In the Press
“Schwarz’s fat, rich tone with lots of vibrato was displayed at the outset. This is hard-core 19th century romantic stuff, and the cellist took appropriate rubato at every turn, milking the heart-felt melodies. Communication between the soloist and strings was good—very important in a reading in which there was so much rhythmic flexibility.” Greensboro News and Record, June 2019 (Tchaikovsky Andante Cantabile, Eastern Music Festival Strings)
“The cello is a difficult instrument to feature in a concerto because its voice is often drowned out by the orchestra playing in the same tessitura. However, this was not a problem on this occasion, with Schwarz's Gagliano cello (1743) carrying well through thick and thin of the orchestra. If anything, the cello occasionally overpowered the Pressenda violin (1823) of Armstrong. Armstrong's lovely pure tone was no match for the lush opulence of this cellist, rife with rubati and portamenti. A rousing encore delighted the audience – Johan Halvorsen's Passacaglia on a Theme by Händel, originally for violin and viola, but equally at home on the cello. Here there was no disparity between instruments, just sparkling fireworks!” Classical Voice of North Carolina, June 2019 (Brahms Double Concerto, Eastern Festival Orchestra)
“Cellist Julian Schwarz had few moments to shine there, but in the following Silent for the Rain, he gave one of the most thrilling performances of the evening… Mr. Schwarz produced a deep rich tone, a highly Romantic aura, an emotional depth that would have embellished any music for which he was part.” Concertonet, January 2019 (Bargemusic Winter Festival, Weiser “Silent for the Rain”)
“Schwarz, for whom the concerto was written, dispatched the work with virtuosity and a range of tone and sonority that has to be heard to be believed. Liebermann, who is undoubtedly one of the brightest lights among living American composers, creatively blends orchestral forces with his fiery, virtuosic muse Schwarz, and Abdullah provided sensitive and attentive accompaniment. Stunning in lyricism and originality, this gorgeous and profound creation stands as a shining example of how contemporary compositions need not be thorny and inaccessible…There is much here to remind the American listener that he or she has just reason to be proud of our contributions to the form, not to mention delivering what is, in this listener's estimation, the standout performance of the entire season with Liebermann's Concerto.” The Florida Times-Union, May 2018 (Jacksonville Symphony, Liebermann Concerto)
"Where did this guy come from?: When he came on stage, all dressed in black, guest cellist Julian Schwarz had the nervous giddiness of someone who was throwing caution to the wind. We didn’t know what to expect, and sometimes that’s the best surprise of all. Because when Schwarz, son of Seattle Symphony conductor Gerard Schwarz, started playing, Friday’s audience was simply blown away. It’s no surprise that Schwarz would have the technical chops for the Shostakovich Concerto; the 26-year-old has been performing before audiences since he was 11. But we weren’t expecting him to have so much stage personality. From his facial expressions — ranging from tortured rock guitarist angst to frat boy prankster to his playful asides — at one point he turned to the audience and mouthed “ba dump bump bump” with a big smile on his face to mimic what the orchestra was playing — you could tell Schwarz was having so much fun. After he finished the 30-minute Shostakovich workout, he returned to the stage and recounted a master class he had led at the University of Arizona earlier Friday...then gave us five more minutes of his time playing the famous prelude to Bach’s wonderful Cello Suite. Talk about sweet endings." Arizona Daily Star, January 2018 (Tucson Symphony, Shostakovich 1st Concerto)
"Julian Schwarz, a first-rate cellist who has now made repeat appearances with this orchestra, played with bravura and commitment, particularly in the cadenza, which in its extravagance seemed to belong to a much more nakedly virtuosic piece. (Schwarz) His instrumental skill was impressively on display here, with a confident sound and attack to go along with technical capability. (Tchaikovsky)" Palm Beach Arts Paper, December 2017 (Boca Symphonia, Schwarz "Rhapsody" World Premiere, Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations)
"Cellist Julian Schwarz’s deep tone shoots straight to the heart of a listener." Shepherd Express, November 2017 (Frankly Music Series Milwaukee, Korngold Piano Quintet)
"Then came the guest soloist, cellist Julian Schwarz. He is the son of conductor Gerard Schwarz, but he's not a kid. He is a seasoned performer with his own touch of charm, and a marvelous way with his 18th century cello. Even if you're not familiar with Lalo's Cello Concerto in D Minor, I believe it will draw you in and wrap itself around you. It gets you from the beginning. Schwarz's entrance into the first movement was authoritative and passionate. He coaxed deep rich tones from that cello, digging into them with satisfaction. And he gave the piece's lyrical melodies -- heart-melting, some of them -- a sweet legato singing tone. The sharply syncopated last movement had Spanish flair, no doubt bred into both Lalo and Valdes. Schwarz's graceful tone made me think of violinist Fritz Kreisler." Buffalo News, November 2017 (Buffalo Philharmonic, Lalo Concerto)
"Both individually and collaboratively, cellist Schwarz and Maestro and his orchestra provided a near-flawless performance. Playing a remarkably resonant cello and equipped with both a relaxed virtuosity and a telling musical sensitivity, Schwarz left nothing unsaid about the music’s texture and expressive potential. I’ve heard the Elgar concerto many times, but never better played." Ridgefield Press, October 2017 (Ridgefield Symphony CT, Elgar Concerto)
"In both, Julian Schwarz performed polished, glowing interpretations, his instrument projecting a rich, burnished sound. Julian Schwarz then turned poetic for the Tchaikovsky piece, nimbly utilizing the entire range of his cello with clean agility and fluid energy, making Tchaikovsky’s beautiful main theme sound better than ever. The father-and-son coordination was smooth and expressive." San Antonio Express-News, January 2017 (San Antonio Symphony, Danzi Variations on Mozart's Don Giovanni & Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations)
"Bargemusic's Masterworks Series presented a stunning program of chamber music by Brahms over the weekend, featuring three gifted musicians at the top of their games....
After that bracing appetizer, Peskanov yielded the floor to cellist Julian Schwarz, whose remarkable outward serenity belies his young age and, I suspect, helped him convincingly convey the first movement’s complex, charged emotions. In this quintessentially Brahmsian masterpiece of melody, Schwarz and Bournaki’s long association became apparent. The two musicians flowed, rose, moderated, almost breathed as one, Schwarz’s 1743 Gagliano cello soaring richly in the midrange, piping sweetly in the upper.
The gypsy-ish minuet-like second movement with its spirited dance rhythms and sparkling trio section was a light-hearted delight, perfectly setting up the soaring finale with its insistent three-against-two patterns and forceful yet graceful unison passages. Locked together in unexaggerated rubatos, the duo made it all look easy.
After an intermission, Peskanov joined Schwarz and Bournaki for Brahms’s Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8. The unabashed romanticism of the first movement demands both perfect balance among the musicians and sonic space for their individual personalities to shine. The three achieved all this with apparent ease through the many rhythmic changes of the development, the racing triplet figures, and the ineffably beautiful main theme, while bringing a full, almost electric ensemble sound to the agitated passages.
The Scherzo movement grounds a sense of play in a sober bed, and the musicians joined forces here in what felt like a grand game of high stakes, while also getting the childlike spirit of the slow section just right. Then they took us on a haunting journey through the third movement’s somber, sometimes eerie mood, peaceful cadences, and gently swelling harmonies.
Finally the rolling arpeggios of the rhythmic finale sent an energized audience back out to the waterfront full of summertime gladness." BlogCritics.com, August 2016 (Bargemusic Masterworks Series, Brahms E Minor Sonata and B Major Trio)
"Schwarz has the complete arsenal for this work: a big, piercing sound that penetrates through the other ninety or so players when needed, and a honey-toned soft embrace in the sensitive, lyrical sections. The second theme is one of those masterfully shaped haunting melodies that is typical of Dvořák's "American" style, and Schwarz was particularly emotive in playing this seemingly simple tune." Classical Voice of North Carolina, July 2016 (Eastern Music Festival Faculty Orchestra, Dvorak Concerto)
"Almond and Schwarz’s high octane performance highlighted the electric excitement of Ravel’s homage. In the second movement, aggressive pizzicato motifs shared the stage with explosive, hard-bowed cello asterisks. There was a chance for some lyrical, mournful cello in the third movement, but the fourth concludes with a tailspin recapitulation of the piece’s earlier themes. The real opportunity for wistful lyricism came in a lush reading of Gabriel Faure’s Piano Trio, Op. 120. The trio made its case beautifully. Schwarz has a muscular tone, which he used to imbue the cello lines with intense passion. And the acoustics of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church gave the ensemble an almost ghostly presence." Milwaukee Magazine, November 2015 (Frankly Music Chamber Series, Ravel Duo and Faure Piano Trio)
"I was immediately struck by the enormous power and volume that Schwarz produced out of his instrument. It's hard to tell whether it was the player's technique, an unusually lively instrument or a combination of the two, but I have never heard such projection and force from a cello before. This allowed Schwarz to also be heard in quieter passages resulting in practically a new hearing of this well-known work. His playing was aggressive and strong when the music called for it but passionate and elegant in the heartbreaking adagio... Schwarz returned for a stunning encore. This was a Baroque heavily ornamented Sarabande of great beauty and difficulty (Duport Etude #8)" Classical Voice of North Carolina, July 2015 (Eastern Music Festival, Elgar Concerto)
"Julian Schwarz 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. In place of an encore the audience was treated to the "Pezzo capriccioso" by Tchaikovsky. This charming six-minute work for solo cello and orchestra was fun to hear, and it revealed the influences of the Tchaikovsky style on the Saint-Saëns concerto. Hopefully this father and son team will become a regular feature as guest conductors here in Hartford. They would certainly be welcome again." Hartford Courant, March 2015 (Hartford Symphony, Saint-Saens 1 & Tchaikovsky Pezzo Capriccioso)
"Another personal connection was the conductor’s son Julian Schwarz, the soloist in a fiery account of Saint-Saens’s first cello concerto. This brief (twenty minutes) but virtuosic showpiece also marked the 23-year-old cellist’s orchestral debut at age 11 with his father conducting the Seattle Symphony, of which he was then music director; they later also recorded the piece. Their long affinity for it elicited a performance showcasing Julian’s technical proficiency, his interpretive maturity, and the orchestra’s vibrant playing. Tchaikovsky’s rarely heard “Pezzo Capriccioso” for cello and orchestra was a delightful encore. This is the second Schwarz family concert with the HSO in three years, and this winning program inspires hope that it won’t be the last." In The Spotlight, March 2015 (Hartford Symphony, Saint-Saens 1 & Tchaikovsky Pezzo Capriccioso)
"Schwarz played with intensity and very good intonation and rhythm, and he handled the difficult cadenza well, getting a great deal of emotion out of a piece that is, at times, dissonant and abstract. My companion noticed that the first chair of the orchestra’s cello section was listening with even greater enjoyment than we were. Excellence is always remarkable, but it is all the more remarkable given that Mr. Schwarz was graduated from The Julliard School just last year, which makes him about 23 years old. He looks and plays as if he were a decade older–but he isn’t. During the Enigma Variations, far to stage left, at the end of the cello section, there was an extra chair—and in it sat Julian Schwarz, playing the Elgar with obvious delight. I have never seen a soloist cap his evening by joining the orchestra for the subsequent piece. It was fun to see, and a compliment to the orchestra. It was also a testament to the lack of pretentiousness of this young man, who seems to be making a musical career for himself because—more than anything else–he loves to play." Arts-Louisville, February 2015 (Louisville Orchestra, Shostakovich 1)
"Cellist Julian Schwarz, in his first appearance with the Wichita Symphony, is a performer who gives the appearance of complete abandon onstage, but nonetheless remains in control... Schwarz and Valdes have long known each other and worked together before, and it shows in their complementary onstage manner; this was their first performance of the Saint-Saens concerto together, however. Just when it seemed that Schwarz is committed only to Paganini-like intensity, however, he dropped seamlessly into the polite minuet of the concerto’s second main section, joining in the dance and blending evenly measured trills into the texture. The fiery, tempestuous themes returned for the third section, building to a rousing conclusion... he favored the audience with an encore, the prelude from J.S. Bach’s unaccompanied “Cello Suite No. 1,” exhibiting great control and variation of touch throughout, from feather-light subtlety to digging in with impetuous vigor. Schwarz, though young, has already begun an impressive career." Wichita Eagle, January 2014 (Wichita Symphony, Saint-Saëns 1)
"What can we say about a 22-year-old cellist who is undoubtedly on his way to becoming a world-class star, except to thank our lucky stars that he picked Binghamton as a rung on his ladder up. Julian Schwarz, scion of a Seattle musical family, thrilled a packed house for Saturday night’s opening concert of the Binghamton Philharmonic 2013-14 season. He played the astonishingly virtuosic and passion-packed Saint-Saens’ Concerto for Violoncello No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33. 'We’re lucky to have him here before he becomes so famous we can’t afford him,' quipped Maestro Jose-Luis Novo to the BPO patrons at Binghamton University’s Osterhout Concert Theater. Broad-shouldered and muscular, Schwarz makes his cello look small. With impeccable bow control and technical mastery of his instrument, he fearlessly flew through the acrobatic demands of the work, exploring every timbre of the cello’s sound, from the lowest possible resonance to notes that would be a stretch for a violin. After three curtain calls, Schwarz rewarded the Anderson Center audience with an exquisitely played encore: the prelude to Bach’s first unaccompanied cello suite." Broome County Arts Blog, October 2013 (Binghamton Philharmonic, Saint-Saëns 1)
"Schwarz produced a full, rich sound from his cello and conveyed a spirit of spontaneity. His intonation was good and his phrasing was stylish. Aladashvili brought out Beethoven’s intensity while ably supporting his partner. (Chopin) Schwarz and Aladashvili turned in an exciting but carefully balanced performance that avoided the pitfalls inherent in the score. The keyboard part was glowing and crystalline. Schwarz’s high notes were precise while his cello produced full, rich low notes for the heartfelt melancholy of the largo. (Cassado) Schwarz had the “chops” to spare as he seemed to effortlessly toss off multiple stops, stratospheric high harmonics, or complicated changes in meter. Beauty of tone was just icing on the cake. (Sarasate) Schwarz handled all the artificial harmonics, the difficult runs, the double stops, the flying spiccatos, the ricochet bowings, and the left hand pizzicatos with aplomb." Classical Voice of North Carolina, March 2013 (Recital for Music for a Great Space)
"The memorable performance revealed all the drama and poignancy of the music, from the grand opening of the first movement, through the bucolic central Adagio, to the fleet rondo finale. The soloist’s rich, expressive tone and his interpretive maturity easily met both the technical demands and the wide emotional range of this 40-minute masterpiece, and earned him an enthusiastic standing ovation." In The Spotlight, April 2012 (Hartford Symphony, Dvorak)
"Saturday’s guest artist, cellist Julian Schwarz, thrilled the audience with an expert rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme,” then charmed them further with Dvorak’s “Waldesruhe,” or “Quiet Forest.” Schwarz, who just turned 21 a week ago, played with the insight and understanding of the fully seasoned interpreter that he is. His account of the “Rococo Variations” was elegantly nuanced, balancing plummy decorum with impetuous fervor in perfectly conceived measure. Rhodes and the SSO trod lightly around him in the nimble, delicate ballet between soloist and orchestra. It was obvious from the standing ovation accorded the Tchaikovsky that the audience would appreciate an encore, and Schwarz, Rhodes and the orchestra were clearly prepared to give one. The simple, heartfelt lines of Dvorak’s “Waldesruhe” proved the perfect companion to the decorative excesses of the Variations." MassLive.com, January 2012 (Springfield Symphony, Rococo Variations)
“It a virtuosic work of considerable drama and even theatricality. Schwarz played with decisiveness, musicality and a varied tone. He may be young — he is a student at the Colburn School in Los Angeles — but he possesses considerable maturity and inevitably a huge technique. Schwarz has been given many opportunities to perform — far more than most musicians his age — and so he seems to be a veteran on the stage. That sophistication spilled over into the performance itself.” The Gathering Note, September 2010 (Seattle Symphony, Jones Concerto)
“Schwarz's complex tone and careful phrasing imbued the melody with a sort of humanity. Tchaikovsky's juxtaposition of early classical and romantic styles were no great challenge to a soloist of Schwarz's caliber. His encore, the famous prelude from J. S. Bach's Cello Suite No. 1, was full of tenderness and restraint” Columbus Dispatch, January 2010 (Colombus Symphony, Rococo Variations)
“Mr. Schwarz, only 18, gave a phenomenally mature, polished performance of the work. The orchestra provided him with a carefully nuanced backup, almost as if the composer had designed the work’s instrumentation especially for them. As for Mr. Schwarz—he’s the son of Seattle Symphony conductor Gerard Schwarz. The young Mr. Schwarz will be steered toward at least a couple more years in a conservatory environment before he begins his career in earnest. But if Saturday’s performance of the Tchaikovsky is any indication of his musical maturity, he might seriously consider doing a LeBron James and launching his career right now.” Washington Times, January 2010 (Moscow State Radio Symphony, Rococo Variations)
"It was 45 years ago, which is almost exactly half the history of Elgar’s Cello Concerto, that I heard the 20-year-old Jacqueline du Pré make her American debut with it and take the Carnegie Hall public by storm. That occasion came vividly to mind as I listened to Julian Schwarz, about a year younger than his great predecessor was then, play the work for the first time on 18 June. Du Pré was one of the greatest instrumentalists of her time. Gerard Schwarz’s son, as I have said before on this site, is destined to be one of the greatest cellists of the 21st century. I have heard several great performances of Elgar’s magical concerto, but I cannot recall one that moved me more than this one. Partnered with exceptional sympathy and skill by Christophe Chagnard and his Lake Union Civic Orchestra, Schwarz responded superbly to every demand of Elgar’s somber yet inspiriting score. From the massive multiple-stopped chords of the opening, by way of the wistful chains of melody in the Moderato that follows and the quicksilver repeated notes of the scherzo, to the finale’s interweaving of boisterous action with wistful dream, this was an interpretation that will stay in my memory as long as has du Pré’s (if I live to be 120, that is)." Musicweb International, June 2010 (Lake Union Civic Orchestra, Elgar)
“At 18, American cellist Julian Schwarz shows great promise. In the ‘Rococo Variations,’ he revealed a centered, at times luxuriant tone, and the maturity to savor key notes and phrases.” Birmingham News, January 2010 (Moscow State Radio Symphony, Rococo Variations)
“In the first movement of Haydn’s C-major Concerto–probably the composer’s most successful work in the genre apart from the delightful one for trumpet–sumptuous tone and crystal-clear articulation were only part of the story. What made Schwarz’s playing especially exciting was the urgency of his rhythm, which constantly nudged the music forward without ever sacrificing coherence of phrasing or security of ensemble. Such an approach foretold that, after an equally successful treatment of the lyrical slow movement, the finale would be a vivid affair, and that was indeed the case. Soloist and conductor worked together at a headlong pace that took every risk in the book, yet once again there was a sense of total security in the execution, and even at this speed Schwarz had time to sing his phrases with ample eloquence of line and sound. Julian Schwarz is destined to rank among the major cellists of the 21st century. Mark my words.” Bernard Jacobson, Musicweb International, March 2006 (Northwest Sinfonietta, Haydn C)
“Schwarz dazzled with off-string playing in the first variation, bravura sound on the A string in the second, and extensive runs and multiple stops in this piece written by Danzi for himself… In Stutschewsky’s Legend, Schwarz drew from his Neapolitan cello, made by Gennaro Gagliano in 1743, a gorgeous melody adorned with beautiful blue notes and folk music-like vocal cantillation…Bournaki kept pace with Schwarz, sensitively moving with him through several modifications of the tempo with the flexibility of folk musicians. Schwarz applied his most silky legato to the slow movement of this piece (Schubert Arpeggione), including the delicate cadenza that led into the daring finale, played with flair. Another rarity concluded the recital, Schwarz’s own arrangement of Korngold’s Suite from Much Ado about Nothing. Schwarz showed that the music works almost as well on the cello, especially the blustery comic march “Dogberry and Verges” and the lyrical moonlit serenade “Scene in the Garden.” A standing ovation elicited an encore from the duo, an arrangement of Schubert’s rhapsodic “Du bist die Ruh.”” Washington Classical Review, March 2019 (Recital at Austrian Embassy, Washington DC, presented by the Embassy Series)
“Schwarz's interpretation was fascinating, possessing more depth of feeling than one sometimes encounters in this piece. Instead of tossing the Variations off as a mere virtuoso number, Schwarz gave us interesting contrasts – treating some of the variations more like... Tchaikovsky. This isn't to say that it was a big Romantic wallow, as there were many moments when the style of the playing was squarely in the Classical sphere. Falletta and the Virginians provided deft accompaniment, with precision ensemble that blended beautifully with the solo cello. The final variation was a real romp – appropriately showy – and it was like the cherry on top of an interpretation that was as effective as it was original.” Bachtrack, December 2018 (Virginia Symphony, Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations)
“The evening’s solo spotlight was on celebrated guest cellist, 27-year-old Julian Schwarz, an obviously young artist of obviously considerable talent. Not that talent is passed down through families, but it does make one inclined to think there’s something to that since his father is the celebrated conductor-musician-composer Gerard Schwarz… A showpiece for the cello, “Rococo” is filled with flair, lyricism and lots of virtuoso passages. Schwarz, sitting on an elevated platform, was front and center as he expertly surveyed the work’s many lines of development. From devilishly demanding finger gymnastics to heightened moments of expression, many of them of a hear-a-pin-drop quietness, Schwarz’s superb performance was mighty and engaging. His love of the instrument — a 1743 Gagliano — and playing were obvious throughout the Tchaikovsky, smiles crossing his face in particularly playful moments and determined seriousness in those more thoughtful. This was again heard in Faure’s lyrical “Elegy.” Not flashy, save a brief flourish, “Elegy” is a non-stop flow of lyrical and expressive lines. Schwarz embraced the gentleness of the bitter-sweet piece, his rich sound relaying the romantic work’s reflective nature. In both selections, Falletta brought sensitive and supportive orchestral accompaniment that added style to the musical moments.” Virginia Gazette, December 2018 (Virginia Symphony, Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations)
"For my money, the most memorable of many memorable moments on Sunday occurred during the concerto, which was composed in 1959 for the late Mstislav Rostropovich... Schwarz’s account emerged as thoroughly gripping and moving, engaging the eye as much as the ear because of all the visceral excitement that he, Kulenovic and the orchestra created. Rhythmic energy, rooted in fragment-like morsels that would have made Beethoven proud, reigned during the opening movement, finding its contrast in the cellist’s flowing lines of an equally intense nature. The concerto devotes its entire third movement to a cadenza, solo writing that alternates fiery, dense pyrotechnics with passages in which just a few notes are plucked out in slow succession. In each instance, Schwarz drew the listeners in and demanded their undivided attention.” Winstom-Salem Journal, October 2018 (Winston-Salem Symphony, Shostakovich 1st Concerto)
“Playing the Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat by Soviet composer Dmitri Shostakovich, Schwarz was impressive, exhibiting a beautifully expressive tone, nearly flawless intonation, and mustering up the drama this emotional work demands as it carries Shostakovich's plea for individuality in the epoch of Stalinist oppression. Conductor and soloist worked hand in glove throughout the concerto…The lengthy and dramatic cadenza that links the soulful second movement to the lusty, weaving, folk-like last movement was a high point of the performance.” Classical Voice of North Carolina, October 2018 (Winston-Salem Symphony, Shostakovich 1st Concerto)
“The Shostakovich Cello Concerto formed the heart of the program. Schwarz brought a welcome, warm sound to the unabashedly neurotic piece. The shrieking, neurotic first movement was performed with restless energy from the soloist and ironic detachment from the orchestra. The beautiful, but terrifying second movement showcased Schwarz’s unique tone: the presentation of the main theme in harmonics, accompanied by the celesta, is one of classical music’s magical moments. An extended cadenza, performed effortlessly by the soloist, leads to the ironic finale…” Wake Forest Old Gold and Black, October 2018 (Winston-Salem Symphony, Shostakovich 1st Concerto)
"Schwarz made his cello sing with a palette of instrumental color: deepest pathos to frolicsome merriment and back again to stoic resonance. Together, these two talents (Prior and Schwarz) fronting the symphony, brought to stunning life the latest musical vision of one of the most popular American composers working today. The Liebermann work is neoromantic: soaring melodies, blatantly tonal, and quite purposefully allows the audience access to its artistic message and aesthetic. It is (heaven forfend in these days of academic musical martyrdom) simply beautiful. Structurally the work gives a nod to classical concerto form. The orchestrations are richly complex, replete with color, and underlay the solo role of the cello perfectly: balanced, tasteful, and resilient. The well-crafted work, which will receive several additional outings this concert season, was definitely enjoyed by the audience and artistically holds a measure of aesthetic truth making it worthy of the additional air time it will receive." Toledo Blade, October 2017 (Toledo Symphony, Liebermann Concerto World Premiere)
"The three musicians dug into the opening Allegro with intense passion and explored the expressive and dramatic qualities of the music. The Scherzo displayed stunningly fast playing by all three in the “elfin” style for which the composer is justly famous. The intensity, fervor and rhythmic energetic playing by Multer, Schwarz and Bournaki made for a completely memorable performance, and the audience rewarded the trio with vigorous applause and cheers." Greensboro News and Record, June 2017 (Eastern Music Festival Chamber Series, Mile-End Trio, Mendelssohn D Minor Trio)
"Schwarz gave the music his usual expressive fervor" New York Classical Review, January 2017 (Bargemusic Here and Now Winter Festival, Gavin Fraser "Untether Me" World Premiere)
"I called this before a “fantasia” only because I couldn’t trace the classical structure in this relatively long work. That, though, didn’t detract for its seriousness–a mid-19th Century mid-European seriousness from the young American composer. And while that may be unfashionable, such commitment, and such difficult dense, playing–executed with unfailing brilliance by cellist Julian Schwarz and pianist Marika Bournaki–that it gave the most worthwhile elevation to an evervescent evening." ConcertoNet.com, August 2016 (Premiere of Paul Frucht's Reckoning, Bargemusic Labor Day Festival)
"Continuing the classical side, there was Paul Frucht’s Reckoning, premiered by cellist Julian Schwarz and pianist Marika Bournaki. A soulful interior argument and lament, Reckoning was romantic and expressionistic, written with knowledge of the instruments, and the intense performance carried substantial and satisfying emotional power." New York Classical Review, August 2016 (Premiere of Paul Frucht's Reckoning, Bargemusic Labor Day Festival)
"Julian was energetic and aggressive in his handling of Dvorak. From the beginning, his tone was powerful but balanced, projecting over the ensemble while maintaining expressive warmth. The finest moments came in the slow second movement’s brief cadenza, where Schwarz was able to showcase his exquisite touch and sweetly-tuned double stops. He closed the concerto with authority, and the audience expressed its admiration with a standing ovation." Greensboro News and Record, July 2016 (Eastern Music Festival Faculty Orchestra, Dvorak Concerto)
"Schwarz took the stage, without score, to join Bournaki for a fiery, kaleidoscopic performance of the Sonata for Cello and Piano by Claude Debussy. The opening Prologue blends melancholy with a noble air. The following Serenade demands the cellist execute a plethora of extreme string techniques, pizzicatos, whistling high harmonics, and strummed strings. The Finale abounds in vigorous high spirits interrupted by an ethereal, poignant interlude. Schwarz's playing was breathtaking and his playing of the bravura middle movement was jaw dropping! What colors Bournaki conjured from her keyboard! Their performance was rewarded by a prolonged standing ovation." Classical Voice of North Carolina, June 2016 (Eastern Music Festival Chamber Series, Debussy Sonata)
"Saturday night, Julian Schwarz joined the orchestra for a brilliant performance of Dvorak’s Cello Concerto in B Minor. Schwarz, who plays a cello made by Gennaro Gagliano in 1743, played the opening movement with authority, drenching tone, just-right rhythm and gorgeously tuned chords. His playing in those frequent moments when the cellist becomes the accompanist and the orchestra picks up the melody were insightful and invigorating. The slow movement began with a lovely interplay between Schwarz and the clarinets... and bassoons... The massive outburst of the second section had authority while Schwarz’s meditative lyricism that followed was tonally rich and phrased compellingly. The finale had gorgeous tunes, Schwarz’s bracing communication and immaculate rhythm. Cooper found precise balances between orchestra and soloist and the orchestra sounded as grand as Schwarz. Schwarz and the orchestra played Dvorak’s “Silent Woods” as an insightful encore." Charleston Gazette-Mail, September 2015 (West Virginia Symphony, Dvorak Concerto)
"It seems like just yesterday—such is the vividness of the memory—that, reviewing a performance of Haydn’s C-major Cello Concerto in Tacoma, Washington, for Seen and Heard, I declared that the 16-year-old soloist, Julian Schwarz, was “destined to rank among the major cellists of the 21st century.” Well, in fact eight years have passed, and Schwarz has made giant strides toward the realization of my prophecy.
Indeed, hearing him at this recital in Tri-County Concerts’ Emerging Artists series, he showed himself at 24 to be no longer emergent but comprehensively emerged. I do not think there can be many cellists before the public today who command a tone more superlatively rich, warm, and solid, yet at the same time capable of the utmost delicacy, than Schwarz projects—and projected on this occasion across a variety of repertoire indicative of a questing and firmly based musical intelligence.
The greatest work on the program, by almost any measure, was the first of Bach’s suites for unaccompanied cello. Schwarz’s performance was equally impressive for the sovereign freedom of his bow arm, the nimble accuracy of his fingers, the nobility of his sound, and the eloquence of his phrasing. This was a romantic performance, but it has long been my view that every performance worth listening to, whether of the music commonly regarded as romantic, or of any music from the Renaissance onwards, must be romantic, in the sense that searching out the feeling behind the notes must be central to the performer’s aim.
It was only after hearing Schwarz’s magisterial Bach that I realized for the first time what an easy instrument the cello is to play. I jest—but that is the impression this phenomenal young cellist conveys. The rest of the program, in which he was supported by a comparably fine young pianist, was no less enjoyable...
Poulenc is a composer often associated with a relatively light mode of expression, but his Cello Sonata proved to be a work of serious substance, justifying the high estimation of its quality revealed in Schwarz’s consistently sensitive and informative introductory remarks. After eloquent performances of a short Boccherini sonata and Bloch’s Suite From Jewish Life, a change from the previously announced program brought us a welcome rarity in the shape of Tchaikovsky’s high-spirited Pezzo capriccioso, which was brought off with stunning virtuosity. The final encore was an instrumental version of Fauré’s song Après un rêve that brought the afternoon to an appropriately magical conclusion." Bernard Jacobson, Musicweb International, April 2015 (Solo Recital, Tri-County Concert Association--Wayne, PA)
"People who believe in reincarnation talk about old souls in young bodies – and if they’re right, cellist Julian Schwarz has been around a few times. He got a bachelor’s degree from Juilliard last spring, but he embodied aged Don Quixote in Richard Strauss’ tone poem Friday as if he’d spent three times as long on Earth. The hero of this “Don Quixote” began as a vigorous madman, tilting at windmills he’d mistaken for giants. He passed through nobility into melancholy and ended in resignation, though he refused to go tamely down to death. Schwarz, playing alone or with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra throughout the 40-minute piece, captured all these moods, saving his warmest utterances for the last moments... Technique and understanding can be instilled, but Julian Schwarz played with a spirit that must come from within." Charlotte Observer, January 2015 (Charlotte Symphony, Strauss Don Quixote)
"The big excitement of the afternoon concert at the Roberts Theater on the campus of St. Andrew’s School in western Boca was Julian, who gave a rousing performance of the Cello Concerto No. 1 (in A minor, Op. 33) of Camille Saint-Saëns... Julian Schwarz, who graduated from the Julliard School only last year, is an exciting cellist, a player of formidable technique and a dark, soulful tone color that is at its most striking in slower, lyrical passages such as the second section of this one-movement, three-part work. The Symphonia and the Schwarzes got right down to the crisp, athletic business of the concerto, from the first A minor gut-punch into the cascading-triplets main theme, driving forward with impressive energy. The B-flat major minuet for strings in the middle was presented with extraordinary softness, a real pianissimo, which made a huge contrast with the music that came before and allowed the soloist to soar tenderly above it at his first entrance. Throughout, Julian Schwarz played with fire and beauty, and the Symphonia accompanied him ideally well. After a third curtain call for the vociferous, standing house, Schwarz played an encore: the Caprice No. 9 (in D, Op. 25, No. 9) for solo cello of the 19th-century Italian cellist and teacher Alfredo Piatti. Schwarz began this exercise in triplets with wit, playing the first bar slower than the rest, as if he were just winding up a perpetual-motion machine. His technique was again impressive, getting the repeated double stops nicely in tune so that the work’s harmonic progression could easily be followed." Palm Beach Arts Paper, January 2015 (Boca Symphonia, Saint-Saëns 1)
"This is a cellist who deserves to be heard on his own merits. Those merits are substantial, and they include a stellar technique, a dark and burnished tone quality, a secure sense of intonation, and a passionate intensity of interpretation. The concerto’s heroic technical requirements, including extended passages in harmonics, were negotiated with apparent ease and accuracy, and it was evident that much thought and musicianship had gone into the details of interpretation. The performance was accorded an enthusiastic standing ovation." Seattle Times, May 2013 (Seattle Symphony, Shostakovich 1)
"Soloist in the concerto was Julian Schwarz, a young man in his very early twenties. Schwarz was emotional and astonishingly expressive in a work from that period of history. His first movement cadenza was thrilling. He produced sounds from his cello which I have never heard before… Schwarz acknowledged the extensive ovations which he had earned with an encore of solo Bach." Jamestown Post-Journal, April 2013 (Symphoria/Symphony Syracuse, Haydn C)
"Julian Schwarz, joined the orchestra as soloist in the Dvorák Cello Concerto. His playing featured a strong sense of rhythmic drive and he played with explosive energy. But he also projected a warm lyrical instinct in his musicianship and this was the perfect work in which to allow these characteristics to interact. In an oscillating interlude not long after its first entrance the solo cello played fast triplets against a background of winds and pizzicato strings. Schwarz played this passage quietly and as a result the wonderful colors of the winds could be clearly heard. Most soloists play this passage as if the solo part was the only game in town. He filled the concerto with chamber music moments by allowing the winds to interact with him. This chamber quality also made the more robust passages pop with energy. The lyrical intermezzi of the final movement featured wonderful interactions between clarinet and solo cello... The enigmatic closing pages of this work did not sound episodic. Gerard Schwarz kept the music airborne and pressing forward to great effect. The work received an immediate and lasting standing ovation." Hartford Courant, April 2012 (Hartford Symphony, Dvorak)
“In performing the 1872 cello concerto by Saint-Saëns, Schwarz, 19, reprised his debut orchestral performance at age 11. He displayed a veteran’s virtuosity, his face reflecting the concerto’s moods as he coaxed delicate romantic passages from his instrument and thundered through cadenzas rippling with trills and arpeggios. After an enthusiastic ovation for the Saint-Saëns, Schwarz offered an impromptu encore: the eighth of the “12 Caprices for Solo Cello” by the cellist Carlo Alfredo Piatti.” Omaha World Herald, May 2011 (Omaha Symphony, Saint-Saens 1)
"Well, all it took was the masterful, powerful playing of the cello’s opening of Brahms’ Concerto for Violin and Violoncello in A minor to realize that you were in the presence of a mature and stellar musician who is destined for a remarkable career. Combine Mr. Schwarz, the younger, with violinist Caroline Goulding... and you have a duo where neither can legally buy a drink, but they just may be the equal of any pair of musicians to ever play this monumental and treacherously difficult work." Classical Voice of North Carolina, July 2011 (Eastern Festival Orchestra, Brahms Double)
“Cellist Julian Schwarz was the soloist in the Tchaikovsky Variations on a Rococo Theme, an ideal piece for a young (Schwarz is 18), emerging musician with solid technique and some interesting ideas. The son of Seattle Symphony Orchestra conductor Gerard Schwarz, he found the songlike qualities in this music, shaped it with poetic inflection and delivered it with a compelling warmth.” Washington Post, February 2010 (Moscow State Radio Symphony, Rococo Variations)
“On Thursday, after the teenage Schwarz engagingly navigated everything Tchaikovsky could throw at a cellist -- from furious double stops to impossibly high harmonics, singing melodies in the range of a violin, descending lines almost as deep as a bass -- associate conductor John Varineau reflected on how easy Schwarz had made it to follow him with the orchestra. ‘I liked his confidence and his projection of what he wanted to do. He's only 19, but he plays like a well-seasoned performer.’ The audience was suitably impressed, standing and cheering the cellist in an extended ovation.” The Grand Rapids Press, September 2010 (Grand Rapids Symphony, Rococo Variations)
“Thus, the balance and rapport between soloist and orchestra made for some fine Haydn playing across the board. The range of the cello was eminently demonstrated by Mr. Schwarz in a truly classical rendition of Haydn’s music; a clear contrast with the modernism of the previous work and admired even more when considering the soloist performed his own cadenzas, which sounded very “Haydnesque.” The slow movement turned out to be a delicately delicious duet, the orchestra and the Maestro giving superb support throughout to the soloist. The last movement is marked Allegro Molto but could quite easily be designated “fleet of foot” for the VSO were off at quite a gallop presenting no problem for the young virtuoso whose musical maturity belies his nineteen years of age. After a standing ovation concertgoers were regaled with a solo encore which Mr. Schwarz introduced with the words, ‘You’ll know it when you hear it.’ ‘It’ turned out to be the Prelude to Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, the close of which brought sighs of appreciation from the audience and tumultuous applause.” Virginia Gazette, November 2010 (Virginia Symphony, Haydn C)
“And one of Schwarz’s most impressive creations was on show too: the soloist in the concerto was his son Julian, already, in his teens, one of the finest cellists now before the public… These relatively modest forces placed the solo part firmly in the foreground. But in any case the solo writing, by turns brilliantly rapid and passionately lyrical, makes an ideal vehicle for Julian Schwarz’s unusually rich, powerful, and well-focused tone.” Seattle Times, September 2010 (Seattle Symphony, Jones Concerto)