JÖRG MAINKA (b.1962): Cloud-Castle (with 5 strings), THORSTEN WOLLMANN (b.1966): Sinfonia Antiqua, STEPHAN HODEL (b.1973): The Legend of Curupira.

Catalogue Number: 01X057

Label: Genuin

Reference: GEN 22764

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: At first glance this resembles the innumerable wind orchestra offerings we’ve presented over the years - and it will undoubtedly appeal to the same audience, by and large. What makes it unusual is that rather than featuring one of the many superb American university wind ensembles, this CD is a celebration of the Saxon Wind Philharmonic, which in 2017 was recognized in a federal programme of artistic excellence which came with a state subsidy and a commission for a "reference work of contemporary symphonic music for winds, which, in addition to various compositional techniques, would above all demonstrate the instrumental and tonal-aesthetic possibilities of a wind ensemble …", which was awarded to Mainka. The resulting work, Cloud-Castle, amply fulfills those requirements, while standing somewhat apart from the æsthetic of the mainstream American wind orchestra repertory. It is not a piece of Darmstadt-worthy avant-gardism, never fear; but the composer’s use of the ensemble, which is idiomatic, original and highly effective, nevertheless has all the hallmarks of a different cultural background - with a very German philosophical undertone, for a start. The large first movement bears the title “Augenblick der Erkennbarkeit” (“moment of recognizability") after Walter Benjamin - see what we mean? - and comprises a series of contrasting episodes which combine to construct the edifice that houses the second movement, so to speak. Tonal (to varying degrees), these miniature "movements" include propulsive ostinati, a chorale-like meditation, an open-air naïve folk-like melody in pastoral surroundings, playful pointillistic flutterings, and imposing Brucknerian mountainscapes, sometimes in overlapping combinations, and always highlighting instrumental combinations in the manner of a concerto for orchestra. The music fades out in detached fragments, setting the stage for the second movement, featuring the "five strings" - those of the contrabass, which tentatively introduces the movement and weaves a rich, dark, sonorous thread through the airy surrounding spaces. The work was completed just in time for the Beethoven 250th anniversary celebrations, so an unexpected scherzo, anchored by an ostinato borrowed from the Pastoral Symphony, precedes the finale, a tour of the airy light-filled castle constructed in the first movement. We return to more familiar territory in the other works, big, full-blooded, thoroughly tonal scores ideally suited to wind orchestra sonorities. Wollmannʼs Sinfonia Antiqua combines classical symphony and baroque suite, with an imposing passacaglia, a stately pavane, an energetic scherzo and a rondo-finale. Hodel's The Legend of Curupira is a symphonic poem depicting a figure from Brazilian mythology, guardian of the animals and the forest. Richly neo-romantic, with echoes of Bernstein and Hollywood, it incorporates Brazilian dance forms - samba, bossa nova, and forró - alongside references to works by Villa-Lobos and César Guerra-Peixe and music by the singer/songwriter Chico Buarque de Holland. A sombre slow section laments the recent destruction of swathes of the rain forest, amid the colourful, riotous gaiety of the bold, exuberant score, which would be completely at home in the American college wind ensemble repertory. Saxon Wind Philharmonic; Daive Time.


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