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The Shosti "16th"
General Classical Music Discussion / Sousa: Looking Upward Suite
« Last post by arpeggio on Today at 01:15:12 PM »
I am going to violate one my rules an express a highly opinionated opinion like those who trash all the modern music they do not like.

I am a band junkie and I am going to commit sacrilege.  I am not impressed with the marches of Sousa.  They are extremely formulaic (As far as I am concerned he wrote the same march a hundred times), they are heavily scored and they are not the difficult to play.

One of the reasons they are formulaic that along with being marches they are also dance tunes.  A type of dance that was becoming popular in the late 19th century was the two-step.  One could perform the two-step with a march.  The Sousa band would frequently perform for balls where people would dance waltzes and two-step to his marches.  As a result all of their tempos were about the same.

As far a scoring is concerned they lack transparency.  This is a technical term we snotty musicians like to use.  I can best explain by giving an example.  When Mahler would orchestrate one of his symphonies one will notice during a performance that very rarely would the whole orchestra would be playing at the same time.  Most episodes would be performed by alternating groups of instruments.  I played the Mahler Fourth and it was like playing chamber music.  A Sousa march is scored by producing mass blocks of sound.  Occasionally there would be an impressive solo like the piccolos in Stars and Stripe.  The bassoon parts are very boring and covered up by the trombones and baritones.  His marches are scored so even if one maybe missing some of the voices in their band, they can still perform the march.  I know normally a band can perform one of Sousa's marches if they are missing double reeds.  I know some of the real musicians around here can do a better job of explaining is than I do. 

Even though the Sousa band was a virtuosic group their marches are difficult to play.  They can be handled by most high school groups.

Before you Sousa people jump on me for being an elitist pseudo intellectual snob I will state that I have just played a Sousa work that blew this snob away.  At our next concert we will performing real concert work by Sousa and it is excellent.  The more I listen to it the more it grows on me.  It is nothing like his marches and reminds me of Offenbach.  It is a three movement work called the Looking Upward Suite.  There is much more variety than one finds in one of his marches.  There is some really nice music in the second movement.  There is some interesting scoring including some duets between the bassoon and the oboe.  That would be unheard of in a Sousa march.  And finally it is extremely challenging to play.  The trumpets are having hernias trying to play their parts.  No wonder it is rarely performed it is a hard piece to play with many difficult passages.  Stars and Stripes is a walk in the park compared to this monster.

I have found links to a performance of the Marine Band.  Do not be fooled.  They make it sound easy.  I hope you guys find it as a fastening as I do.  The City for Fairfax Band will be performing it on October 20th at Fairfax High School at 7:30.  We will also be doing Holst's transcription for band of the "Mars" movement from The Planets,  Hopefully we will work out the glitches with the Sousa.

I love the second movement.  I am listening to it as I am writing this and I am freaking out.
Composer Discussion / Re: Havergal Brian.
« Last post by J.Z. Herrenberg on Today at 01:00:45 PM »
I am just as impressed as you, Augustus. Great disc. The Vision of Cleopatra sounds like no-one else, including HB himself! The Fantastic Variations and For Valour get exciting and gripping readings. And the two choral pieces are very different, and very characteristic. Brian will never cease to amaze me.
General Classical Music Discussion / Re: What are you listening to now?
« Last post by Jamie on Today at 12:49:42 PM »
The Kraus Symphony in C Minor...

Why not just build a virtual wall and then make everyone wear headsets permanently

(and no that wan't an episode of doctor who) lol
Here's the booklet with the english translation starting on p 82

Thanks, Mandryka - exactly what I wanted - found another site but the booklet was 'scanned in' and hard to read - your link has an excellent PDF.  Dave :)
Great Recordings and Reviews / Re: New Releases
« Last post by TheGSMoeller on Today at 11:55:46 AM »

Is this the beginning of a new cycle?
Great Recordings and Reviews / Re: New Releases
« Last post by The new erato on Today at 11:36:21 AM »
The Wiren quartets are very fine. I have them on a Daphne disc.
Great Recordings and Reviews / Re: New Releases
« Last post by Brian on Today at 11:24:31 AM »

This is marked as "Rihm: Music for Violin and Orchestra, Vol. 1"

Wirén withdrew his first quartet. The players are members of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra.

No front cover images yet:

No artwork yet:

Lutoslawski: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4; Jeux vénitiens
Composer(s):   Lutoslawski, Witold
Artist(s):   Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra; Lintu, Hannu
Label:   ONDINE (ODE)
Composer Discussion / Re: Havergal Brian.
« Last post by Augustus on Today at 11:18:51 AM »
I think it's a stunning disc.  The first of the two choral pieces has a surprisingly Debussyan feel to it (or early Vaughan Williams?) and the purely orchestral works are finer than any version on Naxos or the old Hull Youth orch discs.  John Pickard has done a very sensitive bit of re-creation for the main work.  What do others think?
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