Bobby and Hans- News and Reviews


Bobby and Hans


June 2014- Classical Ear/Andrew Achenbach on Bobby and Hans vol. 4 “Hats off to the indefatigable Kenneth Woods and the Orchestra of the Swan for rounding off their revelatory Gál symphony cycle for Avie in such commensurate, urgently communicative fashion and bringing to Schumann’s comparably sparkling and life-enhancing ‘Spring’ Symphony such boundless vitality, scrupulous fidelity to the printed score, delicious wit and (above all) entrancing freshness of new discovery. This stylish and consistently invigorating coupling represents both an exemplary rescue act and genuine tonic to boot. Investigate without delay!”

May 2014- MusicWeb/Byzantion on Bobby and Hans vol. 4The Swans could avail themselves of no better conductor for Gál than Woods.

May 2014- artistxite on Schumann and Gál First Symphonies “The final result may be the most compelling reawakening of Schumann in the last decades – and simultaneously a long-overdue vindication of Hans Gál.”

May 2014- Gramophone Magazine, Guy Rickards on Schumann and Gál First Symphonies– “This account is a joy from start to exuberant finish, perfectly paced and superbly played…Very strongly recommended”

March 2014- Rick Jones, Words and Music on Schumann- Symphony no. 1 Not one but two Schumann Spring Symphonies hove into earshot. Kenneth Woods and the Orchestra of the Swan versus Yannick Nezet-Seguin and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Woods wins it. One needs express no surprise when the committed outfit with its own conductor beats the prestige youngsters under the rising star jet-setter.  The Woods performance is tighter, rhythmically crisper, richer in contrasts, more characterful and always closer to the composer’s wishes.”

March 2014- Colin Anderson, Classical Source on Bobby and Hans vol. 3  “anyone… who generally welcomes song, dance, deepness of human feeling and clarity in their music will find much to entrance and enlighten here. It is certainly good to have a choice of recordings for Gál 2, to compare and contrast, but Woods’s version is the place to start…this thoughtfully considered account belongs in the Schumann 4 collection alongside Boult, Celibidache, Sawallisch (Dresden) and Szell”

March 2014- John Puccio, Classical Candor on Bobby and Hans volume 4– ” I would find it hard to imagine anyone handling it any better than Woods, nor any orchestra playing it with more accuracy and enthusiasm.”

December 2013- Iowa Public Radio “Best Classical Music of 2013” “In the performance of Schumann’s most adventurous symphony, you can feel the musicians’ inspiration (these people do not do “routine”); and the Gal is personal, special, and heartfelt, and could hardly receive more persuasive advocacy.”

November 2013- Fanfare Magazine on Bobby and Hans vol. 3- ” Woods’s album is a valuable addition to our understanding of the 20th-century symphony.

November 2013- Positive Feedback Magazine on Bobby and Hans vol. 3 “The conductor, Kenneth Woods, proves a persuasive advocate for the score, balancing an ear for detail with a sense of the music’s long line; his performance is appropriately varied in mood, color, and texture. If the picture in the booklet is any indication, the Orchestra of the Swan is not overly large, but they produce polished, full-bodied sounds and phrase expressively.

September 2013- Classical Ear/Andrew Aschenbach on Bobby and Hans vol. 3- ” Kenneth Woods and the Orchestra of the Swan..lend this radiant and substantial score the most eloquent and affecting advocacy, and go on to give a comparably accomplished and invigorating account of Schumann’s masterly Fourth Symphony – a strikingly fresh-faced, spontaneous-sounding display, full of illuminating touches, personable warmth and genuine freshness of new discovery. Do investigate this bold, enormously rewarding coupling.”

August 2013- MusicWeb International on Bobby and Hans vol. 3- “This condemns the ‘music world’ of the late 20th century while creating a huge debt of gratitude for the steadfast resolve of Kenneth Woods. To hear the symphonies now and then to try to imagine not being able to is almost inconceivable. Woods has done the ‘music world’ of the 21stcentury a huge favour in making these wonderful works known to us. Both the Gál and the Schumann symphonies are played as wonderfully here as they could possibly be. The Orchestra of the Swan is a band of superlative players whose commitment to the music matches that of its leader and it shows in every note. This is a fantastic release and the series as a whole will, I hope, exert some pressure upon the programmers to include Gál’s symphonies in concerts so that an even wider public can get to know them. ”

July 2013- Gramophone Magazine/ Edward Greenfield on Bobby and Hans vol 3- “Kenneth Woods draws crisply alert playing from the splendid Orchestra of the Swan…He is particularly good at controlling tempo changes precisely…highly recommendable”

July 2013- International Record Review on Bobby and Hans vol 3 “Under Woods, the Orchestra of the Swan plays with magnetic conviction and unwavering technical assurance.”

May 2013- Audiophile Audition on Bobby and Hans vol 3 “I’m as pleased with the performance of the Schumann as I am with the Gál, and given the real quality of Gál’s symphony, I don’t mind that this makes about the tenth Schumann Fourth in my collection!”

April 2013– MusicWeb International on Bobby and Hans vol 3- “This band plays with admirable finesse and concentration, and the recording is clean and well focused.”

April 2013- CD Review- Classical CD Reviews, Gavin Dixon on Bobby and Hans vol. 3 “Technically, the orchestra is on top form; there’s nothing “regional” about their playing. They are also able to combine passion and energy with that technical precision, and the results are always dynamic and engaging.”

April 2013- Classical Candor on Bobby and Hans vol. 3 “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.”

September 2012- The Guardian Weekly on Bobby and Hans vol. 2 A reprint of the Washington Post article by Anne Midgette

September 2012- Graham Rickson, The Arts Desk on Bobby and Hans vol. 2 “The restraint of the Gál is intelligently coupled with Schumann’s Symphony No 2. There are no reservations at all about the playing of the Orchestra of the Swan under Kenneth Woods. Good chamber orchestras can make Schumann sound lighter, fresher, leaner – there’s plenty of definition and lightness here. Woods manages to make the first movement’s obsessive triple time rhythm sound like music instead of a stuck record, and the Scherzo has the requisite bounce. There’s plenty of stoic melancholy in the Adagio, but not enough to derail the symphony’s emotional trajectory. Excellent, in other words.”

August 2012- Byzantion, MusicWeb International on Bobby and Hans vol. 2 “As in the Third, there are echoes of Mahler and Brahms and Strauss, but overall it is significantly less Germanic, due in part to its very well-ventilated orchestration, but also to its concertante nature. The latter contributes strongly to the wistful-pastoral, broadly optimistic character of a supremely lyrical work…The four semi-spotlit soloists turn in terrific performances in this least symphonic of Gál’s four Symphonies, but then again so do their fellow OS-members under Woods’ immaculate direction. He and the OS are even better in Schumann’s Second Symphony, which finds the composer in Beethovenian vein at his most luxurious and radiant, despite his ongoing battle with depression…  The smaller ensemble of the OS works perfectly for Schumann, and Woods’ attention to the details of this intellectual but emotionally gripping score and phrasing is second to none – this is the Second Symphony as Schumann wrote it to sound, and as the early-Romantic masterpiece it truly is!

August 2012- MusicWeb International on Bobby and Hans vol. 1 “Woods and the Orchestra of the Swan are having no truck with the faintly ludicrous assertion that Schumann was an awkward or even incompetent orchestrator. Woods lets it be known, with this expertly delineated, clarified account that any claimed textural ‘thickness’ is the fault of the conductor, not the composer. There is some particularly infectious horn playing to note, reminding the listener of Schumann’s debt to Mendelssohn and Schubert.”

August 2012- Anne Midgette, Washingonton Post follow-up blog on Hans Gal and Orchestra of the Swan “I was struck by how many of the composers I wrote about were active in around the same period — born in the last couple of decades of the 19th century, active until the mid-20th (Alfredo Cassella, Albert Roussel, Hans Gal, George Templeton Strong, Alexander Zemlinsky, and the list goes on). This illustrates, I think, just how far World War II shattered a whole tradition, even for some composers who weren’t direct victims of it.”

August 2012- Anne Midgette, Washington Post Sunday feature on Hans Gal and lost composers “Gal was a widely respected and performed composer in the 1920s, but the Nazis drove him out of Germany, and though he continued writing, teaching and composing in Scotland until his death in 1987, his reputation never quite recovered. Elegant, adeptly constructed, and unashamedly tonal, even beautiful, his music hearkens back to a bygone tradition of Viennese late romanticism that wasn’t what the music world thought composers should be writing in the late 20th century.”

July 2012- Jerome Crossley, WCLV on Bobby and Hans vol 2 “This is music of incredible richness, and Kenneth Woods and the Orchestra of the Swan successfully elicit both its charm and its sense of melancholy. It’s paired with a consistently engaging account of Schumann’s Second Symphony.

July 2012- Norman Stinchcombe, Birmingham Post on Bobby and Hans vol. 1. His third symphony, splendidly played by the Orchestra of the Swan under the American conductor Kenneth Woods certainly merits a hearing, or several. It’s paired with Schumann’s third symphony … a neat and energetic performance..”

June 2012- Robert R. Reilly, Crisis Magazine on Schumann and Gal Third Symphonies “How can anything this lovely – try to resist the gorgeous andante – not have been performed in 55 years, until this superb recording by Kenneth Woods and the Orchestra of the Swan? They… do equally well with the Schumann …. This is music for those who thought the world had ended, and who can now discover that it didn’t.”

June 2012- CD Review, Gramophone Magazine, Guy Rickards “Gramophone Choice” for Bobby and Hans vol. 2 Woods’s finely wrought interpretation confirms his credentials – if confirmation were needed – as a symphonic conductor of stature… Strongly recommended.”

June 2012- CD Review, New York Times, James Oestreich on Bobby and Hans, vol. 2 “…consummate craft in a mostly consonant, mellifluous style seemingly little touched by the great tragedies of the 20th century or his personal troubles……Woods and the orchestra do a fine job of revealing the qualities of this peculiar master”

May 2012- CD Review, Classical Source, Colin Anderson on Gal/Schumann Symphonies vol. 2 “Kenneth Woods and his willing band of Swans give a superb performance, lithe, neat, nimble, poetic (the glorious slow movement really touches the heart) and passionate.”

May 2012- Performance Today, May 24, 2012: Orchestra of the Swan plays Gal Symphony no. 4 in concert. Tune in live or listen online to hear the first concert performance of Gal’s Fourth Symphony since the 1970′s, recorded in December 11, 2011 in Stratford-upon-Avon. Ken chats about Gal with the PT team.

May 2012- CD Review- International Record Review, Calum MacDonald on Gal/Schumann Symphonies vol. 2 “Throughout his career, Gál felt himself to be in the Brahmsian tradition, though his music seldom sounds particularly Brahmsian. Yet Brahms himself– usually so niggardly of praise for the efforts of the younger generation—would surely have found warm words of admiration for Gál’s Symphony no. 4…Schumann’s C major Symphony.. receives a first-rate performance.. with a wonderful sense of expansiveness and profound and delicate feeling in the slow movement”

May 2012- Gavin Dixon, Classical CD Reviews on Bobby and Hans vol. 2“What an exquisitely crafted piece Hans Gál’s Fourth Symphony is… a work that succeeds splendidly on its own terms…Another triumph then for Kenneth Woods and the Orchestra of the Swan.”

May 2012- Bobby and Hans vol 2 on BBC Radio 3′s CD Review– Chris de Souza-”I can’t imagine anyone playing it any better.” Click to listen.

April 2012- CD Review- Musical Pointers on Bobby and Hans vol. 2“All in all, this is a worthy endeavour, which should keep the name and music of holocaust survivor Hans Gál (1890-1987) before the public as long as CDs continue to be bought”

April 2012- CD Review- Bernard D Sherman on Bobby and Hans vol. 2“But let me harp again on the divine madness – the insane glee, the visceral delight… that Fricsay/ Naida Cole demonic possession by Pan. Other examples: Lipatti playing Ravel’s Alborado; Glenn Gould’s first Goldbergs; any number of recordings of Bernstein or Furtwangler…Divine madness, like this, must be experienced.”

April 2012-  CD Review- Audiophile Audition on Bobby and Hans vol. 2 (five stars)“Woods proves in this recording to be a front rank conductor, capturing the feeling of sorrow and compassion of the symphony. ..Woods has seized on the essence of this Schumann Symphony. His reading is smooth, grand and exciting and well worth the purchase of this disc. The Gál may take a few hearings to sink in, but the Schumann is right there from the start and one of the best recordings available.”

April 2012- Saturday Telegraph critic Geoffrey Norris 4-star review “Gal is worth getting to know… it is well-made music and Orchestra of the Swan do it proud, giving also a spruce and eloquent performance of Schumann’s Second.”

March 2012- Former London Evening Standard chief critic Rick Jones on Bobby and Hans vo. 2 “A defiant spirit courses through this [Gal’s} Brahmsian fourth symphony, composed in 1975… Played here by the excellent Orchestra of the Swan under Kenneth Woods (see left) it casts the twentieth century in a new light, one of obstinate cheerfulness and determined optimism, a refusal to be bowed by contemporary events, which may in the end be more useful to mankind than the pain of defeat.”

January 2012- Everything but the music “Best Recording of 2011.”-  “…a sparkling pairing of the first recording of Gal’s Symphony no. 3 and Schumann’s Rhenish. There’s no escaping the fact that Woods is the go-to Gal guy, and this recording is a good reason why: it’s a performance that completely convinces you that there’s no good reason we don’t hear it all the time. The commitment to the Gal is no more or less than the commitment to the Schumann, itself one of my very favorite takes on the popular work”

December 2011- Bernard D. Sherman “Top Ten Classical CD’s of 2011- “The Gal is a real find, especially the slow movement; and the Schumann is a joy after the many punched-up but four-square performances I’ve suffered through… It’s an awesome CD, folks.”

December 2011- WFMT Chicago “Best Classical Recordings of 2011″

November 2011- American Record Guide on Bobby and Hans vol. 1 “The musical flow is untroubled and un- forced—”organic”, in a word…especially in this dulcet performance (by the Stratford-on-Avon-based Orchestra of the Swan) and clear, richly glowing sonics from Avie.”

October 2011- MusicWeb International review by Rob Barnett: “Woods draws out a rhythmically taut performance. The shivering excitement is notable and the undulant poetic movement of the Rhine no less so.”

September 2011- The Arts Desk review by Graham Rickson:  “Gál’s impassioned, well-crafted late romanticism is readily accessible and quietly moving – there’s a lot to enjoy here. He’s good at subtle transitions – the way that the delicious opening melody segues into the first movement’s more agitated fast section, and its brilliant, ghostly close.”

August 2011- Gramophone Magazine review by Guy Rickards and interview by Andrew Mellor:  “structural genius… contrapuntal mastery…committed performance…splendid sound, warmly recommended.”

August 2011- Indianapolis Star review from Jay Harvey. ”Woods shows his luminous interpretive vision in the Schumann, which blasts away the cobwebs of  the composer’s reputation as a dull, borderline inept, orchestrator. As Schumann’s final of four works in the symphonic idiom, Op. 97 is  full of energy and inspiration. Never has the outline of Schumann’s composition been clearer. Woods shapes exemplary phrasing from Orchestra of the Swan; the clarity does not amount to some kind of antiseptic dissection, but something more at the opposite extreme: a new lease on life for a familiar masterwork.”

July 2011- Audio Review from NPR’s All Things Considered: “The Austrian-born composer Hans Gal has been way off the radar screen until just recently. His Symphony No. 3 languished unplayed for 55 years. Like so many European composers, Gal had to flee the Nazis, eventually landing in Scotland. So hats off to conductor Kenneth Woods and his Orchestra of the Swan who have been making a case for Gal’s elegantly built orchestral pieces which look back fondly to the German romantic era of Schumann, Brahms and Richard Strauss. Here’s hoping this is the beginning of a substantial Gal revival.”

July 2011- WETA FM Washington D.C. selects Bobby and Hans as CD Pick of the Week. “….a clear, individualistic voice early in the century, and remained unique amidst the explorations of the Second Viennese School and twelve-tone techniques. ”

July 2011- Dallas Morning News review by Scott Cantrell“Straussian lyricism, harmonic succulence and occasional playfulness are spelled by contrapuntal patches… Kenneth Woods leads performances both authoritative and generously expressive.”

July 2011- Classic FM Magazine review by Andrew Mellor. “Gál’s own Third Symphony of 1952 is a real discovery: confident, rich music in the late Romantic idiom that has bags of souls and the residue of a genuine expressive thirst…Gál is truly worth rediscovering ; Woods’s recording project for Avie has intrigued and delighted me and I’m only left wanting more. ”

July 2011-International Record Review/Calum MacDonald on Bobby and Hans. “an excellent disc…a substantial work, deeply felt and deeply thought…obvious empathy and understanding..with admirable clarity of texture and finely honed musicianship… could hardly be bettered,”

July 2011- Entartete Musik reviews Bobby and Hans. “This world premiere recording of his Symphony No. 3, composed while in exile in Edinburgh, offers a valuable insight into 20th century Austrian music. Somewhat nostalgic, his music also professes what tonal music could still offer post-Schoenberg. Coupled with Schumann’s third symphony, the Orchestra of the Swan and Kenneth Woods give us a compelling encounter with this shifting symphonic landscape.”

July 2011- Classical Music Magazine interview with KW on Bobby and Hans… and Gus “Few people would list Hans Gal and Schumann among music’s humourists, but Kenneth Woods does.”

June 2011- Collin Anderson at The Classical Source. “Schumann’s ‘Rhenish’ Symphony is given a superb outing, gloriously joyous in the outer movements, exuberant without being pushed, and also generously lyrical when needed, not least in the triptych of middle movements, beautifully phrased and sounded, breathing and shapely, sensitively addressed and lovingly detailed…As for alternative recordings of the ‘Rhenish’, Woods holds his own against such wonders as Sawallisch (Dresden rather than Philadelphia), Celibidache (Munich), Giulini (Chicago) and immediately becomes a favourite for this delectable work.”

June 2011- Martin Anderson on Bobby and Hans vol 1 at The Classical Review. “A first recording shouldn’t be a swan-song, but Orchestra of the Swan really does sing for Woods, in long, arching melodic lines, Gál’s writing favouring the woodwinds especially.”

May 2011- Gavin Dixon at Classical CD Reviews on Bobby and Hans vol 1:“Here we find some really sensitive ensemble playing and a wonderful elegance of tone from every section. I was particularly impressed by the trombones at the start of the fourth movement. The astronomical register of the alto part here daunts most players, who are happy to be able to get the notes out at all. So to hear it played with this apparent ease and, most importantly, serene elegance is a real pleasure…. “And Hans: Woods knows that his woodwind soloists can give him all the emotion the music needs, without him having to pull the tempos around, and they more than repay his trust…..I’m thinking of the oboe, flute, clarinet and horn soloists in particular, seem to be playing exposed lines almost throughout, and all rise to the challenge magnificently.”

May 2011- Everything But the Music makes Woods/Orchestra of the Swan a Library Choice for Schumann’s Third Symphony,