Wine Dark Sea is “another Rolls-Royce”

MusicWeb reviews Wine Dark Sea:

“Dan Welcher, whose Spumante opens with the popping of a cork, is new to me. This engaging piece, commissioned by the Boston Pops, is rather more subtle than its effervescent title might suggest… Welcher casts the net wide… I’ve not encountered the music of Donald Grantham before, but his Louisiana-inspired J'ai été au bal (I went to the dance), with its artful use of Cajun tunes, is an ear-pricking, toe-tapping delight. The music’s panoply of colours and rhythms is superbly caught; even more astounding is the virtuosity of this band, whose stylish playing would put many a professional to shame.… Next up is Ticheli's clarinet concerto, with Eastman/Juilliard graduate and chamber-musician Nathan Williams as the soloist. The composer talks of his ‘playful allusions’ to the music of Gershwin, Copland and – of course – Bernstein, all of which are skilfully done… the vigorous sign-off left me wanting more. … [Wine Dark Sea]'s compelling character – savour that snapping side-drum and Stygian bass one – is superbly realised in this very sophisticated recording. It's a beguiling, velvet sound, just like the best of analogue but with an extraordinarily wide dynamic range. Mackey’s score is most inventive, with much for the band to explore and execute, and I was struck by just how magnetic the outer movements are. Not only that, the music has muscle and sinew, its more rarefied moments complemented by passages of startling weight and trenchancy. … Music of variety and substance, stylishly played; another Rolls-Royce recording from Reference.” —Dan Morgan, MusicWeb International

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