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John Sheppard
MusicWeb International, April 2013

My clear favourite on this disc is the last work, Bonnie Annie Laurie, which makes use of the title song, a favourite of the composer, in the Trio. To make it even more obviously the climax of the piece a counter-melody to it is played before the tune itself, an effective device which Sousa used elsewhere. The other marches all have that loose-limbed swagger which other composers have imitated without the same success.

This is another desirable addition to a very desirable series. © 2013 MusicWeb International Read complete review

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor, April 2013

As always, Maestro Brion’s conducting seems impeccable. He imbues each work with vitality, excitement, and full-throated military flair. What’s more, the Royal Swedish Navy Band…play the music with polish, dexterity, and enthusiasm. Let’s just say they’re darned good at what they do.

Although I often find recordings of wind bands sounding overly warm and veiled, shrouded in resonance, it’s not so here. Naxos recorded the music at the Admiralty Church…and they obtained excellent results. The band sounds beautifully open and airy, with remarkably good midrange transparency for such an ensemble. Transient response and dynamic impact also sound good, making for a lifelike sonic presentation. © 2013 Classical Candor Read complete review


David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2013

The eleventh volume of John Philip Sousa’s Music for Wind Band covers a number of pastiches, opening with the Mother Hubbard March using seven nursery tunes. They were not particularly subtle pieces, as we are to hear in the six hymn tunes used to create In the Pulpit and Pew Fantasy, where familiar hymns are just strung together. Maybe Bonnie Annie Laurie would have been more welcome in the States than Scotland, while In Parlor and Street Fantasy he purloins from many sources, including himself, to create a long, and at times meandering patchwork score heavily scented with Victoriana, at one point using Verdi’s Anvil Chorus. Even the Sousa advocate, Keith Brion, describes the Fantasy. You’re the Flower of my Heart , as rambling as it uses snatches of so many melodies.The disc does includes some of his better known works, the Liberty Loan March forming the flip-side of one of his all-time best selling discs, together with one of his earliest marches, Globe and Eagle, composed when he was twenty-five and already anticipating the possibility of becoming the director of the U.S Marine Band. Almost as early came the parade ground march, Guide Right, written while he was in the process of creating this most famous of all military bands. They are all played with verve and enthusiasm by the Royal Swedish Navy Band, an ensemble whose sound harks back to the days when Sousa’s band would have taken the world by storm. The recording by a UK sound team is excellent. © 2013 David’s Review Corner, December 2012

The direction in which a composer’s mature works will progress is often, but not always, clear from listening to the early pieces through which he or she is developing a personal style. The latest volume in Naxos’ excellent John Philip Sousa series shows this particularly clearly, with five of the 14 tracks offering works that Sousa…wrote before he was 30: In Parlor and Street Fantasy…Wolverine March…Globe and Eagle March…Guide Right March…and Bonnie Annie Laurie…These pieces collectively show most of the directions in which Sousa would later take his music and his world-famous band…In Parlor and Street Fantasy shows one area that he was later to revisit a number of times: a mixture of then-popular tunes, operetta excerpts…and even bits from grand opera …rising above pastiche through cleverness of instrumentation and free-flowing form. And Bonnie Annie Laurie shows yet another side of Sousa’s productivity: he had a lifelong fascination with folk songs, considered this one the most beautiful of them all, and was fond of arranging them and incorporating them into other works—often quite creatively, as here, where he writes an original tune and sets it in counterpoint to the folk song itself. Slightly later pieces on this excellently played CD continue to show Sousa’s mastery of form and color: Mother Hubbard March…On Parade March…Tally Ho Overture…and the particularly attractive National Fencibles March…The five other offerings here were written in the 20th century, when Sousa was at the height of his fame and creative powers, and they display a sureness beyond that of the early works…The three remaining later works, all marches, show Sousa at the pinnacle of his creativity in the form with which he is most closely identified: Keeping Step with the UnionWe Are Coming…and Liberty Loan…all infused with patriotism and uplift and a very strong element of American sensibility, for all that the performances here are by Sweden’s only professional military band, which is a very fine ensemble by any standards. © 2012 Read complete review

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