Tuesday, January 14, 2014
University of Kansas Wind Ensemble excels with Glass/Fairouz release
Mohammed Fairouz: Symphony No. 4, 'In the Shadow of No Towers'
University of Kansas Wind Ensemble
Paul W. Popiel, conductor
The University of Kansas Wind Ensemble turns in an excellent recording of some challenging and memorable compositions. this university ensemble is first-rate, especially the soloists. The ensemble blend is seamless, and the playing rock-solid.
Philip Glass' concerto, Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, works quite well in this transcription for wind ensemble. Glass' sparse ensemble writing sounds even more so without strings. The result is a work with a razor-sharp edge to it.
Mohammed Fairouz's Symphony No. 4 was based on the Art Spiegelman graphic novel "In the Shadow of the Towers." Fortunately, one doesn't have to be familiar with the source to make sense of the music. Fairoz's composition uses the more traditional voicings found in wind ensemble literature. But that doesn't make this work any less original. His take on Spiegelman's take on 9/11 juxtaposes the known and familiar with the strange and unknown.
Although the work deals with an emotionally heavy topic, it does so in an authentic fashion. No maudlin tune to mourn the fall of the towers, nor uplifting Coplandesque hymn at the end to signify hope. Fairouz uses a sophisticated musical language to convey the complex and sometimes conflicting emotions 9/11 sparked. And I think he succeeds.