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Fireworks!

Stravinsky / Uncg Wind Ensemble
Release Date: 03/09/2010 
Label:  Equilibrium   Catalog #: 96   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Igor StravinskyJoel PuckettArnold SchoenbergMonte Tubb,   ... 
Conductor:  John R. LockeKevin M. GeraldiAndrea E. Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  UNCG Wind Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 49 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Fireworks! — The eponymous opening work is a transcription (by R. Mark Rogers of San Antonio College) of Igor Stravinsky’s early apprentice effort at orchestral composition, the harmonies and orchestration of which foreshadow his balletic masterpiece The Firebird. The previous reservations I have expressed about performances of transcribed pieces do not apply here; this is a superb realization that captures—indeed almost improves upon—the original in colorful instrumentation, and the interpretation is equally exciting.

Joel Puckett (b. 1977) is a faculty member at Peabody University and presently composer in residence for the Chicago Youth Symphony. His Web site, joelpuckett.com, describes him as “a composer who is
Read more dedicated to the belief that music can bring consolation, hope, and joy to all who need it”; one critic hailed his This Mourning as “being of comparable expressive weight” to On the Transmigration of Souls by John Adams. Addressing a similar subject, It Perched for Vespers Nine (2008) was written in response to the dying words of the grandfather of Puckett’s wife, a quote from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The composer states that “the emotional core of the work is my trying to work out what my wife’s Pop might have been trying to tell us about what awaits us ‘in mist or cloud’.” Alas, the piece falls short of its lofty intention. Composed according to a minimalist aesthetic, it is extremely static and sparse, consisting largely of long, sustained, overlapping tones. Any one portion of it is listenable and even attractive, but as with so many minimalist compositions it is far too long-winded and repetitive in its employment of a very few effects, and ultimately becomes monotonous. During its 11-minute span I counted three gong strokes and 24 crescendoing cymbal rolls, with 12 of the latter occurring in a compass of about two minutes.

Schoenberg’s Theme and Variations appears for a second time, five years after Locke’s first recording. The conductor advised me that this is one of his favorite works, and that he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to record it with what he considered to be an exceptionally talented group of students comprising the ensemble that year. Interpretively I prefer the slightly quicker pace of the earlier performance, but this one has superior instrumental detail.

The transcription here of Bach’s Fantasia in G Major, BWV 572, made by Richard F. Goldman (who conducted the premiere of Schoenberg’s Theme and Variations in 1946) and Robert L. Leist, offers only the middle section of that work. The adaptation is effectively scored, and the performance brings out all the sonorous grandeur of the original.

The Funiculì-Funiculà Rhapsody of Italian songwriter Luigi Denza (1846–1922), arranged for band by composer Yo Goto (b. 1958), delivers exactly what the title promises—a high-spirited romp through one of the world’s most famous Neapolitan tunes, bringing the CD to a rousing and exuberant conclusion."

FANFARE: James A. Altena
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Works on This Recording

1.
Fireworks, Op. 4 by Igor Stravinsky
Conductor:  John R. Locke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  UNCG Wind Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; Russia 
Venue:  Aycock Auditorium on the campus of UNCG 
Length: 3 Minutes 46 Secs. 
2.
It perched for Vespers nine, for band by Joel Puckett
Conductor:  Kevin M. Geraldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  UNCG Wind Ensemble
Venue:  Aycock Auditorium on the campus of UNCG 
Length: 11 Minutes 19 Secs. 
3.
Theme and Variations for Band, Op. 43a by Arnold Schoenberg
Conductor:  John R. Locke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  UNCG Wind Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1943; USA 
Venue:  Aycock Auditorium on the campus of UNCG 
Length: 12 Minutes 10 Secs. 
4.
Intermezzo, for band by Monte Tubb
Conductor:  Andrea E. Brown
Orchestra/Ensemble:  UNCG Wind Ensemble
Venue:  Aycock Auditorium on the campus of UNCG 
Length: 7 Minutes 48 Secs. 
5.
Funiculì funiculà by Luigi Denza
Conductor:  John R. Locke
Orchestra/Ensemble:  UNCG Wind Ensemble
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1880; Naples, Italy 
Venue:  Aycock Auditorium on the campus of UNCG 
Length: 6 Minutes 24 Secs. 
6.
Fantasie in G major, BWV 571 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Conductor:  Kevin M. Geraldi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  UNCG Wind Ensemble
Period: Baroque 
Venue:  Aycock Auditorium on the campus of UNCG 
Length: 7 Minutes 45 Secs. 

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