Magazine article The Tracker

Festlich Beschwingt: Bläsermusik Mit Den Turmbläsern St. Nikolai Spandau

Magazine article The Tracker

Festlich Beschwingt: Bläsermusik Mit Den Turmbläsern St. Nikolai Spandau

Article excerpt


Festlich Beschwingt: Bläsermusik mit den Turmbläsern St. Nikolai Spandau. Bernhard Kruse, leitung und orgel. Eule-orgel (1996) der St. Nikolai-Kirche Spandau. Rupprecht Tonstudio, Berlin. euro10. German text.

At the same time, this disc is en- dearing, yet repelling, with its assets balanced by its liabilities. Brass and organ music, recorded in a late 14th- century church fitted with an organ built by an old East German firm, raises the interest of the listener. Con- trary to what one might infer, this is not a recording of organ and brass; rather it is a collection of brass music occasionally interrupted by organ works - but, then, there's no harm in that. Further, this disc embodies good intentions of offering music to a receptive authence, most likely not intended to go far beyond the city walls of Spandau. Yet, as our old friend Bobby Burns wrote in 1785, we know that good intentions do not necessarily success make:

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,

In proving foresight may be vain;

The best-laid schemes 0' mice an' men

Gang aft agley,

An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,

For promis'd joy!

Tone of the brass ensemble is rich and dark; even though the liner notes comment that there are five trumpets, one horn, four trombones and one tuba, I suspect that there's a cornet or flügelhorn hiding somewhere in this thick texture. Indeed, the pitch and color of the brass remind me of those of the Ulster Orchestra under the hand of Vernon Handley. Yet in the midst of the lush textures produced by the Turmbläser St. Nikolai, there's an unsettling turgidness that obscures inner voices and distracts the listener from the otherwise seductive tone. Pleasant tone or not, good intonation is expected of any group audacious enough to place its efforts before the public; and this essential element more often than not is missing from this performance. Ultimately, intonation and a balanced ensemble lie solely at the feet of the conductor. Here, Bernhard Kruse is conspicuously weak.

Programming on the recording is weak, too. The gamut goes from Purcell to the 20th century, a concept that I've never completely understood. Where is the thematic and tonal relationship in this "march of the hours?" That Purcell is followed by Handel, then by Bach, Rheinberger, Mendelssohn, Bizet, Lefébure-Wély, etc. …

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