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24K Gould

“Few sounds are as thrilling and ravishing as that of a good wind band.

The massed tones of the instrumental choirs and the beauty with which

they blend are truly exciting. The University of Nevada at Las Vegas

Wind Orchestra is a great band. Each of its sections makes a full,

luscious sound, and the band’s overall sonority, even within the

 limitations of what the recording art can do, is enveloping and heart

  stirring. Their conductor, Thomas G. Leslie, clearly is a very fine

    musician, not merely as an orchestral trainer, but also in his excellent

      choice of repertoire and his ability to bring off satisfying performances in a number of different styles.                Whether in the slightly academic modernism of Morton Gould, the full fledged romanticism of              Howard Hanson (Virgil Thomson said that Hanson composed as if the 20th century had never                       happened.), or in the colorful, idiosyncratic brilliance of Malcolm Arnold, Leslie conducts with great             sympathy and power. He is a brilliant judge of when to exert control and when to give the band its                head, abetted in his search for expression by a splendid collection of first desk players. The UNLV               Wind Orchestra’s Associate Conductor, Zane Douglass, makes an appearance in a piece by Jean                    Françaix. He demonstrates the subtlety and piquant colors this band is capable of. All in all, 24K                     Gould is a wonderful demonstration of everything this band can do, while providing a rousing                       musical experience exhibiting variety and contrast.

                        Morton Gould’s Festive Music is in three sections: Fanfare, Interlude, and Dance. The                              Interlude is one of those evocative, atmospheric moments Gould is so good at crafting,                                   featuring very fine trumpet solos. The concluding Dance carries with it a whiff of                                          Gould’s Latin American Symphonette, but with more Northern rhythmic accents. Rift Is                                Julian Tanaka’s first work for wind band. It is highly accomplished. Citing Shostakovich,                               William Schuman, and Duke Ellington as influences, Tanaka plays with colors and                                        sonorities with all the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store. He writes saxophone solos that                              sound straight out of Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Sixth Symphony. Howard Hanson’s Dies                               Natalis is a test of a band’s ability to sustain and build up dynamic levels. Leslie’s control                              makes Hanson’s emotions seem genuine, when they easily could turn mawkish and                                         sentimental. Jean Françaix’s Flower Clock is built on the idea of a clock that tells the                                       time of day by the times different flowers bloom. Composed for the great John de                                           Lancie of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the solo oboe part here is lovingly assumed by                                      Stephen Caplan. The influence of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin (a de Lancie                                             specialty) is strongly felt. Malcolm Arnold’s overture Tam O’Shanter is a brilliant,                                        roguish showpiece, sort of Arnold’s Scottish take on Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel’s                                           Merry Pranks. Arnold’s love of Berlioz shines in the instrumental coloring.                                                   Alexander Gibson made a great recording of the original symphonic version on                                               his album Witches’ Brew, but Leslie is just as demonic and entertaining.

                                               Veteran engineer Bruce Leek has provided excellent sound, although I doubt                                             recording technology has reached the point where the live symphonic band                                                      experience can be duplicated. I can’t say how much I am impressed by the                                                       UNLV Wind Orchestra. Band playing rarely gets better than this. 24K Gould is                                               24K indeed. Highly recommended.” (Dave Saemann, Fanfare Magazine)

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