The contest pairing of Brighouse & Rastrick and Professor David King may have raised a few eyebrows over the past few years, but you cannot deny that the partnership has been hugely successful.
Just look at the record books.
Titles don’t quite fully tell the tale though – and so this impressive recording is a welcome chance to hear what the band is like in concert rather than contesting mode under the inspirational Australian.
During his YBS tenure, Professor King delivered challenging, and at times, definitive musical recordings, and whilst this may be a different band and a selection of music not quite at the cutting edge, it still has the hallmark of engaging, engrossing class.
The repertoire comes from his friend and former colleague at the University of Salford, Professor Peter Graham.
No other composer perhaps knows the inner workings of the King musical mind better, whilst the conductor returns the insight in complimentary kind.
Throughout the recording, the razor sharp precision and oodles of energy see the band produce performances of the highest order. There is a real sense of transparency, with the internal ensemble balances layered close to perfection.
There is much to enjoy throughout – from the Japanese tsunami resurrection themes of the opening 'Phoenix', right through the title tracked 'War of the Worlds', originally composed for a Japanese Saxophone Orchestra, but arranged here with such a bold and intuitive appreciation of the brass band sound palette.
It is very cinematic in style (much like an updated version of his ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’) and like any blockbuster it grabs you by the throat from start to finish.
Lucy Murphy and Leah Williams deliver fine personal contributions both as soloists and ensemble leaders, whilst Stuart Lingard in the sultry tango, 'Par Una Cabeza', is all snappy Cuban heels and Latin sensuality.
Steve Walsh, David Thornton and Kevin Crockford make sure they are not outshone however with their excellent solo work.
Baroque music from the pen of Jean-Philippe Rameau superbly showcases the horn, cornets and low brass sections, whilst the simple beauty of, 'Lady Stewart's Air' acknowledges with considerable finesse, the contribution of the work done by Lady Adrienne Stewart for the brass band movement in Australia and New Zealand.
'With Fire and Sword', 'The Red Machine' (originally written for the Coldstream Guards) and the 'The Dream Team'', are all played with a persuasive touch of showmanship to bring the recording to an impressive close.
It's been quite a time since David King led a band on a major recording release – and the wait has been well worthwhile.
1. Phoenix, Peter Graham, 2.45
Rameau Revisited, Jean-Philippe Rameau arr. Peter Graham
2. I. Marche, 1.32
3. II. Rondeau, 1.08
4. III. La Joyeuse, 1.07
5. IV. Danse, 1.27
6. V. Tambourin, 1.39
7. Follow the Flame, Peter Graham, Lucy Murphy (Flugel Horn), 4.38
8. Lady Stewart's Air, Peter Graham, 2.28
9. Tango (Por Una Cabeza), Carlos Gardel arr. Peter Graham, Stuart Lingard (Cornet), 4.08
10. The Red Machine, Peter Graham, 8.54
11. Ae Fond Kiss, Robert Burns arr. Peter Graham, Leah Williams (Tenor Horn), 4.37
12. The Red Novae, Peter Graham, David Thornton (Euphonium), 6.02
13. The Dream Team, Peter Graham, 2.18
14. Deep River, Traditional arr. Peter Graham, Steve Walsh (Tuba), 3.09
15. With Fire and Sword, Peter Graham, 2.11
War of the Worlds, Peter Graham
16. I. Wrath, 2.54
17. II. Reflections, 4.45
18. III. Battle, 3.30
19. IV. Deliverance, 4.59
20. V. Phoenix (reprise), 2.58