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Letter from Home - Brass Quintet and Percussion Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy

Letter from Home - Brass Quintet and Percussion Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy

Aliud  ?

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Chamber


Paul Dukas: Fanfare to La Peri (arr. Wayne Barrington)
Jack Gallagher: Stanfare (arr. Niels Jenster)
Rogier van Otterloo: Esther (arr. Jeroen Schippers)
Joseph Horovitz: Music Hall Suite -
Georg Philipp Telemann: Triosonate in G minor (arr. Gunter Carlier)
Johann Sebastian Bach: Air (arr. Michael Allen)
Pat Metheny: Letter from Home (arr. Niels Jenster)
Leonard Bernstein: West Side Story (arr. Jack Gale)
George and Ira Gershwin: I got Rhythm (arr. Geert Brouwers)
Vincent Youmans: Tea for Two (arr. Geert Brouwers)
Cole Porter: Night and Day (arr. Geert Brouwers)

Brass Quintet and Percussion Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy

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Review by John Miller - March 20, 2017

I greatly enjoyed reviewing the previous Aliud SACDs by the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy (Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy plays Sammy Nestico, Semper Iuvenalis - Schaars & When the Swing Marches On - Schaars). Rather than the full band, this disc features its offspring - of a Brass Quintet (with percussion). Personnel of the Quintet are: Jeroen Schippers & Monique de Rooij, trumpet; Arjan de Merwe, French horn; Dirk Posthuma de Boer, trombone; Hans de Wilde, tuba. Niels Jenster handles the percussion.

To complicate matters, the Quintet itself has an official title: ‘Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter quintet (V) and percussion (+)’ which is compacted to ‘MarV+’. Thankfully, this means less typing for reviewers like myself. Fleet Admiral De Ruyter (1607 – 1676) was one of the Netherlands most famous Admirals in the Anglo-Dutch Wars (1652–1654). Finally, the disc is given the title ‘Letter from Home’, an album name from Pat Metheny (born 1954), an American jazz guitarist invested with many Grammys (see Track 13 on the programme list below).

MarV+ have concocted a satisfying entertainment based on their repertory (mostly from arrangements) and also their Naval Band duties, which include services and concerts in the presence of the Royal Family:-

01 Fanfare La Péri - Paul Dukas, arr. Wayne Barrington
02 Stanfare - Jack Gallagher, arr. Niels Jenster
03 Esther - Rogier van Otterloo, arr. Jeroen Schippers
Music Hall Suite - Joseph Horovitz
04 I Soubrette Song
05 II Trick-cyclists
06 IV Soft shoe shuffle
07 V Les Girls
Triosonate in g minor - Georg Philipp Telemann, arr. Gunter Carlier
08 I Largo
09 II Allegro
10 III Cantabile
11 IV Allegro
12 Air - Johann Sebastian Bach, arr. Michael Allen
13 Letter from Home - Pat Metheny, arr. Niels Jenster
West Side Story - Leonard Bernstein, arr. Jack Gale
14 I Prologue
15 II Something's Comin'
16 III Maria
17 IV Tonight
18 V America
19 VI One hand, one heart
20 VII I Feel Pretty
21 VIII Somewhere
22 I got Rhythm - George and Ira Gershwin, arr. Geert Brouwers
23 Tea for Two - Vincent Youmans, arr. Geert Brouwers
24 Night and Day - Cole Porter, arr. Geert Brouwers

MarV+’s repertoire here consists of Classical items and those loosely called Light Music, which includes music from some movies. Their wind quintet programme appropriately opens with Paul Dukas’ invigorating Fanfare to his ballet La Péri. Next Classic is Telemann’s Trio sonata in a minor (1739), changed from recorder, oboe and basso continuo, into the key G minor, to accommodate the different instruments. MarV+ are stylishly late Baroque, exploiting Telemann’s smoothly paced fast movements while the solemnity of slower ones is decorated most elegantly. In such a concert list, it was almost essential to have the famous ‘Air’ by JS Bach, from his Suite no. 3, BWV 1068. In their lyrical smoothness, the brass give a fine nobility to Bach’s characteristic long-breathed melody.

There are two “light music” suites on the list; the amusing ‘Music Hall Suite’ by Joseph Horowitz (1964), apparently long a standard repertoire for brass quintets. MarV+’s instruments are exploited in a chamber music manner, but the cumulative effect has a theatrical quality in keeping with the title. MarV+ projects a “tongue in cheek” humour, particularly in Track 6, ‘Soft Shoe Shuffle. The other suite is from Bernstein’s ineffable theatre musical ‘West Side Story’, and MarV+ take the theme of a love drama to heart, giving a performance as good as Michael Tilson Thomas’s with the San Francisco Symphony (Bernstein: West Side Story - Tilson Thomas). Of the single pieces (inevitably having some Gershwin), there are several which are from early musicals and are themselves now Classicals amongst the "light music" pages. I was particularly taken by the title piece, Metheny's ‘Letter From Home’, in Jazz Fusion style, last in his album. Metheny's ballads are beautiful and haunting, and so is 'Letter'; the quintet has the first section, after which the vibraphone has a gentle solo, merging with the brass afterwards.

Theatre Concordia Den Haag was the recording venue, and judging from some session photos, the microphone array is as close to the players as for chamber music. One first hearing, I was surprised at the seeming presence of a set of timpani within my listening room, but it settled down to a crescentic arrangement of the players. In multichannel (5.1), sometimes instruments appear to be along the room side or a corner back. Close though the instruments seem, there is a helpful but not obvious space around the musicians, but the ambient echoes of the theatre are clearly heard when the instruments stop.

Recording was by high-resolution DSD 256fs equipment, responsible for the fine detail of timbres on individual brass instruments, not to mention the various percussion instruments, making them quite realistic. Stereo is very good, with a wide stage, but requires an increase in volume compared with multichannel. Presentation is very good, with data about each track in the booklet and good photographs, some of the recording sessions in the Theatre and a very good picture of the Quintet plus one is revealed on the back when you take out the disk.

In summary, this is a gift for any SACD Band and Brass Quintet collectors. It also presents an interesting programme for a general listener which is an artful merging of classics with “light music etc” for just less than an hour of sheer entertainment. Relax, turn up the volume, enjoy!

Copyright © 2017 John Miller and HRAudio.net

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