Dallas Wind Symphony • Horns for the Holidays

Jerry Junkin conducting
Reference Recordings RR126



by John Crossett | December 3, 2012

ust in time for the audiophile’s holiday season comes this fine new recording from the Dallas Wind Symphony and Reference Recordings. It collects an eclectic group of compositions, including such classics as "I’ll Be Home For Christmas," "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," and "Deck The Halls," along with some less obvious music that can translate to the holidays, like Leroy Anderson’s "Sleigh Bells," the symphony’s own David Lovrien’s "Minor Alterations: Through The Looking Glass," and Alfred Reed’s "Russian Christmas Music."

This is a special recording on a number of different levels. First, there is the very makeup of the Dallas Wind Symphony, comprising 23 different instruments and 55 musicians -- with additional musicians and instruments added for certain numbers. Second is the manner in which these numbers are presented. Gone is the one-at-a-time approach in favor of a 60-minute medley of holiday music. Third, the arrangements of these familiar tunes veer just far enough away from tradition to keep listeners engaged. You’ll always recognize the melody, but in an almost jazz-inspired way. Junkin and the Dallas group take this music on some unexpected twists and turns that retain the mood, if not the letter, of the music.

Finally, there is the sound. This is Reference Recordings, after all, so one would expect the sonics of this HDCD to be top flight, and it doesn’t disappoint. The lead instruments, such as the saxophones, are always crisp and clear, and the entire ensemble is realistically rendered. The shimmer and ring of the bells and the breathiness of the alto sax -- wow! You can dissect each arrangement down to the level of individual instruments and enjoy the music in that manner, or you can just sit back and be enveloped by the overall presentation. It’s your choice. To my ears, this is one of Reference Recordings' best-sounding albums.

Disclaimer: I do not celebrate holidays, so I may not be the best judge of the spirit captured here. But I can say that I enjoyed the Dallas Wind Symphony’s take on these holiday compositions enough that, when the disc was over, I would gladly listen again. I can’t offer higher praise than that.

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