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John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932)
Music for Wind Band - Volume 11
Mother Hubbard March (1885) [2:42]
Keeping step with the Union March (1921) [3:15]
In Parlor and Street Fantasy (1880) [18:31]
Wolverine March (1881) [2:29]
Globe and Eagle March (1879) [2:43]
In Pulpit and Pew Fantasy (1917) [8:19]
On Parade March (1892) [3:43]
Tally Ho Overture (1886) [3:57]
We are coming March (1918) [2:16]
Liberty Loan March (1917) [3:35]
National Fencibles March (1888) [3:29]
Guide Right March (1881) [1:42]
You’re the Flower of my Heart - Sweet Adeline Fantasy (1930) [8:39]
Bonnie Annie Laurie March (1883) [2:46]
The Royal Swedish Navy Band/Keith Brion
rec. Admiralty Church, Karlskrona, Sweden, 27-29 September 2010
NAXOS 8.559690 [68:06]

When I reviewed the last two volumes in this ever-expanding series I remarked on an apparent lack of swagger in the playing of the Royal Norwegian Navy Band. It even suggested that the bottom of the barrel might have been reached in the musical interest of the items included. Neither of these comments could be made about the present disc which sees a return to the quality of the first volumes of the series in terms of music, recording and performance. Once again, and unsurprisingly, it is the marches that impress most. Almost all are unfamiliar but all have the unique character that Sousa gave his marches, distinguishing them from the very different if equally masterly marches of, say, Alford, Eric Coates or Fučík. My clear favourite on this disc is the last work, Bonnie Annie Laurie, which makes use of the title song, a favourite of the composer, in the Trio. To make it even more obviously the climax of the piece a counter-melody to it is played before the tune itself, an effective device which Sousa used elsewhere. The other marches all have that loose-limbed swagger which other composers have imitated without the same success. 

Although there are no Suites, Waltzes or Intermezzi in this Volume there are three selections of popular melodies. I must admit to finding these as being of modest interest. “In Parlor and Street” contains an extraordinary variety of tunes, neatly linked with cadenzas for different players. “In Pulpit and Pew” comprises a series of religious melodies starting with Sullivan’s “St Gertrude” (Onward Christian Soldiers) and ending with “Adeste Fideles” (O come all ye faithful). The last and oddest is “You’re the Flower of my Heart” in which a series of unrelated tunes is held together (?) by references to the song “Sweet Adeline”. It was good to hear each of these selections once but it is hard to imagine wanting to return to them very often, unlike the irresistible marches on the remainder of the disc.
 
As usual Naxos have supplied full and interesting notes on the music by the conductor as well as a complete list of the players in the Royal Swedish Navy Band. This is another desirable addition to a very desirable series.  

John Sheppard
 

Sousa on Naxos American Classics