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Ronald E. Grames
Fanfare, September 2012

This is a great CD…In a very real sense, this kind of witty, big-hearted, invigorating music was the sound of movies from the 1940s until the 1960s…Here are alluring waltzes, evocations of travel to faraway places, and stirring themes to depict typhoons and military campaigns.

The Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra will be well known to collectors from its fine series of recordings for Chandos. One would seldom suspect, hearing these releases made over the years, that one was listening to an ensemble made up of students. This new disc for Naxos exhibits the same qualities: fine musicianship and alert, idiomatic direction, recorded in excellent sound…This release is a most welcome supplement…and perhaps a first choice for the collector primarily interested in music for wind ensemble. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review

Zan Furtwangler
Audiophile Audition, August 2012

William Alwyn (1905-1985) was one of those modern classical composers who also wrote for the screen, nearly 200 scores. The William Alwyn Foundation commissioned these arrangements by Martin Ellerby to make this light music more available to the public.

This collection opens with The Crimson Pirate – Overture (1952), an 18th century swashbuckling comedic tale which starred Burt Lancaster. This overture captures all the main tunes from the score and is great fun.

There are quite a few marches here, all of them lively and very good…

Alwyn certainly had a gift of imagination with such a wide variety of films.

The Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra, about 30 strong, is an extraordinarily talented group. Naxos has provided splendid sound, open and bright, with plenty of impact. Highly recommended, if band music is your interest. Highly recommended! © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review

Mark Koldys
American Record Guide, July 2012

…this is a splendid assortment that includes some of Alwyn’s best work, and it’s given an especially piquant flavor in the expert arrangements for winds by Martin Ellerby.

A concert overture based on The Crimson Pirate opens the program with some buckled swash and fine British sea air… Geordie…is especially colorful…Anyone who loved Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson will welcome the three pieces heard here…

Much of this music has already been recorded in its orchestral dress by Chandos…Still, this makes for an excellent introduction to Alwyn’s music, skillfully played and recorded, at a reasonable price. © 2012 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide online

Ian Lace
MusicWeb International, May 2012

These transcriptions work surprisingly well especially for the marches and the swiftly moving extrovert scores. Try the swashbuckling excitement that is The Crimson Pirate and the military pride and pomp and braggadocio of Desert Victory. The quirky waltz that is The Million Pound Note fares well too.

The humorous episodes of The History of Mr Polly work well in these brass arrangements especially ‘The Wedding’ and the mordant humour of the ‘Funeral’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Punting Scene’…

This is generally satisfying film music…

These arrangements are quite pleasing… © 2012 MusicWeb International Read complete review

James Norris
Audiophilia, May 2012

William Alwyn was one of the most prominent film composers of the 1940s and ’50s and his scores for films such as The Way Ahead directed by Carol Reed and starring David Niven show how effective his music was. The History of Mr Polly starring John Mills gave Alwyn the chance to write a full score describing the action and the history of the character and gave him the scope to include and develop themes for each character.

The Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra are one of Britain’s finest wind groups and play these scores with verve and conviction. For film fans well worth exploring. © 2012 Audiophilia

Film Music: The Neglected Art, April 2012

This release is made possible by the William Alwyn Foundation along with superb arrangements from Martin Ellerby who created a sound that is unlike other wind arrangements. I felt like I was listening to a symphonic interpretation of his work!

This Naxos release offers distinct separation between the instruments along with good dynamic range which makes for a nice listening experience. It is a nice introduction to wind band arranging and performing as well as the music of William Alwyn. © 2012 Film Music: The Neglected Art Read complete review

Cinemusical, April 2012

The music of William Alwyn continues to find its way to disc. After a fairly successful survey of the composer’s orchestral music, the Naxos label is releasing a collection of the composer’s film music in their Wind Band Classics series. Martin Ellerby was specifically commissioned by the William Alwyn Foundation to create arrangements that would help expand the availability of the composer’s repertoire. The musical selections cover an interesting and wide range of Alwyn’s film music in such a way that the publication of the music should have appeal on both sides of the Atlantic.

To introduce these works to broader audiences, the Alwyn Foundation has found a perfectly good ensemble in the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra. British bands do have a distinct sound from their American and military counterparts often feeling a bit “warmer” in their brass playing. This manages to work fairly well and both Clark Rundell and Mark Heronshare duties conducting these pieces in ways that create consistently engaging performances. When one is not marveling at the melodic ideas, or interesting harmonies, there is plenty of technical skill on display with great balances throughout the ensemble.

The present disc is a worthy way to whet the appetite of wind band players and conductors who will perhaps be encouraged to consider adding these works to the band repertoire of their ensembles. It allows another unique British voice to be experienced by wind players more familiar with the traditional wind band music of Holst, Vaughan Williams, or the many Elgar and Walton transcriptions. © 2012 Cinemusical Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2012

The time William Alwyn spent composing ‘serious’ works was largely funded by his career writing background music for over two hundred films. Now on disc we are becoming more familiar with his symphonic and chamber works, it is, with a degree of irony, that it is his music for the cinema that is becoming forgotten. The outstanding, but sadly neglected British composer, Martin Ellerby, has been entrusted by the William Alwyn Foundation to make arrangements of some of Alwyn’s most readily pleasing moments from ten films. In true Hollywood epic style, the overture to The Crimson Pirate makes a vibrant opening track; The History of Mr Polly, a bitter-sweet story pictured here in a suite containing five moments in his many adventures, while The Way Ahead was one of Alwyn’s many films from the Second World War, the March a happy and spirited score. Maybe the State Secret was not his most inspired moment, but from Disney’s fondly remembered film, Swiss Family Robinson, we have three extracts, while Ellerby’s suite from Geordie—a love story set in Scotland—brings much local colour. Two excerpts from In Search of the Castaways containing a gorgeous waltz and a saucy rumba, leads to the short suite from the 1943 propaganda film, Desert Victory. The music is far from easy to perform, the high professional standard achieved by the musicians from Manchester’s Royal Northern College… The stunning sound quality complements a highly desirable release. © 2012 David’s Review Corner

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