December 14, 2022

Migration Review by Keith Finke

The original article is posted here:

The state of Texas houses one of the few non-military professional bands in the U.S., the Dallas Wind Symphony. The conductor of that group, Jerry Junkin, also holds the position of Director of Bands at the University of Texas, and it is the University of Texas Wind Ensemble that Junkin leads on this recording. Adam Schoenberg's Symphony No. 2 "Migration," which gives the album its title, was commissioned for the UT Wind Ensemble and dedicated to Junkin. Inspired by the journey of his wife's family, Schoenberg's Migration tells the story of a family leaving everything behind for the opportunity of a better life elsewhere. Schoenberg does well in conveying his program, particularly in the "Dreaming" movement and the rhythmic propulsion and tension found in "Escape." Many of the solo passages and harmonies push the players right to the edge of their abilities. The most well-known composer here is John Corigliano, whose Clarinet Concerto is heard in a 2015 transcription by Craig B. Davis, with Jonathan Gunn as the soloist. Corigliano's father was the concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic for 23 years, and when he wrote this concerto for Philharmonic clarinetist Stanley Drucker, the second movement, "Elegy," contained a duet for the clarinet soloist and violin. Davis' transcription rightly honors the composer's original vision by retaining the violin; Gunn is joined by violinist Brian Lewis, and the pair play splendidly together. Jennifer Jolley's The Eyes of the World Are Upon You, also commissioned for the UT Wind Ensemble, drew inspiration from the state's decision to allow guns on college campuses on the 50th anniversary of the UT Tower Shooting. This work is fittingly heavy considering the tragedy, with sudden blaring ensemble sounds and a haunting siren call throughout. Stephen Montague's Intrada 1631 closes out this program -- a take on a hymn written by 17th century priest Juan Pérez Bocanegra for brass choir and percussion -- a tribal, South American soundscape conveyed by Montague and an apt bookend for the Migration theme. As is often encountered in music written for wind ensemble, the works here explore and expand the tonalities and timbres that can be created from these instrumental forces. A welcome addition to the recorded wind ensemble repertoire and a fine performance from Junkin and his UT Wind Ensemble.