos are again making available. They are eminently pleasing, and though I would never part with my copy of an old LP with Hanson conducting his Eastman-Rochester Orchestra, the Seattle Orchestra are in a different league of excellence. Much commended., November 2011

Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony do a fine job with…the best-known of Hanson’s seven symphonies—and provide a highly interesting contrast through the performance of the little-known Mosaics (1957), a set of variations that also offer some Nordic intensity but that are, in the main, clear, dramatic and quite well orchestrated. Lux Aeterna…clearly shows the instrumental influence of Respighi…Susan Gulkis Assadi, the violist in this performance, has a warm and lovely tone that melds well with the orchestral sound without ever dominating or attempting to dominate it; and the work itself offers a pleasant mixture of emotional and contrapuntal complexity. Read complete review

Film Music: The Neglected Art, November 2011

This is a very nice work… © 2011 Film Music: The Neglected Art Read complete review

Brian Wilson Download Roundup
MusicWeb International, October 2011

This further Naxos reissue of recordings first released by Delos follows hard on the heels of Volume 1 (8.559700). There’s a review from the early days of MusicWeb International by Ian Lace of the two Delos twofers* from which these recordings are taken in which he rightly singles out the Romantic Symphony as Hanson’s most approachable work and awards the performances and recording a ****(*) recommendation…It only remains for me to say that the Naxos reissues, on the showing of the first two volumes, deserve just as much praise and that this second disc is probably the best place to start: Lux Æterna and Mosaics are almost as appealing as the Symphony, though perhaps slightly less immediately approachable. The mp3 sound is good. I shan’t be jettisoning my copy of Hanson conducting his own First and Second Symphonies…but I look forward to hearing the remaining Naxos discs.

* these seem still to be available from some UK dealers.

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