Side one big, full and dynamic, with horns and winds that are never screechy. (Side two of this first LP is very screechy and not at all to our liking.)
Side two of the second record has the sound of live music. Huge space, clear yet rich, this is the sound we were looking for!
Much of the credit for the sound and the music must go to Fennell. I’ve been told that he was a stickler for making sure everyone was perfectly in tune and playing correctly within the ensemble. That’s exactly what you hear when you play a record like this — it’s practically sonic perfection.
Fennell made a number of band music recordings for Mercury. This is my favorite, which, incidentally, was also the first Mercury Classical recording I had ever heard. I went out and bought a copy of it for myself immediately (on Golden Import reissue, a far cry from the sound of these much better pressings).
Also, if you ever see a clean copy of Vol. 1, which is only available in Mono, pick it up. If it’s cut right it is out of this world.
Our Famous 2-packs
Our 2-pack sets combine two copies of the same album, with at least a Super Hot Stamper sonic grade on the better of each “good” side, which simply means you have before you a pair of records that offers superb sound for the entire album.
Audiophiles are often surprised when they hear that an LP can sound amazing on one side and mediocre on the other, but since each side is pressed from different metalwork which has been aligned independently, and perhaps even cut by different mastering engineers from tapes of wildly differently quality, in our experience it happens all the time. In fact it’s much more common for a record to earn different sonic grades for its two sides than it is to rate the same grade. That’s just the way it goes in analog, where there’s no way to know how a any given side of a record sounds until you play it, and, more importantly, in the world of sound everything is relative.
Since each of the copies in the 2-pack will have one good side and one noticeably weaker or at best more run-of-the-mill side, you’ll be able to compare them on your own to hear just what it is that the Hot Stamper sides give you. This has the added benefit of helping you to improve your critical listening skills. We’ll clearly mark which copy is Hot for each side, so if you don’t want to bother with the other sides you certainly won’t have to.
Side One (Jacob – Suite: William Byrd)
The Earle of Oxford’s Marche
Jhon Come Kisse Me Now
The Mayden’s Song
Walton – Crown Imperial: A Coronation March
Holst – Hammersmith: Prelude and Scherzo
British military bands are as much a part of life in England as is the famous cup of tea. Just as the hot drink has its very own aroma, British bands have their very own inimitable sound, which is only to be found where it is brewed.
Of course, there’s always an exception, such as when the highly decorated and well-versed Eastman Wind Ensemble and their experienced leader Frederick Fennell set their foot on English soil. The American musicians prove that they can do more than justice to Gordon Jacob’s arrangements of suite movements, which William Byrd originally wrote for the harpsichord in the 17th century. With well-marked rhythmic contours and a freshness of tone, Fennell’s men pipe the music in lofty heights.
In Gustav Holst’s Hammersmith, the ensemble really flexes its muscles and produces precisely the saturated, organ-like cascades of sound that only a wind band can. The “Eastmen’ pull out all the stops, as it were, in Walton’s Crown Imperial March, thus following the dramaturgical plan of this album, which begins softly and dies away in splendor.