Symphonies of Wind Instruments
Stravinsky’s famous memorial to Debussy may be the title-track here but the main interest in this vividly played programme lies elsewhere. A few months on from the 50th anniversary of his death, Hindemith’s star continues to wax and the unusual pairing of his two major wind-band scores is illuminating. The Konzertmusik (1926) is iconoclastic without being provocative, its content directing the formal structure, whereas the Symphony in B flat (1951) is the product of maturity, with form and content in perfect balance. Bergby’s account of the latter rivals the composer’s own from the mid-1950s but has far superior sound and is a match for Reynish. Recordings of the Konzertmusik have come and gone but 2L’s is the best of them (much crisper than Roger Epple’s for Wergo – nla).
Schoenberg’s neo-tonal Theme and Variations (1943) separates the two Hindemith works and provides a fascinating contrast. It is rather unjustly overlooked and the Royal Norwegian Navy Band catch its mix of wistfulness and rigour with verve. After these, Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920, rev 1947) makes for a radical change of pace but is upstaged by a Norwegian work: Rolf Wallin’s pulsating early Changes (1984), based on the Chinese I Ching. The performances are splendidly executed (one is tempted to say with military precision), greatly expressive and in stunning sound that renders the wind textures with such clarity that they never cloy or become tiresome. I suspect that, for sound quality at the very least, this disc may represent the finest recordings all of these works have enjoyed. Highly recommended.