Elektra/Nonesuch 979157-2



Cousins: Polkas, Waltzes and Other Entertainments for Cornet and Trombone, was Record of the Year in Stereo Magazine in 1977. This fun-loving tour of the famous band soloist style of turn-of-the-century America was a big hit then and now. Cousins is currently out of print, but many highlights can now be found on Cornet Favorites, featuring Gerard Schwarz on cornet. Cousins was one of a series of albums celebrating that virtuosic age in the history of American bands; Cornet Favorites revisits that era with a diverse selection of turn-of-the-century cornet and trombone solos and duets.

With Gerard Schwartz, cornet; William Bolcom and Kenneth Cooper, piano


Stereo Review, December 1977: Best of the Month, Record of the Year 1977

Cousins-Polkas, Waltzes, and other Entertainments for Cornet and Trombone. Clarke: Cousins; The Maid of the Mist, Polka: Twlight Dreams, Waltz Intermezzo. Pryor: Blue Bells of Scotland; Polka, Expositions Echoes; Thoughts of Love, Valse de Concert. Hanneberg: Triplets of the Finest, Concert Polka. Fillmore: Trombone Family. Gumbert Cheerfulness. Buchtel: Polka Dots. Smith: The Cascades, Polka Brilliant.

Gerard Schwarz, Allan Dean, and Mark Gould (cornets); Ronald Barron, Norman Bolter, and Douglas Edelman (trombones); Kenneth Cooper, (piano).

The sort of exultant, unabashed virtuosity exhibited on a new Nonesuch disc called "Cousins-Polkas, Waltzes, and other Entertainments for Cornet and Trombone" is always a delight in itself, but it is doubly delightful to have it lavished on such a surprising and altogether irresistible souvenir of a vanished era. Where, today, does one come across these gems-or, coming across them, can one hear them played with such spectacular aplomb? That they should be taken up with obvious affection by principals of the New York Philharmonic (trumpeter Gerard Schwarz) and the Boston Symphony (trombonist Ronald Barron) is only fitting, for they are for the most part challenging display pieces written by the most celebrated performers of their time-the brilliant Herbert L. Clarke, and the immortal Arthur Pryor.

Robert Offergeld's characteristically thorough annotation, easily worth the price of admission in its own right, identifies the composers, some of whom did not play these instruments (one of them was even a music critic), but the good-natured brilliance of the music is something that really cannot be described. (Not that some have not tried. The notes quote an Omaha newspaper review of boy-wonder Pryor in the 1880's: "His execution set the prairies afire; his vibrating pedal tomes rattled the windows of the Theater and killed the gold fishes and stunned the canaries all the way done to the packing plant.....") The rapid-fire triple-tonguing and swells of pure golden tone, the cantabile sections, the sassy "smears" in Henry Fillmore's outrageous Trombone Family, the feeling of exuberant comradeship in the duets and trios-these are enough to enchant the heart of anyone who might have thought his allegiance was only to Dufay, Dvorak, or Dallapiccola.

Sensational as the brass players are, Kenneth Cooper's stylish keyboard accompaniment identifies him as a full and splendid partner, and the extremely lifelike sound is the final touch in making this happy package so extraordinarily effective: it is ideally focused, comfortably "open," and, combined with the unusually silent surfaces, presents an all but visible image of the burnished brass. In short, this disc is a knockout.......Richard Freed

International Trumpet Guild Newsletter, Volume 4 No.3 May 1978

It is a lovely summer afternoon in the early 1900's, and the town band is playing a concert in a nearby bandstand. The band is very good, but the cornet and trombone soloists are particularly outstanding. Even though the year is 1978, and the accompaniment is not a band but a piano, this recording successfully recreates this feeling. Both Schwarz and Barron do a fine job reproducing the style of the period-soft, gentle tones, clean tonguing, almost exaggerated use of dynamics and sensitive but not overdone rubato.

Another very important point in the proper interpretation of this highly technical style is that technique should not be allowed to eclipse the music. Both Schwarz and Barron are very successful at this. For example, in The Maid of the Mist, Schwarz uses such extremely soft and light triple tonguing that one hears it only as ornamentation, and not as the main point of the piece.

The only other cornet solo is Twilight Dreams. While this piece is not technically demanding, it is a beautiful melody, and Schwarz gives it a very pleasant, sensitive interpretation. The cornet trio, Triplets of the Finest, on the other hand, is indeed a technical piece. Schwarz, Dean, and Gould maintain excellent balance throughout and stay together very well, even in the difficult, tongued cadenza. One is reminded of the great Mendez trumpet trio of the 1950's.

Since all the Pryor and Fillmore pieces are trombone solos, a great deal more time is devoted to trombone (6:41 of cornet solos versus 22:30 of trombone solos). These trombone solos give Barron a chance to display his superb tone and technique. For example, in Blue Bells of Scotland, he demonstrates his extreme flexibility in a series of very impressive jumps between middle or high-range tones and pedal tones, with no loss of tone quality. In the fast, slurred finale of Exposition Echoes, it sounds almost as if he were using a valve trombone. The Fillmore series is given a very smooth, humorous interpretation. Unlike many renditions of Lassus Trombone, the tonguing is clear and accurate but not at all harsh.

Polka Dots is a trombone trio, and it is as well done as the cornet trio. However, while it is not at all the fault of the performers, the low tessitura of the piece causes a muddy sound in places.

The cornet-trombone duets, Cousins, Cheerfulness, and The Cascades, are well selected and well executed. Both artists give them clean, sensitive interpretations, with a great deal of attention to dynamics.

In summary, this recording is a fine rendition of an elegant style of music that deserves not to be forgotten. Even though a trumpet or cornet player might wish for a little more time devoted to the cornet, it should be of interest to both trombone and trumpet or cornet players. .......Cliff Warren-Marshalltown, Iowa

American Record Guide, April 1978

Half a century ago the announcement of a performance of music by H.L. Clarke (1867-1945), Arthur Pryor (1870-1942), and Henry Fillmore (1881-1956) was enough to ensure a successful program and a full house. These outstanding native composers succeeded and overlapped with such musicians as John Philip Sousa, Victor Herbert and Patrick Gilmore-providing quality outdoor and indoor entertainment long before the days of radio, and before the symphony orchestra became a familiar institution. The other composers on this record are less well-known, and their works are somewhat more stereotyped.

Nonesuch now has issued an attractive album of polkas, waltzes, etc. featuring Ronald Barron along with Gerard Schwarz and five other performers. Side one includes two witty pieces by Clarke and particularly one by Pryor played splendidly by Ronald Barron, Gerard Schwarz and associates. But the three trombone pieces by Henry Fillmore which bring side one to a close are the pearls of the collection. The title piece, "Cousins," was written to show off Clarke himself on cornet and Leo Zimmerman on trombone. Clarke's brilliant "The Maid of the Mist" was romantically named after a little steamer which newlyweds took at Niagara Falls! Hearing Pryor's "Blue Bells" and "Thoughts of Love" one can perhaps believe that Pryor himself was the greatest trombonist who ever lived-yet how wonderfully this music is played on this record. Fillmore's mellow style bridges the old-time minstrel shows many of us can still remember nostalgically with the jazz of more recent vintage.

On the second side, despite two fun pieces for trombone by Pryor and one cornet piece by Clarke, the overall interest is less. In any case this disc is recommended for its insight into a very real part of American history. ........Hastings

Fanfare Magazine, Jan/Feb. 1988

Cornet Favorites. Gerard Schwarz, cornet (all except Exposition Echoes, Trombone Family); Ronald Barron, trombone (Cousins, Exposition Echoes, Trombone Family, The Cascades); William Bolcom, piano, Kenneth Cooper, piano, Clarke: From the Shores of the Mighty Pacific. Sounds on the Hudson. The Debutante. Bride of the Waves. Cousins. Made of the Mist. Simon: Willow Echoes. Arban: Fantaisie and Variations on "The Carnival of Venice." Thompson: At the Beach. Hohne: Slavic Fantasy. Pryor: Expositions Echoes. Fillmore: Trombone Family (medley including "Shoutin' Liza Trombone;" "Teddy Trombone;" Smith: The Cascades. Nonesuch has coupled the contents of one and one half LP's for this well-filled CD. We seem to have all of the 1974 issue Cornet Favorites (H 71298) and about half of the 1977 Cousins: Polkas, Waltzes, & other Entertainments for Cornet and Trombone (H 71341). Schwarz, as everyone must surely know, was a brilliant trumpeter (cornetist) before he forsook his instrument for conducting nearly a decade ago. The pieces chosen are all virtuoso in nature. With the exception of Virgil Thompson's At the Beach(1950), everything dates from the period 1864-1920. Each is a virtuoso challenge in its own right, and Schwarz (and Barron) meets each brilliantly. Notes from the two previous issues are included and provide a wealth of detail. The recorded sound is brilliant and clean. Highly recommended to anyone interested in solo brass recordings...........J. B.