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Again, as in the first volume from RR, the sound is demonstration quality so far as capturing music goes. Each section of the orchestra really sounds like itself; and just enough hall resonance is mixed into the picture that one gets a very real sounding impact. Given the existing high quality of RR work, the only soupcon of extra attraction a listener could possibly wish for, would maybe be super audio surround sound? Be happy though for what you do hear on this disc, wide frequency, accurate tonalities across strings-woodwind-percussion-brass, and an involving sense of being in a listening audience and venue.
All of the music in volume two from Kansas City is by Benjamin Britten, while the first disc combined Sullivan and Sibelius incidental music. Thanks to Britten’s range as a composer, we get variety in his orchestral music. For openers, we are cheered by Britten’s set of orchestral variations on a theme of Henry Purcell, titled Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra. Some versions of this music add in spoken narrations, to explain and describe what is going on in the distinct departments of the band. The narrator bit is left out this time around, all to good musical effect. Omitting the spoken narrator further emphasizes the music rather than the lesson; most listeners already familiar with Britten will know that these variations skillfully and delightfully show off the various band departments, as well as showing off how the modern orchestra combines and counterpoints.
The lesson here is that Stern and his predecessors have been quietly building a strong regional band in Kansas City. Strings, woodwinds, brass, percussion …. all get their due chance from the composer to show off and shine. No, there is not the nearly bottomless tonal heft and depth in this band that we have long come to expect from, say, Vienna or Berlin or Philadelphia. The comparison is a skewed set up, and Britten’s music lets the players speak for themselves, not run irrelevant races for misleading rankings. Each department comes across as tonally true, on target. As in the first disc what really stands out is the alert ensemble and the sheer musicality of the Kansas City playing. Add this Britten to the personal best of this band…To read the full review please click to see it at Amazon.com