Corigliano: Circus Maximus, Gazebo Dances / Junkin, U Of Texas Wind Ensemble
John Corigliano's Third Symphony, for large wind orchestra, represents a major contribution to the band repertoire, and its fascinating exploitation of timbre and texture should win it listeners beyond that particular niche. The concept, "Circus Maximus", promises to be fun: Corigliano compares the decadent ancient Roman entertainment district to our modern glut of cable television channels and reality TV. Movements such as "channel surfing" offer a deft Ivesian collage of sounds, while the two central nocturnes are lovely, in very different ways. My only wish is that Corigliano didn't take himself quite so seriously: to equate the slaughter and mayhem of Roman entertainment to, say, the Real Housewives of New Jersey surely is pushing the comparison too far. Moreover, it runs the risk of sounding snobbish (not the music, the notes). Remember, when Ives did this sort of thing it was the popular tunes and other found objects that he was celebrating, and the classical tradition that he was thumbing his nose at (with good reason).
Anyway, that's not really important: what matters is that this is good music whatever its inspiration, and the coupling, the Gazebo Dances, is breezy and fresh as the title suggests. Outstandingly exciting performances and terrific recorded sound round out this very attractive release of good contemporary American music. And if Corigliano is being a bit provocative, it's never at the expense of your basic enjoyment. First rate.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Composer: John Corigliano
Conductor: Jerry Junkin
Orchestra/Ensemble: University of Texas Wind Ensemble
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