OVER THE HILLS – AND FAR AWAY – Kristiansand Blåseensemble conducted by Bjørn Sagstad – 2L

by | Nov 17, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

OVER THE HILLS – AND FAR AWAY – Kristiansand Blåseensemble
conducted by Bjørn Sagstad – 2L Multichannel SACD 2l31 (64 mins.) ***:

This new SACD release from the enterprising Norwegian label 2L presents
the Kristiansand Wind Ensemble, successor to the Norwegian Army Band,
in a refreshing program of marches, from Saint-Saëns’ Marche Militaire
Française to Grieg’s Funeral March for his dear friend, the composer
and nationalist Richard Nordraak (1842-1866).

In between, there is an engaging Children’s March by Percy Grainger, a
wonderfully exhilarating Military March by Richard Strauss, a somewhat
goofy one by Prokofiev (and a goofier one still by Charles Ives), and
much more besides. This is not a march album like the woofer blowers
Telarc once routinely produced to strut their digital stuff, with
explosive bass drums and blaring brass. Instead, it is, as much as a
band can be, a thing of subtle beauty.

Of course, when the tempi are up, and the drums and brass are roused to
the occasion, as at the opening of Barber’s Commando March from 1943,
they make superb sounds that will test the best audiophile systems,
especially those that have committed to the SACD format. The
recordings, made in the Kristiansand Cathedral, take volume
exceptionally well, and bloom out magnificently into their 5.1 surround
configuration as they do.

The performances are a match for the repertoire, slightly understated
but full of power and joy when needed, and the extensive liner notes
are a joy. There does not seem to be a North American distributor for
2L at present, but this recording can be purchased through the label’s
webshop at www.2L.MusicOnline.no

– Laurence Vittes

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