On Saturday night (April 30 2016) the the Heidelberg wind ensemble began their 10th season of concerts. As is customary they were joined the Monash philharmonic orchestra and the Monash symphonic winds at St Stephen's Church in Richmond. This beautiful church created a warm atmosphere on even warmer late autumn evening. The reverb in the church provides an exciting acoustic for listening to major works. The audience felt like is amongst the musicians. When things got exciting in the percussion section the whole church trembled in response. Soloists notes soared amongst the rafters and when the brass sang as one spirits lifted with the joyful sound.
The Monash Philharmonic presented the William Tell Overture as well as Rimsky Korsakov's Russian Easter Overture. The cello was featured as it should, and the orchestra even had a cor anglais to play the famous interlude. The Monash Winds also presented a varied program that began with West Side Story, wandered along a Scottish river with a Grainger setting of Ye Banks and Braes of Bonnie Doon, finishing somewhere in the halls of Mordor with excerpts from Lord of the Rings by de Meij, who is a prolific composer for Wind Band.
It was also an exciting night for Hofland Music as conductor Stephen Carpenter announced to the audience the project to create a tenth anniversary CD which will be available towards the end of the anniversary year. Hofland Music will be recording at least two concerts this year as well as a special studio session with the band in order to create a compilation of this year's best works.
HWE played a challenging program of monster works.
The Bourgeois Symphony of Winds with three movements titled Hurricane, Zephyr, and March Winds contained all the chaotic fury expected from such a program. The movement Hurricane manages to work its way through 8 different time signatures constantly changing to resemble the chaos of a hurricane. A short middle sections presents the calm of the eye.
Stravinsky can always be relied upon to write music that moves between beautiful melody, strong rhythms passages of repetition, interesting orchestral effects and unexpected mood changes. In the Petroushka Ballet suite, the music is of course foremost intended for dancing, and the pulse remains strong through all the movements. This work was created for the Ballet Russe, and Nijinsky played Petroushka.
To lighten the mood the HWE played Four Preludes for Band by Robert Russell Bennett entitled George, Vincent, Cole and Jerome, referring to those great composers of Broadway. Bennett orchestrated over 300 Broadway musicals. Although original, the work evokes the spirit of the composers being paid tribute.
Finally the HWE played a full symphonic work composed for Wind Band by Vittorio Giannini, Symphony No 3. This is a work without discernible program, but is true to the Symphony in form and structure, with wonderful melodies, and energetic rhythms.
I wonder which of the pieces will end up on the final CD?