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Hans Gal: Symphony No. 2; Schumann: Symphony No. 4

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4 out of 5 stars 3 reviews from Amazon.com us-flag |

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Product Description

Kenneth Woods and Orchestra of the Swan continue their revelatory cycle pairing the symphonies of Hans Gál and Robert Schumann, with Gál's Second and Schumann's Fourth.

Kenneth Woods, Principal Guest Conductor of Stratford-upon-Avon based Orchestra of the Swan, has made international headlines for his ongoing cycle of world-premiere recordings of Hans Gál's Symphonies. The set, paired with the symphonies of Robert Schumann, has been featured on National Public Radio's All Things Considered and Performance Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, in Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine, and dozens of other newspaper and online reviews, introducing a new generation to Gál's wide-ranging and extensive oeuvre.

Woods and OOTS continue the cycle with Gál's Second and Schumann's Fourth. The Gál, written in 1942-43 during the darkest war years, is perhaps the most personal of the composer's four symphonies. With an emotional depth and haunting beauty, the symphony distils the process of overcoming pain and loss into the language of pure music. Composed a century earlier, Schumann's Fourth is arguably his most popular symphony.

Personnel: Orchestra of the Swan, Kenneth Woods (conductor)

Critical acclaim for Kenneth Woods and Orchestra of the Swan:

"Hats off to conductor Kenneth Woods and his Orchestra of the Swan who have been making a case for Gál's elegantly built orchestral pieces...Here's hoping this is the beginning of a substantial Gál revival." - National Public Radio's All Things Considered

"You may not have heard of Hans Gál. But the American conductor Kenneth Woods thinks you should have." - The Washington Post

"A symphonic conductor of some stature." - Gramophone (Editor's Choice)

"A front rank conductor...[he] has seized on the essence...Highly recommended." - Audiophile Audition

"Well-made music and the [Orchestra of the] Swan does it proud, giving also a spruce and eloquent performance of Schumann's Second." - The Daily Telegraph

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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An underappreciated work 12 April 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Gal wrote his Symphony No. 2 in F, Op. 53 in 1943, at a time when the world was in the throes of war and Gal himself was dealing with personal tragedy, the suicide of his eighteen-year-old son. Therefore, the music reflects some of that strife; yet it is mostly serene, contemplative, comforting, lyrical, and occasionally lighthearted.

Maestro Woods and his team play up the more tranquil sections deftly, like the long, slow introduction and the elegiac Adagio. Still, Woods finds himself at home in the sprightly, energetic moods of the second-movement scherzo as well, catching its bouncing rhythms in easy fashion.

The composer said he considered the symphony's big, central Adagio "more consolation than funeral music," even though it does have a very solemn tone. Nevertheless, Woods manages to make it quite affecting, quite beautiful, quite graceful; at least until the midway point when the high violins disrupt the tranquility of the setting. This is probably as close as we get in the music to Gal's private adversities, but Woods does not overdramatize or over sentimentalize it. By the time the finale draws to a close, we recognize, at least in hands of Woods, a memorable and perhaps unfairly underappreciated work. Good sound from Avie complements the performance.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 20 Aug. 2014
By michael - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Thank you
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Gal 2nd from the same label within 2 years. Why? 12 May 2016
By David E Rowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
One has to wonder why Avie has embarked on yet another Gal symphony cycle? Zehetmair made the premier recordings of his 1st and 2nd symphonies just 2 years before this one, and that series seems to have been abandoned. Now they've started all over again with this new series. Are Gal's symphonies so profound, and these two conductors' approaches so disparate, to merit 2 cycles within 2 years by the same label? I just find it baffling and scratch my head wondering how it could possibly be economical for Avie.

I also question their reasoning for harnessing Gal's symphonies with those of Schumann (for Swan) and Schubert (for Zehetmair). As if those adventurous buyers who might be interested in Gal would have any need or desire for yet another routine selection of Schumann and Schubert symphonies. So instead of offering 2 discs containing all 4 Gal symphonies, they are forcing the consumer to buy 4 discs - well make that 6 if, like me, you started off with Zehetmair's set which has been scrapped.
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