Brass quin­tet make all the right mu­si­cal tracks

The Arran Banner - - News -

In the Ar­ran High School theatre last Satur­day, a very ap­pre­cia­tive au­di­ence were treated to a de­light­ful va­ri­ety of mu­sic, brought to us by a brass quin­tet go­ing by the name of Brass Tracks, writes Diana Hamil­ton.

Th­ese are five very tal­ented pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians who, apart from ex­celling in their own in­stru­ments, play as one when they are to­gether. Brass Tracks gave us a taste of a huge va­ri­ety of styles, from Re­nais­sance dances and sonatas right through to this cen­tury, cov­er­ing some pieces from the clas­si­cal and ro­man­tic pe­ri­ods along the way, and touch­ing on Dix­ieland jazz, tango and some of Gersh­win’s ‘clas­sics’ from the 20th cen­tury.

Their sense of fun showed through in Beethoven’s Turk­ish March, De­bussy’s Gol­li­wog’s Cake Walk, and two nov­elty items, both of which were ar­range­ments by the tal­ented horn player in the quin­tet, Robert Newth. Both of th­ese had the au­di­ence spell­bound by the vir­tu­os­ity of trum­peter John Samp­son, al­though nei­ther was played on the trum­pet. In the first, The Post Horn Galop by Her­mann Koenig, John played a gen­uine posthorn which is 100 years old. His ar­tic­u­la­tion on this valve­less in­stru­ment, and at such speed, was truly amaz­ing. For the sec­ond, The Fairy Dance, a tra­di­tional Ir­ish dance, John pro­duced a so­pranino recorder from his pocket and pro­ceeded to wow the au­di­ence once more with his vir­tu­os­ity, firstly un­ac­com­pa­nied and then with a won­der­fully suit­able ‘cush­ioned’ oom-pah ac­com­pa­ni­ment from the other four play­ers in Robert’s ar­range­ment.

Robert Newth’s tal­ent for ar­rang­ing was also dis­played in his own ver­sion of Amaz­ing Grace. This, in its haunt­ing beauty, did in­deed bring out the spir­i­tual ele­ment con­tained in the words.

As is fit­ting for a brass group, the sec­ond half of the con­cert opened with a Fan­fare (La Peri) by Paul Dukas, and to those of us who only knew Dukas’s mu­sic from The Sor­cerer’s Ap­pren­tice, this was a sur­prise in its seem­ing moder­nity.

The se­ri­ous side of this ver­sa­tile quin­tet was dis­played in their ren­der­ing of Vic­tor Ewald’s Quin­tet No 1 from the 19th cen­tury and Quin­tet by Michael Ka­men, a 20th-cen­tury com­poser bet­ter known for his film mu­sic.

The lighter side of 20th-cen­tury mu­sic was pre­sented in the form of med­leys – Four songs from A Cho­rus Line by Marvin Ham­lisch, and Four hits for five, a med­ley of Gersh­win songs, in­clud­ing ’S Won­der­ful, Em­brace­able you, The man I love and Strike up the band – and an­other Gersh­win num­ber, Love is here to stay. Brass Tracks, ob­vi­ously com­fort­able in any style, seemed even more at home in th­ese ren­der­ings, which they gave with a true sense of the style.

This most en­joy­able and en­ter­tain­ing evening was rounded off with an en­core of Spread a lit­tle hap­pi­ness by Vi­vian El­lis.

In­deed they did – more than a lit­tle.

After the con­cert, we learned that you can see them play­ing in a mod­ern ver­sion of 10 Rilling­ton Place, to be shown on BBC 1 some­time in Novem­ber. Look out for it.

The evening was or­gan­ised by the Isle of Ar­ran Mu­sic So­ci­ety.

Brass Tracks per­formed mu­sic from the Re­nais­sance through to mod­ern-day.

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