CHRISTIANIALIV – Works from Norway’s Golden Age of Wind music – The Staff Band of the Norwegian Armed Forces/ Ole Kristian Ruud – SVENDSEN: Symphony No. 2 (trans. Hansen); ADOLF HANSEN: Serenade til GRIEG’s sølvbryllup; Serenade; Bondebryllupet; Romance; Christianialiv. Musikalske Tonebilleder; OLE OLSEN: Ouverture til Svein Uræd; Sörgemarsch; ALFRED EVENSEN: Norsk Dans Nos. 1 & 2 – 2L multichannel SACD + audio-only Blu-ray and downloadable files— 2L101-SABD (10/1/14) [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
This exquisite recording of wind band music takes me back to my days of listening to the wonderful Fennell Mercury recordings with the Eastman Symphonic Wind Ensemble. I didn’t care much for the Sousa, but the music by Hindemith, Hanson and other contemporary composers was truly thrilling to my senses.
The works on offer are all from Norwegian composers, some are martial type music, but the interesting material is the Symphony No. 2 by Svendsen and the two Norsk Dans by Eversen. The band plays with precision and enthusiasm, but the works remain musical and not falsely exuberant.
The Svendsen (1840-1911) was particularly enjoyable. Svendsen grew up in Oslo, and was one of Norway’s most well-known composers. The Symphony No. 2 was first played in 1876 and became immensely popular. At its premier, the audience applauded at the end of every movement, and the third movement was repeated due to audience acclaim.
Audiowise, like all 2L recordings, this is top drawer sound. The package contains a hybrid SACD multichannel disc, plus a Pure Audio Blu-ray with DTS HD MA 192kHz/24 bit 5.1 surround. On the same disc is a PCM 192kHz/24 bit stereo recording. If you are equipped with a networked connected Blu-ray player, or a computer connected Blu-ray drive, you get a 96kHz FLAC file and an MP3 version of the album. This is a very desirable way to buy music, which combines the very best disc-based playback with downloadable files for your portable device. The optical discs are region-free, another plus.
To my ears, the disc is most successful with the symphonic works, less successful with the marching band music, which I think gets old after awhile. Other listeners will differ.
In future programs I would like to see 2L abandon the ‘all kinds of band music’ approach for a disc of wind band symphonic music, and perhaps other discs with the martial music and marches. Keep them apart, because I don’t think they go well together. The sound and playing here are faultless. I listened to the 5.1 and 2.0 hi-res versions on both formats, and all were excellent.