Toronto Wind Orchestra: Northern Winds

Album cover art for upc 747313224876
Label: NAXOS
Catalog: 8572248
Format: CD

Toronto Wind Orchestra; Terry Gomes;

Wholenote Discoveries - March 2009
“Northern Winds” is an eclectic collection of Canadian compositions. The disc opens with a boisterous overture entitled High Spirits by Louis Applebaum. Applebaum wrote hundreds of compositions for a myriad of media, but it is all too rare to hear his music performed these days outside of the fanfares he created for the Stratford Festival which are still in use today. Kudos to the Toronto Wind Orchestra for reminding us of his vibrant contribution to Canadian music. Dream Dancer is an extended work by Michael Colgrass for solo saxophone (the exceptional Wallace Halladay performing) and wind orchestra with a large percussion section. The work moves from haunting slow passages through virtuosic pyrotechnics and sections reminiscent of a variety of exotic cultures with more than a nod to the Indonesian gamelan. Next we are treated to a more abstract work, Kucharzyk’s Some Assembly Required, which with its three contrasting movements gives a somewhat more avant garde approach to the wind orchestra although its rollicking final movement reminds us somewhat of Copland and Bernstein as seen through the eyes of John Adams. Gary Kulesha’s Ensembles inverts the usual fast-slow-fast structure and places its dynamic toccata-like piano and percussion movement in the middle of two slow meditations. The disc is rounded out by Harry Freedman’s Laurentian Moods, a suite of French Canadian Folksongs which unfortunately seem a bit trivial in this context and a centenary tribute to Olivier Messiaen in the form of Oiseaux exotiques featuring pianist Simon Docking. David Olds

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