James Gourlay has put together a well-planned and recorded concert programme, in which British brass band tradition is infused with Austrian elegance and Latin flair. A crisp performance of Jaime Texidor’s Amparito Roca (a Grimethorpe favourite) sets the tone and a classy version of Eric Crees’s cut down version of the Symphonic Dances from Bernstein’s West Side Story brings the curtain down. In between, we hear from the band’s principal soloists mainly in lyrical style. Gordon Langford’s peerless arrangement of Rusalka’s Song to the Moon (Dvorak) is sensitively interpreted by Rob Westacott.
Principal trombone, Gary McPhee, brings a subtle rubato to his playing of Someone to watch over me. Andrew Holmes (flugel horn) sets the pulses racing in Children of Sanchez. Kevin Crockford (soprano) proves that there is so much more to his playing than being brilliant at pumping out the high notes. His version of Goff Richard’s Demelza is my highlight. Goff’s magical treatment of Over the Rainbow is in the safe hands of former principal horn, Arfon Owen, Michael Dodd demonstrates why he is one of the best ‘euphoniumists’ around by the simple poise with which he delivers his Endearing Young Charms.
Franz Lehar’s Gold and Silver and Merry Widow waltzes provide a few moments of nostalgia - the band captures the Austrian second beat lift so well! Dance to thi’ Daddy finds band and arranger, Darrol Barry, in prime, imaginative form. Jan Van der Roost’s Canterbury Chorale provides an oasis of calm before the finale. Howard Snell’s marvellous arrangement of You’ll Never Walk Alone adds a frisson of emotion to the proceedings.
British Bandsman, Saturday 14th August 2010