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Music for Wind Band

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Sousa: Music For Wind Band, Vol. 6
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Audio CD, February 27, 2007
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John Philip Sousa, known affectionately as "The March King", personified turn-of-the-century America, the comparative innocence and brash energy of a still new nation. His ever-touring band represented America across the globe and
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 27, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos American Classics
  • ASIN: B000M2DNNM
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,435 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By P. L. Browning on December 19, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Played 'Oh so well', it is more than a delight to hear the oldest British band, here under the leadership of American Conductor (and Sousa specialist) Keith Brion, play Sousa. But of perhaps even greater interest is the excellent playlist of Sousa tunes reaching well outside "The March King" box. One could argue that "Three Quotaions (Suite for Band)" should take its place next to Holst's Suites. And there is much more of great worth on this fine recording. Get it, and see if you agree.
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The Royal Artillery Band renders the music of Sousa as well as any band out there. These recordings are accurate in tempo, excellent in interpretation and superbly played by the band. I ordered just one of the discs, initially, but will soon order the rest. Great collection for the Sousa enthusiast or serious student of American music.
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There are a couple of secrets about American composer John Philip Sousa (1854-1932). First: the hundred plus marches not known to the general public are typically equal in quality than the ten or so marches that have happen to become popular. Second: Sousa wrote more than just marches - yes, it's true.

I have acquired the previous five volumes of this series, and have found each of them to be excellent in terms of musicianship and sound quality. And this, the sixth volume of the series, continues to maintain the standard established by the earlier volumes.

The present release includes eight marches (including one memorial march), four miscellaneous wind works, one suite and one set of waltzes. The one piece that will be familiar to most listeners will be the 'Liberty Bell', which receives a fine performance here. But to return my first 'secret' I think most listeners will find the remaining seven marches to be equally entertaining. A couple of my personal favorites include 'The Picador' and the 'Dauntless Battalion'. Influenced by the spectacle of a bullfight, 'The Picador' incorporates elements of Spanish music, while the 'Dauntless Battalion' contains an especially delightful trio section with the main melody carried by the euphoniums and glockenspiel, and concludes with this melody soaring over a double countermelody (similar to 'Stars and Stripes Forever').

And returning to my second 'secret', I think most listeners will also enjoy the set of waltzes included here ('Le Reine de la Mer') as well as the ragtime piece, `Easter Sunday on the White House Lawn'.
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This sixth volume in the ongoing series of wind band music by John Philip Sousa, conducted by Sousa expert Keith Brion, is excellent not only because of the fine playing of Britain's Royal Artillery Band, but because it contains some of Sousa's least known, but most worthy, music. For instance, one never hears the fine 1919 'Golden Star', a funeral march dedicated to Mrs Theodore Roosevelt (and also, of course, to the many young men who died in the Great War). It incorporates 'Taps' in the musical material in moving fashion.

The contents of the CD is really a miscellany, with music from one of Sousa's operettas (the sextet from 'The Bride Elect', 1897), a march for the graduation of cadets from the Pennsylvania Military Academy ('Dauntless Battalion', 1922), and a suite for band called 'Three Quotations' (1895), containing a satirical march set to the couplet 'The King of France with twenty thousand men marched up the hill and then marched down again', and whose final movement, 'In Darkest Africa' incorporates jazzy syncopations and melodic contours presumably typical of native African music. 'The Federal', 1910, was written for the band's tour of Australasia and one hears the measured Elgarian tread of British marches.

Easily the most familiar work played here is 'The Liberty Bell', widely known and frequently played long before its use as the theme song for 'Monty Python's Flying Circus.' One actually wishes this piece wasn't so identified with that comic series because it is one of Sousa's best marches but it will be associated, for the foreseeable future at least, with that comedy when in fact it is a stirring military march. The performance here is excellent; and one can actually hear the 'bell' as called for in Sousa's score.
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Keith Brion and the Royal Artillery Band deliver another superb Sousa CD. I especially appreciate that he throws in lesser known pieces on each CD. For example, this CD contains the only recordings I have in my collection of "The Golden Star" and Sextet from "The Bride-Elect."

Keep 'em coming, Keith!
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