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Steve Schwartz
Classical Net, November 2013

The performances from the University of Houston winds are superior, particularly their Concerto Sinfonico. All of this music requires concentration and discipline, an ability to shape long, complex spans, and gets it in conductor David Bertman. His band knows how to both sing and dance, with wonderful tone and ensemble clarity, besides. © 2013 Classical Net Read complete review




Carson Cooman
Fanfare, November 2013

Another major work of Arnold Rosner, his dramatic and powerful Symphony No. 8, “Trinity,” appears on a disc in Naxos’s Wind Band Classics series, performed by the University of Houston Wind Ensemble. Accompanying Rosner’s Symphony are several wind ensemble works by Nicolas Flagello, more entries in the discography of this neoromantic American composer whose music has seen a number of strong recordings in recent years. © 2013 Fanfare



Bret Johnson
Tempo: A Quarterly Review of Modern Music, October 2013

The [two] composers featured here, although stylistically diverse, have quite a lot in common. [Both] have a sense of theatre and drama. Nicolas Flagello (1928–1994) embodied the postromantic traditions of his fellow American Samuel Barber, and his exceptional gifts as an orchestral, instrumental and vocal composer clearly also extend to the medium of wind orchestra, for which he composed a number of pieces later in his career. The nine-minute tone poem Odyssey (1981) is a typically condensed, tightly wrought work of pent-up energy, as is Symphony No. 2, subtitled ‘Symphony of the Winds’ (1970). Here the composer takes us on a journey into darkly illuminated, El Greco-like landscapes. The sadness of the ‘trauerode’ of the middle movement is in no way redeemed by the ironic fugal finale. The Concerto Sinfonico for saxophone quartet and winds (1984), Flagello’s last completed work, was written when he was already under the shadow of a devastating disease of his nervous system which left him unable to compose for the last decade of his life. There is a powerful sense of leave-taking, but the mood is more of anger than resignation and there is no let-up in the intensity of Flagello’s emotional energy in his last music. The medium of saxophone quartet, wind band, percussion and harp weave a rich and elegiac tapestry, magnificently played by this excellent ensemble.

Arnold Rosner (b. 1945) is a master of colour and epic grandeur, and his music evokes processions of caparisoned horses, medieval cathedrals and triumphant ceremonial. Symphony No. 8 ‘Trinity’ (1988) indeed harks backwards, the theatrical drama of its endless carillons and fanfares imparting a timelessness that is liberating and uplifting. As in the music of his mentor Alan Hovhaness, the hymns and chorales of Rosner’s music are a celebration of the created universe, to be enjoyed in all its splendour. © Tempo: A Quarterly Review of Modern Music



Barry Kilpatrick
American Record Guide, September 2013

Excellent readings of serious works for wind band, plus an arrangement for saxophone quartet.

One of the best things about the University of Houston Wind Ensemble is that trumpets and trombones never force things, never make edgy, piercing sounds. Excellent playing by all. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Phillip Scott
Fanfare, September 2013

Playing standards have varied in the Naxos Wind Band Classics series, but this is one of the very best and a welcome addition to the growing Flagello discography. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review



Lynn René Bayley
Fanfare, September 2013

These are decidedly unusual works for wind ensemble: imaginative, highly developed, and very personal in expression. Moreover, I cannot say enough good things about the performances of these two University of Houston ensembles or the conducting of David Bertman. These are performances of genuine commitment in which both conductor and ensemble sublimate themselves entirely to the service of the composers. A well-produced disc, with good sound… © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review



David DeBoor Canfield
Fanfare, September 2013

The students involved in the University of Houston Wind Ensemble play like pros, and conductor David Bertman paces everything just right to my ears. The saxophone quartet affiliated with the same university also plays beautifully, with a superb blending of sound. Band enthusiasts definitely won’t want to miss this one, but its appeal should extend well beyond that group. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review



BandWorld, July 2013

These are two very mature band works requiring extreme challenges for conductors & performers…It is most fortunate the University of Houston Wind Ensemble gives these works their just due. The Symphony No 8 “Trinity” by Arnold Rosner is a composition resplendent in musical meditation & mysticism yet maintains a style splashed with elements of neo-archaicism and musical traditionalism. This fine composition, like the Flagello works demands total music professionalism, a challenge well met on the entire recording. © 2013 BandWorld



David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2013

Nicolas Flagello was born in New York in 1928, his early career largely devoted to the concert stage touring widely in the States and Europe as a solo pianist. As a composer he had studied from his childhood with Vittorio Giannani, an American of Italian descent whose mentor had been Goldmark. It therefore comes as no surprise to find Flagello inherited a cosmopolitan background, and on his death, at the early age of 66, he left a sizeable portfolio of works in many genres. Throughout he was working in the world of modern tonality, his ability to orchestrate being second to none, as you will soon discover in Odyssey, where the lack of strings to complete a normal orchestral score is hardly noticed. The Second Symphony—‘Symphony of the Winds’—depicts wind in its various moods, and, on a twist of words, is scored for wind instruments and percussion. Opening in highly dramatic scenes, the mood changes to one of a gentle breeze in a pastoral setting before it returns as an invigorating part of life. The Concerto Sinfonico was originally scored for saxophone quartet and symphony orchestra (heard on Naxos 8.559296), the orchestral part here arranged for wind ensemble. It was composed in 1985 when Flagello’s health was fast deteriorating, the music reflecting his troubled state of mind and takes him down dark avenues. The short Valse Noire was originally for accordion, but is here transcribed for saxophone quartet. Born seventeen years later, Arnold Rosner’s style follows in Flagello’s tonality, the Eighth Symphony being an extended score of almost half an hour, and, in the composer’s own words looks at ‘meditation or spiritual thought. …the Houston musicians play with skill and enthusiasm. Good sound from 2011 sessions. © David’s Review Corner





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