Notes and Editorial Reviews
SACRED BRASS: POLYPHONIC BRASS ARRANGEMENTS
Eric Crees, cond; London Symphony Brass
ALTO 1027 (64:12)
Toccata and Fugue in d. Passacaglia and Fugue in c.
Canzons a 12: XVII; XVI; in Double Echo; 9 toni. Canzon a 8, 7 toni n. 2. Sonatas: 8 toni a 12;
Pian’ e forte.
The King’s March and Prince Eugene’s March.
It’s axiomatic that Bach can be performed in any configuration, but I suspect that not all transcriptions are equally persuasive. I grew up with a Philadelphia Orchestra recording of the Toccata in D Minor and the Passacaglia that, interestingly enough, were not given in Stokowski’s arrangements but in Ormandy’s—which I preferred. Crees’s efforts certainly pass muster, but I miss the golden sonority of Ormandy’s strings. Still, Crees’s brass scoring is exemplary, and I liked his creative use of percussion at points of emphasis.
Actually, none of the music on the disc sounds as it was conceived. The Brahms pieces were meant for the piano, and Crees’s arrangements are not likely to convince anyone otherwise. Jeremiah Clarke’s trumpet tunes were keyboard works as well, intended to show off the trumpet stops on the organ, but real trumpets and lower brass sound entirely appropriate for them. Even Gabrieli might have trouble recognizing his canzonas in modern dress—brass instruments now are much more brilliant and powerful than their ancient ancestors—and, besides, he called for a viola in his iconic
Sonata pian’ e forte
. But probably he would be thrilled by Crees’s performances. Overwhelming brilliance was his intent, after all.
The London players leave little to be desired, and Alto’s recording shows them off to their best advantage. This should be a treat for brass-lovers.
FANFARE: George Chien
Works on This Recording
Passacaglia in C minor, BWV 582 by Johann Sebastian Bach
London Symphony Orchestra Brass
Written: circa 1708-1712; Arnstadt, Germany
Notes: Arrangement: Eric Crees
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