American Record Guide
  by Buerkle

The Horn Call
  by Calvin Smith
  May 1, 2011
  by Jim Lochner
  Feb. 24, 2011
  by David Vernier
  Feb. 02, 2011

The Arts Desk
  by Graham Rickson
  March 26, 2011
  by Joshua Kosman
  March 6, 2011

SF Classical Voice
  by Jeff Dunn

Fanfare Magazine
  by Ronald E. Grames
  June 10, 2011

Audiophile Audition
  by Steven Ritter
  June, 2011

  by John Miller
  March 15, 2011

  by Laurence Vittes
  May 2011


Brass & Organ Christmas
  by Kilpatrick
  Nov/Dec 2000



Sound the Bells!
WILLIAMS: Sound the Bells!; Fanfare for a Festive Occasion; Aloft to the Royal Mast-head!; THOMAS: Street Song; LAURIDSEN: Fanfare for Brass Sextet; 0 Magnum Mysterium; BROUGHTON: Fanfares, Marches, Hymns & Finale; PUTS: Elegy; HILTZIK: Spirals
The Bay Brass
Harmonia Mundi 807556 [SACD] 63 minutes

       The American Record Guide praised this group in 2000, saying "[The] Bay Brass is a truly wonderful brass ensemble with a full-bodied sound and no rough edges" (Gothic 49120: Nov/Dec 2000). Their newest recording, Sound the Bells!, continues to establish the Bay Brass (San Francisco Bay) as one of the finest large brass ensembles in the world and is an absolute triumph. As with their first release, the brass is closely captured by the microphones, but never to the detriment of tone quality. The SACD recording is extremely vivid and detailed, with just enough resonance to give the recording space and air. This group was formed in 1995 and made up of musicians from the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Ballet, and San Francisco Opera. No surprise then that they are so well versed in achieving amazing balance, pitch, color, and ensemble. This new release is simply beyond criticism.

Sound the Bells!, by John Williams, was composed in 1993 to honor the marriage of the Crown Prince of Japan. All of the works on this album are American premiere recordings, though this first piece was previously recorded as an orchestral fanfare by John Williams and the Recording Arts Orchestra of Los Angeles for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Each of the three Williams fanfares is perfectly conceived and displays the unique sound and style of his music that has become so closely associated with America and its International Olympic spirit.

Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony, composed his Street Song in 1988 for the Empire Brass and rescored the piece for the London Symphony Brass section in 1996--the version heard in this recording. Thomas leads the Bay Brass and proves that he is not just an excellent conductor, but also an accomplished composer. The piece has slight echoes of Copland and Bernstein with its jazzy syncopation, suspending harmonies, and sometimes simple, folk-like character; but it's a truly original work that has a firm place in the repertoire. There are several excellent recordings of the original scoring--Empire Brass (Telarc 80159) and Center City Brass Quintet (D'Note 1030: Mar/Apr 1999)--but this is the first appearance of Street Song for large brass ensemble.

Morten Lauridsen's choral setting of 0 Magnum Mysterium was written in 1994 and celebrates the birth of Christ and the veneration of the Virgin Mary--Lauridsen later re-scored the piece for the Bay Brass in 2001. The brass plays with such sensitivity, warmth, and choral sound that the new arrangement makes it every bit an equal to the original composition. The majestic climax at 3:57 is one of the most beautiful moments on the entire recording. Lauridsen's brief Fanfare for Brass Sextet is also dedicated to the Bay Brass and has a jazzy flair.

Bruce Broughton is an Emmy Award winning TV and film composer. His Fanfares, Marches, Hymns & Finale is a four-movement symphony commissioned by The Bay Brass in 2002. Each movement takes its style from the title of the piece and is filled with syncopated rhythms, chromatic runs, bombastic percussion, and blazing brass.

Kevin Puts served as the Young American Composer-in-Residence with the California Symphony from 1996 to 1999. His Elegy was written for the Bay Brass in 2009 and is based on an earlier work for string quartet. Much like the Lauridsen, Puts's setting is introspective and explores the color of the brass section more fully--engaging a full spectrum of instruments from tuba to piccolo trumpet. A gentle ostinato pulse is always felt underneath the rich melodic lines. Scott Hiltzik's energetic Spirals brings the album to a close by combining syncopated rhythms and mixed meters with a series of boisterous handclaps.

The real strengths of this album lie in the accomplished playing of the Bay Brass and the excellent compositions chosen. Their first recording was a definite home run and this one is a grand slam!





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