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John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932)
Music for Wind Band - Volume 12
Sound Off March (1885) [3:04]
Peaches and Cream - Foxtrot (1924) [3:40]
Transit of Venus March (1883) [2:08]
Marching Through Georgia - Patrol (1891) [2:47]
Maidens Three - Suite (1887-1901) [9:44]
Mikado March (1885) [2:21]
The Honored Dead - Funeral March (1876) [4:23]
Marquette University March (1924) [2:55]
Chris and the Wonderful Lamp - Overture (1899) [5:52]
Right Forward March (1881) [2:35]
Leaves from My Notebook - Suite (1923) [10:59]
Right-Left March (1883) [2:16]
The Royal Swedish Navy Band/Keith Brion
rec. Admiralty Church, Karlskrona, Sweden, 28-30 September 2010
NAXOS 8.559691 [56:06]

Naxos has been issuing its series of Sousa’s complete music for wind band at a leisurely rate since Volume 1 appeared in 2000 - see reviews. The first few volumes were a revelation in terms of the music included and also of the quality of the performances.
 
The Royal Artillery Band provided the first eight volumes after which the Royal Norwegian Navy Band took over for two volumes which seemed to me to lack to some degree the vigour and sheer exuberance of their predecessors. This may have been due to the choice of music. Volume 11 which featured the Royal Swedish Navy Band was back to the earlier standard and the present volume with that same band is one of the best so far. 

That may be something of a surprise, as most of the earlier issues included some of the composer’s best known works as well as a good helping of the unfamiliar. The present volume has a high concentration of the latter, although some of the pieces are based on familiar melodies - especially Marching Through Georgia and Mikado March. It is however full of entertaining and enlivening music. Sound Off is well up to the standard of the composer’s best marches, full of that mixture of swagger and energy that is a Sousa characteristic. Peaches and Cream has a more winsome manner and the two Suites are varied, relatively brief and thoroughly delightful. Mikado March uses melodies from Sullivan’s operetta but by no means the most obvious ones. For it alone this disc must be an essential purchase for enthusiasts for that composer. Right-Left March has the novelty effect of requiring the band to shout the title (in time). This led me to the unimportant question as to why Americans should shout “Right left” and the British “Left right”. Like everything else on this disc it is done enthusiastically here.
 
Like the whole series this disc is conducted by Keith Brion who also provides his usual too brief but very interesting notes. He has the ability to make bands play with the loose-limbed ebullience needed for this music, and the results compare well even with the many recordings made by the composer himself in his latter years. I approached this disc wondering whether the bottom of the barrel might have been reached but it became immediately obvious that here was yet another disc guaranteed to rouse even the most sedentary of listeners from their chair.
 
John Sheppard  

See also review by Rob Barnett