Notes and Editorial Reviews
Elegant, laid-back performances and sonorous recordings sum up the spirit of a city.
It's an illustrious crew that gathered to pay unrelated homage to New York City and the legendary Mercury "Living Presence" recordings of Frederick Fennell and his Eastman Wind Ensemble (EWE). There's Bramwell Tovey, music director of the Vancouver Symphony, and Jeff Tyzik, popular pops conductor in Vancouver, Rochester and Portland. And, of course, the combined forces of Canadian Brass and the current EWE conducted by the ensemble's fourth conductor, Mark Davis Scatterday.
It's an odd combination of retro and current music-making and technology. The recordings, produced by Dixon Van Winkle and made in the
Eastman Theater in Rochester, the location of the 1950 Mercury recordings of the EWE and a beautiful 1920s concert hall in the second stage of a major renovation to be completed in 2010, have extraordinary depth and impressive deep bass, qualities which to some might seem the antithesis of Mercury's outrageously up-front, almost self-consciously audiophile analogue sound in the 1950s. The performances, too, are more elegant and laid-back than Fennell obtained from his bands. Perhaps it's the music, each of the arrangements and original compositions created specifically for the project. Tovey's 18-minute
Manhattan Music has, appropriately enough, the sleek, sophisticated feel of Manhattan chic, cool and jaunty. The arrangements of Bernstein and Rayburn Wright, a beloved figure in the history of jazz studies and performance, are beautifully if a bit anonymously played.
Fortunately, the concluding work, Tyzik's five-movement, 23-minute
New York Cityscape, which begins with a rag and a tango and ends with a tarantella that whirls away into the night, is anything but anonymous. The most beautiful moment on the disc, in fact, is the work's fourth movement, "African Dance (Wall Street & East River
c1709)", which, considering the massed brass forces, has a totally unexpected, almost subliminal hypnotic power.
Much of the excellent liner-note explains how this project came to be, provides background on the history of and the relationship between Mercury and the EWE, and details ArkivMusic.com's part in the proceedings, with a plug for the website's increasingly invaluable "print on demand" service.
-- Laurence Vittes, Gramophone [4/2009]
Featured Sound Samples
Manhattan Music (Tovey): II. Variation I
Mass: Suite (Bernstein): A Simple Song
New York Cityscape (Tyzik): II. Tango 1932 (103rd & Riverside)
Be the first to review this title