All the pieces on this disc are arrangements of music by some of the world’s greatest composers. Most listeners will have heard the music before but perhaps not in a brass band arrangement. Whatever one’s musical taste, there will be something on this CD which will be to their liking. It is a programme of popular classical music with well-crafted arrangements for performance by brass bands.
First let me deal with the soloists: Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion, arranged by Rick Mizell provides a vehicle for principal cornet Kathleen Gaspoz to display her talents. This is the first time I have heard this girl and she certainly impresses with her beautiful sound, articulation and presentation.
In Andrew Baker’s arrangement of J S Bach’s Ave Maria, horn soloist Sheona White displays excellent tonal qualities, control and a sensitive interpretation.
Euphonium soloist Philippe Schwartz is brilliant in his performance of Devil’s Duet by Peter Meechan. He displays a wide range, dexterity and good tonal quality with ultimate ease, matching the virtuosity of composer and violinist Niccolo Paganini.
The first item is Richard Wagner’s The Entry of the Kings from the final act of Lohengrin and Bertrand Moren’s transcription retains all the weight of Wagner’s music with its fanfares and massive majestic tunes.
Passacaglia in C Minor is perhaps one of J S Bach’ lesser well known works with its continuous variations over a bass theme. There is something happening all the time to keep all members of the band busy in this excellent arrangement by Howard Snell.
Paul Hindmarsh’s adaption of six short movements from William Walton’s A Wartime Sketchbook is colourful and full of interest with its varying moods and styles.
Bizet’s music is well displayed in Gordon Langford’s A Carman Fantasy’. He must be the best at putting together tunes in this musical format.
Sullivan’s The Long Day Closes, arranged by Eric Ball who to my mind is one of the very best of our brass band composers and arrangers, is here given a rather slow, drawn out, yet movingly sincere performance.
The final item, Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, is not one of my favourite pieces, but I appreciate it is popular and liked by many, however it is enhanced somewhat in Howard Snell’s masterly arrangement.
I found this CD different than some that I have reviewed recently in that it has a wide variety of styles with a seriously musical content. There are some lighter moments but it is never frivolous. This must be one of the best recordings, both for programme content and quality of performance that is currently available. I enjoyed every minute. The band perform at a very high standard throughout and it is obvious that the direction and interpretation is authoritative and controlled.
Programme notes, which provide interesting information about the music are by David Thornton.
1. The Entry of the King - Wagner arr: Bertrand Moren
2. Passacaglia in C Minor - J.S.Bach arr: Howard Snell
3. Oblivion - Piazzolla arr: Rick Mizell - Cornet Soloist: Kathleen Gaspoz
4. - 9. A Wartime Sketchbook - Walton arr: Paul Hindmarsh
i) Prologue (Went the Day Well?)
ii) Bicycle Chase (The Foremen went to France)
iii) Refugees (The Foreman went to France)
iv) Scherzo: Young Seigfrieds (The Battle of Britain)
v) Romance: The Lovers (Next of Kin)
vi) Epilogue (The Foreman went to France)
10. Ave Maria - J.S.Bach arr: Andrew Baker - Tenor Horn Soloist Sheona White
11. A Carman Fantasy - Bizet arr: Gordon Langford
12. The Long Day Closes - Arthur Sullivan arr: Eric Ball
13. Devil's Duel - Peter Meechan - Euphonium Soloist Philippe Schwartz
14. Bolero - Ravel arr: Howard Snell