The University of Georgia Bands have released their latest album on the Naxos label. The mix of new pieces with standards is a testament to the work that John Lynch has been doing. He achieves his mission to commission and program original works for band by including Wayne Oquin’s Tower Ascending. This beautiful piece in two parts is a tremendously exciting addition to the wind band repertoire, providing both a beautiful serene opening and a thrilling conclusion, and is highlighted by D. Ray McClellan’s lyrical and bold solo playing. Ricardo Lorenz’s El muro is a sonic tour through a variety of Latin American musical styles.
The highlight of the album is Michael Tilson Thomas’ Street Song, an unexpected treat from the musician more commonly known for his work as a conductor. Not enough can be said for the beautiful, lush sound that the University brass achieves throughout the work. Producer Bradley Genevro and Engineer Bruce Leek should be commended on their masterful work of editing these three tracks in particular.
The second half of the album is a bit less appealing, yet still worth a listen. Toccata Marziale and the Stravinsky Concerto are both well played, for the most part, but a bit stiff and cold, and the Mobberley piece seems rather out of place with the rest of the pieces on the disc. Closing the recording with the Copland Fanfare for the Common Man is an interesting choice, and after the three preceding pieces, it is a choice that is rewarded. The power of the brass section is once again highlighted, and it brings the album to a strong finish.
Congrats to the staff, players, and engineering and production team for a fine contribution to the Naxos library and the wind band catalog!