"THE QUEEN'S BIRTHDAY SALUTE
Royal Birthday Ceremony/21-Gun Salute/Band Concert
Royal Artillery Band/Herald Trumpeters/Major S. V. Hays, cond.

VANGUARD CLASSICS SVC 51  (M) (ADD) TT:  43:10  

In June each year London has its Royal Birthday Celebration in Hyde Park (although the actual monarchial birthday has nothing to do with the celebration).  A full musical program is given by the Royal Artillery Band, which has participated in these activities for more than two centuries  In the early 18th century, wind bands were assembled for special occasions; for one of these in mid-18th century Handel wrote his Royal Fireworks Music. The public wanted something even more festive and in 1762 the Band of the Royal Regiment of Artillery was formed.  Over the years it has developed into a large, virtuoso ensemble, which participates in the annual Celebration.

The Royal Artillery Band is directed by Major S. V. Hayes, who in very British style narrates the "Trooping the Colors" activities.  "The Queen's Birthday Salute" heard on this CD was recorded at a ceremony in honor of the 31st birthday of Queen Elizabeth II which took place June 13, 1957. A quarter-million spectators viewed the pageant which opened with "Trooping the Colors," a rite that basically has not changed for three centuries.  This is preceded by a fanfare ("The Royal Regiment"), followed by "The Royal Artillery Slow March," "21-Gun Royal Birthday Salute" and varied other musical works appropriate for the occasion.  The entire "Salute" only takes about 21-minutes; the CD also contains a concert by the Royal Artillery Band featuring their Herald Trumpeters including  a musical panorama, Around the British Isles,  closing with Sir Arthur Bliss's Fanfare for a Jubilant Occasion.

This recording was made live in Hyde Park.  Seymour Solomon produced it and Marc Aubort—early in his distinguished career—engineered. Both did their tasks spectacularly well. In spite of being recorded outdoors and being an analog recording, there is thundering  bass, wide stereo spread and an overall natural sonic picture that belies the fact that this was recorded more than three decades ago. Sonically It doesn't have the extra impact that digital recording could provide, but the overall effect is exhilarating. The sound of galloping horses—and the 21-gun salute—will challenge any speaker system. Playing time for the CD is but 43:10, insignificant for those interested in this type of program and for those looking for a sonic spectacular to show off their audio system. 

R.E.B. (Sept. 2000)