CD cover - Red PackRed Pack

17-Jun-2009

Harbingers of brass band doom or purveyors of a Pandora's Box of almost limitless possibilities? The Red Pack are knocking on the gates...

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Brass Band Oberosterreich
Conductor: Hannes Buchegger
Soloists: Hans Gansch, Harald Buchner, Thomas Beiganz, Lito Fontana, Christian Hollensteiner
Vocalist: Regina Mallinger
Weinberg Recordings: CD
Total Playing Time: 72 mins approx

For banding traditionalists, Brass Band Oberosterreich is the harbinger of a dystopian musical future: cultural modernists, the Vandals at the gates of Rome.

Crossing the Rubicon

To those weaned on the cloying sentimentality of banding heritage, the Austrians have crossed the Rubicon that divides professional brass ensemble performers and amateur brass band enthusiasts. Let them in they say, and all hell will break loose – nothing will ever be the same again.

It is standpoint that totally misses the reason behind their existence.

Some band

Oberosterreich are some band. No point beating about the bush. These lads can play.

They are also a band that wants to connect with the existing body politic of brass band music making. This is no revolutionary guard, no cohort of shock troops schooled in the elite environs of the top European orchestras and conservatoires - just highly professional performers with a growing enjoyment of a form of brass music making that increasingly appeals to their sense of musicianship. 

Limitless possibilities

What they bring to the gates of the brass band world is a Pandora’s Box of almost limitless possibilities.

Instead of remaining a remote addition to the main musical mass of the brass banding world, Oberosterreich has in fact grown increasingly closer – an osmosis that has seen them develop a solid, and increasingly authentic foundation of traditional brass band excellence.

Refreshing

Their tonal palette has become less stridently coloured, the middle band sound increasingly rich and secure, its tuba foundation less orchestrally inspired. The technical brilliance remains startlingly accurate, but it is now less brittle and rigidly tempered, whilst the collective intuitive musicality, unspoilt by misplaced mawkishness, remains as refreshing as ever.

Recorded live in 2008 at the LIVA Brass Festival, ‘Red Pack’ is a showcase for their talents – and some talents they are too. It is also a very surprisingly adventurous recording too.

Gemstones

The usual gemstones from Hans Gansch and the band’s brigade of top notch soloists are something to savour, whilst their ability to seamlessly change style from orchestral ensemble to Latin mariachi, to brass band and then jazz, is startling.

There are occasional blips and blobs and the odd moment of unease, but these are submerged in the ensemble brilliance and individual pizzazz that increasingly becomes more persuasive the longer you listen.

Tour de force

Bertand Moren’s ‘Dreams’ – a tour de force if ever there was one, is delivered with an authentic sense of the dramatic, whilst the ‘Latin Brass Medley’ is played as if the lads had just stepped off the plane and ended up enjoying themselves in a taverna in Guadalajara. 

Add to those additional individual high class contributions (and a haunting vocalist in Regina Mallinger), a dip into musical waters afar as Ireland, Russia and downtown New Orleans, and a reminder of their bands ability to ratchet up an old orchestral classic, and you are left with the impression that if the future if brass banding sounds like this, then we had better open those gates as quickly as possible.  

Iwan Fox

What's on this CD?

1. Victory Fanfare, Philip Sparke, 2.05
2. Festive Overture, Shostakovich, 6.17
3. Baalade, John Golland, 5.20
Soloist: Hans Gansch
4. Dreams, Bertrand Moren
a. Nightmare, 3.57
b. Daydream, 6.39
c. Visions, 4.45
7. Gaelforce, Peter Graham, 6.43
8. Pantomime, Philip Sparke, 6.05
Soloist: Harald Bucher
9. Latin Brass Medley, arr Joe Laube, 9.39
10. La Califfa, Ennio Morricone, 3.07
Soloist: Christian Hollensteiner
11. Vitae Lux, Frode Alnaes, 3.52
Soloist: Regina Mallinger (vocals)
12. Last Call, Otto Schwarz, 5.46
13. Bourbon Street Brass’ In, arr Joe Laube, 5.38
Soloist: Regina Mallinger (vocals)

Total Playing Time: 78.00 approx

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