WASBE Conference San José – Landesblasorchester Baden Württemberg
August 1, 2015
"Excellent musicians, brilliant conductor! Great performance.
Real music making.
Words fail me!
Blog Fergus O' Carroll - WASBE
"The day ended with the Landesblasorchester Baden-Württemberg under the excellent direction of Björn Bus. From the first note, I could tell this band was something special. They had a GREAT overall brass sound, dominated by the horns. They also had 8 million clarinets (I counted–there was time) which made for a very rich and full ensemble sound but somehow still allowed for plenty of transparency. Even more so than the Israelis before them, they moved and breathed as a unit, lending expression and direction to every phrase and musical idea. Maestro Bus’s conducting had everything to do with this, lending shape and direction to every moment of the music. Their repertoire was:
- Ouverture Solennelle, op. 72 by Reinhold Glière (arr. Robert Grechesky)
- Cap Kennedy by Serge Lancen
- Bachseits by Johannes Stert
- The Fools Journey (complete 3 parts) by Hans van der Heide
- ENCORE (well deserved) something beautiful that I couldn’t identify (not “Es Verdankt” as someone around me suggested)
Comment LBO: the encore was "Zueignung" (Dedication) from Richard Strauss
The Glière was an ideal opening showpiece for band, highlighting the strengths of every section and the ensemble as a whole. The piece constantly had forward momentum, thanks to Herr Bus’s inspired leadership. The Lancen was a meaty tone poem about a space shuttle launch. There was plenty of variety, and it was quite exciting at times. The same can be said for the Stert, which is based on a solo violin work by J.S. Bach (and which featured uniquely amazing solos from e-flat clarinet and piccolo trumpet). In the case of both pieces, I feel strongly that they owe their success to the rock-solid and inspired musicianship of this band and especially Herr Bus, whose musical intentions were compelling, clear, and organic. (You might say I’m a fan.) Otherwise, they might have fallen flat as so much unknown, under-musicked repertoire does in less capable hands. To put it another way, one of my mentors at Arizona State, Wayne Bailey, often said that there were certain pieces (in fact, most in existence) that could be “defeated” by a bad band. I think these pieces are among them, however this ensemble and their conductor lifted them to soaring, unequivocal victory.
The excellent musicianship continued into The Fool’s Journey. At nearly an hour in length, it would have been easy for this to devolve into misdirected mush. But the piece itself was extremely well organized and expertly paced: only once did I feel like it was starting get overlong or repetitive, and AT THAT VERY MOMENT the piece ended. There were some moments where it veered towards recycled ideas. For instance, I’m sure we’ve all heard plenty of flute and harp love music in our time. Also, as evidenced by the fact that “Spooky Mormon Hell Dream” is the least effective number in The Book of Mormon the musical, the fire and brimstone Devil treatment seemed overmuch. Doesn’t the Devil also indulge in more sneaky evils like making you evade your taxes or forget your grandmother’s birthday? For me, the highlight came at the end of the part I going into part II – I just wanted to hear that sound forever. And so I was glad when the encore came up. LBO folks, I’d love to know what that gorgeous piece was. And Björn Bus, I’d love to buy you a beer if you’re at the hotel bar tonight!
What a fine day it has been. Thank you, WASBE!"
Blog Andy Pease