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Music For Organ And Brass / Wills, Read, Cambridge Band


Release Date: 06/08/1999 
Label:  Helios   Catalog #: 55003   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Modest MussorgskySir Edward ElgarArthur WillsSir William Walton
Performer:  Arthur WillsDavid Read
Conductor:  David Read
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge Co-op Band
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The bleak flatlands of East Anglia have only occasionally previously inspired music, and then never (to my knowledge) to such good effect as here. Arthur Wills's suite explores in terms of solo organ and brass band the subjects of the Vikings, of Wickert Fen, of Oliver Cromwell and of the City of Ely (where he is of course organist of the Cathedral). The music is powerful, especially so when dealing with the Vikings, whose terrifying battles result, on this occasion, in the victory of the full resources of the organ of Ely Cathedral over those of the Cambridge Co-operative Band. Both sounds are massive to start with; in the recording, perhaps here the organ wins too easily. But for decibels marvellously recorded, and for strong music to Read more match, this movement is hard to beat. In the later movements balance between the protagonists (Wills was thinking in terms of sin[on/a concertante) is somewhat closer to reality, the point often being made, musically, that the two resources do complement each other splendidly, the organ having a solid, steady power that must in the end escape lung-driven brass, and the brass having a personal, human sound akin to the corresponding organ stops but always immediately distinguishable from them. There is a third resource here, the percussion, including a cymbalplayer who must, I think, have been personally descended from the Vikings and re-living his ancestors' victories.

The power, and in places the beauty, of this suite are striking. There is often occasion, though, for the combination of organ and brass to be enjoyed in simpler music, and this of course happens in the Elgar and Walton marches. Here the organ plays a role more closely related to simple support, allowing the limelight to the Cambridge band which has already declared itself one among the best of its kind, with a modern brass sound, sensitive soloists and a totally professional command of rhythm and balance. "Nimrod" I thought was rather less obviously successful: but right up among the best of his own soloists proves to be the band's conductor, David Read, who gives the Walton "Touch her soft lips" most beautifully as a cornet solo (well, so says the sleeve; to my ears it sounds more like a flugel).

To some of the sounds on this record there is a touch of apocalyptic quality, which would not have been possible without a recording quality equal to the very best of today's. This, too, is on offer; in total this record is a winner.

-- Gramophone [8/1983]
reviewing the original LP release
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Works on This Recording

1.
Pictures at an Exhibition for Organ by Modest Mussorgsky
Performer:  Arthur Wills (Organ)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Russia 
Notes: Transcribed: Arthur Wills 
2.
Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 "Enigma": Variation 9, Nimrod by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Arthur Wills (Organ)
Conductor:  David Read
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge Co-op Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1898-1899; England 
Venue:  Ely Cathedral, Ely, England 
Notes: Arranged: Arthur Wills 
3.
Pomp and Circumstance Marches (5), Op. 39: no 4 in G major by Sir Edward Elgar
Performer:  Arthur Wills (Organ)
Conductor:  David Read
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge Co-op Band
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1907; England 
Venue:  Ely Cathedral, Ely, England 
Notes: Arranged: Arthur Wills 
4.
Fenlands by Arthur Wills
Performer:  Arthur Wills (Organ)
Conductor:  David Read
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge Co-op Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Venue:  Ely Cathedral, Ely, England 
5.
Henry V: Orchestral Suite - no 4, Touch her soft lips and part by Sir William Walton
Performer:  David Read (Cornet), Arthur Wills (Organ)
Conductor:  David Read
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge Co-op Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943-1944; England 
Venue:  Ely Cathedral, Ely, England 
Notes: Arranged: Arthur Wills 
6.
Coronation March "Crown Imperial" by Sir William Walton
Performer:  Arthur Wills (Organ)
Conductor:  David Read
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cambridge Co-op Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; England 
Venue:  Ely Cathedral, Ely, England 
Notes: Arranged: Arthur Wills 

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