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Brian Wigman
Classical Net, October 2014

The Capriccio espagnol features some superlative playing, and some truly exceptional solo work. Schwarz is attuned to the work’s many colors and moods…the Seattle Symphony displays an audible joy in making this music snap in a rhythmic sense, and the entire orchestra kicks into high gear at the end…conductor and orchestra commit to a reading of great energy and general urgency. The result is one of the finer versions on disc, without question.

This is a very appealing disc. © 2014 Classical Net Read complete review

Rob Maynard
MusicWeb International, December 2012

This is another demonstration of the high standards of performance that Gerard Schwarz has achieved in a long-term relationship with this orchestra. Rimsky’s evocative scores with their characteristically colourful orchestrations are a gift to conductors of an extrovert disposition; Schwarz takes full advantage of the opportunity they offer to bring the house down. © 2012 MusicWeb International

WETA, October 2012

Conductor Laureate Gerard Schwarz has been at the helm of the Seattle Symphony for a quarter century, and this recording was released at about the time he completed his final season as music director of the orchestra. © 2012 WETA Continue reading

Chris Morgan
Scene Magazine, May 2012

…Nikolay Rimsky-Korakov[’s]…robust musical creations—of which several appear on this recent Naxos release—are known for colourfully evocative lyricism, eastern aural glamour and preserving phraseology of Russian folk music. This selection of pieces…is given definitive treatment by the musicians of the Seattle Symphony under the direction of esteemed conductor Gerard Schwarz. The conductor and instrumentalists bring…exacting intensity to bear on this program…the results are…impressive…Rimsky-Korsakov made music to celebrate—in a very intimate, personal way—all the things that are strange and heroic in the human soul. Canonical. © 2012 Scene Magazine Read complete review

Daniel Morrison
Fanfare, March 2012

the Naxos disc consists mostly of material that is much less frequently encountered, and in these pieces Schwarz’s approach is more persuasive. May Night was Rimsky’s second opera…has much beauty and charm. Schwarz’s rendition of the overture is well played…Schwarz’s hard-driving approach suits the Tsar’s Bride overture well, and the clarity of texture he secures is also beneficial to this piece…Naxos has given Schwarz recorded sound that is very bright and clear… © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

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)

Rob Maynard
MusicWeb International, December 2011

Capriccio espagnol and Russian Easter overture…are both, without question, superbly crafted and highly effective musical evocations that offer a wide range of opportunities for displays of orchestral virtuosity.

All are played with considerable aplomb and do a fine job of whetting one’s appetite for the full scores. Schwar…offers an attractive account of the composer’s orchestration of the radical student song Dubinushka…it certainly benefits from Naxos’s state of the art recording.

…these Seattle Symphony recordings of Russian virtuoso showpieces are an excellent illustration of the amazingly high standards being achieved by other previously unheralded orchestras all over the globe. © 2011 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Malcolm Hayes
Classic FM, December 2011

Rimsky’s orchestral music is so deftly written that in the hands of today’s top-flight professionals it almost plays itself. But the Seattle Symphony’s performances for Gerard Schwarz don’t just sparkle, as you would expect at this kind of supercharged American technical level. Their brilliant response is also strongly characterised at every point; Capriccio espagnol here has a dark and spicy pungency that makes it something more than just a pretty Spanish postcard…It’s genuinely difficult to imagine better performances. This is a delicious orchestral feast.

James L. Zychowicz
MusicWeb International, November 2011

Familiar as the pieces in this collection may be, the performance, sound quality and interpretation stands out for the vitality, creativity, and resonance that comes with this recording. Under Schwarz’s direction a well-known piece like Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture sounds fresh…

…admirable for the exemplary performances…Read complete review

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, November 2011

Capriccio espagnol is given a stunning performance here… This is perhaps Gerard Schwarz’ finest hour with the Seattle Symphony, even more than their stunning 1992 account of the Russian Easter for the Delos label. Forget the “budget label“ stigma: with the committed musicianship and stunningly beautiful recorded sound we hear on this Naxos offering, it should be a contender for honors in one or more categories when next the Grammys are handed out! Read complete review, October 2011

…a nearly complete success and a real pleasure to hear. This is a CD worth having for the combination of interesting repertoire and very fine presentation.

Blair Sanderson, October 2011

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol and the Russian Easter Overture are the most popular works on this 2011 Naxos release by Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony, but don’t sell the rest of the program short for unfamiliarity. Even though the remaining overtures are less popular with western audiences (undoubtedly because they aren’t played as often as the featured piece), they are still colorful works that are full of Rimsky-Korsakov’s dazzling orchestration, memorable melodies, and sparkling exoticism, a quality which was especially prized by Russian composers of the 19th century. Schwarz and his orchestra clearly relish these pieces, because the execution is sharp and the energy levels are high throughout, and the music is immediately engaging and captivating. While the Seattle Symphony is widely respected for its extensive repertoire, including substantial masterpieces, its brilliance in lighter orchestral music has attracted many listeners, and its recordings for Naxos are among that label’s most attractive offerings. The reproduction is generally excellent through the album…

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor, October 2011

The piece builds to a wonderfully joyous conclusion in which Schwarz seems to take great relish.

…played at a moderate level, the sound is smooth enough and easily listenable.

David Hurwitz, September 2011

Here is yet another brilliant, glittering collection of Rimsky-Korsakov orchestral music, made all the more appealing by the intelligently planned program. The two biggest, most popular works, Capriccio espagnol and the Russian Easter Overture, bracket the rest of the program—a delightful selection of opera overtures, Dubinushka, and the rarely heard but lovely Overture on Russian Themes. Two of these, the overtures to May Night and The Tsar’s Bride, are quite substantial on their own, and they deserve to be played more frequently.

The performances, as we have come to expect from these forces, are very good. There was a moment, at the launch of the coda to the “Fandango asturiano” in the Capriccio espagnol, where it sounded as though Gerard Schwarz wouldn’t turn up the heat sufficiently, but after a few seconds that worry vanished. Certainly there’s no lack of excitement in this Russian Easter Overture, or in any of the other pieces. Throughout the program the orchestra plays with admirable discipline and vitality, and the sonics are crisp and bright, like the performances themselves. A useful and very attractive release.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2011

After his Emmy Award-winning recording of Scheherazade, Gerard Schwarz continues with a disc of Rimsky-Korsakov’s shorter concert favourites. Though the sleeve does not make clear if these are ‘live’ performances, it has been unusually assembled over a period of two years. Certainly the orchestra are running high on adrenalin and have that spontaneity where correcting some minor blips did not occur. Colours are liberally applied; rhythms are razor sharp, and the percussion cut through with electrifying brilliance. Schwarz indulges himself in some jacking-up of tempos as works come to a close to engender maximum listener response. At times he must have had players sitting on the edge of their seats, the opening to Capriccio Espagnole just about as fast as it can take. The Seattle players have an innate Russian feel, the horns silky smooth when required; flutes play with a fast and obvious vibrato, and trumpets slice through like a hot knife going through butter. At the same level of intensity comes a scorching account of the Russian Easter Festival Overture that is the best I have heard since Charles Munch recorded it on LP back in the 1960’s. The Overture on Russian Themes never catches fire in the same way, but the collection of opera overtures from May Night, The Tsar’s Bride and The Maid of Pskov are all hugely enjoyable. Microphones spot-light soloists, but the sound is well balanced in a truthful concert hall perspective. At this price it is a fabulous bargain.

Brian Wilson Download Roundup
MusicWeb International, September 2011

This follows hard on the heels of Schwarz’s Sheherazade, also on Naxos, which has won golden opinions all round: see review (Bargain of the Month), review and March 2011/1 Roundup. This is rousing music but it’s also music to wallow in and Schwarz gives you both aspects—a brisk account of Capriccio espagnol gets us off to a good start, followed by a May Night that begins with all the mystery of Ansermet’s classic account but in better sound. The Overture on Russian Themes almost brings the house down, but leave just enough voltage for the Easter Overture, my favourite of all Rimsky favourites, to finish in rousing style.

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