This eighty-one-minute release courtesy of the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy and its conductor Major Arjan Tien – great playing, superb sound – contains plenty of good listening, opening with Stephen Melillo’s sonorous and filmic A Sending, then comes Robert Russell Bennett’s toe-tapping, witty and lyrical Suite of Old American Dances.
Samuel Barber’s Commando March struts its stuff with pride, and there are three entries from Aaron Copland: Variations on a Shaker Melody (as extracted from Appalachian Spring), Fanfare for the Common Man, and Emblems, the latter quite striking as well as embracing a universally well-known tune … amazing (clue).
Equally ear-catching are Charles Ives’s March ‘Omega Lambda Chi’, stirring and flag-waving in the Sousa mould, and John Corigliano’s four-movement Gazebo Dances, brilliantly inventive and deftly written, the closing ‘Tarantella’ a total knockout, demanding an immediate reprise, and then another.
Finally George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the composer as soloist, his 1925 piano roll (I assume the same one as was used for Michael Tilson Thomas’s CBS version), combined with the Band’s 2020 assumption of Ferde Grofé’s original scoring (including strings and banjo) for Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra. It’s a remarkable technical synthesis, the piano reproduces as if newly recorded, and it’s a hugely enjoyable performance. This moreish issue is on Channel Classics CCS 42920.