With Altissimo!'s Duty, Honor, Country, General "Stormin'" Norman Schwarzkopf makes his unlikely debut as a recording artist in Harold Walters' piece of that title, which is taken from the motto of West Point and utilizes a narrated text derived from a speech by General Douglas MacArthur. While Schwarzkopf does not exactly have the awe-inspiring, stentorian, and slightly hypnotic voice that MacArthur possessed (who does?), he does a respectable job of fitting the words to the right places in the music and imbuing the reading with his own distinctive and easily recognizable parlance. Not every four-star American general is pleased to be pressed into such service, and it appears that Schwarzkopf enjoyed this assignment -- not as earth-shattering an event as defeating Saddam Hussein's long-range tanks, but one that is likely to satisfy and entertain his many admirers.
The rest of the disc, performed by the U.S. Army Field Band under Colonel Finley R. Hamilton, is very good, even excellent in spots. The performances are nice and as crisp as a good West Point Cadet's uniform, although the jig Garry Owen could have been a touch faster. There are many soldiers who will relish in having a recording to listen to of vocal selections such as The Corps and Dogface Soldier, numbers that are sung with regularity in the U.S. military but seldom heard outside it. The program that Hamilton has mapped out here is a nice blend of elements, not just a string of the same old marches, nor too exotic, and avoids the kind of military concert program one might sit through on a hot summer day that tends to be a bit on the boring side. Altissimo!'s sound is bright, immediate, and powerful; it will make the listener want to stand at attention.