7 of 8 people found the following review helpful: Stephen Foster Played by a Saxhorn (not saxophone) Quintet, June 20, 2004 Imagine a post-Civil War family trooping to the town square on a fine summer evening to hear the town band play a concert of arrangements of popular tunes, that gentler period's equivalent of a rock concert of today. That's essentially what we have here. The Chestnut Brass Company, a Philadelphia brass quintet which on occasion plays on everything from Baroque sackbuts to the most modern trumpets and trombones, here plays on instuments of the saxhorn family. Saxhorns, invented by Adolphe Sax, the fellow who also invented the better-known saxophone, are brass instruments perfected in the 1840s. Their conical bore projects a uniquely sweet and mellow sound. They were exceedingly popular for town bands during the latter half of the century, but their use had waned by the turn of the 20th century. This quintet consists of an E flat soprano, a B flat soprano, an E flat alto, a B flat baritone, and a E flat contrabass saxhorn. The dulcet tones and sonic blend are a marvel to behold. Partly, of course, this is due to the expert playing by Bruce Barrie, Susan Sexton (or is it SAXton?), Marian Hesse, Larry Zimmerman, and Jay Krush.
Stephen Foster wrote very little purely instrumental music, but his songs fostered (pun unavoidable) innumerable instrumental arrangements. Those heard here are taken (and sometimes re-arranged) from the playbooks of such 19th-century bands as the Manchester, New Hampshire town band, the Boston Brass Band and the brass band of the 26th Regiment of North Carolina, not to forget the U.S. Marine Band. The tunes are arranged into quicksteps, waltzes, marches, schottisches and potpourris. Most of the familiar tunes are here: 'Beautiful Dreamer,' 'I Dream of Jeannie,' 'My Old Kentucky Home,' 'Camptown Races,' 'Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming,' and 'Some Folks Do' as well as plenty of relatively unfamiliar songs. And because these arrangements come from all over some of the tunes appear several times like old friends. Some of my own favorites are 'Some Folks' arranged by W. L. Baccus, 'Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming' arranged by Bruce Barrie, 'Camptown Quick Step' arranged by Jay Krush, and 'Gentle Annie' from the U.S. Marine Corps Band archives.
As an unabashed fan of the music of Charles Ives, I can't hear these arrangements without wondering which of these tunes Charlie heard (and played) when his own father, a former Civil War bandmaster, led his town band in Danbury, Connecticut.
Recommended for brass band lovers, Stephen Foster fans, and folks who like, say, the sound track to Ken Burns's 'Civil War' PBS documentary.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful: thanks again, naxos!, April 3, 2007
(forest lake, mn) - See all my reviews
naxos is the greatest budget label of all-time. i've gotten so many great discs from them, and never a bummer. as for this disc, it's a great idea(arrangements of the songs of stephen foster for 19th century brass band, performed on period instruments), wonderfully executed. i have many recordings of stephen foster material, and this is one of the best. this brass band sounds fantastic and the audio quality is very very fine. i highly recommend that you make this a part of your household.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful: This is great music..., October 9, 2007 This music isn't for you if you're looking for thrills. But if you like to listen to music that was 'social' and practical music of an earlier time, this is for you. Listen to the Ellen Bayne quickstep, or the California Quick Step. The simplicity of the music is very moving. The Chestnut Brass Company plays on old brass from the Civil War era, so there is no problem with the instruments sounding too modern/vigorous. Close your eyes, and you'll be transported....
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Tuesday - September 15, 2015
The Chestnut Brass Company was a true delight. The concert possessed that elusive balance of technical virtuosity as well as beautiful artistry, fascinating historical information and contexts as well as new music, and the perfect dose of good humor and charm. In addition, the members of CBC were highly professional and personable, engaging with their audience both during and after the concert. Obviously, they love what they do and our audience loved them!
"Superb musicianship coupled with a wide ranging repertoire and a wonderful sense of humor, made the evening a happy event, and will long be remembered by those who attended."
"They won over the crowd in about a minute and a half...and departed to a standing ovation."
"...a high brass standard...faultless playing ability."
"Talent, skill, superb musicianship and engaging humor - The Chestnut Brass Company has them all."