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Apotheosis Of This Earth: Music Of Karel Husa for Wind Orchestra

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 1, 2002
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Karel Husa, born in Prague August 7, 1921, did his studies at the Conservatory of Prague until 1946, before leaving for Paris and perfecting himself with Arthur Honegger, Nadia Boulanger and Darius Milhaud. In 1954, he decidedly settled in the US, at Cornwell University, as a professor of composition and leader of the orchestra, then ultimately at Ithaca College. The two discs that we present to you are comprised of one of the most beautiful compositions of this great master of the 20th century, from which the first for the winds, Music for Harmony, dates from 1951. In total, we owe him some 20 pieces, from which the famous Music for Prague (1968) or the {Wild? Great?} Colors (1996). It is not to dissect here more than two hours of music, but it is necessary all the same to ------- that there are three performances with soloists: Concert for Percussion, Concertino for Piano and Concerto for Alto Saxophone. At each time, the author knows to emphasize the individual qualities of each instrument: diversity and originality of the percussions, the fullness of the piano, or the warm resonance and skill of the saxophone. For the ensemble, one can add that Karel Husa has sometimes nostalgia for his native land, notably with Smetana Fanfare of Slovic Dance, excerpt from Divertimento. Let's talk more about his style. His orchestration is dense and generous, orchestra to wind, he discerns well. His music, energy, well constructed, is sometimes voluntarily disconnected and technically very unreasonable. And even if his harmonies are sometimes sharp, there is a resonant richness that is powerfully evident. It (He) well misses a little of -------: the slave soul, -------, you have it, my dear Karel! Perhaps I did not know -------- Well served by the Wind Ensemble of Ithaca College, directed by Rodney Winther, the Music of Karel Husa deserves the greatest respect and is greatly worth the pain of its delay... And that... --Magazine: Musicum - Numero #9 Page: 28 Printemps 2003
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Disc 2
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: The Ithaca College Wind Ensemble
  • Conductor: Rodney Winther
  • Composer: Karel Husa
  • Audio CD (October 1, 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Mark Records
  • ASIN: B0001ZQ5KI
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,151 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Karel Husa, probably due to his 38-year tenure at Cornell University and the presence of the house Wind band at his disposal, wrote extensively for the medium, and this double CD gathers almost half of his output in the genre. Among Husa's major compositions for the medium, his 1976 American Te Deum, his more recent "Les Couleurs fauves" (1996) and of course his famous and most often-perfomed piece "Music for Prague 1968" are here missing.

The compositions contained in these two CDs fall in two categories: those that are re-scorings of early pieces dating from his Czech and Paris years (the 1958 Divertimento for Brass and Percussion, an expansion of movements from the 1955 Eight Czech Duets, a fact not mentioned in the otherwise very informative liner notes, the 1974 Al Fresco, the 1983 Concertino for Piano and Wind Ensemble). They are marked by strong Czech and Slovak folk music elements, while the sunny Concertino (after Husa's 1949 Concertino for Piano and Orchestra) is written in an early modernist, enjoyable but rather anonymous style reminiscent of Honegger's or Schulhoff's similar compositions, despite nice twists of orchestration (which may be typical of Husa's more recent hand). It makes for pleasant but hardly memorable listening.

The only one of those re-scored pieces that transcends its origins is Al Fresco, after the 1947 Fresques (which can be found on the Marco Polo release, along with the full-orchestra version of Music for Prague and the 2nd Symphony - a good introduction to the composer's orchestral works). The wind and percussion scoring imparts it a raw energy and biting edge that blurs its folkloristic elements in favour of a more modern and angular color (sometimes you might think you were hearing the Jets and Sharks Dance in West Side Story).
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Karel Husa is a Czech composer with whom I have recently become familiar. He conducted orchestras in Prague and Paris, moved to the U.S. and spent the rest of his life teaching at Cornell (1954 to 1992) and Ithaca College and composing. Husa studied composition with Honegger, Dukas, and Boulanger. His compositions vary widely in their accessibility. His greatest impact has been on wind music, and he has written a great deal of it. In this 2-disc album the Ithaca College Wind Ensemble performs seven of his works for winds. The recording dates are not specified, but tape hiss is present to varying degrees probably consistent with recording date. The album has a copyright of 2002.

Overall, the album is both a great introduction to Karel Husa (along with the superb album with the University of Louisville Symphony) as well as a thoroughly enjoyable disc of modern music. I must comment on the artwork which is in vivid earth tones and BUSY. It actually made reading text rather a chore. TOO MUCH, guys. The sound is vivid in what must be the more recently recorded works but bothersome in the earlier hissy recordings. The music, however, is superb, although one hearing of Apotheosis is enough for me, thank you very much. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

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Detailed comments for the individual works follow...

The first work is the Smetana Fanfare that was commissioned by Ithaca College and inspired by one of Smetana's manic symphonic poems, Wallenstein's Camp. It is a rousing, glorious fanfare that gives first evidence that the Ithaca Wind Ensemble is a superbly talented group of young musicians. Al Fresco takes its inspiration from paintings dealing with primitive life, war, and pageantry.
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Apotheosis Of This Earth: Music Of Karel Husa for Wind Orchestra
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