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HANSON, H.: Symphonies (Complete), Vol. 1 - Symphony No. 1 / The Lament for Beowulf (Seattle Symphony and Chorale, Schwarz)

The Classical Shop
release date: November 2011


Seattle Symphony Orchestra

Schwarz, Gerard

Gerard Schwarz


Seattle Symphony Chorale


Seattle Opera House, USA

Record Label


Orchestral & Concertos


Total Time - 48:34
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HANSON, H.: Symphonies (Complete), Vol. 1 - Symphony No. 1 / The Lament for Beowulf (Seattle Symphony and Chorale, Schwarz)

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Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 21, "Nordic"

1 I. Andante solenne - Allegro con forza 12:45
2 II. Andante teneramente, con semplicita 6:09
3 III. Finale: Allegro con fuoco 10:29



The Lament for Beowulf

 Gerard Schwarz Conductor
 Schwarz, Gerard

Howard Hanson, a composer of imagination and sweep and a colorist of huge eloquence, is one of the most approachable of all twentieth century symphonists. His guiding spirit was always Sibelius, and in the Symphony No. 1 ‘Nordic’ he used the same key as in the Finnish composer’s own First Symphony. The work is haunting, rapturous and serene, beautifully orchestrated and wholly commanding. The Lament for Beowulf, written for chorus and orchestra, dates from 1925. Its dark, brooding tension reflects its poetic inspiration with indelible force. “This is confident, generous, beautifully made music, richly (and sensitively) scored. Schwarz, and his splendid Seattle orchestra do not short-change us on any of this and they are beautifully, ripely, recorded here.” (Gramophone on the original Delos release)

"...Schwarz’s readings are ultimately more mercurial, by turns breezily lyrical and sombrely brooding, evoking a certain American optimism beneath the music’s Romantic veneer."

Ken Smith - Gramophone magazine - January 2012

"Schwarz elicits some mighty resonance from his Seattle players ... fusing Hanson’s natural lyricism with its occasional, dark turbulence. Recollections of  Beowulf’s prowess find the music in full sympathy, heraldic, heroic, emblazoned. The Seattle Chorale sopranos,particularly, convey the (modal) sense of loss with a special mystical fervor. Intimate, elegiac, and portentous at once, the score as recorded by Schwarz and his Seattle forces makes a lasting and potent impression."

Gary Lemco - Audiophile Audition - December 2011

"Well performed by all involved... Sound quality for both works is pretty good ..."

Byzantion - -  January 2012


"Naxos’ re-release of Gerard Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony’s Hanson symphonies under the American Classics series is a welcome event... the music is satisfying and enjoyable in a late-19th-century manner ... The highlight of the music is the very interesting, if almost kitchen-sinky, third-movement finale. It begins as an expected scherzo, but suddenly morphs into a dramatic funeral march (listen to the excerpt) before returning to the fast material and a parade of the major themes of the previous two movements. The performance quality of Schwarz and his band are excellent, and the sonics are terrific ..."

Jeff Dunn - San Francisco Classical Voice - October 2011

"The Symphony No. 1 in E minor, Op. 22 (“Nordic”), was the work that made Hanson’s reputation when he premiered it in 1922. It shares a key and a good number of ideas with Sibelius’ first symphony, with a craggy, brooding opening movement and a broad finale enclosing a melodious slow movement that feels like nothing more than an interlude. The first movement has a complexity of structure that takes it beyond mere imitation of Sibelius, and Schwarz keeps impressive control of the trajectory at all times. Hanson’s themes in the finale are not quite as stirring as those of their model, and the choral Lament of Beowulf that closes at the album is pretty ponderous, but the Symphony No. 1 is a bona fide neglected American masterwork, a good find for Naxos’ American Classics series."

James Manheim - - November 2011

                   Recording of the Month
"Scandalously neglected music, persuasively played."

"...this disc has increased my store of enchanted objects by one. Indeed, this could be my first Record of the Year 2012, such are the rewards offered here. And then there’s the exemplary sound; really, what more could one ask for?"

Dan Morgan - - 12 March 2012


"Wow! This is a welcome release... Schwarz keeps a firm hand on the proceedings, yet lets the music unfold at a natural pace, pushing ahead when it needs to move along, yet stopping to savour expressive, lyrical moments... The Seattle Symphony Chorale sings with fervour and diction that has the pointedness and clarity typical of American choral sound. In other words, the vocal contributions are almost perfectly attuned to the music, and so is the orchestral contribution."

Hansen - American Record Guide - January-February 2012

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