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James V. Maiello
Fanfare, July 2017

Under the baton of Salvador Brotons, the band presents here three 20th-century Catalan works, all of which have some connection to the ensemble and its history; they are all world premiere recordings.

Although the band’s excitement sometimes leads to minor intonation or balance issues, these minute blemishes somehow make the music sound even better, more alive. The ensemble plays with a refreshing lack of inhibition or apprehension. Brotons reins them in when necessary, but he generally allows the band to play with real heart. The result is an exuberant explosion of joyful, risk-taking music-making, a quality that is becoming increasingly rare among new recordings. © 2017 Fanfare Read complete review

Ira Novoselsky
BandWorld, April 2017

It is very important to understand the instrumentation of the Barcelona Symphonic Band on this recording. In addition to the standard woodwind section, the Catalan cobla instruments are heard. These include the flabiol (fipple flute), tible and tenores; the latter two being Catalan shawns with their distinctive piercing sonorities. The sound of these instruments may take some doing for Western listeners to accept yet they are orchestrated with the same musicality as the other winds in solo and tutti scored passages. …Catalan Wind Music is a fascinating introduction to a rarely visited side of world music; highly recommended. © 2017 BandWorld

Records International, January 2017

These wind band arrangements have been bolstered by the addition of two Catalonian shawms (tible and tenore) and a Catalonian flute (flabiol), which add a sharp, rustic and piercing sound to the band. This is appropriate since the Oltra and the Moraleda were originally written for the popular cobla band to which these instruments belong. Oltra’s “The Bonfire” is a nine-minute symphonic poem with medieval echoes, putting it in the same genre as Moraleda’s 1986 suite inspired by a 15th-century chivalric romance. The latter could be a Rozsa score for a Hollywood historical epic into which a time-travelling Tilman Susato is imported for the dances of the work’s finale. Garreta is a conservative romantic and his four-movement suite of 35 minutes portrays aspects of coastal Catalonia from a boat trip the composer had taken. You might rather hear it in its original orchestral version but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen. © 2017 Records International

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2017

Last year the Banda Municipal de Barcelona celebrated its 130th birthday, the original use for civic occasions having changed to an outstanding concert band. With around sixty musicians covering the whole spectrum of a symphony orchestra’s woodwind, brass and percussion, the inclusion of nine saxophones and a much enlarged clarinet section replace orchestra’s upper strings. This present disc is devoted to 20th century Catalan music that includes the addition of regional instruments—the tible, tenora and flabiol—though you will be excused if you don’t hear them. The impact of Manuel Oltra’s bright and vivacious orchestral work L’Alimara (The Bonfire) comes with the sadness that the ninety-three year old composer died a few months after this world premiere recording was made in June 2015. He had written in many genres, this hugely pleasing 1983 composition transcribed for wind band by his pupil Jordi Leon. The disc’s most extensive score comes from Juli Garreta, one of Catalan’s most famous composers of symphonic music. The Suite Empordanesa is a lightweight symphony in a four-movement construction, and reflects scenes he viewed on a riverboat journey. Completed in 1933, it was later arranged for the Barcelona Band by its early 20th century conductor, Ricard Lamote de Grignon. Thus far the music has been purely tonal and replete in melody, that mode largely continuing in the picture-book story Tirant lo Blanc by Joan-Lluís Moralda and completed in 1986 in a style of yesteryear. Though the disc makes limited demands on the band’s virtuosity, the playing, under the distinguished conductor, Salvador Brotons, is most engaging. The recording is cleanly detailed but is too close to bring the much needed air around the sound. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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