Adam Frey is an expert euphonium player, and Taking Flight is his second outing for MSR Classics. "Expert" is certainly the operative word; Frey can get from the bottom to the top of the instrument lickety split. Endless streams of fast notes with no breath? No problem. In lyric material found on Taking Flight, such as the transcription of "Che gelida manina" from Puccini's La bohème, Frey's tone is so fluid and pristine he almost sounds like he is playing a saxophone. The euphonium-centered new work here is the Concerto for Euphonium: Swimming the Mountain by Allen Feinstein, the director of Northeastern University's wind ensemble; it won the 2006 Harvey Phillips prize for excellence awarded by the International Tuba and Euphonium Society. Concerto for Euphonium: Swimming the Mountain is certainly pleasant; the tutti sections are couched in a "revitalized Big American style," though there remains ample time in the concerto for the euphonium -- and Frey -- to show off the goods.
Apart from the concerto, most of the works on Taking Flight are transcriptions of popular light classical repertoire. While the instrument, not the repertoire, is the star of the show, some might prefer a more challenging program. If so, those listeners should seek out Frey's other recordings, which highlight new, original works for euphonium. For most just interested in the euphonium, and in the player, Taking Flight is just fine; Frey takes this bumpiest of instruments for a smooth ride throughout, and always comes in for a three-point landing.