CD: 4 Bars Rest
Barbara THOMPSON (b.1944)
Double Trouble [7:23]
Tuba Concerto 'Salt of the Earth' (2007) [14:44]
Going Down (2003) [9:41]
Bite the Bullet [10:32]
Tuba Concerto 'Living in the Fast Lane' (2004) [17:12]
Les Neish, James Gourlay (tubas),
Tubalaté (Paul Walton, John Powell (euphoniums),
Ryan Breen, Les Neish (tubas), Ben Gray (drums)), Foden’s Band/Michael
rec. details not given. DDD
EGON SFZ152 [60:52]
This is a refreshingly different disk of music for brass band.
Both Andy Scott and Barbara Thompson are saxophonists, and both
have worked in the jazz and classical fields. Both write music
which poses no difficulties for the listener. I imagine, that
this music is a delight for the performers, being well written
and not requiring them to do anything untoward with their instruments.
There are two Concertos on this disk, and very welcome additions
to the repertoire they are. Andy Scott’s Salt of the
Earth is a brilliant synthesis of several things within
the classical vernacular. A cadenza opens the work and then
a rhythmic fast movement, with allusions to funk. There’s
also some use of multiphonics, but only from the soloist. The
slow movement is gospel based. It’s a trifle overlong,
even within the short overall playing time of the piece. The
finale is a riotous Latin-inspired romp. It’s a rather
good piece and sufficiently well written to reward repeated
hearings. Les Neish is the agile soloist.
Barbara Thompson’s Concerto, Living in the Fast Lane,
was written for tuba and jazz band but it’s heard here
in a version for brass band by Jim Fieldhouse. As with Scott’s
work, it’s in the usual three movements but the material
isn’t what you’d expect for a band composition. This
work is more obviously jazz inflected than Scott’s and
has a bluesy feel. The finale is a special joy, devoid of any
pretence, aiming entirely for pleasure, with percussion permeating
the score. It makes a fine ending. James Gourlay is the fleet-fingered
Whilst enjoying both these works I do feel that the melodic
material isn’t overly memorable. It’s the colouring of the
music which will capture most listeners’ interest.
The remaining three works are, essentially, chamber pieces.
Trouble is a duet for tubas - Neish and Gourlay - with
a prelude and coda for band. It’s a neat little joke of a
work and has a delightful sense of fun. Both of Thompson’s
works have odd, rather incomplete, endings, which, musically,
are somewhat unsatisfying. That’s my only complaint about
Scott’s Going Down is a brief piece for tuba and
pre-recorded sound - deriving from the sound of the tuba itself.
There are some interesting sounds here, nothing that is not musical
in one way or another, but the piece is far too long for its
material. Bite the Bullet was written for Tubalaté,
with percussion, and here is a winner. In three movements,
the first fast and extrovert and slow and introverted (half
The brief slow movement continues in this latter vein. The
finale, however, is all fun.
Although some of the music is slightly flawed this is a CD of
important additions to the brass band repertoire, not least the
two Concertos. It requires an open mind in musical matters but
once opened it will be rewarded. The recording is very bright
and clear and the notes are good. I enjoyed it.