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Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral



The Art of Brass
Tom Hutchinson (cornet)
Glyn Williams (euphonium)
Helen Williams (flugelhorn)
Stephen Hammett (vocals)
Cory Band/Philip Harper
rec. 2018, St Teilo’s Church, Cardiff, UK

As the Cory Band completes its tenth consecutive year as the World’s number one ranked brass band, this new CD release demonstrates some fantastic examples of the art of great brass playing, as well as presenting music which is inspired by visual art - paintings, pictures and photographs, both classical and modern. It has to be said straight away that the standard of playing is absolutely first rate and the sonorous, clear recording with its stunning dynamic range is thrilling to listen to.
Pique Dame shows the band’s qualities off really well. There is some lovely delicacy in the quieter moments and a real drive and verve in the loud, vigorous passages. There’s some curiously mannered phrasing at 4’55’’ (usually played by the woodwind) but overall this old pot boiler is given a new lease of life here. By way of an immediate contrast Tom Hutchinson plays the Debussy beautifully in the Peter Parkes arrangement. This is a completely different sound world to the bombastic Suppé. I’m not so sure about the McCartney. The vocal contributions, featuring Stephen Hammett from Only Men Aloud, probably work well at an entertainment contest but don’t really sit quite so well on a CD for repeated listening, despite the expert arrangement by Philip Harper. Alfred Newman is right up there with Korngold, Waxman and Steiner in the list of legendary Hollywood composers. Indeed he was one of the “Godfathers” of film music. He was also a great orchestrator and it’s a huge credit to the players that Philip Harper’s arrangement of Captain of Castille makes you almost forget that you are listening to a brass band and not the original orchestral version. Mood Indigo is given a Sugar Blues treatment and then we hear Glyn Williams in a very moving, poetic performance of And Death Shall Have No Dominion. Not to be outdone, Helen Williams is the featured soloist in Domen. This is a really atmospheric piece inspired by the interior of the cathedral in Trondheim. I just wish that the distracting drum kit wasn’t so prominent. It somehow detracts from what is otherwise a hushed atmosphere of stillness. I found the final work on the disc, composed by Howard Snell, to be the most interesting and satisfying piece on this wide ranging CD. Gallery consists of seven short movements and it is a mini Pictures at an Exhibition. The composition refers to various pictures, four of them by Scots artists. Gallery was written as a test piece for the 2015 Scottish Open Championship and was also chosen as the Championship Section test piece for the 2017 Nationals. Like all test pieces at this level the music is fiendishly difficult to play. The work is topped and tailed by a brief opening Entrance and a concluding movement called Landscapes. The central slow movement - Love Story - is really exposed but the individual soloists of the Cory Band seem to play it effortlessly. Landscapes almost outdoes The Great Gate of Kiev. Running for around 22 minutes this is a marvellous piece.

This is a perfect CD to play to people who are a bit “sniffy” about brass bands. It contains some very original music and musicianship of the highest order. A brilliant disc.

John Whitmore


James SWEARINGEN Valero (Arr. Sandy Smith) [2:26]
Franz von SUPPE Pique Dame (Arr. T C Brown) [7:40]
Claude DEBUSSY The Girl With The Flaxen Hair (Arr. Peter Parkes) [2:53]
Paul McCARTNEY Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Arr. Philip Harper) [2:10]
Paul McCARTNEY With A Little Help From My Friends (Arr. Philip Harper) [3:46]
Alfred NEWMAN Captain From Castille (Arr. Philip Harper) [3:36]
Duke ELLINGTON Mood Indigo (Arr. Philip Harper) [4:26]
Philip HARPER And Death Shall Have No Dominion [5:08]
Philip HARPER East Meets West [5:57]
Peder KARLSSON Gota (Arr. Tina Kvamme) [4:25]
Jan Magne FORDE Domen [4:38]
Andy WAREHAM Tarot! Tortuous Tarot! [5:28]
Antonio VIVALDI The Four Seasons (Arr. Philip Harper) [3:02]
Howard SNELL Gallery [21:56]

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