Dallas Symphony Orchestra

This is a very musical Planets. It's not one that is impressionistic, or the kind that paints astrological soundscapes in the canyons of your mind, or anything like that. It just gives you the music, pure and simple. I've become alarmingly fond of this recording.

— Peter's Planets, petersplanets.wordpress.com

Litton wrings the full range of Ives' no-holds-barred approach in these works, differing not much from the dramatic approach of the conductor who helped introduce Ives to a wider public - Leonard Bernstein. But the sonics are of course light years improved. Hyperion's hi-res surround provides a good impression of the fine acoustics of the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. The dynamic range is also very wide. The note booklets are well done.

— John Sunier, Audiophile Audition

Litton and his Dallas players don't condescend to the First Symphony. Whatever Ives himself may have thought of it, the piece is a gem, niftily constructed and full of memorable tunes. Earlier recordings by Morton Gould and especially Eugene Ormandy made a good case for it, but this one is lighter on its feet and just as idiomatic as the Ormandy, with vastly better recorded sound. Litton's performance [of Ives' Symphony No. 3] is the best stereo version that I have heard, more atmospheric than Tilson-Thomas's with the Royal Concertgebouw. This recording comes closest of any I know to the sound I heard at those live performances. Litton is the way to go for stereo recordings.

— Ung-Aang Talay, Bangkok Post

These are excellent performances in every respect: magnificently played, beautifully recorded, and conducted with unfailing intelligence. The only serious competition to Litton in the Ives Symphonies, taken as a cycle under one conductor, comes from Michael Tilson Thomas on Sony, who has less alluring sonics and the old edition of the First Symphony. For all intents and purposes, Litton stands in a class of his own.

— David Hurwitz, Classics Today.com

The performance of the Fourth is rightly the pinnacle of Andrew Litton's superb Ives cycle (Ives Symphonies 1-4 and General William Booth Enters Into HeavenCentral Park in the Dark). Litton has the work's measure perfectly, balancing the visionary with the prosaic, and teasing out the most complex textures of a huge orchestra and a chorus with an exemplary clarity that is flawlessly captured by the recording. His performance of the Second is almost as impressive. Litton makes it hugely successful on its own terms, but it's the disc containing the Fourth that's the compulsory purchase. It also includes a wonderfully atmospheric account of the impressionist study Central Park in the Dark, which is quintessential Ives, too.

— Andrew Clements, The Guardian

Andrew Litton's set of the four Ives symphonies is notable for its physicality and racing speeds. The First gains from Litton's swift baton. Cherish the endearing Third for its alert phrasing; cherish the Fourth for the transcendental finale, beautifully caught by the microphones. Polished performances by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and its unusually hearty choir.

— Geoff Brown, The Times, London

I forgot what it felt like to be proud to be an American until I heard Andrew Litton's hair-tearingly wonderful new live recordings of the Charles Ives Symphonies Nos. 1-4 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (Hyperion). Litton's - as good, as individual, as deep, and in far better sound (than the 1989 Chicago SO recordings) - have given me a lift I didn't even know I needed. [Litton] lavishes microscopic attention to detail and industrial-strength grasp of their extravagantly complex forms on every measure of all four, without for a beat losing sight of their unfathomable humanity.

— Tim Pfaff, Bay Area Reporter

Of particular merit is the rich, singing tone that Maestro Litton gets from the Dallas Symphony string section, and some nice playing as well from the horns, whose prominent part is played to perfection (Brahms Piano Concerto No. 2). It is music making of this quality that makes us grateful that Andrew Litton loves to record, and sad that he no longer heads the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. This is very satisfying music making all round, and it is particularly rewarding to hear this piece played at just the right tempo, not too fast like the old Serkin recordings of yore, and thankfully not lugubrious as in later Bernstein with Krystian Zimmerman at the keyboard. 

— Kevin Sutton, Musicweb-International.com

Litton energized his [DSO] players with committed leadership, never letting the pace slacken, never losing his grip on the music's many twists and turns (Mozart's Symphony No. 40). The Scherzo in particular attained a lilt that captured its effervescent dance spirit. The Finale bristled with an immediacy that drew whoops from the audience after the conclusion.

— Marc Shulgold, Rocky Mountain News

There was exceptional attention to detail and control in Litton's approach to [Elgar's Enigma Variations]. Every section was beautifully rendered. The best known section, the sweetly somber "Nimrod," stood out because of its familiarity and the emotional depth of Litton's interpretation. ... it was brilliantly presented. (Dallas Symphony Orchestra)

— Punch Shaw, Fort Worth Star Telegram

Maestro Andrew Litton and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra rolled nothing but sevens and elevens when they presented the world premiere of Musical Dice Game by San Antonio native Robert X. Rodriguez. 

— Punch Shaw, Fort Worth Star Telegram

I can't remember a musical experience more thrilling than the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's performance Thursday night of Leos Janácek's Glagolitic Mass. What stunning music this is, a wondrous kaleidoscope of sound. DSO music director Andrew Litton pulled all this together with real authority and evident affection. The orchestra played with panache, and the Dallas Symphony Chorus has never sounded finer. In the all-Czech concert's first half, Mr. Litton led a sympathetic account of Dvoř�k's Seventh Symphony.

— Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News

Although conducting [Ives'] Fourth for the first time, music director Andrew Litton seemed to have a real feeling for the piece. Mr. Litton drew a strong, convincing performance from the orchestra and the Dallas Symphony Chorus. It was a stirring experience.

— Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News

But one of [Hyperion's] strongest recent issues covers music of overwhelming familiarity: the Rachmaninoff piano concertos, with Stephen Hough at the piano and Andrew Litton conducting the Dallas Symphony. These are live recordings, and they crackle with life. Legions of great pianists and orchestras have recorded these concertos, but Hough and the Dallas musicians may have outdone them all. 

— Alex Ross, The New Yorker

Maestro Andrew Litton, conducting from the keyboard, bounced through [Gershwin's Concerto in F Major for Piano and Orchestra] with gleeful abandon. The string textures were the most striking aspect of the first movement, the work in the woodwinds stood out in the second, and Litton's virtuosity highlighted the closing section. 

— Punch Shaw, Fort Worth Star Telegram

[Schwantner's] four works are brought together under Litton's solid direction, and the Dallas Symphony, showing why it's one of our nation's greatest orchestras, particularly when it comes to performing the music of our native soil and of our times.

— Erik North, Amazon.com

Andrew Litton and the Dallas Symphony are strong advocates of [Schwantner's] new and enterprising music full of stimulating sounds. A wonderful surprise well worth investigating.

— Gerald Fenech, Classical.net

Closer listening [to Schwantner] reveals the subtler differences in character, and the playing throughout of Andrew Litton's Dallas Symphony Orchestra is vivid and energetic.

— Rob Witts, ClassicalSource.com

Andrew Litton and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra have gotten rave reviews around the world for their recent Hyperion CDs of the Rachmaninoff piano concertos with pianist Stephen Hough. Now Hyperion has followed up with a DSO CD devoted to music by contemporary American composer Joseph Schwantner, and it's another winner. Mr. Litton, the DSO and three superb soloists serve up top-notch performances. Even if you think you hate contemporary music, these enchanting works may change your mind.

— Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News

Andrew Litton's excellent Dallas Symphony Orchestra does full justice to all [of Schwantner's] works, and the three soloists for whom the later pieces were written could hardly be bettered.

— CD Reviews, BBC Music Magazine

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra concluded its seventh annual residency at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival on Saturday with an impassioned concert version of Bizet's Carmen, conducted by music director Andrew Litton... Throughout, Mr. Litton proved his mettle as a gifted operatic maestro. Even with his back to the protagonists, his deft and articulate direction kept the soloists, orchestra and members of the fine Dallas Symphony Chorus in balance and on cue. 

— Sabine Kortals, Dallas Morning News

"The Orff (Carmina Burana)...showed Mr. Litton and his musicians at their finest. The conductor was full of dynamism on the podium, coaxing a loud, powerful and at times viscerally exciting account with large waves of sound that washed over the hall (Carnegie Hall, New York). The piece...showcased one of the orchestra's strongest assets: the Dallas Symphony Chorus, which sang with a full-bodied, well blended and lustrous sound, supplemented by the Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas."

— Jeremy Eichler, The New York Times

"Every important orchestra plays Carnegie Hall sooner or later..Friday night it was the Dallas symphony's turn...Mr. Litton exulted in gutsy razzle-dazzle at on extreme, some welcome finesse at the other. He let the 2001 (Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra) fanfares rip with almost deafening zeal at the outset of the tone poem..After intermission he took all manner of dynamic and rhythmic chances in the bawdy-tawdry cantata (Carl Orff's Carmina Burana) mustering drastic liberties in matters of tempo...It was exciting in its shamelessly showy way, and passages of relative delicacy did grace the maestro's progress to the ultimate climax."

— Martin Bernheimer, The Dallas Morning News

The freshness and joy in rediscovering well-worn masterpieces are everywhere evidence in Hough's playing. Andrew Litton is a real re-creative partner in this project (even transcribing some lost wind parts from the composer's recording), and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra plays magnificently, from the suavity of the smallest instrumental solo to the grit and power of its ensemble. If you think you have heard these pieces once too often, this is the recording to help you rediscover their intimacies and their emotional sweep (Hyperion CDA67501/2/Rachmaninov/Piano Concertos)

— Matthew Rye, The Daily Telegraph

British pianist Hough and conductor Litton have long thought about what's behind the swooning romanticism that this music acquired en route to the soundtracks of any number of Hollywood films. The performances are clean, unsentimental, smart, accomplished, and, thanks to being recorded live in the generous acoustics of the Meyerson Symphony Center, white-hot and lustrously recorded.

— David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Litton is never afraid of showing some emotion, precisely what is needed for convincing Rachmaninov. I am now of the firm belief that Hough and Litton have recorded the definitive set of the Rachmaninov Concertos. This is the 2004 classical recording of the year.

— Wes Marshall, Soundstage!

I can't think of any other cycles of these works (Rachmaninov's piano concertos), even the composer's own, that draws quite so much musical interest from the scores. It's not that the performances are excessively busy, much less ornate; for all the stunning range of their articulation, for all their attention to secondary voices, Hough and Litton never let the details interefere with the flow of the music....simply breathtaking.

— Peter J. Rabinowitz, Fanfare

Hough and Litton are more than scholars: they make living, flaming music from the ebbing and flowing speeds, the soloist's improvisatory airs, or the strings' willingness to revive the old portamento slide. The waves of energy at the finale's end are very exciting: no wonder the Dallas audience break out in cheers.

— Geoff Brown, The Times, London

Andrew Litton shapes the Dallas Symphony into a taut ensemble, playing with a unity of sound and an attention to the give and take of melodic line (of the Rachmaninov piano concertos) that would be the envy of any fine choir. This orchestra sings together with abandon...A must have. A revelation. Get it.

— Kevin Sutton, Musicweb.uk.net

Hough's willingness to relax, his ability to linger over a phrase without ever breaking the long melodic curve, and Andrew Litton's ability to shadow him with the manic determination of a celebrity stalker create an idiomatic give and take between soloist and orchestra that lies at the heart of all of this music...This is the best set of Rachmaninov Piano Concertos ever recorded.

— David Hurwitz, Classics Today

Thursday night's Elgar Second Symphony was one of the finest performances I've heard Andrew Litton conduct with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Clearly, Mr. Litton has a deep connection with this big, virtuoso work, and he got amazing nuances of volume, intensity and color. And this is music made to order for the sumptuous acoustics of the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. 

— Scott Cantell, Dallas Morning News

Stephen Hough and Andrew Litton cut a swathe through the decades-long undergrowth of bad tradition, revealing leaner, more potent works in the process...A terrific achievement.

— Barry Millington, Evening Standard

These bravura performances recall the composer's own. And it helps that Andrew Litton is at home in [Rachmaninov's] ripe romanticism, a style to which his orchestra is equally well-attuned.

— Andrew Clarke, The Independent

Hough. Litton. Rachmaninov concertos. Hyperion. Already a mouth-watering prospect, is it not? So, like the old Fry's Five Boys chocolate advert, does Anticipation match Realisation in these five much recorded confections? The answer is 'yes' on almost every level.

— Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone

Litton's cool handling of Stravinsky's 1945 version of the Firebirdwas breathtakingly authoratitive...it hit the mark.

— Kenneth Walton, The Edinburgh Scotsman

Litton's sense of pacing and balance, and the orchestra's committed, gutsy playing, carried the day.

— Erika Jeal, The Guardian

The highly traditional orchestra from Dallas led by Andrew Litton no longer relies on power and Volga sentimentality when it comes to the Russian composers, but on tonality, impressionistic nuances of color play and the creation of tension throughout the finely structured individual work.

— , Tiroler Tageszeitung, Innsbruck

Mr. Litton and the orchestra gave another superb performance of the Tchaikovsky, flawlessly paced, carefully structured and balanced, and finely finished. The orchestra's string sections really shown, especially the cellos, and the brassy climaxes were electrifying.

— Scott Cantrell, Dallas Morning News

Seldom have we heard the scherzo plucked and crisscrossed with rare minstrel-like brass sections. Andrew Litton's strategy of sparing, dynamic highlights ultimately created a final celebration, which simultaneously brought on the applause. Litton did not display any of the creative carelessness that we have sometimes experienced with other US orchestras.

— Klaus Ackermann, Offenbach Post, Frankfort

In terms of overall performances, Litton scores over his predecessor in orchestral execution and recorded sound. Litton's performance (of Mahler's Symphony No. 10, Carpenter completion) is powerful and powerfully effective.

— , Fanfare

Andrew Litton, now happily ensconced in Dallas, shone like a beacon from this sleepy seaside town (Bournemouth) and his career has been vertiginous in its ascent.

— James Jolly, Andante

Litton did an outstanding job of maintaining rock-solid tempos throughout the work (Schubert's Symphony No. 9), while letting it retain a freely Romantic personality. The lengthy second movement was filled with memorable passages, including some gorgeous work in the strings and one particular cut-off that was sharp enough to take your breath away.

— Punch Shaw, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is a first-class ensemble and Litton led them in a reading of Shostakovich's Sixth Symphony so powerful that anything less than a truely sensational performance of the Lieberman Second [Piano Concerto] would have vanished in the smoke. Fortunately, [Stephen] Hough played with all fingers flying — and the audience responded fervently.

— Terry Teachout, The Washington Post

Andrew Litton revealed himself to be a powerfully gripping, sensitive conductor and alert orchestra strategist. He has his body of sound firmly in hand, much to the advantage of the works and their compact consistency.

— Werner Matthes, Nortwest Zeitung, Bremen

Not [every] conductor can steer and organize the orchestral masses; who has the nerve right at the pulse of what's going on and doesn't lose track of things. Andrew Litton distinguished himself with such a quality. He forced the Dallas Symphony Orchestra into the very depths of the work and at the same time, moved beautiful parts into the open, [creating] oases that want to be sought out and found, no matter how ruthlessly the brass instruments roar. The fascinated audience expressed its gratitude with frenetic applause.

— W. Bronnermeyer, Nurnberger Zeitung, Nuremburg

I have not heard a more honest or moving account of [Shostakovich's] music during the season than in the [Dallas Symphony's] Tenth Symphony. Opening in a mood of brooding desolation, the playing turned appropriately gritty and piercing. Litton galvanised his players into a performance of satisfying detail and shattering power, not lease in the second movement of terrifying ferocity.

— John Allison, The Times, London

The orchestra, on tour to celebrate its centenary, was equal in form for a performance of Shostakovich's mighty and puzzling tenth symphony. Under Litton's precise, taut baton, [the orchestra] negotiated with ease and confidence its many complexities to bring a coherent and absorbing account. This may well prove to be one of the season's highlights.

— Paul Fulford, Birmingham Evening Mail

Timepiece by Texas-based Cindy McTee, provided a totally exhilarating exploration of momentum. Under Andrew Litton, the Dallas players delivered it with exuberant delight. At last, though, came Litton at his best, unfolding with devotion a no-holds-barredinterpretation of Shostakovich's epic Tenth Symphony.

— Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post

[Litton] is a sensitive conductor. His Zarathustra is passionate, and its architecture is remarkably solid. The Planets shine as if they were brand new. Many listeners, myself included, are on the verge of being jaded by these scores. It is a testimony to Litton's cleverness and commitment that he made me thrilled and moved by both of them.

— Raymond Tuttle, Classical.net

Andrew Litton has made some excellent recordings, notably a near-definitive one of Rachmaninov's Second Symphony. I have no doubt that this magnificent Shostakovich Eighth is in the same class...It strikes me as easily the most convincing of non-Russianperformances, and good enough to stand alongside the great Yevgeni Mravinsky's. An outstanding release.

— Terry Williams, Classic CD

[Litton] is always making some sort of new twist in the music or an unexpected tempo adjustment. These little differences...are usually subtle, like the stretching of a cadence pattern or a bit more give in the melodic line. But whatever Mr. Litton does, it's enough to sustain your interest one more time.

— John Ardoin, Dallas Morning News

Mr. Litton has proved he's a whiz at Russian sizzle. Now we know he can cook up a steak as well. Litton and his orchestra raised the emotional temperature to the boiling point and gave the concerto (Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 2) some oomph, too.

— Lawson Taitte, Dallas Morning News

Having shared the spotlight with soloists most of the evening, Litton made himself the star of the show on the final item, Debussy's La Mer. To Debussy's fabulous orchestral color, he added a daring rhythmic impetus, producing a blazing portrayal of midday sun in the first movement and a compelling urgency in the middle "Play of the Waves" movement.

— Wayne Lee Gay, Fort Worth Star-Telegram