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Rimsky & Co Originals – Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy – Music of Gliere, Rimsky Korsakov, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Bortnyansky, Khachaturian, Shostakovich – Channel Classics CD  # 40818 released 2018 TT: 61:25

Engaging music not familiar to most listeners, but the recording was a bit distant and not as involving as the usual Channel Classics productions

As early as the 17th century in the days of Fleet Admiral Michiel de Ruyter, one of the initiators of the Netherlands Marine Corps, music has played an important role in the navy.Transforming from ships’ bands and ensembles into a land-based full sized orchestra ashore, the Marine Band turned into the all-round musical ambassador of the Royal Netherlands Navy.

Portrait of Igor Stravinsky, by Pablo Picasso

Igor Stravinsky,
by Pablo Picasso

From military marching formation, intimate accompanying ensemble, extended big band and classic symphonic wind band to a stunning cover band; no music style is absent from the enormous repertoire. The Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy developed an appreciation for Russia and the music of her great composers. As part of the celebrations of 300 years Peter the Great and the jubilee of the city, concert tours to St. Petersburg were made in 1997 and 2003. In 2009 the branch of the Hermitage in Amsterdam was opened with a concert and attended by Queen Beatrix and President Medvedev.

This disc is filled with transcriptions of familiar and not so familiar Russian  military music played with enthusiasm and precision.

While I find the music a good listen, I feel like Channel Classics has dropped the ball a bit on audio quality. The band has a very distant sound, and while separation is good, this recording just doesn’t have the usual marvelous sound of Channel Classics productions. Percussion is a bit muffled, and overall the band just sounds too far away. Now this might well have been a choice by the producers, it’s a very different sound from the previous Channel Classics audio productions.

Rather than my ideal ’10 row back’ perspective, i felt I was about 60 rows back. It’s not a bad sound, just not as involving if other choices had been made.

Nonetheless, the performance is solid, the music is excellent.

Track List:
Reinhold GLIÈRE (1875-1956)
Solemn Overture for the 20th Anniversary of the October Revolution op. 72 (ed. Robert Grechesky) (1937) [7:29]

Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
Concerto for Trombone and Military Band (1877) (ed. Marco Tamanini) [10:08]

Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Athletic Festival March op 69/1 (ed. Richard Franko Goldman) (1935) [4:17]

Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV
Variations for Oboe and Military Band (1878) (ed. Marco Koninkx) [8:35]

Sergei PROKOFIEV
March op 99 (1944) (ed. Paul Yoder) [2:19]

Nicolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV
Concerto for Clarinet and Military Band in E flat major (1875) (ed. Marco Tamanini) [7:57]

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920, 1947 version) [8:57]

Dmitry BORTNYANSKY (1751-1825)
Kol Slaven [2:27]

Aram KHACHATURYAN (1903-1978)
To the Heroes of the Patriotic War (1942) (arr. William Berz) [3:50]

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
March of the Soviet Militia op. 139 (1970) [1:31]

Igor STRAVINSKY
Circus Polka – Composed for a Young Elephant (1942) [3:27]

—Mel Martin