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Starry Crown

Grantham / University Of Texas Wind Ensemble
Release Date: 09/24/2013 
Label:  Longhorn Music   Catalog #: 2012002   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Donald GranthamKarel HusaChristopher RouseJan Pieterszoon Sweelinck,   ... 
Conductor:  Jerry F. Junkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Texas Wind Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

STARRY CROWN Jerry Junkin, cond; Univ of Texas Wind Ens LONGHORN 2012002 (55:53)



GRANTHAM Starry Crown. HUSA Cheetah. ROUSE Wolf Rounds. SWEELINCK (arr. Ricker) Variations on Mein junges Leben hat ein End. Read more class="COMPOSER12">MASLANKA Give Us This Day: Short Symphony


Through numerous performances in prestigious venues, such as Carnegie Hall, the World Association of Symphonic Bands and American Bandmasters Association conventions, the University of Texas Wind Ensemble, under the leadership of its director, Jerry Junkin, has made a significant mark in the band world, and this CD provides further evidence to justify its renown. The UT Wind Ensemble has also commissioned works from many well known composers, including two of those (Grantham and Maslanka) heard on this recital.


The program opens with Donald Grantham’s title-generating Starry Crown. The recording is touchingly dedicated in memory of his wife Suzanne Pearson Grantham, whom he lost in February of 2013. Grantham is well-known in band circles (and elsewhere). I heard his impressive Baron Cimetiére’s Mambo given a rousing rendition here at Indiana University last year. Starry Crown is clearly a work by the same composer, containing infectious tunes, jovial syncopation and dramatic outbursts. It is based on three tunes ( Some of these Days, Oh Rocks, Don’t Fall on Me! , and When I Went Down in the Valley ) from the gospel music of the early part of the 20th century that was found in the Deep South. The middle of the work recalls the “call-and-response” sermons typical of that place and time (similar to the effect found in Libby Larson’s Holy Roller ). In this case the “preacher” is the trombone (and later the entire brass section), and the “congregation” is represented by the remainder of the ensemble. The pace of the piece gradually increases until its culmination in an explosion of joyful enthusiasm.


The reader will note my positive review of an entire CD of the music of Karel Husa elsewhere in this issue, but here we are presented with another work by this Czech-American master. In Cheetah , he seeks to portray the colors, movements, power, and speed of the magnificent wild animal, now an endangered species. The music pulses and swirls, while maintaining a majestic spirit, even though the hunt is unsuccessful, and the animal lies down, momentarily exhausted by the prey that has eluded him. The following work, Wolf Rounds of Christopher Rouse, also portrays a predator animal. Here, the “looping” nature of the musical lines that repeat over and over while metamorphosing into yet other ideas is meant to suggest the circling of wolves as they zero in on their prey. The work is replete with quickly repeated figuration, especially in the brass, but these figures yield to slow and ominously dark sonorities before the repeated figuration resumes in a different guise. These figures build up to a tremendously frenzied and pulsing conclusion.


Sweelinck’s Variations on Mein junges Leben hat ein End can’t begin to boast of as many arrangements as Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition can, but a goodly number of composers and arrangers have had a go at them. One of my very first reviewing assignments for Fanfare (34:4) included Ernest Lubin’s arrangement of the work for a chamber ensemble of woodwind quintet and piano. Here, the variations, originally for keyboard, are scored for the entire symphonic band, but transcriber Ramon Ricker keeps textures sparse, and even manages to conjure up a Renaissance sound in his orchestration, woodwinds, especially flutes, being prominent throughout.


The ubiquitous David Maslanka provides the closing number for the program. In this case, we hear his Give Us This Day: Short Symphony for Wind Ensemble, a two-movement essay in the symphonic wind tradition. One might be forgiven for thinking that the inspiration for this work was the Lord’s Prayer, but instead its inspiration comes from Buddhism, in particular the book For a Future to be Possible by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. The premise in this book is that a future for our planet is possible only if individuals become deeply mindful of themselves. (As an aside, I can only state that if I thought about myself in this way, I might despair of hope for the planet...!) In any case, the work is cast in two contrasting movements, a slow and brooding introductory essay that does seem contemplative, and a highly charged Finale that is at times both joyful and soberly dramatic. Aside from Sweelinck (need I say?), Maslanka’s musical language is the most conservative among the works on the CD, but he knows how to write very effectively for band, and it is not surprising that he is oft-commissioned and his music widely performed.


Jerry Junkin draws amazing results out of the students featured herein. If the CD had been designated as containing the playing of his other main ensemble, the Dallas Wind Symphony, I would have had no trouble believing it, such is the professionalism of these young people. Sonics leave nothing to be desired, and the CD, as an absolute winner all around, should appeal to a wide spectrum of Fanfare ’s readership.


FANFARE: David DeBoor Canfield
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Works on This Recording

1. Starry Crown, for band by Donald Grantham
Conductor:  Jerry F. Junkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Texas Wind Ensemble
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2008 
Venue:  Butler School of Music, Bates Recital Ha 
Length: 10 Minutes 0 Secs. 
2. Cheetah by Karel Husa
Conductor:  Jerry F. Junkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Texas Wind Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2007 
Venue:  Butler School of Music, Bates Recital Ha 
Length: 5 Minutes 48 Secs. 
3. Wolf Rounds, for band by Christopher Rouse
Conductor:  Jerry F. Junkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Texas Wind Ensemble
Period: Contemporary 
Written: 2006 
Venue:  Butler School of Music, Bates Recital Ha 
Length: 16 Minutes 15 Secs. 
4. Mein junges Leben hat ein End, variations for keyboard, SwWV 324 by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck
Conductor:  Jerry F. Junkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Texas Wind Ensemble
Period: Renaissance 
Written: Netherlands 
Venue:  Butler School of Music, Bates Recital Ha 
Length: 0 Minutes 56 Secs. 
5. Give Us This Day ("Short Symphony"), for wind ensemble by David Maslanka
Conductor:  Jerry F. Junkin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  University of Texas Wind Ensemble
Written: 1994 
Venue:  Butler School of Music, Bates Recital Ha 
Length: 15 Minutes 51 Secs. 

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