's Concerto No.
from 1974 is in three piquantly titled movements. Le
tombeau d'Arthur Benjamin
has enough spitting acid
tone to strip paint. Add to this insurgencies from Constant
Lambert, from Benjamin's beloved rumba rhythms and a
fruit-ripe Purcellian grandeur. The second movement is
full of delicious Ravelian touches, often discreet and
gentle with refracted echoes of Bolero
. It's not all peaceful. The kicking Ostriches
of the finale is daffy, Auric-absurd and,
like the rest of the work, completely brilliant. It demands
a great band and in the Grimethorpe it meets its match.
Bourgeois has written fifteen concertos and to date some
43 symphonies many written since 2004. The Concerto No.
1 is a classic virtuoso show-piece but written with equal
parts of wit and majesty. It joins his now forty plus
works for brass band including six concertos and the
concert pieces Blitz
was born in Doncaster. His teachers included Geoffrey Bush. His most
successful work to date is Invisible Cities
for trumpet, trombone and orchestra (1986-87). This was
written for Håkan Hardenberger and Christian Lindberg
and premiered by them with the BBCPO and Elgar Howarth.
The Trumpet Concerto heard here is another brilliant
work couched in testingly avant-garde language. It has
some moments of bluesy 'Boulevard Solitude' as at 1:09
in the second movement but much of it is the stuff of
expostulation, Bernsteinian sting, rattle and caustic
's Garden Rain
is a wash of subtle and gently moving colours
and juxtaposed overtones. It's understated beside the upstart
upheavals of Bourgeois and Sansom. Towards the end of this
gentle shifting motion - like a slowly cycling aurora borealis
- things change. We hear an episode that concentratedly
essays melody in a flowing series of small linked tune-cells.
Messiaen's delicately tanged harmony is suggested. Indeed
Messiaen was one of Takemitsu's favourite composers.
The Birtwistle Grimethorpe
came about through Howarth's long student days
friendship with Birtwistle. Howarth has conducted some
of the world's most challenging scores including many
by Birtwistle. This work seems to pick up on Takemitsu's
slow-pulsed Garden Rain
. The gentle elegiac-tragic
trumpet solo recalls the opening trumpet solo of Franz
Schmidt's Fourth Symphony. The tempo is languorous yet
purposeful and rarely rises above mf
. It is not
difficult music and the impression is of a devastated
landscape revealed by gradually dissipating fog streaming
in tendrils. Explosive pecked out chords provide vital
punctuation and counterpoint. It's a superb atmospheric
piece. The only downside is a faint tick which suggests
transfer from a high quality LP.
finale piece is Henze
's Ragtimes and Habaneras
Henze's saunter through popular idioms refracted through
his own glass makes for a well defined and balanced end
to the programme. It is as if a man about town saunters
confidently along the promenade with the Caribbean sun
warming the late afternoon winds that blow in off the sea.
Cigar smoke trails from the Havana waterside bars, the
tango bumps into oompah rhythms and the echoes of the corrupt
magnificence of the pre-Castro days still peeks out
from the marble-halled hotels. Some of the music recalls
a favourite score I keep referring to - Samuel Barber's Souvenirs
there is a slightly surreal bending and wavering to the
images. The work dates from Henze's long engagement with
Cuba and communist politics - not that the politics are
at all evident in the music. Other works from that era
include the cantata Voices
(recorded on Decca Headline
re-released on Explore
) and Symphony No. 6 – part of which
was written in Cuba (DG 4767234).
three final tracks are taken from a Decca Headline LP HEAD14
from August 1976. In fact you have here all but one track
on that LP: Howarth’s own Fireworks
a narration by Lady Valerie Solti. Those thirty plus year
old recordings communicate in the typically virile Decca
sound of that era. For the 1970s black disc sessions the
Grimethorpe were supplemented with a contingent from Besses
o’ th’ Barn band.
notes are by brass band and Frank bridge expert Paul Hindmarsh.
They are splendidly detailed.
sovereign disc is just beautifully recorded - a shining
delight in terms of performance, audio and substantial
pieces of music! Whatever happened to the five previous
volumes. They passed us by – more’s the pity.