Recordings

Hurrah for the Union! The Music of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War

 

The Federal City Brass Band, Jay Villanueva
Hurrah for the Union! The Music of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War
 
Recorded 10-12 July, 2009, and 7 November 2009 in part at Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site
 
In honor of Lincoln’s 200th birthday (February 12, 1808), the Federal City Brass Band has put together an impressive album of music dating to Lincoln’s life and the Civil War era. We hear some well-known standards such as the “Battle Cry of Freedom,” an interesting arrangement by the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment Band (circa 1760’s) of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” “Yankee Doodle,” “Dixie’s Land” (known as “Dixie”), and “Hail to the Chief.” There are 21 works represented in total and they combine to show a rich repertoire from the American tradition. Particular attention should be given to the performance of “Old 100th” (Louis Bourgeois, ca. 1510-60) as this was played by the Marine Band at the dedication of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania together with Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
            The band plays flawlessly with excellent blend and intonation; their sound is rich. While there is great variety and contrast in dynamics and articulations, at no time is there a hint of the edge which often is the mark of modern instruments, or of modern performers using period instruments. Particular high marks should go to the E flat keyed bugle work by Don Johnson and by the entire E flat cornet section for their delicate work in the high range which shows special control, blend and intonation. A small criticism would be that this reviewer would have preferred to hear more of the lower brass. This is more a comment on the mixing and microphone placement, however, than on the performance itself.
            The program notes are thorough as is the listing of the period instruments used. This is an excellent CD and is highly recommended to all interested in 19th Century brass band music. I say “Hurrah!” to the Federal City Brass Band!
 
-- James Miller

 

Ciaramella: Music from the Court of Burgundy

 

Ciaramella: Music from the Court of Burgundy
 
Recorded in Alfred Newman Hall, University of Southern California
9-16 June 2008
 
Adam Knight Gilbert and Rotem Gilbert, directors
Notable slide trumpet by Geert Jan van der Heide, 2001, Putten, Netherlands after illustrations from the era and a fifteenth century natural trumpet recently discovered under the ruins of a French castle (see Madeuf, Pierre-Yves, Madeuf, Jean-Francois, and Nicolson, Graham: “The Guitbert Trumpet: A Remarkable Discovery,” HBSJ 11, 181-6).
 
This is an excellent recording; a true joy on every level. Ciaramella is an alta band and, not surprisingly, shawms figure prominently (ciaramella is Italian for shawm). The ensemble carefully mixes and matches the shawms with recorders, bagpipes, vocalists, percussion and brass (slide trumpet and sackbuts), weaving the latter in and out—often exposed to prominence. The performance is excellent on all levels so before commenting on the brass performances, it behooves me to make some general observations.
            All of the playing is at the highest level. Blend and intonation are wonderful. Their use of just intonation is obvious and appreciated. I am impressed with their sense of ensemble and especially with their uniform releases. Historic articulations are evident throughout. The playing is always lively, dance-like when applicable, but vocal in approach. There is some wonderfully facile recorder playing on Ciconia’s “Una panthera.”
            Though not the featured instruments, the brass work of Greg Ingles and Erik Schmalz is excellent in every way. They support when necessary, but shine forth well when called upon, such as in the opening of the “Plasanch or tost” of Pykini and the “Roti boully joyeulx” arranged by Adam Gilbert. Their intonation is perfect and they each display nimble technique as well.
            Numerous composers such as Guillaume Dufay, Ciconia, and Alexander Agircola are represented. The additional works arranged and composed by Adam Gilbert are quite successfully conceived in the style of the period. Chansons are presented with treatments by different composers. This reviewer’s favorite is the classic tune “Fortunata desperate” as treated by Antoine Busnois, Johannes de Pinarol, Heinrich Issac, and Agricola.
            This recording is a pleasure. The music is all interesting, performed at the highest artistic level, and done so with obviously joyous spirit. It is a must for members of the HBS to have, not only for the excellent slide trumpet and sackbut performances, but also as a model of style and performance practices of this repertoire.
 
-- James Miller

 

Two Recordings by Jean-Francois Madeuf

purcellmadeufEnsemble Arianna/Marie-Paule Nounou, Purcell’s Trumpets: From Shore to Shore, ARN 68804, recorded November, 2008, La Chappelle des Jesuites de Carcassonne.

Jean-Francois Madeuf and Joel Lahens, natural trumpets
Stephen Dudermel, Myiam Bis-Cambrel, and Geraldine Roux, violins
Jean-Paul Talvard, violone
Jean Chamboux, timpani and percussion
Bruno Helstroffer, theorbo
Marie-Paule Nounou, harpsichord

Trumpets by Robert Barclay and David Edwards after John Harris, 1715
Mouthpieces by Bruno Tilz and Graham Nicholson after William Bull (1650-1712)
A=415 Hz, quarter comma mean tone temperament


This recording is a delight from start to finish. It features music by William Shore, Henry and David Purcell, Godfrey Finger, Charles Dieupart, William Topham, James Paisible, Arcangelo Corelli and Jeremiah Clarke. As we have come to expect, the playing of Jean-Francois Madeuf is extraordinary. His sound is warm and rich, his articulations smooth and historic and his phrasing is always well-shaped and always ending elegantly, never abruptly. Joel Lahens matches him well in these regards. Together they have perfect intonation and blend their sounds well.

Revolution Music of a Golden Age Vol. 2. Australian Baroque Brass

australianbrasscoverRevolution Music of a Golden Age Vol. 2, Australian Baroque Brass. John Foster; Artistic Director, natural trumpet, demilune trumpet, Darryl Pousen; Vienna horn, natural horn, Natural trumpets; Martin Philipson, Yoram Levy, Peter Miller, Matthew Manchester, Tristram Williams, Samantha Robinson, Natural horns; Lisa Wynn-Allen, Wendy Page, Casey Rippon, Trombones; Warwick Tyrell, James Campbell, Nigel Crocker, Greg Van der Stuik, Brett Page, Traverso flute; Melissa Farrow, Mikaela Oberg, Timpani; Brian Nixon, Fortepiano Neal Peres da Costa, Tenor; Kanen Breen.Tubicium Records TR761901. Recorded December 20-24, 2007. Information: www.australianbaroquebrass.com

This latest Australian Baroque Brass CD explores repertoire from the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. It was a time of political and social upheaval as well as musical change. Brass players in particular, were searching for ways to escape the limitations of the harmonic series and this recording illustrates two groups of repertoire; one which adheres to the limits of natural brass and that which achieves chromatic possibilities through the use of hand stopping and mechanical inventions. The first group, conforming to the harmonic series, include music by Neukomm (3 Fanfares), Mozart (Divertimenti No. 5 K. 187), Salieri (8 Aufzuge), Rossini (Le Rendez-vous de Chasse), Diabelli (4 Fanfares), and Altenburg (Quartricinium). The pieces by Cherubini (Pas Redouble no. 1,3,5,6 Premiere Marche), Weber (Marcia Vivace), Beethoven ( Drei Equali. Sonate Op. 17), and Schubert (Auf dem Stom) demonstrate chromatic possibilities.

The Birckholtz Trumpet of 1650: Jean-Francois Madeuf & Ensemble

madeufreviewimageDie Birckholtz Trompete von 1650 Jean-Francois Madeuf & Ensemble
The Birckholtz Trumpet of 1650: Jean-Francois Madeuf & Ensemble
Raumklang RK 2805

Jean-Francois Madeuf : natural trumpet and director
Christoph Draeger, Hartmut Grün, Michael Münkwitz: natural trumpet
Christina Hess, Michael Büttler: sackbut and natural trumpet
Anne von Hoff, Catherine Aglibut: violin
Krzysztof Lewandowski: dulcian
Philip Tarr: tympani
Marc Meisel: organ
Sebastian Pank (raumklang): producer/sound engineer
Organ: Hinrich Kersten, 1784
A=440 hz. Equal temperament
Recorded July 28-31, 2008 in the village church of Belitz, Germany
Trumpets by Michael Münkwitz, Rostock, Germany after Wolff(gang) Birckholtz 1650.
Trumpet mouthpieces by Ranier Egger, Basel, Switzerland based on 16th-17th century shape: large rim with 20 mm diameter cup.
Alto sackbut by Meinl & Lauber, Geretsried, Germany, ca. 1970.
Tenor sackbut after Anton Drewelwecz (1595) by Ewald Meinl, Geretsied, 2006.
Tenor sackbut after Sebastian Hainlein (1630) by Geert Jan van der Heide, Putten,
Netherlands,1998.
All sackbut mouthpieces by Rainer Egger, Basel, after historic models.

There is fascinating story behind this recording. Actually, there are three stories interwoven and they must be presented in this review to appreciate properly this wonderful recording.

Virtuosi Concertos by Brian Shaw

shawVirtuosi Concertos for Clarino. Brian Shaw, Baroque trumpet.
Cynthia Roberts, Judson Griffith, Beth Wenstrom, Dongmyung Ahn, Aaron Brown, Marika Holmquist, Amelia Roosevelt violins; Alissa Smith, Jessica Troy, Andrea Andros, Ruth Siegler, violas; Katie Rietman,cello; Motomi Igarashi, double bass; Avi Stein, harpsichord; Anne Briggs, Charles Brink, transverse flutes; R.J. Kelly, Alexandra Cook, baroque horns.
Program notes, Brian Shaw. Clarino Records 11704 Recorded June 3-6, July 9, 2008.
Contact: www.bshawmusic.com

As Brian Shaw's own liner notes indicate, the concerti he has recorded in this admirable effort may be considered to constitute the "final frontier" for the natural trumpet world. Clarino parts which ascend to the 24th partial are not only uncommon, they are seldom even attempted in performance. These works rarely, if ever, appear in recital programs and to this date seem to have been recorded on a total of perhaps as few as only three releases. Of these known efforts, one was done on modern piccolo trumpet.

Mr. Shaw has not only accomplished this daunting feat on Baroque trumpet, but has acquitted himself with great distinction. The results are technically impressive and the musical value of his performance is notable.

Bach's Weltliche Kantaten

bachweltJohann Sebastian Bach, Weltliche Kantaten, BWV 30a and 207
Monika Frimmer, Robin Blaze, Markus Schäfer, Stephan MacLeod
Les Chantres du centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles
Café Zimmerman, Gustav Leonhardt, Director
Alpha 118 (2007)

The historiography of J. S. Bach seems to wrestle less and less with competing images of the composer--chiefly the duel between the long iconic church musician and the worldly figure of court music and Zimmerman's Café--and increasingly to accept the complexity that makes both images apt. Admittedly, too, the opposition of sacred and secular imposes a rigid, modern divider where in the eighteenth century the walls would have been more permeable, if walls at all. No wonder that new images of Bach have seized the day, as in Christoph Wolff's monographic paradigm of Bach as the "learned musician." The recording at hand, a beautifully performed program of two of Bach's secular cantatas, might then serve less to buttress claims for the "secular Bach" than to revel in works written with characteristic artfulness and performed with stylish flair.

Trombone Tribe by Roswell Rudd

ruddreviewRoswell Rudd Trombone Tribe. Soundscape SSC 1207. Recorded 2008.

Roswell Rudd, trombone with
• Gangbe Brass Band of Benin. Martial Ahouandjinou; trombone, Magloire Ahouandjinou, Eric Yovogan; trumpet, James Vodounnon; tuba, Lucien Gbaguidi; sax, Beboit Avihoue, Crespin Kpitiki; percussion.
• Trombone Tribe Band. Deborah Weisz, Steve Swell, Ray Anderson, Eddie Bert, Sam Burtis, Wycliffe Gordon, Josh Roseman; trombones, Henry Grimes; bass and violin, Bob Stewart; tuba, Barry Atschul; drums.
• Bonerama. Mark Mullins, Steve Souter, Craig Klein, Greg Hicks; trombones, Eric Bolivar; drums, Matt Perrine; sousaphone, Bert Cotton; guitar.
• Sex Mob. Steve Bernstein; slide trumpet, Doug Wieselman; clarinet, Briggan Krauss; alto sax, Marus Rojas; tuba, Tony Scherr; bass, Kenny Wollesen; drums.

Roswell Rudd performs with four different ensembles on this CD, delving into the music of a wide range of brass traditions with joyous and fascinating musical results. All the compositions are by Rudd with the single exception of a 1957 tune by Herbie Nichols, "Twelve Bars." Roswell Rudd studied with Nichols, a great and generally unheralded musician, during his Yale days. Rudd has done much to promote the well deserved reputation of his teacher including compiling and publishing a collection of previously unpublished Nichols compositions (Herbie Nichols: the Unpublished Works. Gerard & Sarzin Publishing Co.). Rudd is a musician fascinated by the many seemingly diverse brass traditions, many of which he has explored. He manages to find more similarities than differences. Primarily involved in Dixieland jazz in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Rudd made a giant leap into the new music of the 1960s which has been tagged by many names including; Avant garde, the New Thing, Free Form Jazz, etc. My guess is that Roswell Rudd would not view it as a giant leap at all but just playing music: a rose by any other name! He was associated with a number of musicians, including Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, and Steve Lacy.