Harking back to a golden era in recording, when the ensembles of the Eastman School of Music under the baton of the legendary Frederick Fennell made dozens of pioneering recordings for Mercury Living Presence, the Eastman Wind Ensemble celebrates its 60th anniversary with its first recording for AVIE Records featuring two seminal works by Stravinsky. The composer’s music figured early on in the EWE’s history – his Symphonies for Wind Instruments was performed in 1951 on a program conducted by Frederick Fennell that led to the establishment of the Eastman Wind Ensemble. And in 1966, at the age of 83, Stravinsky made his one and only visit to the Eastman School of Music, overseeing performances of several of his works. Under Mark Scatterday, who continues in the prestigious lineage as only the fourth conductor in the EWE’s history, the superior student ensemble performs Stravinsky’s Octet, while Eastman Virtuosi, made up of the Eastman School’s renowned faculty members, turn in a devilishly fine rendition of A Soldier’s Tale. Jan Opalach delivers an exceptionally nuanced narration as well as portraying the folk tale’s two protagonists, Joseph the solider and the Devil.
"...Mark Scatterday leads a sparky performance; Juliana Athayde’s violin playing has the right degree of astringency and Michael Burritt’s percussion work is marvellous. And as with the Octet, the close, detailed sound adds to the sense of claustrophobia. Rightly so, as this blackly comic work should never be an easy listening experience."
Graham Rickson - theartsdesk.com - 11 January 2014
"... you can’t go wrong with this enjoyable disc..."
James H North - Fanfare - July/August 2013