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Symphonies of Wind Instruments
Album No. 21 | Recorded 2001


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About the Album

When Igor Stravinsky applied the term "symphonies" to his distinctive and idiosyncratic work for 73 winds in 1920, it was not in the traditional sense of the term. The word symphony" derives from the Greek "syn" (together) and "phone" (sounding), and it was this archaic definition that Stravinsky had in mind when composing his work for "...different groups of homogenous instruments." Even the current definition according to Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians is not especially restrictive: "A term now normally taken to signify an extended work for orchestra...the adjective symphonic applied to a work implies that it is extended and thoroughly developed." Within this definition this recording presents five "symphonies" for winds, although only the hear the descriptor in their titles, and only one would be considered a symphony in the formal sense.

Other than the obvious commonality of instrumentation, the most important characteristic that these works share is that they are each the product of an accomplished, distinctive, and significant twentieth-century composer. From the early part of the century we have Stravinsky's Symphonies of Wind Instruments and two movements from Charles Ives's Symphony No. 2 (1907). The Ives is a transitional work that clearly reveals the influence of the nineteenth century, but is also a harbinger of things to come for both Ives and other American composers. In Symphonies of Wind Instruments, however, Stravinsky contributed a work for which "The overall an apparent challenge to all previously accepted canons of musical architecture," a work which immediately re-drew the boundaries for all musical forms.

The middle period of the century is represented by two composers who were proponents of a nationalistic style of composition, and who were each generally considered to be the leading composer of his generation in his respective country. In 1918 Aaron Copland composed music for Lewis Milestones film adaptation of John Steinbeck's novella The Red Pony. Before the movie was released Copland prepared an orchestral suite based on the score, which he transcribed for winds in 1966. According to Copland biographer Howard Pollack, the suite is arguably one of the few truly successful concert works so adapted from a film score." Much as Copland established and defined the American sound, Joaquín Rodrigo's work are unmistakably Spanish in character, and his Adagio para Orquesta de Instrumentos de Viento (1965) is a prime example of this. It is Rodrigo's only work for winds, and the wind music community has Robert Boudreau. Director of the American Wind Symphony, to thank for convincing Rodrigo to contribute this original work

Closing out the twentieth century is David Rakawski's Ten of a Kind (Symphony No. 2). commissioned in 2000 by "The President's Own" United States Marine Band, under the direction of Colonel Timothy W. Foley. The composition, which features a 10-piece clarinet choir that functions collectively as soloist, is a highly original work that incorporates elements from the symphony and concerto forums, and reveals influences ranging from baroque to funk. It is a work that looks to the past as well as the future, and provides not only a coda to the twentieth century, but an introduction to the twenty-first century as well.

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1. Igor Stravinsky (ed. Craft): Symphonies of Wind Instruments (1920)

2-6. Aaron Copland: Suite from The Red Pony

© 1969 Boosey & Hawkes, Inc.

2. Dream March

3. Circus Music

4. Walk to the Bunkhouse

5. Grandfather's Story

6. Happy Ending

7-10. David Rakowski: Ten of a Kind (Symphony No. 2) (2000)       

7. Labyrinth  

8. Song Stylings     

9. Yoikes and Away

10. Scherzo: Martian Counterpoint        

11. Joaquín Rodrigo: Adagio para Orquesta de Instrumentos de Viento     

12-13. Charles Ives (trans. Elkus): Lento maesto and Finale from Symphony No. 2       

12. Lento maestoso

13. Finale