This collection of contemporary works performed by the Percussion Ensemble of Texas Christian University is heavily weighted to the gently melodic, with little focus on the rhythmic complexity and timbral diversity that frequently characterize percussion music. The emphasis is on marimbas, vibraphones, xylophones, glockenspiels, and chimes, with most other instruments providing color and support. The melodic instruments are so prominently featured that most of the pieces could, with very little disruption, have been written for orchestra or wind ensemble. Eric Ewazen's three-movement Symphony for percussion, the longest work on the program, is unabashedly conventional in its use of functional tonal harmony, and while it is not typical of pieces generally heard on percussion recitals, it has an easy melodic appeal that could make it popular with broad audiences. The other pieces, by Dave Hall, Ricardo Souza, Raymond Helble, and Till Meyn, are similarly melodic, and skillfully put together. Blake Tyson's A Ceiling Full of Stars stands out for its lovely, glistening sonorities that magically evoke the multitude of twinkling stars, and Dwayne Rice's I Ching is timbrally varied and colorfully mysterious. The TCU percussion ensemble, led by Brian A. West, plays with precision and high spirits; his players obviously have highly developed mallet technique. The collection of pieces heard here may not be the usual for percussion ensembles, where more diversity and pushing of boundaries is more the norm, but they are attractive, conventional works that stress the genre's lyrical rather than rhythmic side.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
|Symphony for Percussion|