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Sibelius Symphonies Maazel
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RVW A Sea Symphony - Elder

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Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




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Editorial Board
Classical Editor
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American Tapestry
John WILLIAMS (arr.) (b. 1932)
Star Spangled Banner (2004) [3:17]
Joseph Wilcox JENKINS (b. 1928)
American Overture (1955) [4:54]
Howard HANSON (1896-1981)
Suite from the opera ‘Merry Mount’ (1938) [17:27]
George GERSHWIN (arr. Donald Hunsberger)
Rhapsody in Blue (1924) [18:03]
Christopher TUCKER (b. 1976)
Ceremonial Fanfare (2004) [1:44]
Steven BRYANT (b. 1972)
Radiant Joy (2006) [5:24]
Robert Russell BENNETT (1894-1981)
Suite of Old American Dances (1949) [18:37]
John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932)
The Washington Post March (1889) [2:45]
Richard Shuster (piano)
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]
Experience Classicsonline

The excellent 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.
Donald Hunsberger’s 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 well.
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 Gershwin.
The occasional 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 was made.
Benn Martin


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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