Search - Charles Rochester Young, Donald Grantham, David Gillingham :: Sojourns

Charles Rochester Young, Donald Grantham, David Gillingham
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, R&B, Classical
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1


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Klavier release sports generally "good" band music
BandGuy | Texas, USA | 05/22/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"One of the aims of the Klavier Wind Recording Project is the promotion of new music for wind ensemble. The North Texas Wind Symphony scores big with this release (save for the Sousa march, which seems oddly out of place), featuring substantial works by several "returning" Klavier composers.Sojourns opens with a rousing performance of young composer and saxophonist Charles Young's "Tempered Steel," a 1997 Big 12 Band Director's commission that explores some of the more metallic band sonorities. Granted, this percussion-heavy work is not mind-blowingly cerebral but it does feature some memorable melodies and interesting interplay between various solo instruments. University of Texas professor Donald Grantham's "Southern Harmony," based on tunes from an 1835 American song collection of the same name features some inventive wind writing within its multi-movement, flavorful band settings. Grantham has found great favor with audiences everywhere and his other works for wind ensemble are also highly recommended. The jazz-tinged "Bum's Rush" and his brilliant "Fantasy Variations" are available on the Klavier discs Tributes (KCD 11070) and Soundings (KCD 11098), respectively. This autumn, his "J'eu ete au bal" will be released on an upcoming Klavier disc. David Gillingham's 1997 "Concertino for Four Percussion and Wind Ensemble," commissioned by Oklahoma State University, begins with a dark and brooding introduction, gradually revealing its thematic material only to ebb away to prepare for the colorful and furious allegro. North Texas turns in an excellent performance here, but the recording of the premiere by the Oklahoma State University Wind Ensemble at the 8th annual WASBE Conference will likely remain the one by which all others are judged.At this point, the listener will encounter the first of two oddities on the disc. While marches are a necessary and valuable part of any band's repetoire, the choice of march king and Marine bandsman John Philip Sousa's rarely-heard "Easter Monday on the White House Lawn" is a bit strange. Intended to replace a coronation march within a suite that had been rejected by King George V (if I understand the liner notes correctly), and rehashed for an annual egg-rolling White House festivity, "Easter Monday" sounds more like a light two-step than a typical Sousa march. If a march had to be included here, I would have personally prefered, say, his much more rousing "Pathfinder of Panama" or another lesser-known march to be sandwiched between the Gillingham and Welcher works.Dan Welcher, another UT-Austin faculty member, has established himself with many works for varied ensembles, including his wind band works such as "Yellowstone Fires," "Zion," and the one presented here, "Symphony No. 3 'Shaker Life.'" Having expressed an interest in religious practices outside the American mainstream, Welcher quotes several Shaker tunes in his two-movement work. Richly-scored, deep, moving, and very satisfying, this is one of this album's center-pieces. Daron Hagen's "Wedding Dances" from his opera "Bandanna" (which is the first opera to utilize full wind ensemble rather than orchestra) follows. This is the other oddity on this disc after Sousa. While the music is interesting, beginning with an effervescent sound and progressively becoming more agitated, its place on this particular program just doesn't quite jive with this listener. The opera itself from which the "Dances" are derived take place in a 1968 Texas border town, and this particular section in the second act captures the jealousy one man harbors against his wife and her innocent dancing at an "all-but-happy" wedding reception. Fans of Michael Daugherty's music will enjoy seeing his 1997 "Niagara Falls" on this Klavier disc. While not completely idiomatic of the wind band idiom, this work is definitely a tour de force for it. An impression of the composer's many trips to Niagara Falls, the entire work is built on two motives (one derived from the mere four syllables of the words "Niagara Falls"), and the other a bluesy riff. Those listeners familiar with Daugherty's "Metropolis Symphony" can look forward to the band transcription of the fifth movement, the "Red Cape Tango," on an upcoming Klavier disc this autumn.All-around, this is an enjoyable compact disc furnishing works that would otherwise wait sometime to be recorded. North Texas turns in superlative performances here. While the merit of the actual sonics in these Klavier recordings have been debated before, for those interested, there exists a live recording of Daugherty's "Niagara Falls" and the world premiere of Donald Grantham's "Fantasy Variations." It is on the Mark Custom label with the University of Texas Wind Ensemble under Jerry Junkin at Carnegie Hall. I highly recommend this one, for all the nuances of Daugherty's work, sometimes not at all apparent in the North Texas disc, are fully realized in this brilliant performance and the recording of the Grantham premiere is, in my opinion, the definitive one. Do look for Sojuourns if you're interested in quality music for wind band or simply wish to add to your Klavier collection. And no, I'm not a UT student."
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Wow! I listened to this CD today and thought that the "Wedding Dances from Bandanna" were just amazing! The piece was being played by a band, but it seemed to me that the composer was treating the band as though it were an orchestra -- so many wonderful colors, so many avoided cliches! It made me want to hear the full opera, which, like "The Good Soldier Schweik," utilizes only winds in the pit. I hear that Arabesque may be releasing it next year under Hagen's baton and I'll be looking out for it."