CD cover - Classically EnfieldClassically Enfield

7-Dec-2009

Enfield dip into the Who's Who library of Salvationist arrangers and composer for their latest release - and pick out a few crackers on the way too.

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Enfield Citadel Band
Conductor: Jonathan Corry
Soloists: Christopher Deacon (trumpet) & Dudley Bright (trombone)
SP&S Ltd: SPS 256 CD
Total playing time: 77.19 mins

For his first recording with the Enfield Citadel Band, Jonathan Corry has put together a programme drawn from transcriptions of classical music, with the assistance of two first class soloists who, whilst still active with The Salvation Army, are also well-established orchestral players. 

The list of arrangers represented is something of a “Who’s, Who” of Salvation Army music, ranging from such early-day figures as Frederick Hawkes, Arthur Goldsmith and George Marshall, up to more recent contributors Ray Steadman-Allen, Richard Holz and Keith Wilkinson.

Why should the devil have all the good music?

Despite his reservations about the use of music in worship, William Booth was nothing if not a pragmatist, and was soon persuaded that music could have a valuable contribution to make, even if there was initially a requirement for suitable words to associate with the melodies. 

Many early examples were taken from vocal works anyway, and there were also many arrangements of extracts rather than complete works, which probably should not come as too much of a surprise when one remembers that the pieces set for the National Finals test in that period included similar offerings.

Overtures in contrast

Two overtures are included, Mozart’s “Magic Flute” (arr Michael Kenyon) and Berlioz’ “Beatrice and Benedict” (arr Keith Wilkinson). The challenges presented are very different, the former requiring a good understanding of the style required, whilst the latter places more demands on the actual playing techniques. 

In both cases, the band rises to the challenge, with a spacious reading of the Mozart and coping well with the intricacies of the Berlioz.

Masterful arrangement of Dvorak

The longest piece on the disc is “Themes from the New World Symphony” (Dvorak arr Ray Steadman-Allen), in which the arranger has effectively caught the essence of the work in four movements, with all the familiar themes appearing. It calls for very delicate playing at times, contrasted with the more vigorous sections, as the brass take on the woodwind and string lines of the original.

A mixed bunch

The Mendelssohn “War march of the Priests” (arr Hawkes) was one of the earliest pieces published in the Festival Series, one being reminded of the similarities with the “Bridal March” - occasionally exploited by mischievous organists! - whilst “La Peri” (Dukas arr Holz) was transcribed quite recently for the USA Southern Territorial Band.

Many composers have taken sections of larger pieces and reworked them for different forces, and the Fibich “Poem” exists as part of the symphonic poem “At Twilight” as well as in a version for piano solo. 

Ray Steadman-Allen initially adapted it as a choral item with the title “God of all Wonders” before producing the band transcription, full of subtlety and delicacy in the scoring. 

Equally, Erik Leidzen’s setting of “Come, Sweet Death” (J S Bach), was originally made for concert band before being adapted for use by the New York Staff Band. In this edition Ronald W Holz has dispensed with Leidzen’s percussion parts.

The trumpet shall sound

Christopher Deacon’s first solo item is the “Queen of the Night’s Aria” (Mozart arr Andrew Blyth), written as a showpiece aria for coloratura soprano, but coming across effectively in this version for piccolo trumpet, the bright trumpet sound set against the mellower tones of the band.

The second, Haydn’s “Trumpet Concerto in Eb Major” (arr Ray Steadman-Allen) also calls for a little adaptation, as it was originally intended to be played on a trumpet with five keys, rather than valves. 

This development enabled chromatic lines to be played that would have been impossible on the old natural trumpets, but one wonders whether even Papa Haydn would have envisaged the smooth performances that modern instruments can produce. 

It is perhaps a pity that the opportunity was not taken to add the first movement to present the complete work, but the two movements recorded here exploit well both the lyrical potential of the instrument and also its agility.

The noble trombone

Dudley Bright’s contributions range from the 18th century “Sound an Alarm” (Handel arr Hawkes) to the “Concert Piece for Trombone” (Guilmant arr Ray Steadman Allen) which dates from the early 20th century. 

Both exploit the declamatory nature of the instrument to some extent, the respective arrangers ensuring that the soloist is never swamped by the accompaniment. The third item, “Lend Me Your Aid” (Gounod arr George Marshall) is taken from one of the composer’s lesser-known works, the opera “The Queen of Sheba”. 

Ronald Holz, in his informative sleeve notes, points out that the arranger, George Marshall, was himself a trombonist, and that the piece in question was the final one he had played prior to the mining accident that confined him to a wheelchair.

A final Hallelujah

The disc ends in exhilarating fashion with Arthur Goldsmith’s transcription of the “Hallelujah Chorus” (Handel), in which he has managed to retain the vocal parts and most of the original orchestral accompaniment, placing demands on the whole band, but particularly for Tim Buckle on soprano cornet. It certainly makes for a positive and uplifting conclusion to an enjoyable programme.

The recording is well up to the expected standards, both as regards the music and also the presentation, although some may find the print in the booklet a little on the small side. 

It is undoubtedly a very worthy effort to put alongside other offerings from this distinguished band, and will offer much pleasure to the listener.

Peter Bale

What's on this CD?

Featuring Christopher Deacon (Trumpet) and Dudley Bright (Trombone).

1. Fanfare 'La Peri', Paul Dukas arr. Richard E Holz, 2.05
2. War March of the Priests, Felix Mendelssohn arr. Frederick Hawkes, 4.38
3. Come, Sweet Death, J S Bach arr. Erik Leidzén edt. R W Holz, 3.22
4. Overture to The Magic Flute, Mozart arr. Michael Kenyon, 7.29
5. Queen of the Night's Aria, Mozart arr. Andrew Blyth, Christopher Deacon (Piccolo Trumpet), 2.42
6. Morceau Symphonique (Concert Piece), Alexandre Guilmant arr. Ray Steadman-Allen Dudley Bright (Trombone), 6.02
7. Poem�����Zdenek, Fibich arr. Ray Steadman-Allen, 3.33
8. Overture to Beatrice and Benedict, Hector Berlioz arr. Keith Wilkinson, 8.07
9. Lend Me Your Aid, Charles Gounod arr. George Marshall, Dudley Bright (Trombone), 5.56
Themes from the 'New World' Symphony, Antonín Dvorak arr. Ray Steadman-Allen
10. I. Adagio — Allegro molto, 4.48
11. II. Largo, 4.11
12. III. Molto vivace, 1.17
13. IV. Allegro con fuoco, 6.08
Trumpet Concerto in Eb�����Franz Joseph Haydn arr. Ray Steadman-Allen, Christopher Deacon (Trumpet)
14. Movement II, 3.37
15. Movement III, 4.19
16. Sound an Alarm, George Frideric Handel arr. Frederick Hawkes, Dudley Bright (Trombone), 3.46
17. Hallelujah Chorus, George Frideric Handel arr. Arthur Goldsmith, 4.04

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