The All-Star Orchestra, Programs 9 & 10
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The multi-Emmy awarded All-Star Orchestra gives you a front row seat to the world's greatest music, performed by top players chosen from over 30 great American orchestras, and conducted by Gerard Schwarz. Two programs are featured on this DVD. Program 9: Gershwins immortal Rhapsody in Blue is featured in the rarely heard original jazz-orchestra version from the 1924 premiere, with rising-star pianist Lola Astanova. This iconic work is paired with Aaron Copland's 1925 jazz-age classic ""Music for the Theatre. Robert Beasers Ground O offers a modern musical perspective of New York after 9/11; Program 10: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakovs exotic orchestral showpiece Scheherazade is based on fantastical tales that - according to tradition - were told by the ingenious wife of a cruel Sultan so as to prolong her life for 1001 nights. Concertmaster David Kim conveys the voice of the wily heroine in virtuosic violin solos. Take a musical magic carpet ride between the worlds of Arabian folklore and Russian romanticism
"The Naxos DVD containing the ninth and 10th programs is a particularly good example of the series' strengths. On balance, these are fine made-for-TV programs that will be of most value to people with some interest in classical music but little understanding of it - although the issues raised in certain shows will resonate with longtime classical-music lovers as well." --Infodad.com, September 10,2015
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If these discs don't dispel the idea of "the hard-bitten old pros in the symphony orchestra who turn up to play worn out pieces time after time", then nothing will. Each of the players in this "scratch orchestra" are at the top of the profession, and I have not seen anything other than genuine enthusiasm on the faces throughout these performances. Perhaps it could be argued that (using a sporting analogy) that a "team of champions" may not always equate to "a champion team", but given that these superstars of the profession only meet over a weekend and rehearse and record, there are glimpses of what they COULD achieve if playing together full time. I imagine that the players, each of whom play in outstanding groups on a daily basis, enjoy the subtle differences produced by the other players in this orchestra. And it is these sounds and nuances which provide each player some novelty, where a range of "long familiar sounds" is played in a different manner than at their own group.
Each of these episodes features a "warhorse" and at least one piece of music that is more recently composed. Whilst one could argue that there are better integrated performances (from full time groups), but these performances are interesting, polished and show some outstanding solo work from all sections of the orchestra.
There is clearly a good deal of respect all round for Gerard Schwarz, and he for them. The interviews are all interesting in their own right, and most players express the feeling of honour at being part of the group.
These programmes are well worth the money, and I look forward to future editions from this orchestra and conductor.
Schwarz introduces each of the first two compositions and the composer of “Ground 0” – Robert Beaser – introduces his piece.
Program #10 is a straight ahead performance of Scherazade. It was fine, but not the reason I was attracted to this volume.
There is a four page insert in the package which lists the contents of all 12 programs, and provides the names of all the musicians involved (there are well over 100 , though only some are in each program (and there is- unfortunately – no list of who performs in which volume.
At the beginning there is a large “G” on the screen in upper left corner so this series may have been originally produced for TV but I can’t be certain.
Based on this volume, I can certainly recommend this – and other volumes – to those who appreciate classical music.
I hope that this review was both informative and helpful.