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|2. The Alcotts/Concerto For Flute And Wind Band|
|5. Medium Swing|
|6. Were You There?|
|7. Redline Tango|
Redline Tango launches the new line of Naxos recordings, Wind Band Classics. With a rich history, the wind band is the ensemble of the future eagerly embracing new composers. The medium' flexibility and potential for limitless color are explored in this r
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One of the areas of classical music composition that tends not to get much attention is that for the wind ensemble. Here we have five such works, each with its own particular merits, and all of them written (or arranged) within the past five years or so. Most immediately attractive is 'Slalom' by Carter Pann, a young composer whose Piano Concerto and Dance Partita I raved about when they were released by Naxos six years ago. This ten-minute piece attempts, successfully, to recreate in sound the sensation of downhill skiing. It is filled with whirling winds, exciting brass, and brazen percussion -- Pann is an extraordinary orchestrator -- and has an extremely virtuosic piano obbligato part played to a fare-thee-well by Avguste Antonov, a piano major at KU. This is followed by a really quite wonderful orchestration for wind ensemble of the 'Alcotts' movement of Charles Ives's beloved piano sonata, the 'Concord.' The Alcotts movement is most lyrical and harmonically the tamest of the sonata's movements. I had my doubts going in, but I was immediately won over by Jonathan Elkus's orchestration. I suppose the most complimentary thing I could say about it is that it sounds as if the music truly was conceived by Ives for this combination of instruments. The KU ensemble, already having shown themselves capable of playing with pizzazz in the Pann piece, show that they can be tenderly lyrical and convey the right sense of nostalgia that Ives's music requires.
The centerpiece of the CD is Michael Mower's 'Concerto for Flute and Wind Band' with KU flute professor David Fedele as the extraordinary soloist. The three-movement work uses everything from jazz, rock and salsa to baroque counterpoint to make its effects and it does so easily. I particularly liked the expressive middle movement and the almost demented jazziness of the finale. I suspect there isn't anything that flutist Fedele can't do; he simply flies in the outer movements and sings lyrically in the middle section. I could easily imagine this work entering the flute concerto repertoire.
The ensemble's conductor, John P. Lynch, wrote a tone poem based on the Negro spiritual 'Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?' and the ensemble plays it here. In his notes he writes that his intention was to portray 'a philosophical rhetorical question examining various contemporary views of the message of religion.' Frankly, without the composer's notes on the piece, it never would have occurred to me that this was what he was doing. But as an extended tone poem based on the spiritual it works, and that's really all should ask of absolute music.
The final work, the winner of the 2005 American Bandmasters' Association Ostwald Composition Contest, is John Mackey's 'Redline Tango.' The tango is in three sections. The title 'Redline Tango' refers to the practice of pushing an engine to its limits, 'redlining' it. Certainly in terms of wind band virtuosity, this work definitely accomplishes that. The middle section is the tango in its lowdown and 'sleazy' form (using the composer's own term for it) and the outer sections have moto perpetuo sixteenth notes that call for extreme virtuosity on the part of the musicians. The University of Kansas ensemble meets all expectations skillfuly in that regard.
Sound is excellent. Timing is a little short -- 50:56 minutes. And for those of us who love the Lawrence campus of Kansas University there is a magnificent aerial autumn picture of the campus that makes this recently transplanted Kansan a little nostalgic.
I am Avguste Antonov and I am the pianist performing my friend Carter Pann's great piece Slalom.
I would like to first thank the previous reviewer for his comments and his critic of my playing.
The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble is a great ensemble and its director,Professor Lynch is wonderful to work with.It has been my plaisir and honor to play for 3 years with the University of Kansas Wind Ensemble and it has been a great plaisir to work with Professor Lynch.
Every piece on this CD is great and shows the competence of the Wind Ensemble and I do like all of the recorded pieces.However,I do have a particular liking for Slalom.
I met Carter Pann in 2002(I think),when the KU Wind Ensemble performed the premiere of Slalom(Wind Ensemble version).We have since become great friends and when Professor Lynch informed me of the recording and that I would be recording Slalom,I was very excited.Excited for Carter and excited for myself as I had the opportunity to record a piece that I love,a piece written by a friend.Needless to say the recording was a success.
I am proud to have been apart of the KU Wind Ensemble and I am proud to have been apart of this venture.
I hope everyone gets the same plaisir in listening as we,the Wind Ensemble members had in playing and recording this CD.
As far as Slalom is concerned,I would like to thank Carter for the wonderful writing(Carter,this piece is almost mine now,lol),Professor Lynch for his guidance throughout the years and concerrning Slalom.I would like to also thank the members of the KU Wind Ensemble for their wonderful playing,which made mine so much easier.I just hope that I will have other opportunities to perform Slalom
To all prospective buyers,please don't hesitate to buy this CD.You won't regret it.
To those that already bought this CD,enjoy the great music.Enjoy the Kansas University Wind Ensemble
I'm quite sure of that! Sincerely, Mike Mower
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