CD cover - Brass and WinesBrass and Wines

14-Dec-2008

Steven Mead dons his musical rucksack and heads to the Iberian Peninsula. Does he make it journey worth raising a glass of the best stuff to, or does it feel like a dose of Spanish flu?

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Steven Mead
Spanish Brass Luur Metalls
Bocchino Recordings: BOCC113
Total Playing Time: 64.13
 

Steven Mead continues to pack his musical rucksack to explore new and exciting horizons.

This time he has headed to the Iberian Peninsula and teamed up with the exotic talents of Spanish Brass Luur Metalls, a quintet of immensely impressive musicians with a 20 year reputation based on innovation and dynamic musicality.

Heady mix

The result is a heady mix of colourful, intelligent performances of a wide variety of repertoire, some of which certainly have a very Latinesque flavour.

Put together like dishes from Ferran Adrià’s ‘El Bulli’ restaurant, the constituent parts are moulded with formidable technical precision, yet the end products are ultimately revealed as so mouth wateringly satisfying too.

As the leading voice, Steven Mead is on rare form, displaying on intuitive ear for balance and texture, complimenting the other performers contributions with a generosity that allows the spotlight time to illuminate their excellence without ever losing its primary focus.

Cohesive unit

The quintet of Juanjo Serna Salvador and Carlos Beneto Grau on tumpet, Manuel Perez Ortega on horn, trombonist Inda Bonet Manrique and tuba player Sertgio Finca Quiros are exceptional performers in their own right, but with close on 20 years experience of playing together it is as a cohesive unit that they display their musicianship to the full.

Detailed, razor sharp technique and warmly balanced timbres are lovingly allied to elegant phrasing as they pass motifs and solo lines amongst each other like old Spanish grandmothers exchanging snippets of village gossip.  It allows Steven Mead to dip in and out of at times, complex accompanying dialogue, knowing full well that he will never be overwhelmed. The sense of respect for each others abilities is plain for all to hear.

Distilled

The title track is an expertly distilled example. Skilfully developed from a small germ of a melodic idea, Jose Rafael Pascual-Vilaplana’s work is a delightful triptych of elegant craftsmanship that is as tasteful as a classic Rioja wine.  

So too the other works from the home-grown vineyard in Juan J. Colomer’s subtle ‘Lisonjas de la Alcahueta’ and Xavier Montsalvatge’s ‘Cancion de cuna papra dormir a un negrito’ a delicate, suggestive piece of tenderness and atmosphere.

Overdrive

In contrast there is the dislocated modernist ‘Kaliedoscopic Overdrive’ by Ben McMillan – not quite in the Bachmann, Turner classic ‘overdrive’ mould for certain, but a piece of enjoyable angularity. 

Tangent

Another surprising tangent is offered by ‘Innuendo’, which although it doesn’t quite capture the camp bombast of the Queen original (not even a football stadium full of Judy Garland fans could do that) it nevertheless still has something about it to keep a whole army of leather trouser moustachioed exhibitionists happy between Bacardi cocktails.   

Those whose jib is cut from a totally different musical cloth will certainly enjoy Steven Mead’s tasteful treatment of Telemann’s ‘Concerto for Oboe’, as well as his whimsical surefootedness of the ‘Bravura Variations on a Theme by Mozart’, which really does twinkle with stardust quality. 

Leonard Cohen

That just leaves the bonus of Peter Meechan’s chameleon like ‘Elegie’, a piece of richly textured melancholy that wanders with a deep seated intelligence of almost Leonard Cohen morbidity.

As always with Steven Mead a new direction has been found to be one of rich possibilities expertly realised to their full potential. Backed by excellent post production values (from the Damien Hirst inspired polka dot cover to the excellent sleeve notes and crystal clear recording ambience) this is a recording to raise a full glass of the best Rioja Crianza to.

Iwan Fox

What's on this CD?

1, Brass and Wines, José Rafael Pascual-Vilaplana Muro
a, Expectativa,4.30
b, Almoroig,4.42
c, Albir,4.25
2, Concerto for Oboe in C Minor, Georg Philipp Telemann
a, Grave,1.59
b, Allegro,2.14
c, Andante,2.01
d, Vivace,2.30
3, Elegie, Peter Meechan,6.26
4, Lisonjas de la alcahueta, Juan J. Colomer,7.55
5, Bravura Variations on a Theme by Mozart, Adolphe Adam Arr. Henry Howey,5.34
6, Kaleidoscopic Overdrive, Ben McMillan,6.15
7, Canción de cuna para dormir un negrito, Xavier Montsalvatge,2.49
8, Innuendo, Queen Arr.Roland Szentpali,6.42
9, Finale from Concerto for Violin, Peter Iliich Tchaikovsky Arr. Henry Howey,5.25

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