WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Hearshen: Strike Up The Band / Graham, United States Air Force Heritage Band


Release Date: 04/30/2013 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573041  
Composer:  George GershwinIra HearshenIrving Berlin
Conductor:  Lowell Graham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Heritage of America BandUnited States Air Force Band
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



HEARSHEN Symphony on Themes of John Philip Sousa. 1 Divertimento 2. GERSHWIN/HEARSHEN Strike Up the Band 1. BERLIN/HEARSHEN There’s No Business Like Show Business 1 Col. Lowell Graham, cond; 1 USAF Heritage of America Band; 2 Read more class="ARIAL12">USAF Band NAXOS 8.573056 (63:22)


Ira Hearshen has established himself as one of Hollywood’s top orchestrators, having worked on such films as A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Cars 2, Monsters, Inc., and Seabiscuit . His band arrangements of George Gershwin’s Strike Up The Band and Irving Berlin’s There’s No Business Like Show Business are clever, innovative, and contain a number of surprising twists and turns along the way. The former is spiced up with quotes from well-know marches, W. C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues , and other Gershwin tunes, while the latter features snippets from movie and television themes, “Mars” from The Planets, and 1812 Overture . Part of the fun is the anticipation of what might come next.


Perhaps the least successful work on the disc is the most ambitious. Hearshen’s Symphony on Themes of John Philip Sousa endeavors to take four of the March King’s best-know melodies and subject them to serious symphonic development. Each of its four movements is based on a theme from a different Sousa march— The Washington Post, The Thunderer, The Fairest of the Fair, and Hands Across the Sea . At over 45 minutes in length, the symphony is intended to be a major work. Hearshen obviously wants it to be taken as “serious music,” but for much of the time the inherent lightness, not to mention the immediate familiarity of Sousa’s original tunes runs countercurrent to the composer’s “heavy” treatment of the material. Most effective is the second movement Adagio which treats the melody from the trio of The Thunderer in the manner of the finale of Mahler’s Third Symphony.


In his program notes, the composer goes to great lengths to explain that this is a “cyclic symphony” and that the entire work is unified by a four-note motive that is found in virtually every Sousa melody. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), these are the first four notes of the Latin chant for the dead, Dies irae , which of course has been used by Berlioz, Rachmaninoff, and others. Unfortunately, the “cyclic” aspect of the symphony is not apparent when one just listens to the piece; it has to be explained and as a result, defeats its own purpose. The symphony is undeniably well crafted, inventive, and entertaining, but hard to take seriously. One tends to want to hear the original Sousa marches themselves rather than Hearshen’s treatment of them, and the work’s excessive length almost causes it to overstay its welcome, especially on repeated listenings. The symphony might have been more interesting if Hearshen had used more than one Sousa melody in each movement. For example, an opening sonata- allegro based not just on The Washington Post , but which incorporates the theme of, say, El Capitan as its second subject. The development could then interplay motives from each theme in a variety of tonalities before the recapitulation. Just a thought. The disc closes with Hearshen’s jazzy five-movement Divertimento. Though covered with the fingerprints of Gershwin, Bernstein, and even Scott Joplin (the first movement is really just a recomposed version of The Entertainer ), the work has considerable appeal on its own merit.


The United States Air Force Band is that branch of the military’s premier musical organization, and the Heritage of America Band, based at Langley, Virginia, is certainly a very close second. Both bands perform with great energy and flawless musicianship. Col. Lowell Graham, who was commander/conductor of each respective band at the time these recordings were made, delivers “razzle-dazzle” interpretations, with plenty of “show biz” panache, that are entirely befitting the Hollywood character of the music. These recordings were made in 1989, 1994, and 2000 and at that time were available only through official Department of the Air Force channels—i.e., schools, libraries, public radio stations, etc.—but the sound certainly does not belie their age. Great performances and great sound, so if you find the idea of a Sousa Symphony intriguing, you can proceed with confidence.


FANFARE: Merlin Patterson
Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Strike up the Band: Strike up the band by George Gershwin
Conductor:  Lowell Graham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Heritage of America Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927/1929; New York, USA 
Notes: Arrangement: Ira Hearshen 
2.
Symphony on themes of John Philip Sousa by Ira Hearshen
Conductor:  Lowell Graham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Heritage of America Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; USA 
3.
Annie Get Your Gun: There's no business like show business by Irving Berlin
Conductor:  Lowell Graham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Heritage of America Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
Notes: Arrangement: Ira Hearshen 
4.
Divertimento by Ira Hearshen
Conductor:  Lowell Graham
Orchestra/Ensemble:  United States Air Force Band
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998 

Sound Samples

Strike up the Band (arr. I. Hearshen): Strike up the Band (arr. I. Hearshen for wind ensemble)
Symphony on Themes of John Philip Sousa: I. After Washington Post
Symphony on Themes of John Philip Sousa: II. After The Thunderer
Symphony on Themes of John Philip Sousa: III. After Fairest of the Fair
Symphony on Themes of John Philip Sousa: IV. After Hands Across the Sea
There's No Business Like Show Business (arr. I. Hearshen): There's No Business Like Show Business (arr. I. Hearshen for wind ensemble)
Divertimento for Band: I. Ragtime
Divertimento for Band: II. Blues
Divertimento for Band: III. Mambo Loco
Divertimento for Band: IV. Susan's Song
Divertimento for Band: V. March of the Little People

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook




YOU MUST BE A SUBSCRIBER TO LISTEN TO ARKIVMUSIC STREAMING.
TRY IT NOW FOR FREE!
Sign up now for two weeks of free access to the world's best classical music collection. Keep listening for only $19.95/month - thousands of classical albums for the price of one! Learn more about ArkivMusic Streaming
Aleady a subscriber? Sign In