Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Johann Sebastian Bach, Empire Brass, Douglas Major|
Bach Festival for Brass & Organ
Genres: Special Interest, Classical
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R. Hoffman | 10/06/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I owned an Empire Brass CD before I bought this one. Unfortunately, I think this CD suffers the same limitation as my other one, which is,the trumpets are simply too overpowering. Anyone that has listenend to brass ensembles knows it takes balance between all instruments to sound good. I realize that many times the trumpets carry the melody, however that doesn't mean that the french horn, trombone, and tuba should barely be heard. The lower instruments give the music its body. I think this CD contains really good music and the arrangements are nice. However, the unbalanced playing spoils it. Listen to the track of Nun danket Alle Gott - the trumpets are supposed to be the harmony - the organ has the melody. You would never know it by listening to this CD. The same goes for a Mighty Fortress. I will never buy another Empire Brass CD again. To me this outfit is just a bunch of Canadian Brass wannabees."
Truly a Festival for the Ears, Hearts, and Soul!
romaphile | Yakima, WA | 01/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I spent a looooooooong time hunting the "perfect" recordings of "Jesu..." and "Sinfonia" for our wedding. I knew just what I wanted but I had NO IDEA there were so many different (and substandard!) versions of these songs available. THIS one was EXACTLY it. The horns are simply fantastic. If you're a musician, you'll love it."
So You Thought Bach Couldn't Dance!
James Yelvington | USA | 12/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you think of Bach as a dry-as-dust, longhair composer you should stay away from this album, for it will prove you wrong, time and time and time again. On the contrary, this is one of the most exciting recordings around, featuring matchless performances by the superlative Empire Brass (my favorite brass group) and the talented Douglas Major playing the great Aeolian-Skinner organ of the Washington Cathedral (in D.C.) in some of the best-loved works of the old master, Johann Sebastian Bach.
But unfortunately this disk seems not to be in EMI's (Angel's) current catalog, so if you want to enjoy it, you'll probably have to try to track down a used copy. If you like Bach and brass and organ as much as I, you'll find it worth the effort. And we may hope that it will be reissued again soon.
In general, the music here is lively, tuneful, and joyous in character, starting from the very first selection, a fully satisfying transcription of the well-known "Jauchzet, frohlocket" (Exult, rejoice) from the Christmas Oratorio. But there are a few more somber pieces, such as the chorales "Christ lag in Todesbanden," (Christ lay in the bonds of death) and "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden," (O bloody and wounded head).
The music features basically three kind of excerpts from Bach's cantatas: choral preludes, chorales, and sinfonia. The choral preludes were written as organ introductions to the sung chorales (here "sung" by the brass quintet alone); the sinfonias were instrumental interludes in the cantatas. Most of the choral preludes here are played by the brass with the organ, though there are a few played by the organ alone. This combination of performances by the brass alone, the organ alone, and the two together offers delicious variety.
As a glance at the program will show, most of the big favorites in this genre are included, the best known being titled in English, as "Sleepers, Wake," "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," and "Sheep May Safely Graze." The others are titled in Latin ("In Dulci Jubilo") or, mostly, German ("Nun danket Alle Gott," [Now let all thank God], "Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern," [How beautifully the morning star shines], and "Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten" [We hasten with feeble, but eager footsteps].
It is the last-mentioned piece that suggested the title of this review, for in interpreting the text Bach and the performing artists give us such a rhythmic and lively bit of music that I find it hard to sit still while listening. This piece rocks!
The recording is excellent in all respects: the balance between organ and brass is right, the sound quality is all you could want, and the acoustics of the Washington Cathedral provide about the right amount of reverberation. (You will, by the way, hear the brass players taking breaths at several points, especially in the chorales.
The sound of the Empire Brass seems uniquely fine to me; though there are several other excellent brass groups around, this one I can usually recognize almost immediately because of the quality of their sound. And the 10,650-pipe cathedral organ presents under Douglas Major's fingers all you could wish for.