When I reviewed the last two volumes in this
I remarked on an apparent lack of swagger
in the playing of the Royal Norwegian Navy Band. It even suggested
that the bottom of the barrel might have been reached in the musical
interest of the items included. Neither of these comments could be
made about the present disc which sees a return to the quality of
the first volumes of the series in terms of music, recording and performance.
Once again, and unsurprisingly, it is the marches that impress most.
Almost all are unfamiliar but all have the unique character that Sousa
gave his marches, distinguishing them from the very different if equally
masterly marches of, say, Alford, Eric Coates or Fučík.
My clear favourite on this disc is the last work, Bonnie Annie
, which makes use of the title song, a favourite of the
composer, in the Trio. To make it even more obviously the climax of
the piece a counter-melody to it is played before the tune itself,
an effective device which Sousa used elsewhere. The other marches
all have that loose-limbed swagger which other composers have imitated
without the same success.
Although there are no Suites, Waltzes or Intermezzi in this Volume
there are three selections of popular melodies. I must admit to finding
these as being of modest interest. “In Parlor and Street”
contains an extraordinary variety of tunes, neatly linked with cadenzas
for different players. “In Pulpit and Pew” comprises a
series of religious melodies starting with Sullivan’s “St
Gertrude” (Onward Christian Soldiers) and ending with “Adeste
Fideles” (O come all ye faithful). The last and oddest is “You’re
the Flower of my Heart” in which a series of unrelated tunes
is held together (?) by references to the song “Sweet Adeline”.
It was good to hear each of these selections once but it is hard to
imagine wanting to return to them very often, unlike the irresistible
marches on the remainder of the disc.
As usual Naxos have supplied full and interesting notes on the music
by the conductor as well as a complete list of the players in the
Royal Swedish Navy Band. This is another desirable addition to a very
on Naxos American Classics