Gerard Hoffnung CDs
Scott LINDROTH (b. 1968)
Spin Cycle [6:07]
Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) (arr.
Introduction and Rondo-Capriccioso for Flute, Clarinet and Wind Orchestra [10:11]
Eric WHITACRE (b.1970)
Michael COLGRASS (b.1932)
Urban Requiem [27:22]
Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975) (arr.
Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Folk Songs [9:40]
John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932)
Nobles of the Mystic Shrine [3:17]
Kathryn Thomas Umble (flute);
Robert Fitzer (clarinet); James Umble, Allen Cordingley, Kent Engelhardt, Joseph
Youngstown State University Symphonic Wind Ensemble/Stephen
rec. Powers Auditorium, Youngstown, Ohio, USA, 15 April
2002, 22 February 2004, 27 April 2004, 4 February 2006.
we have another entry in the excellent Naxos Wind Band
Classics series. It features a fine college ensemble
playing a mixed program of orchestral transcriptions,
contemporary works, and a great old Sousa march. It seems
unlikely that even the most ardent band devotee would
be familiar with all of these works, and each is appealing
on its own merits, so there is something here for everyone.
Lindroth’s “Spin Cycle” is an enormously difficult piece,
and while the recording does suffer in comparison to
that of the United States Marine Band, most any college
ensemble would. Were I not already familiar with the
Marine performance, I’d likely be more than content with
this very fine version. The Saint-Saëns is surprisingly
effective as a transcription, and the soloists are both
Whitacre’s lush “October” has quickly become standard
repertoire for American wind bands, and it’s easy to
understand why. It has much more in common with his appealing,
unfailingly lyrical choral music than his most popular
piece for wind band, the rambunctious “Ghost Train”.
This performance of “October” compares favorably to any
of the many I’ve heard, with a novel approach to the
important wind chime part and a rubato line which is
especially effective near the final climax.
Colgrass is a strange, episodic piece, but that’s the
idea. It’s all over the place, and even repeated listens
don’t make it that much easier to grab onto. There is
however a surplus of great musical ideas present, and
it is certainly quite a showpiece for the featured saxophone
quartet. The differences between this performance and
the recording by the University of Minnesota are mostly
matters of personal preference – for example, I prefer
Youngstown’s drum-set player, but Minnesota’s tenor saxophonist.
With the significant role that jazz improvisation plays
in the piece, it is worth hearing more than one recording.
I’m not familiar with the University of Miami version,
but this is certainly an impressive reading. My only
real quarrel is with the steel drum part: Minnesota has real steel
drums, while here a synthesizer is used, which lessens
the effect and is distracting at times.
Shostakovich is forgettable as a piece but it’s performed
extraordinarily well, especially in terms of articulation.
The performance of the Sousa is adequate but unremarkable,
and not perhaps the best way to close out the disc.
quality varies somewhat with the recording date – both
the strength of the ensemble and the quality of the recording
technology seem to go up with later recording dates – but
it’s fairly subtle. Overall this is a really fine disc,
and as an introduction to an ensemble I’d never heard
before, it’s most welcome. Kudos to the performers, and
to Naxos for continuing this great series with another
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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