STEVEN BRYANT (b.1972): Concerto for Wind Ensemble, KEVIN PUTS (b.1952): Network (transcr. Ryan Kelly), BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913-1976): Suite from The Sword in the Stone (compiled Oliver Knussen [b.1952] & Colin Matthews [b.1946]), GUSTAV MAHLER (1860-1911): Um Mitternacht (w/Katherine Rohrer [soprano]).
Catalogue Number: 03R081
Description: Puts describes his piece as an 'explosive concert opener', which it certainly is, though its clever construction, from a kind of 'canonic grid' of overlapping lines provides a structured propulsion arguably more exciting than a frantic free-for-all. The music is tonal and richly orchestrated, like most wind ensemble showpieces. Britten wrote his incidental music for a BBC radio production of T.H. White's whimsical tale of the boyhood of King Arthur in 1939, and this short suite was assembled from ten of its brief 'cues' by Matthews and Knussen in 1983. The original was for a small wind ensemble with a prominent harp part, and, though slight, it shows Britten's skill at turning out memorable, characterful music designed to be 'useful'. The main work here is Bryant's five-movement concerto, clocking in at over half an hour. The work is a technical tour de force for the players, and manages to be both challenging and harmonically adventurous (in an overall thoroughly tonal vocabulary) while retaining a visceral, almost 'popular' touch, with sections in insistent rhythms, big, bold tunes and flirtations with jazz idioms. The first movement is exhilarating, the second introspective and searching, the third a propulsive jazzy scherzo, the fourth unexpectedly weighty and dark-toned, full of foreboding, reaching a cathartic climax and finding resolution and peace; the finale is a thrilling return to the exuberant scalar figuration and motoric energy of the opening. The Ohio State University Wind Symphony; Russel C. Mikkelson.