American Tapestry John WILLIAMS (arr.)(b.
Star Spangled Banner (2004) [3:17] Joseph Wilcox JENKINS(b.
American Overture (1955) [4:54] Howard HANSON(1896-1981)
from the opera ‘Merry Mount’ (1938) [17:27] George GERSHWIN (arr.
Rhapsody in Blue (1924) [18:03] Christopher TUCKER(b.
Ceremonial Fanfare (2004) [1:44] Steven BRYANT(b.
Radiant Joy (2006) [5:24] Robert Russell BENNETT(1894-1981)
of Old American Dances (1949) [18:37] John Philip SOUSA(1854-1932)
Washington Post March (1889) [2:45]
Lone Star Wind Orchestra/Eugene Migliaro Corporon
rec. Murchison Performing Arts Center, Winspear Hall, Denton,
Texas, USA, 1-3 June, 2007 NAXOS 8.570968 [72:11]
Wind Band Classics series from Naxos continues here with
the recording debut of the Lone Star Wind Orchestra, under
the baton of Eugene Corporon, best known for his work at
the University of North Texas. This recording could have
been titled “American Optimist” or something similar, as
the excellent program is dominated by cheery major-key
music, balancing shorter and longer works in an excellent
flow. Indeed, the selection and pacing of repertoire is
one of the highlights of the disc.
Among the older
pieces, the Hanson is the least likely to be familiar to
band aficionados, and the band’s performance of this work
is possibly the finest on the disc. It’s thoroughly convincing,
and rewards repeated listens.
arrangement of the Gershwin is excellent, and the piece
is a natural for winds. There weren’t many places where
I really missed the strings, though the arrangement does
highlight some aspects of the score which tend to get buried
in other recordings, lending the performance a unique sound. Overall,
the interpretation is slower and more leisurely than other
performances I’m familiar with. In the light of so many
other excellent available recordings, I can’t see myself
returning to this performance too often – it’s more of
a curiosity than anything else, though not without merit.
Steven Bryant’s “Radiant
Joy” struck me as the most successful of the newer repertoire;
an accessible piece in the post-John Adams mold which somehow
manages to feature the hi-hat cymbals without sounding
inane. The appeal of the piece is primarily rhythmic,
as it owes a clear debt to the complex syncopations of
funk or jazz fusion. Catchy melodic ideas and extensive
use of some less-common colors (piano, vibraphone, and
soprano and baritone saxophones) add to the interest as
There are points
where I wish the recorded sound was just a bit closer.
Some of the vigor of the playing sometimes gets lost, as
if the band is coming from a bit too far of a distance,
especially on the Bennett. However it’s a subtle complaint,
and the overall balance is excellent, including on the
discrepancies in intonation or ensemble are so minimal
that only the most critical ear would know from the aural
evidence that this is an all-volunteer ensemble. Their
accomplishment is completely stunning when you keep that
in mind. I look forward to hearing more from this group,
which had only been together for a year when this recording
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