Concert Reviews


Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice

Conductor George Hanson, protégé of Leonard Bernstein, clearly inherited his mentor’s expressive talents: dynamic energy flowed through his fingers as he conducted the Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice. In spectacular renditions of the Candide Overture and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, Hanson and the orchestra exalted in the musical themes. With extraordinary musicality, Hanson emphasized Bernstein’s colorful combination of classical and jazz in a beautiful integration. — Nice Matin, July 1, 2014

When they put together George Hanson’s Tucson Symphony Orchestra career highlights to commemorate his finale next season, surely last night’s performance of “The Ring Without Words” will make the list.
In the first of two performances, Hanson led the orchestra in a furiously emotive, raucous ride through the highlights of Richard Wagner’s epic “Der Ring des Nibelungen” cycle.
(The orchestra) powered through with an intense energy that followed Hanson’s lead. He conducted the piece without a score, bringing out all that rich drama and intrigue of Wagner’s complex and beautiful music. The performance seemed to flow from a place of quiet passion and intuition.

DAMNATION OF FAUST Tucson March 2014

Hanson was his typical athletic, dynamic self, driving the orchestra and chorus with the sheer energy he always displays on the podium.

VERDI REQUIEM Tucson Arizona Daily Star February 2013

Hanson, who was at the podium when the orchestra last performed the Verdi Requiem nine years ago, set the bar high for the orchestra’s next stab at the piece. He performed the 83-minute piece without a score, bringing out all of Verdi’s trembling and triumph, with booming percussion and brass interruptions that pierced the quiet of soaring strings that suddenly grew urgent and chaotic before settling into melancholy.

Hanson clearly saved the best for last. I’m hard-pressed to think of a single performance- live or on disc- of the “Pines of Rome” that could match this sleek, smoldering account…… Its glittering opening was stupendous. . . its final crescendo received the kind of sculpted contours that accent its architectural grace. Tucson Citizen
Tucson Symphony, Resphigi “Pines of Rome”

The usually tame musicians of the Wiesbaden State orchestra played like fiery new people under guest conductor George Hanson. . . and seemed happy to be challenged by Hanson to rise to a new level. The musicians played as if they greatly enjoyed being led by “precision-worker” Hanson through the frights and dangers, with his light but sensitive touch……The highpoint of the concert was Hanson’s featherlight, breathing interpretation of Haydn’s Symphony No. 104. Every note, every phrase was in place. . . . . Dynamically, through his fingertips, the former Bernstein assistant communicated his ideas and elan to the ensemble. It worked. Hanson turned the concert into an event. Frankfurter Rundschau
Wiesbadener Staatsorchester, Haydn “Symphony No. 104”

With exhilaration, Hanson then steered the DSSO through Symphony No. 5 by Ludwig van Beethoven as if it had never been played here before. From the driving opening themes, through the lyrical slow movement, to the victorious finale, Hanson never let up. His sense of flow was large. He kept a raw edge, always urging a rhythmic accent, a constant sense of expectancy. In the last movement, the cellos charged forward, sure of the goal. The trumpets and trombones exploded at the end to push the audience to its feet.
…..This was Beethoven unbuttoned and demanding to be heard. The fluidity of Hanson’s communication was refreshing. The DSSO seemed to watch closely, trying to keep up with his energy. It was a satisfying contest for the audience. Again they eagerly stood and insisted on several returns to center stage by this dynamic and gifted conductor. Duluth News Tribune
Duluth Symphony Orchestra, Beethoven “Symphony No 5”

George Hanson’s hands had not even left the keyboard Saturday afternoon when a casually dressed woman in the front row bolted from her seat.  Within moments, the nearly-sold-out crowd at Catalina Foothills High School joined her to applaud the Tucson Symphony Orchestra maestro on his long-awaited Tucson piano solo debut……He played Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A major, and it was an impressive display of technical prowess and elegant play……Hanson, who also conducted the chamber-sized orchestra throughout the concerto, played with the technical proficiency and sublime elegance of someone who does it full-time for a living. He carried himself with grace and confidence in his roles as soloist and conductor……Hanson brought a casual playfulness to the concerto, his hands gliding with ballet-like grace over the keyboard. His play was taut and fluid, passionate and learned, with just enough restraint to wring the beauty and grace from the concerto…….Hanson breathed life into the concerto’s moments of awe-inspiring beauty that will tempt you to burst into applause. Hold that thought, though, because you’d hate to disturb the chemistry between Hanson and his musicians…….Seeing Hanson sitting among them, an equal, was heartwarming. It confirmed what we have witnessed these past several years: This is an orchestra that is perfectly gelled, its members in tune with one another’s music-making passions. Arizona Daily Star
Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Mozart “Piano Concerto No 23”