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Sousa: Music For Wind Band, Vol. 8 / Keith Brion, Royal Artillary Band

Sousa / Royal Artillery Band / Brion
Release Date: 10/26/2010 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559248   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Good performance and excellent sound to match the colour of these sturdy pieces.

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SOUSA MUSIC FOR WIND BAND, VOL. 8 Keith Brion, cond; Royal Artillery Band NAXOS 8.559248 (58:48)


The High School Cadets. The Northern Pines. El Capitan: Selections; O, Warrior Grim. Boy Scouts of America. Read more Crusader March. On the Campus. Jack Tar. Comrades of the Legion. Pride of Pittsburgh. At the King’s Court. The Washington Post


Here is the latest entry in the ongoing Sousa series by Naxos. As with similar Naxos projects, this is planned to be as complete as possible and will include unpublished items as well as the officially cataloged works. Volumes 2, 3, and 4 were reviewed by James Camner in Fanfare 25:5, 27:3, and 28: 1, and Volume 7 by Ronald E. Grames in 32:5. As Grames conveniently summarizes Camner’s reviews and provides a discussion of competing major sets of Sousa works on disc, I will refer readers to him for further details on those points. (On a side note, as a high school student I was a pupil of the first-chair trombonist of the Detroit Concert Band, Jim Lane, when that ensemble was making its classic recordings of 116 Sousa marches under the great Leonard B. Smith in the 1970s.)


John Philip Sousa (1854–1932) became conductor of the U.S. Marines Band in 1880, formed his own band in 1892, and went on European tours in 1900, 1901, 1903, and 1905, and a worldwide tour in 1910–11. He composed more than 200 works, including more than 130 marches plus symphonic poems, suites, operas, and operettas. Being something of a polymath, he also wrote several novels and an autobiography and organized the first national trapshooting association. The works featured here span from 1888 ( Crusader March ) to 1931 ( The Northern Pines ). The most famous piece performed here, the Washington Post march composed in 1889, made Sousa’s reputation and turned the “two-step” dance into a world-wide craze. In addition to marches both famous and obscure it includes a potpourri suite from his most successful operetta, El Capitan (1895), and an instrumental transcription of the aria “O Warrior Grim” from the same, plus the suite At the King’s Court (1904) composed for a performance before King Edward VII. On the Campus has a brief text by Sousa’s daughter, Helen Sousa Abert, sung by the band members. The text is not provided in the booklet, and I can only make out about two-thirds of the words; perhaps a reader with sharper ears than mine or access to the score can write in and supply the lyrics.


Keith Brion is one of the world’s premier Sousa scholars and conductors—he has his own New Sousa Band and has published numerous performing editions of Sousa’s music—and I have little to add to the praises heaped on him by Camner and Grames. The Royal Artillery Band, with more than 50 members, plays with great elegance and style; as is typical its pace is a little more leisurely than that of an American ensemble. While I would prefer the extra degree of rhythmic snap that a Frederick Fennell would bring to these pieces (his Sousa recordings for Mercury are true classics), these are excellent performances in their own right and should be snapped up by all Sousa lovers. Recommended.


FANFARE: James A. Altena


The high points of this eighth volume of the complete Sousa band music include a medley of “greatest hits”, from El Capitan, the immortal Washington Post March and nearly as immortal Boy Scouts of America (if you were ever a Boy Scout), and the suite At the King’s Court. You might not think that band instruments would be best suited to represent the three ladies at court (the countess, duchess, and queen, respectively), but Sousa manages it with aplomb. The performances, as with the other issues in this series, are lively and idiomatic, the sonics equally satisfying. If you’re collecting this series, go for it.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

This Sousa wind band series continues to grow. One has to admit that Sousa’s prolific output of stirring tunes is justly acknowledged by Naxos. This inventive composer has found many textural corners to turn in a march, even if some of his musical devices have become predictable.
 
The most interesting track for many will be the long forgotten El Capitan: in this compilation there is a generous selection covering the numbers from this Broadway show. Many forget that Sousa was an enthusiastic composer for the stage, with nine operettas to his name, written between the 1880s and early 1900s. Of them El Capitan is the most notable. A Bride Elect selection was included in Volume 4 of this series, and marches from both operettas appeared in Volume 7.
 
Some of the titles provide little indication of the music to follow. In The Northern Pines, the only connection happens to be the location of a national music camp in Michigan. Likewise, the Crusader March having associations with the Knights Templar, carries no aural link yet it is a good piece with an excellent sense of flow, punctuated by fanfare sections.
 
Sousa is always sparkling in style. His fun and humour is perhaps most apparent in his use of novel decoration for the comic cuts introduced in track 7, On the Campus, the only track to include a chorus. Up to now, the most famous of Sousa marches that had been missing from the previous volumes in this series, The Washington Post, now makes an appearance as the last track. This sturdy piece echoed round many a circus ring in Britain and on the Continent as well as America before being flung into popularity by the BBC’s Monty Python programme. In contrast the delicately phrased waltz style, O Warrior Grim is a tranquil piece with carefully balanced cornet solo (by Martin Hinton).
 
Keith Brion needs to be congratulated for the most successful ambience. Then there’s precision playing by the Royal Artillery Band and a recording nicely balanced by Mike Purton. In military music there is often a tendency for the percussion to mask the more delicate phrases of woodwind, yet here much sensitivity is shown to provide us with wide dynamics and colour.
 
The notes, in English only, are adequate yet disappointing; all the more so when the jewel case is filled with a lavish catalogue on heavy-weight paper of Naxos American Classics. This catalogue is likely to be discarded. More information about Sousa’s background and influences would have been welcomed, considering his enormous output of some two hundred pieces.
 
-- Raymond J Walker, MusicWeb International
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
High School Cadets by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: circa 1890; USA 
2.
Northern Pines by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1931; USA 
3.
El Capitan (operetta): Excerpt(s) by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895; USA 
4.
Boy Scouts of America by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1916; USA 
5.
Crusader March by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888; USA 
6.
El Capitan (operetta): O warrior grim by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895; USA 
7.
On the Campus by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1920; USA 
8.
Jack Tar by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903; USA 
9.
Comrades of the Legion by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1920; USA 
10.
Pride of Pittsburgh by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1901; USA 
11.
At the King's Court Suite by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: USA 
12.
Washington Post by John Philip Sousa
Conductor:  Keith Brion
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Artillery Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; USA 

Sound Samples

The High School Cadets
Northern Pines
El Capitan: Selections
Boy Scouts of America
The Crusader
El Capitan: Act II: Oh, Warrior Grim
On the Campus
Jack Tar
Comrades of the Legion
The Pride of Pittsburgh, "Homage to Pittsburgh": The Pride of Pittsburgh
At the King's Court: I. Her Ladyship, the Countess
At the King's Court: II. Her Grace, the Duchess
At the King's Court: III. Her Majesty, the Queen
The Washington Post March: The Washington Post

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