Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

TOP BRASS: A limited edition containing the following two albums
BRASSED OFF: Music from the original soundtrack
R. B. HALL Death or Glory
K. MOSS Floral Dance
Joaquin RODRIGO En Aranjuez Con Tu Amor (based on theme from Concierto de Aranjuez, 2nd movt)
R. BARRETT/E. SIEBERT March of the Cobblers
W. RIMMER Cross of Honour
Sir Charles Hubert Hastings PARRY arr. Herbert Jerusalem
Julius FUCIK Florentiner March
Percy GRAINGER Danny Boy (Irish Tune from County Derry)
Kenneth ALFORD Colonel Bogey
MONK and ALEXANDER err. Rimmer All Things Bright and Beautiful
Gioacchino ROSSINI arr. G. J. Grant Guglielmo Tell: Overture
Sir Edward ELGAR arr. Ord Hume Pomp and Circumstance March in D, op.39/1 (abridged)
Trevor JONES *Original music for the soundtrack: A Sad Old Day, Aforementioned Essential Items, Years of Coal, There's More Important Things in Life, We'll Find a Way, Honest Decent Human Beings
Grimethorpe Colliery Band/John Anderson except *Orchestra/Trevor Jones

Giuseppe VERDI arr. Frank Wright La Forza del Destino: Overture
Sir Charles Hubert Hastings PARRY arr. Herbert Jerusalem
Claude DEBUSSY arr. Ball Children's Corner: Golliwog's Cakewalk
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV arr. Ashmore The Snow Maiden: Dance of the Tumblers
Gabriel FAURE arr. Langford Pavane op.50
Richard WAGNER arr. Owen Die Walküre: Ride of the Valkyries
Pietro MASCAGNI arr. Denis Wright Cavalleria Rusticana: Intermezzo
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART arr. Ellerby Piano Sonata in A, K.331: 3rd movt - "Rondo alla Turca"
Sir Edward ELGAR arr. Denis Wright Variations on an Original Theme - "Enigma", op.36: Nimrod
Hector BERLIOZ arr. Frank Wright Le Carnaval Romain, op.9
Antonin DVORAK arr. Ellerby Symphony no.9 in E minor, op.95 - "From the New World: 2nd movt (abridged)
George Frideric HANDEL arr. Bateman Semele: Where'er you walk*
Léo DELIBES arr. Sparke Lakmé: Flower Duet
Franz LISZT arr. Rimmer Hungarian Rhapsody no.2
Grimethorpe Colliery RJB Band/Garry Cutt, with *Lesley Garrett (soprano)
BMG Classics 75605 51368 2 [2 CDs 49' 55", 68' 50"]

In a letter to Elgar following the première of his Severn Suite for brass band, Bernard Shaw protested that it was useless filling the score with Italian expression marks that coal miners wouldn't understand; what was needed were down-to-earth phrases such as "now, like hell!" or "it's a march, not a bloody minuet!". The Grimethorpe Colliery Band need no such encouragement. All the faster pieces from the now classic soundtrack for Brassed Off have an irrepressible verve, while haunting poetry and tonal shading is found in the Grainger version of the Londonderry Air and the Rodrigo movement. The original music by Trevor Jones has far more substance than you would imagine just by looking at the (mostly) very brief timings and its insertion gives a narrative feel to the whole disc. This is a total product, not just a selection of pieces.

That Brassed Off represented a particularly magic moment for the band is demonstrated by a comparison between the two performances of Jerusalem. Good though that in Classic Brass is, that in Brassed Off is unforgettable. I do feel that the conductor on this second disc is content to let the band give of its best (which it does) while John Anderson challenged them to go beyond that. Perhaps a few choice phrases from Bernard Shaw would have been in order here. Maybe for this reason, as the programme proceeded I found myself getting more and more choosy about which arrangements really came off. In my student days I held up my hands in horror at the idea of presenting music in any but the composer's original version; now I feel that the only criterion is "does it work?" Does it sound as if the music was conceived for this combination? The track I really loved was the Mozart, a cheeky arrangement cheekily performed. I also particularly appreciated the Debussy and have to note that in these two pieces colour has been added to piano originals. Removing colour from an orchestral original is more problematic. Nimrod seems a little monotonous shorn of Elgar's kaleidoscopic tonal mix and you re-orchestrate Berlioz at your peril! On the other hand the Verdi is astonishingly effective and the chaste beauty of the Fauré survives intact. Anyone who thinks brass players can only play loudly (well, some of them can …) should hear this. So there are a few near misses alongside the hits and if you are going to cut a movement like the Dvorak (only the outer sections are present) you should at least wipe the blood off - the modulation is horrible. Also, Miss Garrett and the band are frequently not together at all.

Brassed Off is a great disc which I feel everyone should have, even and especially those who normally don't go in for brass bands. About Classic Brass I'm not quite so sure, but while the offer of the two together lasts, why not?

Christopher Howell

Brassed Off

Classic Brass

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