Isle of Arran Banner – Concert Review

Brass Tracks Review in The Isle of Arran Banner.

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.

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