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John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932)
Music for Wind Band – Vol. 7
America First (March of the States) (1916) [2:29]
The Presidential Polonaise (1886) [5:55]
The Rifle Regiment March (1886) [3:34]
Congress Hall March (1882) [2:12]
El Capitan March (1896) [2:27]
Intaglio Waltzes (1884) [8:46]
Golden Jubilee March (1928) [3:35]
The Bride-Elect March (1897) [2:30]
Sounds from the Revivals* (1896) [8:13]
The Charlatan March (1898) [3:03]
Sheridan’s Ride (1891) [8:53]
The Black Horse Troop March (1924) [3:32]
The Naval Reserve March (1917) [2:27]
Royal Artillery Band/Keith Brion
Martin Hinton (cornet)*
rec. Woolwich Town Hall, London, 11-12 January 2005
NAXOS 8.559247 [57:26]
Experience Classicsonline

I have been collecting this series from the start and the earlier volumes have given me considerable pleasure (see earlier reviews). It would be unreasonable to expect that every piece will give equal pleasure, or that there are not one or two on each disc which are frankly routine, but the surprising thing is how much pleasure each new disc brings. This is no exception, and even if it lacks any of Sousa’s out and out masterpieces that does not mean that the listener will not get innocent enjoyment from it.
Innocent enjoyment is indeed an appropriate term for the most unexpected item here – “Sounds from the Revivals”, a pot-pourri of revivalist hymns including “Hold the fort” and “Sweet bye and bye”. According to Keith Brion’s notes – as usual one of the best aspects of the issue – this may have been written originally for Offenbach’s orchestra, in which Sousa played in the violin section, and later transcribed for wind band. The idea of Offenbach conducting revivalist hymns is irresistible, probably more so than the reality of a pleasant but not really musically interesting piece.
In contrast, “Sheridan’s Ride” is a battle piece, depicting General Philip Sheridan’s ride to rejoin his troops in the Civil War and then to lead them to victory in the Battle of Cedar Creek. It has all the expected features of a battle piece including the inevitable cannon effects. Like “Sounds from the Revivals” it may be of limited musical interest, but for anyone who can enjoy “Wellington’s Victory” or even Ketèlbey’s “In a Camp of the Ancient Britons” it is not to be missed.
All of the rest are marches apart from the two longer dance pieces – “The Presidential Polonaise” and the “Intaglio Waltzes”. The former was intended as an alternative to “Hail to the Chief” but unfortunately was not used as such, and the latter is a set of waltzes which does not show the composer at his best. As you might expect, that comes in the marches. These are varied but consistently rousing, with three drawing on music from Sousa’s operettas and each of the rest having a distinct character within the constraints of the form.
Once again Keith Brion manages to obtain playing constantly full of life and which sounds thoroughly idiomatic. If you have not bought any of this series already this is perhaps not the best to start with, but if you have already enjoyed any of the earlier discs I can only urge you to add this also to your collection. I see that Sousa wrote 136 marches as well as many other wind band pieces; long may Naxos continue their exploration of this rich seam.
John Sheppard



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