“It is refreshing to hear an orchestral program in which the first piece is a world premiere performance written by the conductor,” writes Jeffrey Johnson in Saturday’s (3/14) Hartford Courant (Connecticut). “Gerard Schwarz returned to Hartford this week to guest conduct the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. The evening began with the world premiere of [Schwarz’s] ‘Symphonic Poem No. 1.’ … The 10-minute composition opened with a spare and attractive texture. The work slowly accumulated energy. Discordant wind lines occasionally rippled through textures with an Ivesian logic…. After a rhythmic passage in 7/8 time, the music built to a surprising and majestic close in F major. Julian Schwarz [Gerard Schwarz’s son] joined the orchestra as soloist in the Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1. The Saint-Saëns concerto is filled with tricky figuration that can easily become the focal point of live performances. Schwarz heard beyond the virtuosic elements. Warmth and a variety of colors emerged in his lyrical playing. There was strong communication between father and son that made the detours, interruptions and unexpected parallelisms of this work coherent and persuasive.” The program also included Brahms’s Symphony No. 2.
Posted March 18, 2015