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Benn Martin
MusicWeb International, October 2009

The excellent Naxos Wind Band Classics series continues here with a strange program that relies on transcriptions and oddities to get its point across.

I was looking forward to hearing this version of Lincoln Portrait; I wasn’t familiar with this transcription by W. Beeler, but I had heard the rich bass of Alvin Chea before and thought him an inspired choice…The Gershwin transcription by Donald Hunsberger is generally excellent…I prefer the moments that lean closer to jazz—special kudos to the piano soloist in the first movement and Fox’s performance of “It Ain’t Necessarily So”.

The shorter works leave a mixed impression—the Jacob is pleasant but not his finest work for band; the Grainger pieces are both well played…Unexpectedly, it’s the Stamp piece which titles the disc that may be the highlight. It’s a slow, harmonically interesting work which doesn’t try to be more than it is nor overstay its welcome, and which rewards repeated listens. 
The band is very, very good…



David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2009

American universities have long been famed for wind ensembles, Missouri obviously enjoying an enviable reputation for their high quality.  I am not about to jump on my usual hobbyhorse of pointing to the wealth of original wind band music, and my dislike of arrangements and transcriptions, for there is a great deal to enjoy here. It opens in bright and sparkling mood with Jacob’s own adaptation of his Suite in D flat, and if I do not quite share my wife’s view that Walter Beeler’s arrangement of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait is better than the original orchestral version, it does have a very bold and brash American quality. Thomas O’Neal should have injected more impetus into the first of nine extracts from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Robert Russell Bennett’s orchestral suite, Catfish Row, being adapted for wind ensemble. In the central fugue you do feel the players are struggling, but the big drawback is the reintroduction of voices. Good though the singers are, these songs have been recorded by the great opera stars of our time, and we have become used to such performances. I suppose it brings me back to my statement that there is loads of original wind ensemble music still to be recorded. Three shorter pieces, including Jack Stamp’s slow and quiet, In this hide clearing…, and Sousa’s version of Grainger’s Country Garden’s, are nicely handled. The recording has that tight quality so beloved of brass bands and wind ensembles, and it offers much detail and is quite punchy.






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5:29:07 PM, 18 April 2014
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