Above: CD cover :  Celebrae (Klavier Music Productons K  11215) Featured Image   :   SCM Wind Symphony

The title of this CD,  Celebrare (Klavier K11215) is borrowed from Carl Vine’s orchestral work of 1993, Celebrare Celeberrime : a celebration for orchestra which begins the recording in its fine wind band arrangement form.

This title’s reference to celebration is a perfect theme for this CD. The CD was produced following the centenary of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, and live performances by SCM Wind Symphony at the institution’s Centenary Festival in 2015.

The recording, dated 2016, has been mastered with a pleasing bright clarity by Bruce Leek. This celebrates the sound of the school’s quality symphonic wind ensemble. The emergence of this CD also recognises the Sydney Conservatorium’s recent centenary as well as this music school’s efforts towards being at the international forefront of wind band interpretation. Two works on the recording were commissioned by the SCM Wind Symphony and appear as first recordings on this disc.

A co-commission by this ensemble and other musical bodies resulted in Andre Previn’s Music for Wind Orchestra (No Strings Attached). This important work for the genre is heard towards the end of the CD but is central to the celebration of the genre. Such joint commissioning is also key to the SCM Wind Symphony’s presence as a successful wind band interpreting important current works under the baton of Conservatorium staff member John Lynch.

Of the works recorded three are by Australian composers.  Australian-born, American naturalised Percy Grainger is also a worthwhile inclusion.  Four out of the seven dramatically focused and breathtaking works on this recording enjoy a premiere recording. There are times where the works will have the sonic and dramatic impact we are familiar with from film score fare.

The opening and title track, Celebrare Celeberrime (1993) by Carl Vine succeeds on a symphonic scale as a wind version in this band’s performance of the arrangement by Philip Littlemore. Vine’s organic development and growth toward the larger finale moments is colourfully prepared and finishes with a satisfying full flourish.

From the USA, Erica Muhl’s delicate Smoke and Mirrors (2010) is effectively communicated. In this first recording from 2016 we enjoy how the work shifts between disparate musical fragments and contrasts in wind colour highlight sections of the band in precise exchange. A focused and riveting dramatic development follows.

Spoon River, the work based on a fiddle tune was composed by Australian born Percy Grainger in 1922, four years after obtaining American Citizenship and three years after being discharged from the USA Army, which he had joined as a bandsman.

This work heard here in its wind band version rather than piano combinations or orchestral guise successfully carries Grainger’s signature boldness and invention. SCM Wind Symphony present this example of Grainger’s genius with respect and excitement. It is the oldest work on the CD but its dynamic presentation does not feel dated beside the modern works.

The substantial and rewarding composition by David Stanhope, E.G.B.D.S (1997) is an important inclusion on the disc to promote wind band repertoire as French Horn player Stanhope’s output is rich in wind band works. It was decently explored in the interpretation.

American omposer Peter Van Zandt Lane’s work Hivemind (2014), a direct SCM Wind Symphony commission, is one of the many highlights here. A somewhat sparse sonic event between full climaxes and a slick piece of wind orchestration, it packs an almighty punch for the listener whilst never sacrificing its unique individuality or open transparency.

Legend Andre Previn responded to a co-commission which included SCM Wind Symphony in 2014 with the work Music for Wind Orchestra (No Strings Attached). This is a significant work of some length in the traditional three movement structure of a full orchestral symphony. It affirms the ease with which a wind band, and here the SCM Wind Symphony’s interpretative talent, can conquer the development of musical material towards decent climaxes and characterise gesture as does a band with strings ‘attached’.

A real favourite track of the CD above many other favourites must be the final one. Matthew Hindson and Paul Mac produced Requiem for a city: for symphonic wind band

Following a commission for the centenary of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Unfortunately only the delicate and beautifully atmospheric first movement is included on this CD.

This is a beautifully sculptured movement. The almost minimalist reiterations flow in this performance with controlled and smooth unity of attack. The succinct sonic concept demanded with obvious sincerity in this movement breathtakingly concludes this important recording for the wind band genre and key composers of such music in Australia and overseas.

Celebrare is a disc promoting the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s wind band programme, offering many shades of thrilling symphonic wind performance and proves the wind band movement with much new music is alive in our country and abroad.