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Stamp, Krumenauer, Maslanka / Stephen K. Steele, Illinois State University Wind

Release Date: 01/22/2008 
Label:  Albany Records   Catalog #: 996   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Jack StampKevin KrumenauerDavid Maslanka
Conductor:  Stephen K. Steele
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Illinois State University Wind Symphony
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

STAMP Symphony No. 1, “In Memoriam of David Diamond.” KRUMENAUER Blue on Red. MASLANKA Symphony No. 2 Stephen K. Steele, cond; Illinois St Univ Wind S ALBANY TROY 996 (71: 36)

This is my first encounter with any of these three men as composers. Jack Stamp (b. 1954) was previously known to me from a Klavier CD of works by other composers titled “Ride,” Read more in which he led the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Wind Ensemble (see 28:1). David Maslanka (b. 1943) is the eldest of the three; Kevin Krumenauer, (b. 1977) comparatively speaking, is barely out of diapers.

Stamp has long been associated with IUP, where he is professor of music and director of band studies, and conductor of the Wind Ensemble and Symphony Band. As a composer, he has written a not inconsiderable number of approximately 60 works, including the popular Gavorkna Fanfare . This, however, appears to be his first go at a formally titled, if not exactly formally structured, four-movement symphony. Subtitled “In Memoriam of David Diamond,” one of America’s most important composers who died in 2005, Stamp’s Symphony No. 1 is as much an elegy (the actual title of its first movement) for Diamond as it is a joyful wake in celebration of his life. The Scherzo, titled “Dance of the Hippos” and the work’s Finale are vigorous affirmations of music’s power to live on in a continuous regeneration of itself. Each of the symphony’s movements offers an either direct or indirect relationship to Diamond—the Romanza, for example, written in a “Coplandesque” style reminiscent of Our Town , indirectly recalls the 50-year friendship between Copland and Diamond; while the Finale more directly draws upon motivic material from the first movement of Diamond’s Third Symphony.

Kevin Krumenauer is originally from Marietta, Georgia. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Georgia State University, he took his graduate studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and pursued lessons in counterpoint at the famed Schola Cantorum in Paris. He has also been a student of David Maslanka, the third-named composer on this release. According to Krumenauer’s own program note, his 2005 Blue on Red , “elicits the transition from grief and loss to life and celebration.” As a musico-literary idea, progressions from mourning to morning are hardly original; Richard Strauss’s Death and Transfiguration comes to mind. So, what we have here in Krumenauer’s work is in essence a three-movement quasi-symphony: “Blue,” slow, hesitant, lamenting; “Your Heart Is Beautiful,” slow and slightly more lyrical; “Red,” moderate and a bit more upbeat, but not exactly what I’d call a rousing finale. What other works may be tucked away in Krumenauer’s portfolio I don’t know, but this appears to be his first to be recorded.

Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, David Maslanka studied at Oberlin, spent a year at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, and completed his master’s and doctoral work at Michigan State University. His Symphony No. 2 heard here was commissioned by the Big Ten Band Directors Association in 1983, and was premiered in 1987 at the CBDNA Convention in Evanston, Illinois. This makes it by far the earliest written work on the disc; ironically, it is the most modern sounding of the three. Maslanka tells us that quite literally as he was putting the final notes to the second movement news came of the Challenger space shuttle disaster. While the symphony is in no way related to that event, Maslanka felt it an appropriate tribute to dedicate the work to the memories of the astronauts who lost their lives.

In three movements, the first and last follow a fairly conventional sonata form exposition, development, and recapitulation that are clearly delineated and quite easy to follow on the structural level. The musical contents thereof, however, are fairly dissonant, abrasive, and percussive. Rhythmically, there seems to be an almost minimalist approach to the way repetition is used to extend and develop the basic material which is quite limited. The middle movement, titled “Deep River,” is based on the traditional African-American melody of the same name.

The Illinois State University Wind Symphony has distinguished itself with a number of recordings of wind ensemble compositions by contemporary, mainly American, composers. This latest release adds to that impressive, growing discography. Stephen K. Steele has been director of bands at Illinois State University since 1987. His long experience and expertise in this field is evident in the way he has prepared the ensemble in the performance of these technically challenging works. Albany Troy’s recording is exceptionally clear and focused, allowing individual instruments to be heard even in the loudest, massed moments.

Whether the specific works on this disc will appeal to everyone, I cannot say; but the medium of symphonic band should. It’s a wonderful sound. Recommended to the receptive.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 1 "In Memoriam of David Diamond" by Jack Stamp
Conductor:  Stephen K. Steele
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Illinois State University Wind Symphony
Period: 20th Century 
Blue on Red by Kevin Krumenauer
Conductor:  Stephen K. Steele
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Illinois State University Wind Symphony
Period: 20th Century 
Symphony no 2 for Winds by David Maslanka
Conductor:  Stephen K. Steele
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Illinois State University Wind Symphony
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1983; USA 

Featured Sound Samples

Symphony no 1 "In Memoriam of David Diamond" (Stamp): I. Elegy
Symphony no 2 for Winds (Maslanka): I. Moderato

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