Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

RECORDING OF THE MONTH

 

www.doyen-recordings.co.uk

Echoes of the East
John WILLIAMS arr. Christian JENKINS

Olympic Spirit (1998) [2:55]
Karl JENKINS arr. Tony SMALL

The Armed Man – A Mass for Peace [20:07] *
Traditional arr. John IVESON

Londonderry Air [2:56] #
Vittorio MONTI arr. Steve YORK

Czardas [3:46] +
Martin BUNCE arr. Steve BRODIE

Marianne [3:12] §
Herman BELLSTEDT arr. Robert CHILDS

Napoli [5:47] *
Rodney NEWTON

Echoes of the East [12:41]
Jim WEBB arr. Barrie FORGIE

MacArthur Park [9:04]
Traditional arr. Barrie FORGIE

Scarborough Fair [4:24]
Harry JAMES arr. Bill GELDARD

Trumpet Blues and Cantabile [2:36]
Igor STRAVINSKY arr. Ray FARR

Infernal Dance and Finale from The Firebird (1910) [7:35]
David Childs (euphonium) *
Chris Thomas (trombone) #
Owen Farr. (tenor horn) +,
Joanne Deane (flugel horn) §.
Buy As You View Band/Dr Robert Childs
Rec. St Teilo Arts Centre, Wales, 17 July 2005. DDD
DOYEN DOYCD195 [75:51]


This disc is outstanding. The playing of the Buy As You View Band is sensational, the recorded sound is vivid and - for the most part - well balanced, the programming is intelligent and the playing time of over 75 minutes is excellent value. For some, this will be all that they need to read - they can rush out happily and purchase this disc. For those who would like some explanation of the superlatives, read on.

I mentioned that this disc is intelligently programmed, and that indeed is part of its appeal. It feels like a concert. John Williams' rousing overture raises the curtain, full of post-Copland fanfare and very Olympic indeed. The opening track is followed by a suite from The Armed Man – A Mass for Peace. I have heard part of this piece in its original form, and while the comparisons with Britten's War Requiem made in the booklet notes flatter this music, it does fall easily on the ear. It also works in this arrangement for brass band and effectively evokes of days of chivalry. David Childs' solo in the Benedictus is beautifully understated. (An aside: if David Childs is the "Prince of the Euphonium", as the booklet notes so proudly proclaim, does that make his father Bob, the King and his uncle Nicholas the Grand Duke?) There are a couple of balance problems here, though, with the percussion, in particular the bass drum, placed in front of the band, especially in the vigorous third movement, Charge!

The next four pieces are solo short vehicles for various of the band's soloists. Chris Thomas bends the tune of the Londonderry Air so much in his introduction that you could be forgiven for thinking you were about to be treated to a rendition of I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair. He proves an agile soloist, as does Owen Farr on tenor horn in the following track. Joanne Deane is impressively jazzy on her flügel horn, and David Childs ends the soloists' section with a performance of Napoli, which he brings off with a flourish. I had hoped for a more interesting solo euphonium number, as Napoli, in various arrangements, seems to be an inescapable staple, but its inclusion here is unlikely to trouble other listeners ... especially when it is played so well.

Another suite follows the solo set, this time the disc's title composition. Echoes of the East is in four movements and draws on the folk music of Eastern Europe rather than the Far East, as I had expected. It is an attractive piece. The opening Aubade is simple and beautiful. The Village Wedding, which follows, has a Zigeuner twang and more than a hint of Klezmer. The final movement, Gypsy Festival, is bright, danceable and brings the suite to an exciting finish.

After the suite come three popular arrangements, but not in the order listed in the booklet and on the back cover. Once this confusion is overcome, they make an enjoyable set, though the percussion is again balanced too close for comfort.

The disc closes with one of the all-time great brass concert encores, Ray Farr's arrangement of the finale to Stravinsky's Firebird. This comes off brilliantly here and prompted me to make a comparison with the version recorded by the Britannia Brass Band under Howard Snell in the early 1990s (also on Doyen). My first reaction was that Ray Farr seems to have amended his arrangement in the intervening years, with a few more trombone flourishes adding unexpected spice in the new version. My second was that Britannia have been comprehensively outplayed. The sound is also perfectly balanced and the top to bottom clarity superb. Bravo!

All in all a splendid disc of light brass band fare. Buy and enjoy.

Tim Perry

 

 



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