One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Horns for the Holidays
John WASSON (b.1956)
Festival Fanfare [3:48]
Leroy ANDERSON (1908-1975)
Sleigh Ride (1948) [2:58]
Johan Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring (arr. Alfred Reed) [4:14]
Walter KENT (1911-1994) and James GANNON (1900-1974)
I’ll be home for Christmas (1943) [5:38]
Robert WELLS (1922-1998) and Mel TORMÉ (1925-1999)
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire) (1946) [4:36]
Hugh MARTIN (1914-2011) and Ralph BLANE (1914-1995)
Have yourself a merry little Christmas (1944) [4:57]
Leroy ANDERSON (1908-1975)
A Christmas Festival (1950) [6:54]
Deck the Halls [1:52]
James PIERPOINT (1822-1893)
Jingle Bells Fantasy (arr James Wasson) [3:57]
Alfred REED (1921-2005)
Russian Christmas Music (1944) [13:56]
John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932)
Christmas and Sousa forever arr. Julie Giroux [3:43]
Dallas Wind Symphony/Jerry Junkin
rec. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas, USA, 14 August 2011

Experience Classicsonline

For those on a low cholesterol diet this Christmas but not wishing to give up on the cheese altogether this might well be the album to save your festive indulging. This is as cheesy as a cheese stick bathed in stilton, dusted with parmesan and dunked in a fondue. I loved it. Take the super-skilled Dallas Wind Symphony, add Prof. Johnson hi-fi engineering, some ear-tickling arrangements and a healthy dollop of not-taking-it-all-too-seriously and you have a recipe for a really enjoyable alternative Christmas disc. That the tongue is firmly in the cheek is clear from the liner which gently parodies Christmas Texan-style “… unlike everything else in Texas, real Texas snowmen are really really small…”. But don’t confuse light-hearted or tongue in cheek with anything in the slightest bit second-rate or ill-considered. If the thought of any version of “Have yourself a merry little Christmas”” or “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire” is going to have you reach for your bumper box of humbug humbugs to suck on stick with the choir of King’s College - this is most certainly not for you.
Get past the preconception and there’s actually an interesting and diverse programme of styles and arrangements offered here. Not that I do not like everything equally - but isn’t that the case with Christmas presents too! The Dallas Wind Symphony are around 55 strong with full wind and brass sections filled out ‘extra’ instruments such as Euphoniums and Flugelhorns, saxophones and even a contra-alto clarinet. I have no idea what that last instrument is. The presence of a harp, piano and organ in certain pieces subtly tweak the aural character from ‘just’ wind and brass to something more symphonic. All of the music presented here arranges well-known melodies associated with Christmas to a varying degree. The one that sticks out as being not especially seasonal is Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring [track 3]. This is a beautifully moulded performance with the rich lower sonorities of the Symphony blending to produce a wonderfully sonorous and well shaped interpretation. Nice little glints on the harp and a subtle underpinning from the timpani reinforce the impression that this is a very skilful arrangement. Before that there’s a newy and an oldy to open the programme. John Wasson’s Festival Fanfare for Christmas is very much in the style of the numerous John Williams’ fanfares out of Danny Elfman and the recording immediately exhibits the Prof. Johnson trademarks of very extended bass response [organ pedals and bass drum having a field day] and a wide dynamic range with plenty of detail. Occasionally I think this can be too much of a good thing but it certainly brings an exciting dynamism to proceedings. That being said the wind band version of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride is just ever so slightly staid. A couple of curios in the transcription; when the main theme goes into a swinging eight bar phrase in the middle a rather deadening marching band bass drum part has been added that kills the feel and then at the end we get a pair of trumpets whinnying instead of the usual one.
David Lovrien is one of the Symphony’s long-time saxophonists and he is the arranger behind the hugely enjoyable Minor Alteration: Christmas through the Looking Glass. The “what-if” premise here is to take well-known Christmas tunes [again!] but play them in minor keys. It’s a rather fun mini-quiz seeing how quickly you can work out name that tune. Some are more hidden than others. There is no mention of this in the liner but I wonder if a second inspiration/layer of arranging was to do these tunes as if they had been taken out of Fiddler on the Roof. Certainly there’s a faux-Russian peasant feel that’s very funny. “Santa Claus is coming to town” as an um-cha minor key dance is great. Likewise Jingle Bells [again again already!] as a Matchmaker-cum-Mancini waltz is a particularly subtle version. The closing Wedding Dance meets the Nutcracker Trepak meets “Now’s the Season” is a tour de force of arranging and playing. I could live without the two tracks where the arranging tiptoes into big-band/lounge. Nice playing - certainly from lead sax Don Fabian - but I do not respond to a wind band trying to sound not like a wind band. That Pops standards can work for a Symphonic Wind line-up is proved with both the lush Have yourself a merry little Christmas [track 7]and the percussion-led and effectively minimalist Deck the Halls [track 9. The second Leroy Anderson contribution is the grand-daddy of Christmas medleys - his Christmas Festival - originally for full orchestra - is still one of the best. The liner notes that conductor Junkin gets hate mail if they do not include it in their seasonal programmes - welcome to Texas. More curiosities in the transcription here. The organ pedals rather overwhelm the daunted clarinets in the lovely version of Silent Night yet at the end when the full organ should thunder out holding a chord over the orchestral stabs there is nothing at all. An error of judgement by whoever cut those from the original for sure.
Just in case you have the memory of a goldfish and have forgotten that you have heard Jingle Bells several times already track 10 is a fantasy devoted to it and it alone. By now one should be heartily sick of it but you know what, the sheer good natured ebullience of this version sweeps all that aside. The longest piece by some distance is Alfred Reed’s Russian Christmas Music. This does consist of traditional Russian folk and Orthodox music but since - to me at least - the melodies are less familiar this emerges as more of an original work rather than an arrangement. The integration of the Orthodox chants reminded on more than one occasion of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Festival Overture. Enjoyable as the programme is as a whole this piece does offer a welcome respite from the relentless up-tempo bonhomie of the rest of the disc. It also offers the Symphony the opportunity to display some beautifully poetic solo playing from some of the wind who get rather submerged in the antics of the other music. That being said the powerful climax around the 11:00 mark is cinematically impressive.
The disc closes with Christmas and Sousa Forever. Its one of those old-fashioned ‘musical switches’ so we get the piccolo descant of Stars and Stripes forever over a transmuted Rudolf the Red nosed Reindeer as just one example. Clever but for some reason it doesn’t make me smile. The liner advises; “If you’re looking for the ultimate Christmas/Sousa mash-up, look no further.” Perhaps I wasn’t. But it would be quite wrong to end this review on a bah-humbug. Great fun, well played, spectacular engineering - pass the port. I’ll leave the last word to the liner; “Merry Christmas y’all!”
Nick Barnard














































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.