Classical Candor reviews the Carnegie Mellon Wind Ensemble and George Vosburgh’s recording of Strauss: The Happy Workshop & Serenade, Op. 7:
“the Carnegie Mellon players do the piece justice, as we might expect from an ensemble that has been around since 1908. Maestro Vosburgh has been their Director since 2011. They dance through the music with a smooth, graceful, subtle, yet expressive agility. It was fun listening to them move effortlessly from Strauss’s more serious passages to his light, witty ones. They handle the two, brief central movements especially well, too, the Andantino willowy and supple, with some charming little interludes, and the Minuet elegant and refined. The finale movement is a tad problematic, moving as it does from one mood swing to another, yet here they also manage the transition with the utmost poise, ending on the sweetest of notes.
Coupled with “The Happy Workshop” is the Serenade, Op. 7 (for 13 wind instruments), one of Strauss’s early works, written in 1882 when he was still in his teens. Strauss wrote a ton of music in his youth, only a few of which later got opus numbers, this one significantly. The album pairs the Serenade with the Sonatina No 2 as bookends to Strauss’s career, showing how in the composer’s later life he returned to his early, more Classical-Romantic origins. Under Maestro Vosburgh’s direction, the tone of the Serenade is remarkably similar to that of the “The Happy Workshop,” and it makes a fitting finale to the album.
Producers George Vosburgh and Stephen Story and engineers Sean Royce Martin, Keith O. Johnson, and Riccardo Schulz recorded the music a Kresge Theatre, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA. Like most Reference Recordings, this one is quite natural, both in its perspective and its frequency balance. The room is always present in a medium-distanced miking scheme, with a fair amount of ambient bloom. The overall effect is warm and inviting, a touch soft, and always listenable.”—John J. Puccio, Classical Candor