Twenty Fanfares for the Common Man
Between 1931 and 1946 Sir Eugene Goossens, then conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, commissioned 19 fanfares—mainly from American composers—12 of which are included as the basis of this anthology. The most famous is Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man, given a slow, majestic performance; his remaining two fanfares here were written for other events, but are only marginally less appealing. My other two favourites also have an independent existence. Hanson's six-minute Chorale and Fanfare is a splendidly ambitious piece. It opens with a hymn-like theme, initially Lutheran in feeling, to be followed by an almost Waltonesque allegro. Finally the re-introduced chorale expands into a glorious tapestry of sound, with echoes of the slow movement of Hanson's Romantic Symphony. Virgil Thomson's Fanfare for France (where he studied with Nadia Boulanger) initially evokes the simple, sprightly arpeggio style of the classical French military march, then wittily quotes phrases from Frere Jacques and Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Bernstein's three pieces are characteristically exuberant and jazzy; the first written for the inauguration of President J. F. Kennedy in 1961; the second for the twenty-fifth anniversary of the High School of Music and Art, New York; the third, Shivaree (a mock serenade) was later incorporated into the Kyrie of the theatre-piece, Mass. It uses two brass groups and percussion in irreverant Ivesian juxtaposition. Morton Gould's contribution (ignoring the Goossens stipulation that the scoring should be for three trumpets, three trombones, tuba, timpani and percussion) gaily introduces woodwind. Deems Taylor sombrely draws on a Russian folk-song (Dubinushka), while Piston's writing is uncompromisingly tough in its complex polyphony. Goossens's own contribution ends the collection more conventionally, but not less imaginatively, by interpolating a famous bugle call and traditional tunes like The roast beef of Old England, and concludes grandly with Heart of Oak. So, while this is essentially a disc to be sampled, with such good playing and lively, bright recording, convincingly balanced within the acoustics of St John's, Smith Square, London, there is a good deal of interest to be found here overall.'