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A Sousa Celebration - Kristjan Järvi

A Sousa Celebration - Kristjan Järvi

Chandos  CHSA 5182

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


John Philip Sousa: The Washington Post, Sandalphon, Overture & Circus Galop from "The Irish Dragoon", The Thunderer, Humoresque on "Swanee", The Invincible Eagle, Nymphalin, On Wings of Lightning, Humoresque on "Look for the Silver Lining", Semper Fidelis, Dwellers of the Western World, The Liberty Bell, Waltzes & March from "El Capitan", The Gliding Girl, The Stars and Stripes Forever

Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Kristjan Järvi (conductor)


The exhilarating conductor Kristjan Järvi exploits the style and panache of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in a festive programme of works by the American John Philip Sousa, ‘The March King’. This follows the spectacular recording of works by Julius Fučík, made by Neeme Järvi, Kristjan’s father.

Including such famous pieces as The Stars and Stripes Forever (National March of the USA), Semper Fidelis (Official March of the US Marine Corps), and The Liberty Bell (theme tune for Monty Python's Flying Circus), this album is a celebration in its own right, enhanced by brightly coloured sound captured in high-quality surround-sound.

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Review by John Broggio - April 23, 2017

This is, in many ways, a welcome expansion of the perceptions of Sousa's achievements as a composer.

There are several marches for which Sousa has become justly famous: The Washington Post, The Thunderer, The Invincible Eagle, Semper Fidelis, The Liberty Bell, The Stars and Stripes Forever. These are all dispatched with considerable verve and virtuosity by Kristjan Järvi and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with tempos always pushing on the limits of what might normally considered to be marches. This arguably leads to the greatest weakness of the performances: when compared directly to the likes of Sousa: Marches - Fennell, the elan of the surface is prioritised to such an extent that the inner voices so carefully marshalled and creatively moulded by Frederick Fennell are almost completely "missing" from a musical perspective. A similar perspective might be formed when comparing Sousa's own recordings with this collection. Importantly though, one should note that this is not entirely Sousa's "own work"; only 4 items (Sandalphon, The Irish Dragoon - overture, Nymphalin, The Liberty Bell) do not require the declaration of an editor, orchestrator, arranger or adapter. The Humoresque on "Look for the Silver Lining" is even combined with a version by Ray Dvorak. This extensive "supplementing" of Sousa's pen may be behind much of the misgivings alluded to above.

However, these marches might be considered the least important aspects of this disc so potential buyers should keep reading. What makes this "A Sousa Celebration" is the collection of waltzes, overtures and character pieces by Sousa. Of particular delight are the two Humoresque's on popular songs (one is Gershwin's "Swanee", the other is Kern's "Look for the Silver Lining"). These are far more contrasting in mood than the marches and shows the potential range that Sousa could have inhabited in an alternative history. Both feature prominent soloists, appropriately credited in the notes, and special mention needs to be made about the addition of a crying baby in "Swanee"! Most reflective of all is the tender Nymphalin, which like the Humoresque's has a substantial solo part - this time for the principal cellist. Throughout

The sound is the customary warm, rich sound from Chandos with appropriate weight given to the heavy brass and percussion while beautifully reflecting the polished blend of upper woodwind and violins. The notes are the usual high standard too.

Recommended if the listener is game given the noted idiosyncrasies.

Copyright © 2017 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

Performance:

Sonics (Multichannel):

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