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AVAILABILITY World of Brass

Eminence
Alexander ARUTJUNJAN (b. 1920)
Trumpet Concerto (1950) [15:11]*
May H BRAHE
Bless This House (1927) [3:05]
Stanley BLACK (1913-2002) trs. Alan Catherall
People [4:17]*
James CURNOW
Concertpiece for Cornet [6:37]
Torstein AAGAARD-NILSEN (b. 1964)
Concerto for Bb Cornet and Brass Band (1993) [16:24]
William HIMES
Jubilance [8:30]
Stephen BULLA
Blessed Assurance [5:07]*^
Richard Marshall (cornet; trumpet*; Flugel horn^)
Black Dyke Band/Dr Nicholas Childs
rec. Morley Town Hall, June and July 2007. DDD
DOYEN SOLO SERIES DOYCD230 [59:46]



This is the third solo album from Richard Marshall, principal cornet of the Black Dyke Band. It takes its title from the York Eminence cornet that he and his colleagues at Black Dyke now play.  As good a solo disc as you will hear, it intersperses two concertos, a couple of extended concert pieces for cornet and band and some lighter tracks to make an attractive programme that wears well with rehearing.
 
Marshall opens with the trumpet concerto by Armenian composer Alexander Arutjunjan, whose music bears a close kinship to that of his slightly older compatriot, Aram Khachaturian.  If you like the colour and fizz of a Khachaturian score, this trumpet concerto with its spicy chromatic exoticism and sparkling runs will certainly please.  Marshall impresses here as much with his lightness of touch as with his sheer virtuosity.
 
That same lightness of touch makes Marshall's long-breathed Bless this House a touching tribute to Willie Lang, who passed away in 2006.  Lang was a legend of the British musical establishment and was not only one of Marshall's predecessors as principal cornet of Black Dyke, but was for a number of years principal trumpet with the London Symphony Orchestra.  Lang's famous 1940s recording of this piece was a best-seller in its day.
 
Stanley Black's standard, People, gets a great performance.  Marshall is on song here, tender in shaping the melody but unleashing a Broadway belt tone from his trumpet at the climaxes that would make Streisand proud.
 
Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen's cornet concerto is a powerful piece of concise structure.  It is tonal, but atmospheric and motivic rather than tuneful.  His musical language sits somewhere between that of Philip Wilby and Kalevi Aho, and he certainly knows how to colour a brass band score.  He employs a battery of percussion, mutes the cornet towards the end of the first movement and often pits the soloist against single instruments or groups of instruments.  This is not a warm, feel-good piece of music, but it is a satisfying and intriguing one that paints a lonely landscape.  Much solo writing for cornet and band is light in tone and focuses on displaying the soloist’s skill.  This piece is, by contrast, a serious compositional essay which demands that skill to make its case.
 
Flanking the Aagaard-Nilsen concerto are concert pieces by American composers James Curnow and William Himes.  Curnow's Concertpiece for Cornet is characteristic of his writing, with busy outer sections framing a tender tune, played with gentle lyricism here.  Himes' Jubilance is a cracker, weaving hectic, argumentative and ultimately exuberant music around two songs from the Salvation Army song book.  It is cheeky in its tonal ambiguity and syncopation, but Marshall and Black Dyke are untroubled by its virtuosic demands.  This piece can blaze more, but performances that do so tend to miss the moments of gentleness or fail to integrate them logically into the musical argument.  No such complaints here, and Marshall's playing has ample character to carry you along.
 
Stephen Bulla's arrangement of Blessed Assurance is a lovely closer for the disc.  After all the flash and dazzle of Marshall's virtuosity, his decision to conclude with this beautiful tune and sentiment is apt, starting on a mellow Flugel and switching to his brilliant trumpet for the rousing close.
 
Throughout, Black Dyke and Dr Nicholas Childs support their principal cornet with finely honed accompaniment.  Doyen's production values are also high, as we have come to expect.  The recorded sound is just about right and the CD booklet is well presented and informative (the misspelling of Himes' Jubilance on the back cover as "Jubliance" notwithstanding).  Altogether this is a very impressive and enjoyable album.
 
Tim Perry
 



 


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