“Dallas Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet” = ANTHONY DILORENZO: Nexus; KEVIN MCKEE: Vuelta de Fuego; WILLIAM BRADE: 2 Pieces; VIVALDI/BACH: Concerto (No. 11 from “L’estro harmonico, K565); BYRD: Alleluia, Alleluia; HOLST: Second Suite in F; WAGNER: Die Meistersinger, Prelude to Act III; CHARLES COLLIER JONES: 4 Movements for 5 Brass; ELLINGTON: Do Nothin’ Till You Hear From Me – Crystal Records CD 568, 53:09 ****:
I was quite surprised to read that this is the Dallas Brass Quintet’s debut recording. The boys all play like gangbusters, and the recording done at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas displays to full effect their generous tonal qualities and virtuosic technique, not at all clouded by the large hall but in fact displayed in a fine, and resonant acoustic of great clarity. Most of all this record avoids too much bombast in the presentation of the sound, a common complaint when recording brass ensembles. Though this is a digital recording Jim Jackson and his fine Crystal team conveys a warm aural sheen over the whole thing to very good effect.
Program-wise things could hardly be better, even though my pet peeve about short timings rises on this occasion—more music would have been nice. What we get is excellent in all respects though, lots of transcriptions of course—it is a brass quintet after all, one of the newest genres in the music world—but there are three new works as well, written specifically for this type of performance, and one of them for these Dallas folks. Nexus opens the program with a suitably sparkling and dynamic rhythmic drive and a perfect opener for just about anything. Kevin McKee’s Vuelta de Fuego (Ride of Fire) is just that, an action adventure broken up by some lyrical and unabashedly romantic music that displays the colors of the ensemble very well. Four Movements for Five Instruments by Charles Collier Jones was written back in 1965 and is a fine “pure” music piece of no little attractiveness.
Most every music lover will be familiar with the composers of the transcriptions, with perhaps the exception of the William Brade (1560-1630), just a footnote on this album. But they are all well-played and completely idiomatic, unlike many transcriptions which seek to make points or offer “new takes” on old music. The Bach/Vivaldi, Byrd, Ellington, and Wagner pieces score high for fidelity to intention and perfection in execution. The centerpiece here has to be Holst’s Second Suite, one of the staples of the wind band repertory, and already represented in original guise in a to-die-for recording by the Cleveland Orchestra Winds on a Telarc SACD under the late Frederic Fennell. This one doesn’t try to compete with that one, as it would fail as all others do, but the arrangement by Jerry Nowak comes remarkably close to giving us the full panoply of wind band sound, vigorous in sheer force and relaxed and lyrical in those inimitably Holstian melodic passages. A fine debut then and I hope it does well enough to warrant a sequel.