omnibus wind ensemble

The Omnibus Wind Ensemble is a swedish classical ensemble.  Besides very classical music, they also perform more 'modern' music.  They have performed various Frank Zappa compositions and even recorded a Zappa album.

June 14, the Omnibus Wind Ensemble / the Omnibus Kammarblåsare, performed a Zappa set called "Wind Zappa" at the Umeå Internationella Kammarmusik Festival. This festival took place from 2003/06/09 to 2003/06/15. A big part of the festival was dedicated to the music of Frank Zappa.

 

 

 

 

discography

  omnibus wind ensemble: from mozart to zappa
    (1992, cd, sweden, opus 3 cd 9203) – incl. ‘the bebob tango’ (frank zappa)
  omnibus wind ensemble: music by frank zappa
    (1995, cd, sweden, opus musicum cd 19403) - all compositions by frank zappa
  various artists: special 20th anniversary celebration disc
    (1996, cd, sweden, opus3 cd 19692) - incl. the omnibus wind ensemble: 'inca roads' (frank zappa)
  various artists: 30th anniversary celebration album
    (2006, sacd, germany, opus 3) - incl. the omnibus wind ensemble: 'sinister footwear, 2nd movement)

  various artists: 30th anniversary celebration album
    (2006, 2lp, germany, opus 3) - incl. the omnibus wind ensemble: 'sinister footwear, 2nd movement)

  omnibus wind ensemble: music by frank zappa
    (2001, sacd, germany, opus 3) - all compositions by frank zappa

  various artists: the best of... audiophile classics
    (2008, cd, germany, opus 3) -  - incl. the omnibus wind ensemble: 'inca roads' (frank zappa)

     

 

concerts

 

 

random notes

about:

     From: John Henley (jhenley@mail.utexas.edu)
Although this disc has proven somewhat controversial to the membership of alt.fan.frank-zappa, I find that it has plenty of entertainment value. Especially if you don't mind your Zappa being a bit on the genteel side, this is a very listenable disc.

I would have preferred peppier sequencing; the disc begins with its two most mellow performances, which is a mistake in my opinion.  But the opener, "Inca Roads", starts out in unusual "flambe" fashion and appears to be based on an intermediate version of the song as played by the Mothers in their fall 1973 tour, a version not available on any "official" FZ release.

Once we get to track 3, "Revised Music For A [sic] Low- Budget Orchestra," things get more interesting, and from there out there's lots to like - IF, as I said, the OWE's classical approach is to your taste.  Standouts include "Revised Music," "Alien Orifice," "Sinister Footwear" and a previously- unheard Zappa piece, "No. 7," which is an interesting example of the building-up of sonority and dissonance over a simple chord progression.  The disc ends in fun fashion with Ravel's "Bolero," squarely based on the 1988 "Best Band" arrangement.  I wonder, since these guys are classical players, if the Ravel estate would get its shorts twisted over the performance like they (apparently) did over Frank's?  In any event, it's a fun conclusion to a very nice disc. 

      From: Magnus Persson (magnuspe@Minsk.docs.uu.se)
Yesterday I got a brand new copy of this CD loaded with 60 minutes of pure Zappa + a version of Bolero (Maurice Ravel 1875-1937) in the spirit of the version Zappa has on TBBYNHIYO. I got this one directly from the producer so do not expect it to have reached record stores yet. But it will come soon as John Scialli already have announced earlier.

     From: Jason Catena (catena@typhoon.xnet.com)
I've found a web page for the Omnibus Wind Ensemble's "Music By Frank Zappa"- http://www.opus3records.com/class_wind.html#19304

     From: Stan (ivester@utk.edu)
     Subject: Suddenly available: first Zappa Super Audio CD

And it's Multichannel, too, but also includes 2-channel SACD and 2-channel regular CD tracks: Omnibus Wind Ensemble ­ Music by Frank Zappa - Ravel ­ Bolero / Hybrid Multichannel / Plays on all SACD and CD Players (Opus)  COPU 19423 SA $29.95
Available from Acoustic Sounds, a good place to find those hard-to-find items:
http://www.acousticsounds.com/acoustic/catalog/this_month.html

What are the Omnibus Wind Ensemble anyway?

They are a "non-standard" ensemble of about 12 professional musicians working in the town Uppsala in Sweden (which is my hometown :-) ). Since O.W.E have a special mix of instruments, the music they play is either special arrangements or music written for them. Normally they  play classical music and often mix it up with "modern" music. O.W.E is large enough to play music that was intended for large orchestras but also small enough to allow the individuality of all players to give their performances a perfect mix of precision, expression and that extra touch of musical feeling one does not experience often.

They have been playing Zappa now and then for many years. At first it was perhaps a fun ploy to add some bizarre flair to the concerts, but they soon found that Zappa's music was just as challenging and interesting to play as their ordinary repertoire, perhaps even more challenging because of the additional element of humor in Zappa's music.

My first encounter with Omnibus was at a concert where they played "The Black Page" as the last piece. I was quite nervous because I was afraid that they would have "ruined" the music or perhaps just played it artificially, since I have had some earlier bad with experiences with rock & classical instruments that was more or less pathetic. But as soon as I heard the first shivering notes on the Black Page it just felt they played them directly on my spine not on the Xylophone! I regard that moment as *the* musical experience in my life since I knew then that I would never hear Zappa live in my life, and suddenly  destiny (or something) drops this group just in front of my feet. After the concert I could not walk straight for several hours (no, I do not use drugs but I have to admit this was close to it...) and a dream had been ignited in me: What if this group decided to make a record with just Zappa music. Since they already had made the CD "From Mozart to Zappa" it was clearly a possibility. I wanted to tell them to do this, but I was a little to shy to behave as desperate Zappaholic and did not do that, but as it turned out the producer of their records nurtured they exact same feelings as I had, and of course he was in a much better position to persuade them...

I guess you have had enough of my personal rambling already, and wonder: -Well, how is it, is the new CD good?

It is not good, it is fantastic! Zappa always strove for perfection with his various mutations of the Mothers of Invention, and perfection is what you get. But it is not cold perfection. It just not notes played as they are written, since they actually smell Zappa all the way. But they do not just smell like Zappa - the notes are also enhanced by the ensembles own personality.

The sound quality is great. This is the kind of record that you play when you want to impress people with your equipment. The record label Opus 3 have a special recording philosophy using analog tube amplifiers and as little electronic processing as possible before the music get on to the record.

I will not say much about the individual pieces but here is a conceptual clue: In the beginning of 'Inca Roads' there are some music added as a inside joke and I have identified this to be the first notes of a "Summer Song" composed by Wilhelm Peterson-Berger (1897-1942), a swedish composer and a feared music critic. His tongue was as sharp as Zappa and he once wrote about a Soprano giving a concerto in Stockholm "Mrs X wore a red dress." and nothing more. Some more conceptual continuity!: A german conductor once visited Sweden and P-B wrote something like:"Mr X took off his shoes and started to wave his arms energetically in front of the orchestra and soon the room was filled with fumes from his german wool socks...". That is what I call "StinkFoot"!.  To add to this: the Beet the boot's record "'tis the season  to be JELLY", is a live Zappa concert from Sweden 1967 and on the front is a cartoon of Zappa spraying deodorant on his sock! Back to the subject: "Summer song" is recorded on the O.W.E CD19304 "Viriditas per Omnibus" which do not have any Zappa on it though. Some more conceptual continuity is perhaps a sax solo in the Black Page which have some notes that sound very familiar but I do not dare to guess on that one yet. By the way, the mysterious No. 7 is an unusual Zappa melody. It is very slow piece and have an air of sadness which make it interesting but is not the kind the thing that is played in a disco...

To summary one can describe this record as a cross between the Meridian Arts Ensemble and Ensemble Modern ('The yellow shark'). The difference is that Omnibus has no drummer and that many arrangements are taking unexpected freedoms sometimes with solos and stuff, but that just make the record more interesting.

     From: Lewis Saul (lsaul@azstarnet.com)
This is a highly-stripped down version of the analysis I've prepared:

OMNIBUS WIND ENSEMBLE -- Opus 3 CD 19403

Inca Roads

Per-Erik Adamsson is a *much* better arranger than Bossini.  Let's get that out of the way.  Of course, you would never know this was Inca Roads until 1:30.  The clues mount up until that point, and then we're off --
Adamsson is able to solve one problem which vexed Bossini by simply having some percussion available (himself).  That statement can be viewed as a compliment to Bossini, in that he chose to remain fixed with 5 instruments and within that limitation, did a pretty fine job, all in all.
But back to this disc -- by 2:20, we've got our first solo -- soprano saxophone (Lars-Erik Lidström).  Good solo.  At around 4:00, the tutti deliciously spreads itself over the cool, lazy, bongo-type feel underneath -- at 4:50 the "Guacamole Queen" part sounds a little thin.  But every note is in place (almost {5:16 - 5:18}).  Compare the 7 section at 5:30 to the OSFA version!  The notes are all there, but it doesn't explode at you (nothing to do with electric vs. acoustic, btw)...
At 6:20, they follow the augmentation which fz introduced in the '88 version.  Boring (imho)...
A worthy effort!

How Could I Be

Weird and lovely!  Adamsson captures the inherent lyricism perfectly -- and what's more, he has the good sense to eliminate himself from this arrangement -- the flow is perfect, somewhat ethereal -- very nice..

Revised Music

At 8:35, the longest cut.  This one's arranged by Lars-Erik Lidström.  He obviously took time with details which I'm sorry to say Bossini didn't seem to get to.  Lidström has added a few new things, but is in general very faithful to the score...
A concerto for violin, then for guitar, now -- a Concerto for Chamber Orchestra!  Aside from a bit of clarinet and oboe obliggati, there are no "solos" up to this point.
At 2:57 the music comes to an abrupt halt.  Sarah Lindloff's piccolo lazily drifts atop of a few percussion sounds...
Then at 3:32, the music resumes right where it left off.  Very tight playing, and gorgeous orchestration.
At 4:43 (6/8) -- a repeated ostinato figure, followed by another "cadenza" this time for clarinet ...very clever --
Lidström should be very proud of this!

Let's Make the Water

by Gunnar Persson (contrabassoon player!) -- naturally the contrabassoon figures prominently -- except it's not Gunnar playing it! (Eva-Lena Holmstedt)...
Nice bouncy arrangement that does no harm...

Black Page

Compare this to Bossini and the differences between these two discs becomes a lot less of a mystery.  Adamsson conveys the uniqueness of the melody in a completely new way:µ
The intro is the same as the MAJNH version ("New Age Version") -- however, here, Adamsson stays with the "mellowness" of that intro for a bit longer.
Birgitta Karlsson's French Horn punches beautiful light-colors into the texture -- joined soon thereafter by soprano sax...
At 1:18 the melody is punched out -- beautifully scored -- until 1:49 when the groove beings.  That is an incredible 109 seconds there, folks!  Really!
It gets better.  The melody continues to scoot back and forth between solo instruments, or entire tutti passages sometimes -- always maintaining a fresh perspective on the melody by using the inherent color of the instruments to give the melody a freshness (especially these melodies which we all know and love!)...
At 3:06 an extraordinary passage with bells in the background.  Very very cool sounding...
At 3:24 we being a long tenor sax solo.
At 4:33 it ends.  More brilliant arranging...

No. 7

This disc was already worth the price of the disc, long ago.  But it sure is great to hear this little gem!  Very dark, contemplative music.  Like "wind quintet" the rhythmic values remain the same throughout, while fz explores all the harmonic possibilities...beautiful... 

Igor's

No surprises.  Nice inclusion.

Be-Bop

Lidström again.  He seems to have invested a lot of his own compositional energy into this one!  At times, he dissolves into far-flung fugal territory here [1:16 to 2:28!  Vedy interesting, tho...

Alien Orifice

Lidström.  Again, some composing here!  I'm not complaining, it's great! But the first couple of bars seem to be Lidström, setting up Zappa!  A much slower tempo than I feel is appropriate, but that's a minor quibble.  I don't own any Barfko music, but I know some of you out there do.  You know who you are.  I understand from one of you, that the Barfko music is full of errors.  Do they repeat them here?  I gladly yield to those with more Orificial expertise in these matters...
The instrumentation is *quite* unique -- a quintet of vibraphone, contrabass clarinet (doubling clarinet), bass clarinet and two bassoons)
All said and done, I'd rather listen to Malice Laugh's MIDI of this tune.

Dog Breath/Uncle Meat

arr by Leif Halidén, who doesn't seem to be a performer in the ensemble.
These seem to be right off the music, a la Yellow Shark versions...

Sinister Footwear, 2nd mvmnt

arr. by Persson.  Excellent job!  He's got oboe players doubling on Glockenspiel; clarinet players on marimba -- making full use of his resources!  "How many doubles can you get?"
Once again -- a fine job, but I find A.J. Wilkes' MIDI more interesting vis-a-vis orchestration and good kinetic musical movement...

Brown Shoes

Lidström's arrangement -- perhaps the most *clever* on this disc, in some ways.  The music lends itself perfectly to these instruments!  An example of care in arranging: "...she squealed for a week to get him to go..." -- it would have been quite easy to just have a "squealing" sound here -- but he puts in some nice quintuplets there -- very tasty...
He screwed with the Holst quote at the end, though...
This can't replace the original oratorio, or the fabulous '80 version on TR -- but it's sure nice to have *in addition* to those!

Peaches

Compare to Bossini.  Yes, this is a larger ensemble, ergo more lush of a sound is possible.  But I speak more of the actual arrangement.  Here Lidström is never afraid to leave out the droning, pounding bass notes which Bossini felt were so necessary...
At 1:45, he transforms the whole thing into a quick little Viennese waltz -- very clever...
At around 2:00 the bassoon punches out a quirky syncopated bass line that is also very cleverly integrated...
A fine bunch of Peaches, methinx...

Bolero

The cause-and-effect causality loop created by Zappa fans checking out a woodwind quintet's arrangement of Ravel's Bolero are just too weird.
This is spectacular!  'nuff said...

GRADE:  Solid A

-- Lewis Saul  


2009 01 01 - from the blog

Swedish / German label Opus 3 has a new sampler out. It's a so-called SACD, which stands for Super Audio CD (I think). As Opus 3 is the label for the Omnibus Wind Ensemble, this sampler also includes a track by the Ensemble. For our pleasure, it's 'Inca Roads', taken from the "Music By Frank Zappa" album.


 

 

-- additional info: Lennart Gustafsson


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