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Peter Burwasser
Fanfare, July 2015

Performances are superb. The Eastern Music Festival Orchestra…provides lush tonality and agility as required. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review




Donald R. Vroon
American Record Guide, July 2015

…it is hard to imagine any player anywhere with more beautiful tone than Greg Banaszak, so you are unlikely ever to find a better recording. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide




Remy Franck
Pizzicato, June 2015

Truly imaginative and enjoyable music in inspired and inspiring performances. All the musicians are lovingly committed to Hovhaness’s music and the sound recording is very fine too. Highly recommendable. © 2015 Pizzicato



Robert Cummings
Classical Net, June 2015

The performances in these three works are excellent: Greg Banaszak turns in splendid work in the concerto, and Gerard Schwarz, long a champion of American music, leads spirited and totally committed performances. The Eastern Music Festival Orchestra…certainly acquit themselves well in these nicely played efforts. The sound reproduction is clear and well balanced. This is a very interesting disc then of music by Alan Hovhaness, a composer whose stock probably deserves to rise. © 2015 Classical Net Read complete review



Ralph Graves
WTJU, June 2015

The Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Strings is a…successful performance. Here the Easter Music Festival Orchestra plays with fluidity and warmth that works especially well in the choral passages. Saxophonist Greg Banaszak plays with a rich, mellow sound, making the soprano sax sound almost other-worldly at times.

As always, Schwarz delivers sympathetic and insightful readings. © 2015 WTJU Read complete review



Steve Arloff
MusicWeb International, June 2015

Schwarz has his orchestra bring out the best in this brilliantly inventive music serving the composer well as always. The orchestra itself…creates a wonderfully affluent atmosphere with some extremely talented soloists; the oboist and gamelan player being two particular cases in point. All in all this is a disc to enjoy over many repeated listenings and which will give pleasure every time. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Laurence Vittes
Gramophone, June 2015

…Gerard Schwarz is the perfect conductor…Greg Banaszak milks the tone and timbre of his unaccountably neglected solo instrument in an irresistible series of romantic episodes… © 2015 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, May 2015

Dedicated performances of all, beautifully played and recorded with Naxos’ usual sonic expertise. © 2015 ClassicalCDReview.com Read complete review



David Barker
MusicWeb International, May 2015

Gerard Schwarz is a steadfast Hovhaness champion with recordings dating back to the 1990s… The orchestra comprised professional players from around the world who come together for performances and masterclasses at the annual North Carolina festival. There is no faulting their playing or that of the soloist in the concerto. © 2015 Musicweb International Read complete review




Steven A. Kennedy
Cinemusical, March 2015

The performances are simply amazing showing off the ensemble from the festival very well. The symphony is indeed a work that deserves more attention and should bear up to repeated hearing. © 2015 Cinemusical Read complete review



Grego Applegate Edwards
Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review, March 2015

Schwarz and the Eastern Musical Festival Orchestra give us their all and the music is of a uniformly high quality. It is well-done. © 2015 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review Read complete review




David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, February 2015

Alan Hovhaness’ Symphony No. 48…is typical Hovhaness. There are lovely, modal fugues in the second movement and finale; evocative, vaguely oriental melodies all over the place; luscious string chorales, and interludes for bells and tam-tam.

The Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Strings also sounds vividly tuneful and unfailingly attractive. Greg Banaszak plays the solo part with the suave timbre that the work requires, especially in the Adagio espressivo at the start of the second movement, while Hovhaness specialist Gerard Schwarz does his usual fine job with all three works, galvanizing the players of the Eastern Music Festival Orchestra to a welcome degree of corporate integrity. Beautiful. © 2015 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2015

Having composed sixty-seven symphonies, the record companies struggle to give us more than a small sample of Alan Hovhaness vast output of orchestral works. This release includes the world premiere of his Forty-Eighth, subtitled the ‘Vision Andromeda’, its concept pondering on the wonders of space around the galaxy of Andromeda. The sense of vastness and wonderment is manifest in an opening Andante that takes us back the music roots of his Armenian heritage. Two extended movements surround two that are brief in length, a jig providing the essence of the second, the work seemingly leaving us lost in infinite space. The Prelude and Quadruple Fugue comes from his post-student days, and started out life as his First String Quartet. Later he orchestrated the score and brought its four movements into one of quite short duration. Right at the other end of his life came the three-movement Soprano Saxophone Concerto, the epitome of his enigmatic self. One minute creamy salon music; the next a look back to yesteryear, with freedom of expression regularly giving way to classical rigidity. If this all sounds like a mishmash of ideas, it does somehow work, though I think the superb quality of the soloist, Greg Banaszak, is a major adjunct to our enjoyment. The Eastern Music Festival Orchestra is a very classy outfit, who perform with such subtlety for Gerard Schwarz… Recorded in 2013, the sound is very good, and I commend this as an entry point into the Hovhaness’s world. © 2015 David’s Review Corner





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