This generously filled album brings together four works by contemporary American composers either scored or adapted for wind ensemble. Adam Schoenberg’s Second Symphony is a programmatic piece inspired by his wife’s family’s migration to the United States. The first of its five movements, ‘March’, with its imposing brass statements and busy percussion, communicates the tension that might encourage someone to leave their homeland, while the luminously scored and aspiring second movement, ‘Dreaming’, evokes the promise of a better life elsewhere. The brief but dramatic third movement, ‘Escape’, is followed by a gentler movement, ‘Crossing’, which depicts the feelings associated with moving to an unfamiliar place. The concluding movement, ‘Beginning’, conveys the optimism of a new start. Schoenberg’s writing is vivid and evocative, and although I don’t feel the finale quite lives up to the promise of the earlier movements, the overall level of invention invites repeated listening.
Jennifer Jolley’s The Eyes of the World Are Upon You commemorates the lives of the victims and survivors of a mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966. The violence of the event as well as the poignancy of its aftermath are vividly represented in the music’s 12-minute span. First performed at Bath Abbey in 2003, Stephen Montague’s Intrada 1631 is a short processional for brass and percussion based on the chant ‘Hanacpachap cussicuinin’, written in Peru by the 17th-century Franciscan priest Juan Pérez Bocanegra.
The earliest work on the album, John Corigliano’s Clarinet Concerto, was premiered by Stanley Drucker and the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein in 1977. The arrangement for wind ensemble by the American conductor Craig B Davis successfully conveys the power of the original work, although I found myself missing the sonorities of the original scoring for strings in the slow movement. Jonathan Gunn accommodates the challenges of the solo part with flair and authority, although I would have preferred a more forward balance for the solo clarinet. The recording quality is otherwise very good, however, and the performances under Jerry Junkin are strongly communicative.