It is often said that the soprano cornet is the instrument only to be tackled by the fearless, the brave, or the slightly crazy. Steve Stewart, the soprano player with the Cory Band , is a person who has tackled and tamed it, and this CD of original and challenging repertoire for the soprano cornet, confirms without question that he is a master of the instrument.
The disc opens with Rhapsody for Eb Soprano Cornet by Robert Eaves (who in reality is Edward Gregson). The contrasting themes of a work, that will stand the test of time, are delivered in style.
Dedicated to the memory of Brian Evans, a former great soprano player, Darrol Barry's Concerto for Eb Soprano Cornet , allows Steve Stewart to display his lyrical style in the first movement , Adagio, and particularly in the second movement, Lento. Whilst the third movement, Vivo, demands and receives a high degree of technical virtuosity before ending in a flourish.
Written by Darrol Barry for his friend and soprano player Ian Twiss, Soliloquy provides a calming contrast, especially the lovely close, to the energy of the previous Vivo.
Concerto for Soprano Cornet by Dan Price is dedicated to Steve Stewart's early mentor, James Watson. The work makes full use of the extended range of the Stomvi Titan four valve soprano cornet. Pushing the instrument past the boundaries of what is normally considered possible.
The opening movement, Intrada (Mathilde) , is heraldic in nature and includes references to Steve's Scottish heritage. The second movement, Poem (Rachel), is lyrical whilst exploring the extended range of the instrument. The final movement, Scherzo (Boris), is a real tour-de-force, it is performed with the conventional three valved instrument and brings the virtuoso performance to a dramatic conclusion.
Brandane Rhapsody by Ken Ferguson was specially commissioned for this recording and is dedicated to the composer's father . Brandane is the collective name for the natives of Scottish Islands of Arran and Bute and the work reflects three different scenes from the islands history.
The first section features the piccolo trumpet to introduce the listener to the hustle and bustle of Rothsay. The second section describes Kingarth with its beautiful views denoting tranquillity. Whilst the third section details the attack of Ospakr-Hakon upon the walls of Rothsay Castle in the 1230s. This is depicted by a rather brutal ostinato figure, followed by a more reflective passage that brings the music and the story of the two islands to a triumphant close.
Over the Horizon by the young composer Christopher Bond, which gives the disc its title was commissioned by Steve Stewart and Cory Band. The work was inspired by a painting by Rachael Hickman of four people sat on a beach bathed in moonlight, gazing out to the sea. The music creates a feeling of heartfelt longing throughout which is not resolved until the final note. This is a charming work that deserves to be performed frequently.
Two shorter works, but in no less quality, complete the disc. Philip Sparke's Capriccio was composed in the early 1980s and is a work full of character, a study for the instrument with its playful leaps in range. Malcolm Arnold's Fantasy for Trumpet written in 1969 and dedicated to Arnold's trumpet professor, Ernest Hall. The piece is in four sections and is performed unaccompanied.
During the recording of this quality album Steve Stewart used three instruments, the Stomvi Titan three valve and four valve soprano cornets and the Stomvi piccolo trumpet. Throughout the soloists is ably supported by the excellent Cory Band.
Will this CD be a contender for this year's solo disc of the year? Time will tell.
1. Rhapsody of Eb Soprano Cornet - Robert Eaves - [6.01]
2-4. Concertino for Eb Soprano Cornet - Darrol Barry
i) Adagio [3.03]
ii) Lento [3.26]
iii) Vivo [3.10]
5. Soliloquy - Darrol Barry [4.09)
6-8. Concerto for Soprano Cornet - Dan Price
i) Intrada (Mathilde) [7.22]
ii) Poem (Rachel) [7.42]
iii) Scherzo (Boris) [4.10)
9. Capriccio - Philip Sparke [3.31]
10.Brandane Rhapsody - Ken Ferguson [13.36]
11.Fantasy for Trumpet - Malcolm Arnold [3.57]
12.Over the Horizon - Christopher Bond [5.29]