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SACD Review

Brass Too

  • Dmitri Shostakovich: Suite "The Gadfly", Op. 97a
  • Detlev Glanert: Concertgeblaas
  • Henri Tomasi: Fanfares liturgiques from "Don Juan de Mañara"
  • Astor Piazzolla: Suite "María de Buenos Aires"
  • Paul Hindemith: Konzertmusik, Op. 50 *
Brass & Percussion of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchesra/Ivan Meylemans
* Brass & Strings of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Kurt Masur
RCO Live 14010 Hybrid Multichannel SACD
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From the orchestra that gave us the best-ever ending to Mahler's Third (twice, no less) comes this second album of the ensemble's great brass section on its own in-house label. The music is varied, but the quality is not. Though the orchestra has gone through many changes, ranging from financial to musical, the members of the Concertgebouw can almost always be counted on to deliver the goods in this kind of music. They are beautifully recorded here, and any brass fan should add this to their collection without delay.

The Gadfly Suite makes a fine curtain raiser, with a particularly rousing finale, but the rest of the program is the real reason for acquiring this disc. The Concertgebouw's composer-in-residence, Detlev Glanert, wrote Concertgeblaas especially for these forces. It's a jazzy romp that last under four minutes, but is great fun. The 12 brass players on hand rip into this bon-bon with obvious glee. The four pieces from Henri Tomasi are much more substantial, and show off the range and color of this ensemble. The Piazzolla sounds terrific, and puts aside any concerns about a great European orchestra tackling this kind of music. In all cases, Ivan Meylemans conducts with sensitivity and an understanding of the various styles at hand.

Finishing the program is an excellent version of the Konzertmusik, Op. 50 from Paul Hindemith. The sound of the strings rising up from underneath the brass is nothing short of thrilling, and Kurt Masur again proves much more interesting live than in the studio. The whole album is captured in warm and impactful sound, though the Hindemith sounds less impressive to my ears. Still, as I said at the opening, anyone who cares about brass playing should consider this an essential purchase.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman