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<<  -- 2 --  Kelly Ferjutz    FESTIVE MOOD


The festive mood is set by the fanfare of trumpets and bells in the arrangement by London's Roger Harvey. Each of the twenty-one selections that follow excels in the expert use of dynamics and unusual rhythms, guaranteed to hold your attention throughout.

Roger Harvey, who teaches in the Trinity College of Music -- Wind, Brass and Percussion Studies, not surprisingly specializes in brass arrangements, and indeed nine of the twenty-one tracks on this CDs are by him. These range from the Spanish Riu, Riu, Chiu which is immediately recognizeable, in spite of the perhaps unfamiliar title. If you listen closely you'll hear the lambs gamboling and the wolf growling away in the low brass. Marvelous! The next track is another from Harvey, the English Coventry Carol which was a major part of medieval pageants in the great cathedral city. His use of minor fifths to portray the lament of the women of Bethlehem, excellently portrays their fear (with good reason) of the soldiers of King Herod.

The Basque Gabriel's Message (again in an arrangement by Harvey) is properly festive with flourishes in the trumpets to accompany the Annunciation. Colinda: Rumanian Christmas Carols (folk tunes collected by Béla Bartók) were recycled into a training manual for piano students, and then further recycled by Harvey into this fascinating collage. Each of the instruments has a solo line or two in this arrangement of ten of them which yet retains that certain something that says 'Bartók!'

Many of the older English carols derived from both the secular and the sacred at the same time -- no easy trick! Harvey keeps this tradition alive in Past Three O'Clock in which one hears not only the tipsy singers but also a ghost as they sing of the birth of Jesus. The same tale from Poland, Infant Holy, Infant Lowly is another example of the resemblance to a pipe organ by a brass ensemble when describing that magic night in the stable. The American version of the story is found in Away in a Manger, in which a trumpet sings the melody, followed by the ensemble. The final contribution of Roger Harvey on this CD is another Basque carol, Sing Lullaby, in which trumpet and trombone take the lead in the familiar melody before the rest of the group joins in.

One of the joys of this collection is the variety: from traditional brass chorales of traditional old carols to more contemporary seasonal favorites given a jazzy-bluesy or big-band swing treatment. My favorite track is Little Drummer Boy [listen -- track 14, 0:20-1:20] in a dazzling arrangement by Paul Ferguson of Cleveland. (He's director of Jazz Studies at CWRU, and a member of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, among other organizations.) His drummer approaches from a distance; encounters a rather melancholy trumpet refrain, then a bit of The Pink Panther, before blending into a jazzy drumming frenzy! There's a bit of a sleigh ride before dissolving into marvelous big-band swing. This is not your Mother's (or Father's) Little Drummer Boy, but truly, one for the ages. It's great!

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Copyright © 18 December 2004 Kelly Ferjutz, Cleveland USA


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