CD cover - American ClassicsAmerican Classics

28-Feb-2004

Brass Band Bűrgermusik Luzern
Obrasso CD 896
Total CD Playing Time: 52.19

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If you have a look round a number of major cities, the chances are you will discover a musical being performed. London's West End of course, is full of shows all year round, with the choice being wide and varied. For many, the acting and presentation always leaves its mark on the memory, but shows become familiar and memorable for the music within them.

Various overtures and songs become hits anywhere in the world and are as famous in there own right as the musical itself. The West End in London is Broadway to America, and this latest release from Brass Band Bűrgermusik Luzern pays tribute to Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin - to of the USA's greatest "Hit Makers". Both gentlemen have made their own mark on America's musical styles, and this disc features some of their finest musical gems that have been arranged for brass band.

The disc gets underway with the first of three contributions from Bernstein. Howard Snell arranged the overture to "Candide", and can be heard at many a band concert. Conductor Ludwig Wicki certainly doesn't mess around with the tempo, and stretches the band quite intensely whilst at the same making a nice orchestral sound.

"On The Town" was written in 1944. It was the first American musical to be composed by a classically trained 'symphonist'. It broke interracial new ground by having black and white dancers side by side and was the first show to be bought unseen by a Hollywood film company. Ray Farr has arranged three "Dance Episodes" in typical Farr fashion, and on this recording, the band appears at ease with the music. The first dance entitled, "The Great Lover", is up-tempo, very rhythmical and has that jolly feel to it. The band is clearly in joyful mood. The second dance ("Lonely Town") is a total contrast. Slow, sophisticated and sensual playing that builds but a relaxed mood prevails. In the final dance ("Times Square") the jovial, happy times return with some great playing on soprano from Patrick Ottiger, matched on trombone by David Engel. It's music that is fun all the way, and has those familiar melodic lines from Bernstein that really get your feet tapping.

The final Bernstein offering on the disc is music arranged by Mark Freeh. The Andante – Presto Babara comes from "On The Waterfront", and is evocative, dramatic and once again, maximises great stamina from within the Swiss band.

It is said that George Gershwin's most important work was his folk opera, "Porgy and Bess". Composed in 1935, music from the opera is the main item on the disc, and plenty of familiar tunes to whistle along too. The band enlists the help of Soprano singer, Jennifer Davison, who accompanies the band in "Summertime" and ‘My Man's Gone Now". Other familiar favourites include "Bess, You Is My Women Now" and "It Ain't Necessarily So". The band is relaxed throughout and at home with Gershwin's music. The other Gershwin contribution comes from "Strike Up The Band" and is an arrangement by the MD of "The Man I Love" which again features Jennifer Davison.

The final offering on the disc is Samuel Barber's most famous composition, "Adagio". Written in 1938, it is emotional music whether performed by a string quartet or string orchestra, or as in this case, a brass band. A lovely quiet beginning, the intensity of the music builds into a quite dramatic climax, before winding down again peacefully and it is music you'll hear at times of sadness and reflection. This performance didn't grab me as much as others I have heard, but it is certainly worth of its place on this disc of American Classics.

Malcolm Wood
Copyright 4BR

What's on this CD?

Candide Leonard Bernstein arr Howard Snell
1) Overture 4.34
Porgy and Bess George Gershwin arr Ludwig Wicki
2) Introduction 0.57
3) Summertime Soprano:Jennifer Davison 2.25
4) My Man’s Gone Now Soprano:Jennifer Davison 4.05
5) Oh, I Got Plenty O’Nuttin 2.57
6) Bess, You Is My Woman Now 4.27
7) Oh I Can’t Sit Down 1.43
8) There’s A Boat Dat’s Leaving Soon For New York 5.56
It Ain’t Necessarily So
Oh Lawd I’m On My Way
9) Adagio Samuel Barber arr Lugwig Wicki 6.14
On The Town—Three Dance Episodes Leonard Bernstein arr Ray Farr
10) The Great Lover (Allegro Pesante) 1.43
11) Lonely Town:Pas de deux (Andante Sostentu) 2.53
12) Times Square:1944 (Allegro) 4.51
Strike Up The Band George Gershwin arr Ludwig Wicki
13) The Man I Love Soprano:Jennifer Davison
On The Waterfront Leonard Bernstein arr Mark Freeh
14) Andante—Presto Barbaro—Andante Largamente 8.21

Total CD Playing Time: 52.19

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