This has always been one of the most enjoyable and sought after Mercury discs and in its superb re-incarnation on SACD, the recordings have come up astonishingly clear and bright. Recorded in 1960-1, Sousa's marches come alive in wonderful three channel sound that fairly destroys your living room, if you keep the volume high enough that is!
Frederick Fennell directs the famous marches with great swagger and pomp and the Eastman Wind Ensemble respond with expected virtuosity to their director's promptings. 'The Invincible Eagle', 'Bullets and Bayonets', 'The Kansas Wildcats' and 'The Glory of the Yankee Navy' are amongst the better works here but one would indeed be hard pressed to choose as all marches are written with a feel for the medium and Fennell's measured interpretations bring out the endearing musical qualities of all of them.
It goes without saying that the sound is pretty astonishing for 1960. The CD transfer is excellent but on three-channel SACD, the fantastic recordings really come to life and it is a wholly different ball game. I spent many hours of enjoyment playing and re-playing favourite marches and enjoying the fruits of Mercury's talented recording team. Definitely a must for the audiophile.
Copyright © 2006, Gerald Fenech