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La Voie Triomphale [Staff Band Of The Norwegian Armed Forces] Blu-ray Audio Review

The Performance

[Rating:3.5/5]

Military band music is a genre that will draw a line in the sand of the listening room. There are the old-schoolers who love this stuff and then there is everyone else. That said, great band performances can give us works that take on entirely new lives when delivered by wind instruments.  This recital by the premiere players of Norway’s military forces suggest by its French title that we will be hearing works by French composers and this is the case.  Beginning with Hector Berlioz’s Grande Symphonie Funebre et Triomphale, originally scored for wind instruments, and moving through Camille Saint-Saens’ “Grande March” from Orient et Occident, Paul Dukas’ Fanfare pour preceder La Peri, and Darius Milhaud’s Suite Francaise, it concludes with two short works by Henri Tomasi and Eugene Bozza. The players in this ensemble are among the most flawless wind instrumentalists that I have heard. However, my quibbles with the program are very straightforward. The lengthy Berlioz piece, written on a commission deadline, is one of his least inspired compositions and no instrumental virtuosity can change this. By contrast the Milhaud suite is brilliant and more like what this disc should have programmed.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

2L nearly always hits the bull’s-eye with their selection of recording locations and, once again, they strike gold in Oslo’s Jar Church. Working with their usual master recording of DXD 352.8 kHz/24-bit, the down-resolution to 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio or 2-channel LPCM (both at 192kHz/24-bit resolution) is most successful.  As the players are upfront, I found relatively little difference in the sonic effects. Downloads via the mShuttle program are available in FLAC (96/24),  WAV or MP3 formats.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

The rating is based on the additional high-resolution multi-channel SACD included in this package. The enclosed booklet gives us useful information about the program, composers, and performers.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

In the spirit of full disclosure, I like good band music, always have, always will. This is band music that fills that bill and then some. The caveat here is the inclusion of a piece that I have always considered one of the worst things that Hector Berlioz ever wrote, particularly since it occupies more than one third of the entire program. That aside, given the excellent musical and production values (and you only have to skip three chapters to avoid the Berlioz) this is wind ensemble music-making at a high level. Unlike the reading of a suspense novel, you should go to the last selection, Bozza’s Children’s Overture, and get the real-time slap in the face of which wind ensembles are fully capable.

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

 


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