This is more than a CD – it is an event. The music of Grainger, already a cause célèbre among fans of wind band music, is treated here with an amount of respect and scholarship such as it has likely never seen. Grainger is counted with Vaughan Williams and Holst as one of the first major composers to write substantial music for wind band. His greatest work titles the present disc. While much of this music has been recorded countless times by bands all over the world, this release is truly something special.
For the band aficionado, there are two reasons to buy this recording. First and foremost is to hear superior performances of some of the best music ever written for band – Lincolnshire Posy, Colonial Song, Irish Tune from County Derry and Children’s March. The performances are about as close to flawless as is possible, and the sound quality is astonishing - watch out for the bass drum. Excellent liner-notes detail the history of each piece and the efforts that went into making this release as authoritative as possible.
The second reason for band fans to purchase this CD is to hear some things one hasn’t heard before. I was personally unfamiliar with the pieces The Merry King and After-Word, some really lovely music I was glad to become acquainted with. While the other repertoire was familiar to me, Junkin chooses some slower-than-usual tempi for some pieces, revealing fresh interpretive insight into well-worn territory. He also brings out some details in the music that other performances obscure. The Dallas group is an army of generals, capable of indulging any of Junkin’s (or Grainger’s) whims.
All of that said, it would be a shame if only “band fans” heard this disc - though they all need to. It deserves a wide audience, and I hope it makes many people more aware of the music of Grainger as well as the fantastic Dallas Wind Symphony. It’s doubtless one of the best band recordings I’ve ever heard.
Labels: Benn Martin, Dallas Wind Symphony, lincolnshire posy, MusicWeb, percy grainger, Recording of the Month, Reference Recordings, reference recordings hrx