An Orchestra Of One
REVIEW by Willard Manus

Direct-to-Tape Recording Co. (DTR) was founded in 1979 with the goal of capturing the sound of the performance as you would like to hear it if "you were there."

Although recording techniques have changed from the open reel tape the company originally used to PCM digital in 1982 and later to Digital Audio Tape, the company's philosophy has remained the same. DTR recordings are recorded with two microphones to capture a natural sound and the acoustic space of the performance. No electronic tricks and gimmicks are used in a misguided attempt to "improve" the sound. Very few splices (if any) are used within each movement or piece in order to capture the musical "soul" of the performance.

The company's primary format is now the CD, although titles are also available on cassette.

Among DTR's outstanding new releases is AN ORCHESTRA OF ONE, 17 transcriptions for piano solo performed by Clipper Erickson. Such works as "Liebesfreud" by Fritz Kreisler (transcribed by Sergie Rachmaninoff), "Jesu, Joy of Man" by J.S. Bach (trans by Myra Hess), and the "Waltz from Faust" by Gounod (trans. by Franz Lizst) are featured, but top honors on the 12-cut disc must go to Robert Strassburg's transcription of J.S. Bach's "Chaconne in D Minor," which closes the five-movement Violin Partita No. 2, written during Bach's years in Cothen, Germany between 1717 and 1723.

Strassburg has adhered to the spirit of the work, if not always to the letter. Bach's tri-part structure and persuasive melodic profile remain intact, although considerable amplification of the violin's role takes place in order to provide a new dimension to Bach's masterpiece in a manner not dissimilar to the master's keyboard transcriptions of the violin concerti of Vivaldi.

Bach's work has previously been transcribed by Strassburg's predecessors, Robert Schumann, Joachin Raff, Johannes Brahms and Ferrucio Busoni. The latter's version has held sway for 50 years, but now it must give way to Strassburg's superior interpretation, if only because it adheres more closely to the spirit of the work by using the sonorous resources of the piano by superimposing the original violin line over a bass line. The result is a lean texture without much embellishment which conveys
the granite-like noble character of the original. To order a copy, visit

Strassburg is professor emeritus at Cal State LA and a prolific composer of choral music. He has also composed the music for a new American opera about Walt Whitman in New Orleans in 1848, CONGO SQUARE.