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Mr Takeshi Miyagawa

The Best of British Vol. 1
Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)

Flourish for Wind Band

Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961)

Lincolnshire Posy

Alun HODDINOTT (b.1929)

Welsh Airs and Dances

Gustav HOLST (1874-1934) (arr. John Boyd)

Japanese Suite

Edward ELGAR (1857-1934) (arr. M. Retford)

Pomp and Circumstance March No. 4
Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1

Percy GRAINGER (1882-1961) (edited by R. Mark Rogers)

The Gum Suckersí March

Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra/Douglas Bostock
Recorded at Sun Azalea, Suitama, October 21 and 22, 2003 DDD


I have come to expect high standards from Douglas Bostock and his Japanese band, the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra and am glad to say that this latest disc, in a steady flow of recordings from them, is no exception.

The tag "Volume 1" promises more to come in their new all-British series. If this initial instalment is anything to go by the accent will be on achieving a perceived balance between the less familiar, the classics of the genre and the somewhat hackneyed strains of patriotic favourites, represented here by two of Elgarís Pomp and Circumstance marches. On this level it is a shame that arrangements have to be included when there is so much deserving original music around. The welcome inclusion of Alun Hoddinottís suite of Welsh Airs and Dances leads me to hope that future volumes will capitalise on the wide range of contemporary composers who have now contributed to the genre. Encouragingly, Douglas Bostock mentions, in his own sleeve-note, that there will be music both well known and less familiar on forthcoming releases.

Whilst on the subject of arrangements it must be said that John Boydís wind orchestration of Holstís Japanese Suite works exceptionally well and provides an appropriate link between the music and the performers. Although lesser known than the earlier oriental suite Beni Mora, the melodic material of the Japanese Suite is undeniably attractive. This stems in part from Holstís characteristically imaginative treatment of his themes, a mixture of the original and traditional Japanese melodies whistled to him by Michio Ito, the Japanese dancer at whose suggestion the music was written. The atmospheric opening Song of the Fisherman and fiery final Dance of the Wolves are particularly finely played.

In much the same way as Holst, Alun Hoddinott has used the occasional traditional melody in certain of his lighter works and this suite of Airs and Dances shows the composer at his most accessible and unashamedly tuneful. The traditional melodies (all of which are identified by their Welsh titles in the booklet) are beautifully orchestrated and elaborated without losing their feeling of simplicity. The result is enjoyable in much the same way as the Arnold English Dances.

Graingerís Lincolnshire Posy needs little introduction although it is worth noting that the piece is heard here in a full score edition assembled by the American guru of the symphonic wind band, Frederick Fennell. Fennell himself is a former principal conductor of the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra and remains their Conductor Laureate. Once again Bostock draws playing of a high standard from his band, with luscious, mellow sonorities in the slower movements. Listen out too for some striking effects in the orchestration; the stuttering trumpets in the middle of Rufford Park Poachers are a notable example.

Topping and tailing the disc, the brief Flourish for Wind Band by Vaughan Williams is less well known than his Toccata Marziale but provides a stately and celebratory opening. Graingerís Gum Suckerís March is the finale from his suite In a Nutshell, taking its name from the natives of Graingerís home Australian state, Victoria, who were known for chewing the leaves of the eucalyptus tree during periods of drought. As Lewis Foreman points out in his typically informative booklet notes, the disarmingly tuneful melody is subjected to some particularly sophisticated treatment by Grainger, whose musical mind was always one step ahead of times.

In all, effervescent playing from Bostockís Japanese band, recorded in a natural and lifelike acoustic. Well worth a listen.

Christopher Thomas

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