Sousa 'Stars and Stripes Forever'
The Stars and Stripes Forever opens this colection of Sousa’s music with characteristic swagger. All the favourite marches, such as The Liberty Bell, The Washington Post, King Cotton and Semper Fiddles are mixed in an attractive and varied programme with a lesser-known side of the ‘The March King’s’ musical personality. Under The Cuban Flag and his incidental music for El Capitan show how versatile a composer he was and the waltzes from La Reine de la Mer reveal him as an American Johann Strauss. Some of these items appear on disc for the first time in invigorating performances by a hugely augmentated Wallace Collection under John Walllace’s inspired leadership.
It was imaginative of John Wallace to include in this Sousa collection not only less familiar marches such as Jack Tar (Sousa's tribute to the British Navy), but more particularly some of Sousa's music in other rhythms. Undoubtedly striking are the descriptive Chariot Race, inspired by the success of the novel Ben Hur, and the immediately appealing Under the Cuban Flag, in which Sousa skilfully weaves Cuban national themes. It is good, also, to hear a selection from Sousa's most successful operetta, El Capitan, as well as the familiar march from the same source.
These performances incorporate all the effects that Sousa put into his marches, such as bells, whistles and the clash of drumsticks, and the digital sound and technically fine playing provide the disc with undoubted attractions for anyone wishing to sample, something of Sousa beyond the marches.