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Strange Humors / Music for Winds

> Strange Humors - Strange Humors
> Raise the Roof (version for timpani and wind band) - Raise the Roof (version for timpani and wind band)
> Brooklyn Bridge - I. East
> Brooklyn Bridge - II. South
> Brooklyn Bridge - III. West
> Brooklyn Bridge - IV. North
> The Hound of Heaven - I. I Fled Him, Down the Nights
> The Hound of Heaven - II. The Gold Gateway of the Stars
> The Hound of Heaven - III. Within the Little Children's Eyes
> The Hound of Heaven - IV. Nature's - Share with Me
> The Hound of Heaven - V. And Smitten Me to My Knee
> The Hound of Heaven - VI. I am He Whom Thou Seekest!

Album Summary

>Mackey, John : Strange Humors
>Daugherty, Michael : Raise the Roof
>Daugherty, Michael : Brooklyn Bridge, for band
>Syler, James : The Hound of Heaven, for wind ensemble
Performers Conductor Ensemble
  • >
Composers

Notes & Reviews:

The Rutgers Wind Ensemble here presents four engaging works rich with cross-cultural allusions by leading American composers. John Mackey’s aptly named Strange Humors merges African hand-drumming, an Orientalist musical style and the big band sound into a sultry brew. Michael Daugherty’s virtuosic Raise the Roof for timpani and wind ensemble pays homage to buildings such as the Empire State, while the clarinet concerto Brooklyn Bridge takes panoramic views across New York City. James Syler’s The Hound of Heaven charts the spiritual journey of a desperate soul who seeks and finds the balm of God’s grace.

American Record Guide
whirls between drama, pathos, tenderness, the eternal search for happiness in the wrong places, the consequent tragedy, disorientation... This is well-written music, and the playing is good...

Fanfare
Then there is the first commercial recording of James Syler's 1988 The Hound of Heaven, a work inspired by the poem of the same name by Victorian English poet Francis Thompson. It is at first a disquieting work, wildly eclectic in its dramatic depiction of pursuit, escape, and eventual capture. Wind chimes always sound hackneyed to me, and here is no exception, but that aside I think that Syler has nicely captured the dark spirit of Thompson's allegorical poem. My favorite version, by the Northern Illinois University Wind Ensemble, is available on the MusicEducator's DR label as a download. In its more understated approach, it comes closer to the mystical beauty of Thompson's verse, but Berz's weightier reading is moving, as well, and has the practical virtue of easier availability. The Scriabinesque trumpet solos that act as transitions are again well taken by his fine principal. The exposed woodwind playing is notably well done. The transcendent final section, corresponding to the revelation that the pursuing hound is actually God offering grace to the desperate hare, is performed with great sensitivity. It is a touching ending to a rewarding disc.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Nicholas Music Center, Rutgers, The State University of.



Reviews

Terrific wind ensemble music - not "strange" at all!
The new Naxos CD, "Strange Humors" takes it title from a John Mackey piece that opens a set of four exciting pieces and stunningly performed by the Rutgers Wind Ensemble. Each one of these is fun, accessible and makes for virtuoso playing and a pleasurable listening experience! The opening piece, "Strange Humors" by Mackey from 2003 is a short and exotic little romp through some decidedly exotic sounds. Relying on sounds that are very north African, sort of Morroccan, in their tone; some terrific and sensuous oboe and saxophone solos set the moved. The pulse and feel of this piece is carried by drumming, however. The percussionists play an assortment of very tribal sounding, skin beats that are non-ringing, very cardiac in their impact. The overall effect is solid. The "humors" are a kind of essence that seems to waft throughout and great fun to listen to! The collection continues with two works by Michael Daugherty. Daugherty has built a very positive and well earned reputation as one of America's best known composers, specializing in tonal, vibrant and somewhat pop culture infused music, such as his "Metropolis" symphony or his "Dead Elvis"! His "Raise the Roof" is essentially a tympani concerto, originally composed for the Detroit Symphony in 2003 and reworked for wind ensemble in 2005. This is a vibrant, exciting piece built around a low brass melody that is very medieval in tone. The tympanist creates a variety of captivating effects through varied stroking techniques - soft mallets, hard, brushes, bare hands, etc. The medieval theme and a secondary permutation of itself get faster and more complex until tympani and ensemble end up playing what Daugherty describes as a clash of "urban polyrhythms". Soloist Todd Quinlan is well up to the task and this is a terrific entry into a short list of truly soloistic works for percussion and ensemble. Daugherty's "Brooklyn Bridge" (2005) is equally interesting and audience pleasing. This piece is really a concerto for clarinet and ensemble wherein each movement is intended to represent the sounds, thoughts or emotion one feels looking from the Brooklyn Bridge in four particular directions in New York. They are 1. East, depicting Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights and the music is jazzy, Latin flavored and syncopated. 2. South gives a sweeping, melodic feel and a certain sense of awe as one looks upon the Statue of Liberty. 3. West has a bit of kinetic feel, busy, "industrial" and the clarinet part is jumpy, articulated - as one might feel being in lower Manhattan or on Wall Street. The last, "North" has a broad, almost "immense" sound to it, as it depicts the skyscrapers that dominate the skyline; the Empire State, the Chrysler and the Rockefeller Center. Soloist Maureen Hurd plays this exciting, fun, but demanding work very well with a clear tone and ample technique. The final piece in this impressive collection is James Syler's "The Hound of Heaven" from 1988. This work is really a small tone poem based on the imagery in a poem of the same name by British poet Francis Thompson. The poem itself is allegorical and describes a "lost and found" story between a hound and a hare which, in turn, stand for human beings in their loss - or finding - of God. Characteristically, the music is beautiful, atmospheric and choral in its feel. This is a wonderful addition to this program for its sharp contrast from the other works. The Rutgers (University) Wind Ensemble and its conductor, William Berz are an amazing ensemble who play with tone and long line as well as they do pyrotechnically! I strongly recommend this disc for anyone who loves wind and band music but who wants something different, exciting and very special!
Submitted on 12/15/10 by Dan Coombs 
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Works Details

>Mackey, John : Strange Humors
  • Conductor: William Berz
  • Running Time: 5 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Daugherty, Michael : Raise the Roof
  • Performer: Todd Quinlan (Timpani)
  • Conductor: William Berz
  • Running Time: 12 min. 59 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2003

>Daugherty, Michael : Brooklyn Bridge, for band
  • Performer: Maureen Hurd (Clarinet)
  • Conductor: William Berz
  • Running Time: 8 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Syler, James : The Hound of Heaven, for wind ensemble
  • Conductor: William Berz
  • Running Time: 17 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1988