> Rands, Harbison, Kraft, Husa Wind Music TROY340 [HC]: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Bernard RANDS (born 1934)
Ceremonial (1992)
John HARBISON (born 1938)

Olympian Dances (1997)
William KRAFT (born 1923)
Concerto for Four Solo Percussion and Wind Ensemble (1964, arr. 1995)a
Karel HUSA (born 1921)

Les Couleurs Fauves (1995)
Matthew Manturuk, Eric Millstein, John Tanzer, Scott Vincent (percussion)a; New England Conservatory Wind Ensemble; Frank L. Battisti
Recorded: Jordan Hall, Boston, February 1998 (Rands, Harbison); February 1997 (Kraft, Husa)
ALBANY TROY 340 [65:41]


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Bernard Rands composed three orchestral pieces sharing the same title Ceremonial (in 1985, 1986 and 1990/1 respectively and Ceremonial III is available on NEW WORLD 80392-2), but Ceremonial for symphonic wind band, composed in 1992, is a quite different piece. After a seemingly assertive chord, the music becomes fairly indeterminate until the first entry of the bassoon. The music gathers momentum as the percussion becomes progressively more insistent leading the work to its emphatic conclusion. Ceremonial is an impressive processional moving ahead obstinately. The music is comparatively straightforward (i.e. by Randsí standards), colourful and superbly scored.

John Harbisonís Olympian Dances is another fine work for symphonic wind band. The dances of the title however are indeed more Ďolympianí than overtly dancing in that the music has a hieratic nobility and restraint, rather that of slow-moving ritual dances than of bouncing barn dances. The scoring, beautifully effective, sometimes brings Michael Tippett to mind.

William Kraftís Concerto for Four Solo Percussion was composed in 1964 and originally scored for full orchestra, and arranged in 1965 for symphonic wind band. (The orchestral version was recorded by DECCA many years ago with Zubin Mehta conducting.) The music is lively, colourful, jazzy at times; and the percussion is used rather sparingly throughout, thus eschewing the percussive riot one might have expected. After all, percussion can also play softly. No great masterpiece, maybe, but a very entertaining piece of music and a welcome addition to the limited repertoire of percussion concertos.

Karel Husa has composed a great deal for symphonic wind band for which he obviously have a real liking. Indeed some of his works exist in orchestral and wind band versions as well. Les Couleurs Fauves evokes the French painters known as Fauvistes (e.g. Matisse, Van Dongen, Derain, Vlaminck) whom Husa got to know during his stay in Paris. The music is appropriately colourful, with many fine touches of scoring. A brilliant piece and certainly not easy to play, but the results are well worth the effort.

All these works get wonderful performances and are warmly recorded. I really enjoyed this release, and the works recorded here are all worthwhile additions to a repertoire that once was confined to sometimes dubious transcriptions of famous, though not always great, showpieces and that has now been considerably enlarged and enriched by imaginative and sympathetic composers as the ones represented here.

Hubert Culot

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