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World of Brass


Gilbert VINTER (1909-1969)
The Pye Years
John O'Gaunt (1968) [10.46]
Spectrum (1968) [11.55]
Triumphant Rhapsody (1965) [12.03]
The Trumpets (1964) (I. Blazon [2.40]; II. Destruction [6.04]; III. Dedication [6.16]; IV. Revelation [21.58])
Maurice Murphy (trumpet); Michael Langdon (baritone) (The Trumpets)
Huddersfield Glee and Madrigal Society (augmented from Colne Valley Male Voice Choir and Bradford Festival Choral Society)
Black Dyke Mills Band/Geoffrey Brand
rec. 1968-1972. transferred from Pye LPs GSGL10427 (John O’Gaunt); GSGL10453 (Spectrum); GSGL10489 (Rhapsody); NSPL18265 (Trumpets); ADD
DOYEN DOYCD256 [72.01]


Experience Classicsonline

Gilbert Vinter (not Vintner) was a creator and exponent who bridged two worlds. These two realms overlap only with discomfort and sometimes with a crashing of gears. He was a luminary of the brass band world as a composer and led its much needed rebirth away from tawdry operatic arrangements, sanctimonious Moody and Sankey religiosity and vacuous display. On the other hand he wrote for and conducted orchestras both light and more substantial.

He was born at Peaslake, near Guildford in Surrey on 4 May 1909. At the Royal Academy he was appointed professor of bassoon in 1938. He joined the BBC Military Band in 1930 and served as a bassoonist in the BBC Wireless Military Band and the LPO. He enlisted in the RAF in 1940 as member of the RAF Central Band and from 1941 to 1945 became Bandmaster, Flying Training Command. Released from the RAF in November 1945, he formed the International Light Orchestra. He then succeeded Rae Jenkins as Conductor of the BBC Midland Light Orchestra based at Birmingham in 1946. He guest-conducted with various European radio orchestras. His works include forty original compositions spanning opera through to film music, and about two hundred arrangements. He spent his last years at St. Mabyn, Trethevy, Tintagel, Cornwall where he died on 10 October 1969. Vinter's recreations included country life and natural history.

His orchestral works include the ballet: Krakov Legend (1965), the Concertino for clarinet and orchestra; Spring Carol, Symphonic Suite for piano and orchestra; Concerto Burlando for saxophone and orchestra (1964) and Piaculum for soprano and orchestra (1963). Vinter’s poetic brevity Hunter’s Moon for French horn and orchestra was written while in Torquay as a member of the wartime Torquay Municipal Orchestra. It was premiered by John Burden – for whom it was written - in Torquay in 1942. You can hear it in a finely proportioned recording on Lyrita SRCD316.

Vinter was much better known in the brass band world and the following brass band works should be noted: The Dover Coach; Salute to Youth (Resilience, Romance, Relaxation) (1960); TUC Centenary March (1968); Vizcaya (1968); Symphony of Marches (1963); Rhapsody, Simon Called Peter (1963); Variation on a Ninth (1964, National Championship, GUS Footwear/Stanley Boddington); Triumphant Rhapsody (1965, National Championship, Fairey Band/Leonard Lamb); John O'Gaunt (1968, British Open Championship, Black Dyke Mills/Geoffrey Brand); James Cook, Circumnavigator (1969, first perf. British Open Championship 1974, Black Dyke Mills/Roy Newsome) and Spectrum (1969, British Open Championship, Grimethorpe Colliery/George Thompson). For brass quartet we should list his Elegy and Rondo, Fancy's Knell and Alla Burlesca.

The tracks featured on this CD come from four of the twelve LPs recorded on the Pye label by Black Dyke between 1966 and 1980. Doyen did not have access to the later tapes so had to work on prime stock surviving LPs. For this reason a little tolerance is demanded of the listener. The sound has razor-sharp definition but with just a touch of blast distortion. Really though the sound is most impressive. It has probably never sounded as good as it does here. John O'Gaunt is somewhat Waltonian with intrepid playing and in the moments of hushed repose the Westminster chimes can be heard magically poised. Spectrum is spectacular with Vinter clearly having learnt from Janáček. This calls for and receives – on the nose - virtuoso playing. It’s musically intriguing too and full of soloistic incident. There’s also a sense of American jazziness and foot-tapping exuberance. The Triumphant Rhapsody is characterised by writing tat is stern yet effervescent gradually relaxing into something more occluded. The clip clop of wooden blocks can be heard at one moment and at 7.01 there’s a lovely Tchaikovskian theme.

Perhaps the finest of these brass band works and the one that straddles the divide between band world and concert hall is the dramatic cantata The Trumpets. This draws on trumpet references in the Bible. The movements are Blazon, Destruction, Dedication and Revelation. It has been commercially recorded twice. The first came from HMV in November 1966 with Owen Brannigan and the All Star Brass conducted by the composer. Then Pye recorded it in March 1969 and this is what we hear now. In the 1980s The Trumpets was conducted by Maurice Handford for BBC Radio 3 with Forbes Robinson and the combined brass of Besses, Fodens and the Halle. It’s a work with some pretty strong Waltonian references. The recording has real bite which makes the glories of Black Dyke’s fanfares all the more vivid against the Holst-like sternness encountered in the first movement. The second movement includes a bell carillon redolent of similar writing in John O’Gaunt. There are more Walton echoes later in the exultant shouts of joy decorated with tambourine impacts and in the wailing lamentations. The bass Michael Langdon rides high over the apocalyptic storms with attention distracted only momentarily by a brief sequence of deep recurrent LP ‘plops’ in the background - discreet but noticeable. The music takes a real hold with its picturesque squalls, whirlwinds, squirming horror and evocations of clouds of ‘locusts with stings in their tails’. The music finally gathers itself for a touch of angelic serenity coupled with a faintly cheery RVW blessing. Maurice Murphy and his trumpet take the role of cantor. It is a fine work and one in which Vinter took pride. He continued to work on it until his death.

You might also like to track down a largely complementary Polyphonic CD from 1994 (QPRL058D) in which the Fairey Band is conducted by Major Peter Parkes: Spectrum (1968), Vizcaya, Mattheson's Air, Salute To Youth (Resilience, Romance, Relaxation) (1960), TUC Centenary March (1968), Entertainments (Caprice, Elegy, March), Lisbon Carnival, Challenging Brass (1963) and James Cook Circumnavigator (1969). The last piece was my introduction to Vinter’s music from a BBC radio broadcast in May 1977 by the Boness and Caradon Band conducted by David James.

This well documented and atmospherically designed CD could easily have been seen as purely for brass band anoraks. Its catchment is wider – not least because of The Trumpets but also as an appetite-whetter for Vinter’s orchestral concert music.

Rob Barnett

Related items on MusicWeb International:

Article on Vinter by Phil Scowcroft
Review of Lyrita SRCD316 including Hunter’s Moon
Dennis Brain’s Hunter’s Moon on BBC Legends
James Cook on Doyen
Salute to Youth on Doyen


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