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Frederick Fennell & the Eastman Wind Ensemble: Sullivan; Rossini-Respighi...
Charles Gounod, Ottorino Respighi, Arthur Sullivan
Frederick Fennell & the Eastman Wind Ensemble: Sullivan; Rossini-Respighi...
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (21) - Disc #1


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Mike M. from LOCKHART, TX
Reviewed on 3/30/2011...
The Eastman Wind Ensemble under the leadership of Frederick Fennell, as recorded by the legendary Bob Fine, produced many an exciting LP of concert band compositions and transcriptions for band of classical works in the 1950s and 1960s. The EWE records were reissued on CD in the 1990s. The sound quality is superb, owing to the quality of the original recording and the care of musical director Wilma Cozart Fine in transferring the analog tapes to digital format, and equally becasue of the advanced technology employed (24 bit, way back in the early 1990s!).

This 1992 CD contains works transcribed for concert band by Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame), Respighi, Gounod, and Wagner. That sounds a little dreary but fear not. These are very interesting excerpts from ballet scores and and Wagnerian opera themes. (The CD title on the spine of the case reads "Ballet for Band * Wagner.")

The EWE under Fennell was as tight an ensemble as ever put on record, and they play with enthusiasm and passion. If you like concert band music, you can't go wrong here. If you are not familiar with the sound of a concert band ensemble, this CD would be a good introduction.

CD Reviews

Ballet for Band
Robert E. Nylund | Ft. Wayne, Indiana United States | 12/04/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"These Mercury "Living Presence" recordings were a very special treat when they first appeared on vinyl.First of all, it was an opportunity to hear music from the ballet, "Pineapple Poll," that conductor/composer Sir Charles Mackerras created from tunes in various Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. There have been subsequent recordings of the full score, including at least one by Mackerras himself, but this suite is arranged for concert band and is given a first-rate performances by Frederick Fennell and the Eastman Wind Ensemble. For those of us who love Gilbert and Sullivan, hearing some of the familiar songs in instrumental versions is a special treat. We might even be tempted to sing the words to the songs we remember. In many ways, the story of the ballet takes the best elements of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, which followed a definite, very successful formula in the late nineteenth century.The master orchestrator Ottorino Resighi (1879-1936) arranged some of the late music by the master operatic composer Rossini for a special ballet, "La boutique fantastique," sometimes translated, "The fantastic toy shop." Many of these tunes were never published or performed in Rossini's lifetime; they were among the works Rossini wrote during his "retirement" in Paris, which he often referred to as "sins" of his old age. There are stories that Rossini even wrote tunes for his dog! In any case, Rossini continued to be a composer of memorable, delightful tunes and Respighi wonderfully arranged and orchestrated them. This is a very spirited, very enjoyable band arrangement of the music.The ballet music from Charles Gounod's "Faust" was an essential ingredient of the classic opera. As with any composer writing for the Paris Opera House, Gounod HAD to include a ballet, if only to please the members of the Jockey Club, who "patronized" the ballerinas who danced in the operas. Anyway, Gounod produced a number of memorable tunes for the ballet sequence, some of which are appropriately diabolical for an opera about the devil and his tempting of Faust. The band arrangement is a real treat and the Eastman musicians give it their best.I haven't heard the band arrangements of Wagner's music. I know that John Philip Sousa sometimes included such arrangements in his band concerts and, no doubt, Fennell has given the music its due. Wagner wrote extremely well for brass anyway, so much of his music lends itself to such arrangements.These performances are part of the continuing series of Mercury "Living Presence" recordings in outstanding digital remasterings. The original recordings spanned the years 1951 to 1968 and the vinyl releases were much desired and valued by record collectors over the years. Having them on compact discs assures that music-lovers in years to come will continue to enjoy these legendary performances."
Highly balanced and rich sound typical of Eastman
Instrumentalist | Michigan United States | 11/08/1999
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This in a fine CD. The Wagner pieces are rich, superbly balanced in the lower brass and horn sections (most notably). Furthermore, the Respighi La Boutique Fantasque, is a sleeper. One most often thinks of the "Pines" as the only symphonic band epic here. The ensemble does a great job with dynamics/contracts, a very interesting interpretation. I do prefer the impact of a "full" symphonic band versus an ensemble however in Elsa's Procession. The only CD/recording that I would suggest as an alternative would be in the University of Illinois Symphonic Band collection.It would give Eastman a run for the money, but you have to contact UI direct. You can't find the band recordings any more and therefore Eastman, as the most prolific symphonic training institution for brasses/winds, can't be beat in most cases."