top of page

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 Clockis 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

Click to read additional reviews from Fanfare Magazine

bottom of page