JOHN MACKEY (b.1973): Wine Dark Sea: Symphony for Band, FRANK TICHELI (b.1958): Concerto for Clarinet and Winds (Nathan Williams [clarinet]), DONALD GRANTHAM (b.1947): J’ai été au bal, DAN WELCHER (b.1948): Spumante.
Catalogue Number: 03R078
Label: Reference Recordings
Description: Mackey's Wine Dark Sea is based on episodes from the Odyssey. The work is in an appealing, big-band jazz-inflected style with propulsive beats and more than a little of the film score about it, less portentous and serious than the idea of a symphony after a classical myth might suggest. The first movement, 'Hubris' is all action, in a sequence of 'scenes' that range across wide stylistic territory, all tonal and approachable. The slow movement, the heart of the work, depicts the story of the nymph Calypso and sticks to one mood, beauty and heartbreak, in subdued waves of melody and gently mournful dissonance. After a brief, despairing climax it subsides into lonely lyricism. For the finale, the narrative skips to the scene in the land of the dead, where Odysseus consults the spirit of Tiresius. After a ghostly scene-setting introduction the rest of the movement is propulsive action music, very cinematic and culminating in a rousing, triumphal conclusion. Grantham's piece, as we've heard before from this composer, is influenced by Caribbean-Cajun jazz, big band, New Orleans brass and folk music. It puts two Cajun dance tunes through their paces in catchy, effervescent, boldly colorful arrangements. The Welcher is a joyous, extrovert curtain-raising overture, originally written for the Boston Pops, here transcribed for wind orchestra by Paul Bissell. The work is neoclassical in style, thoroughly tonal and entirely accessible. Ticheli's concerto is in three movements, paying homage to Gershwin, Copland and Bernstein, with stylistic allusions (and a couple of humorous references in the first), but no actual quotations, though it wouldn't be hard to 'guess the composer' without being told. The first movement is a rollicking allegro full of jazzy syncopations; the second an atmospheric, open-air lyrical song, and the third a quirky, unpredictable romp, restlessly energetic. The University of Texas Wind Ensemble; Jerry Junkin.