BERNSTEIN Fanfare for the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy. Candide: Overture; Suite. On the Waterfront: Suite. On the Town: Three Dance Episodes. Divertimento • Scott Weiss, cond; University of South Carolina Wind Ens • NAXOS 8.573056 (63:22)
There is really no need for a long-winded, elaborate review here. Your enjoyment ofRead more this disc will depend on your ability to accept these well-known works in transcriptions for wind band rather than the orchestral originals. I had no such issues. This disc contains well-crafted transcriptions of some of Leonard Bernstein’s most beloved works in convincing performances by a very accomplished university-level wind ensemble. Much of the credit must go to the arrangers—Bernstein’s close friend Sid Ramin (Fanfare), Clare Grundman (the two Candide transcriptions and Divertimento), Jay Bocook (On the Waterfront), and Marice Stith (On the Town). The playing by the University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble is spirited, expressive, and energetic throughout and the interpretations, such as they are, by conductor Scott Weiss hold up favorably with comparable Bernstein-conducted performances.
One might quibble over the inclusion of both the Candide Overture and the Candide Suite, as the two works share much of the same material (as well as the same arranger), or of the omission of other great band transcriptions of Bernstein—Michael Sweeney’s brilliantly adapted and arranged Suite from “Mass” comes immediately to mind—but overall there is little to criticize. Do these performances displace their orchestral counterparts? Of course not, nor were they meant to. But in their own right, they constitute a most enjoyable program.