Apr. 20th, 2012

crysania4: (Default)
I will start this off by saying if I had to pick any single work as my #1 favourite work of all time it would be this particular piece.

I still remember my introduction to the work: Marian Catholic's 1991 marching band show. I remember watching it from back field at the BOA Grand Nationals in Indianapolis after getting the photos of our band taken. And I remember thinking "Wow this is boring." Despite that, they came in 2nd place to our 7th place finish (a great disappointment as we put on a much better show at Prelims than Finals).

Then my senior year of high school (the following year) I heard rumors of OUR marching band doing the same music and thought "Oh God that was so boring!" And to top it off, our wind ensemble instructor decided we were going to play the first and fifth movements of the work. The day we pulled it out in band and played the first chords of the first movement I was HOOKED. I couldn't believe I found the music boring and I knew that our arranger would rock the house with it.

I immediately ran out and bought a recording of the work. I have so many fond memories of it. It was done in band the year AFTER I graduated, but I was at rehearsals many times throughout the summer and into the fall. I went to States. I knew that show better than a lot of people did and still, to this day, I get chills down my spine. Strangely enough it means even more to me than the 1992 show we did my senior year.

To top all this off, my junior year of college, the Crane wind ensemble that I was a part of played the entire work. I auditioned for and was granted the Eb Clarinet part and got to play a huge solo in the 2nd movement. It was one of my three dream pieces to play on Eb Clarinet (the others being Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastic and Strauss's Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks, neither of which I've had the chance to play).

Suffice it to say, this work brings back a lot of fantastic memories!

The work was written in 1984-1987 and was premiered in 1988. Johan de Meij is a Dutch conductor, trombone player, and composer. If you go look for recordings for the work you'll find one by the London Symphony Orchestra and ones by The Royal Military Band, The Amsterdam Winds, and other wind groups. So naturally you'd want to get the original, right? You might assume that the original Symphony was written for a SYMPHONY Orchestra, but you'd be wrong. This is one of the truly outstanding and beautiful works written originally for a wind ensemble. I own the Royal Miltary Band's recording, as well as the arrangement for orchestra and both are fantastic in their own right. But I still prefer the power and majesty of the original.

My only disappointment with the work? They didn't use de Meij to compose the score for the movies!

You can listen to the movements on youtube.

I. Gandalf This movement is AMAZING.
II. Lothlorian The Eb Clarinet solo starts around 3:20, echoed by the Bb Clarinet a moment later. The other absolutely fantastic, chills up my spine moment, starts around 4:42. The way the brass cross over and take over from the woodwinds. DEAR GOD.
III. Gollum I think the slithering soprano sax solo is PERFECT here.
IV. Journey in the Dark (Made up of two subsections: The Mines of Moria and The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm)
The Hobbits This is a great happy ending to this piece.

If you're interested in our marching band show, here's a youtube video I ripped off an old VHS tape. It's not a fantastic recording, but you can still see the show pretty well.

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