Here is another unhackneyed anthology of wind band pieces. Reference Recordings
seem to have made something of a speciality of this sort of thing and to
have 'landed' Frederick Fennell (doyen of the wind band repertoire) is a
Enough of the hullabaloo - what is the music like?
Vittorio Giannini (1903-1966) is an American classic of the Schuman and Piston
generation. Giannini has at least five symphonies to his name. I am still
waiting to hear No. 1 but the others are considerable works. No. 3 is the
lightest of the four. Its opening allegro energico combines a John
Williams type march with the world of Ron Goodwin. The second movement
adagio hales Copland's Quiet City and along the way takes in
a Hansonian climax (5.43) and a fade-out worth of Barber. The third movement
has a chugging energy and a nice sax chorus. The allegro con brio finale
bristles with Waltonian nobilmente.
The Dello Joio offers five variations and an introduction (on In Dulci
Jubilo) that joy, monastic reflection, funereal grandeur and a confidently
sad steadiness of pace. Nelhybel's piece (which gives the album its name)
is in three movements. These emigrate from commandingly muscular film music,
to a minatory adagio alive with drum threats and a woodwind contribution
like Herrmann's Sinbad music. This is the biggest movement and it
is followed by a finale that veers from Tudor antique to Wild West rip-roaring.
The Grieg piece is gloweringly angry - quite a surprise for 1865! The Albeniz
seems to me to be the only misfire - lacking the necessary snap and tension
at first though gathering itself for the wonderingly awe-struck mystery of
the church (2.20) and for a closing magnificence paralleling The Great
Gate of Kiev.
I am not convinced by the quality of all the music on show here (the Grieg
and Giannini are fine) but there is no doubting the vigour and crackling
energy Fennell and the Texans bring.