Marches, Polkas and Americana
John Philip SOUSA The Stars and Stripes Forever; La Reine de la Mer – waltz; The Gliding Girl - tango; The Thunderer; Myrrha Gavotte; Washington Post; Peaches and Cream - foxtrot; The High School Cadets; Waltz from comic opera Desirée; El Capitan - Prelude; Presidential Polonaise; Semper Fidelis
Julius FUCIK Entry of the Gladiators
Morton GOULD American Salute
George GERSHWIN Girl Crazy (I got rhythm, Embraceable You, Land of the Gay Caballero, But not for me, Bronco Busters)
Victor HERBERT Festival March; American Fantasia (Swanee River, The Girl I left behind me, Dixie, Star-Spangled Banner)
Cincinnati Pops Orchestra/Erich Kunzel
rec. 1988?.
ALTO ALC1108 [73:34]
Thoughtfully selected and sequenced, this bargain-priced yet plush gallimaufry of the lighter Americana works extremely well in the hands of Kunzel’s Cincinnati Pops. It’s a full orchestra rather than a wind-band – which helps. You might perhaps become allergic to the march rodomontade of the belligerently confident Sousa – who is after all not alone in that among march-associated composers. This collection aims for and keeps a grip on contrast and reminds us - as Naxos continue to do in their unfurling series - that Sousa immersed himself in all light music fields.
The five Sousa marches are done in exuberantly confident and completely unrestrained style with nice attention to dynamic variation and brassy swagger. Then again the Desirée and La Reine de la Mer waltzes whirl and shiver along in gracious Viennese serenity. The Gliding Girl lays claim to being a tango while Myrrha owes more than a little to Beethoven and then Brahms. The Peaches and Cream foxtrot really lets rip; is that a banjo I hear in the foreground? A touch of The Magnificent Ambersons about this. The El Capitan – Prelude, complete with Weberian harp and woodwind, moves with ease between supernatural, blood and thunder drama and serenade. It is most beautifully done. Fucik’s brassy Entry of the Gladiators has become inextricably linked with the circus big top. Morton Gould’s American Salute (1947) leaps the decades and, using a vocabulary I now associate with the John Williams, explores with gravity and some wit When Johnny Comes Marching Home. The romping antiphonal brass salvoes work magnificently. The Gershwin medley was prepared by Don Rose. It runs the full gamut from jazzy toe-tapping to swooning Hollywood romance – great playing from the horns. Victor Herbert’s Festival March steers clear of typical Sousa territory. It has a big heart encompassing grand waltz, a fluttery plaything in the shape of Auld Lang Syne, a sentimental tear in the eye and a super exuberant nobilmente. We end with the imaginatively varied medley that is the American Fantasia (1893). The sound is excellent and the liner-notes are far from sketchy.
According to my googling the Sousa tracks are DDD. The remainder are analogue. These tracks have been harvested from a 1995 three CD VoxBox (3035) entitled American as Apple Pie.
Rob Barnett
This bargain-priced yet plush gallimaufry of the lighter Americana works very well.