05 April 2018

"Best of the Best:" Wind Literature of the past 25 years...

"Best of the Best" lists are often no more than opinions masquerading as statements of fact...look at any conductor's "top ten list" and while you may find the usual suspects like the Holst Suites or Grainger's Posy, you may also find a work that leaves you shaking your head. In fact, in the first incarnation of this blog ten years ago, the very first post dealt with this somewhat difficult subject! I felt it fitting to revisit the idea, understanding that we're not setting out to reinvent the wheel. There are enough "top 10/20/50" lists out there to keep you busy for the rest of your listening life. What I am interested in, however, is gathering opinions on high-quality music written for winds in the past 25 years...

...why that 25-year window? Well, it's a nice number and all, but I do have a secret agenda...it allows me to keep one of my favourite works for winds on the list, as it was published in 1993.

So...in your opinion, what is the "best" (however you happen to define that term) composition written for winds (wind ensemble, symphonic band, orchestral winds, chamber winds, etc.) in the past twenty-five years?

For full disclosure...my #1, just barely sneaking into the 25-year window, is Ron Nelson's "Passacaglia: Homage on B-A-C-H." I have many others that would round out a top ten of recent works, but Nelson's Passacaglia still beckons to me. If you're unfamiliar with the work, please listen to this wonderful recording by the Dallas Winds and their conductor, Jerry Junkin. Of course, if you're able to pick up on all the references to Bach, the work is probably a tad more enjoyable for you, but it is still a wonderfully written piece regardless.

I'll update this post with works that get mentioned more often than others in the discussion - feel free to comment here or on the social media post that linked you here.

Edit #1:

The following pieces were mentioned several times in the various social media outlets this post was included on (as well as via private messages). While this does not represent a "consensus" per se, they are worth exploring if you are looking for "the best of the best" of the past 25 years.

Remember...to be included in this discussion, the work had to be written in 1993 or after.

I'll keep adding to this list as more and more opinions continue to emerge.