Chandos' Dances with Winds features one of Britain's top symphonic bands, the Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra under Clark Rundell, in a program of dance-oriented wind music by Nikos Skalkottas and John Corigliano along with Britons Kenneth Hesketh and Adam Gorb. What is meant by "dance oriented" is that these works are not ballets, nor are any of them designed to make one want to get up and boogie, but they nonetheless are original works for band that have some basis in traditional dance forms. That is still no reason to get much excited about this Chandos disc, as the main thing missing from this collection is found in the first word in the front title -- the element of "dance." While Chandos does not help Rundell and his group through their flat, ultra-conservative sound mix, which sounds like the kinds of digital recordings EMI made and issued on LP in the 1980s, there is simply no spark, sense of lift, or movement to these performances. One may cite the lovely tone colors and excellent blend achieved by this ensemble, and agreed, this is present. However, compare this to the recording of Adam Gorb's marvelously inventive Yiddish Dances made by the Texas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble. The university-made live sound on the Mark Custom release is certainly not on the same technical par with Chandos, and the ensemble voicings not as tidy, but the pieces are played with a sass, swing, and bite that make them sound truly "Yiddish." By comparison, Rundell's interpretations are plodding and leaden, sort of what matzo ball soup would be like without the chicken flavoring. Because this group has obviously worked so hard to achieve such a fine ensemble blend, it is difficult to be tough on them. Nevertheless, no one who can make Skalkottas' hyper-intense and riotously colorful Nine Greek Dances sound boring should rightfully earn a recommendation.
AllMusic Review by Uncle Dave Lewis
|Danceries, for wind orchestra|
|Greek Dances (9) Suite, for military band, A/K 11a|
|Gazebo Dances, arrangement for wind band|
|Yiddish Dances, for symphonic wind orchestra|