The latest high profile CD to roll out of Queensbury features an intriguing quartet of music inspired by the cultural and well as physical excellence of this Olympic year.
It’s a relay team of big hitting composers too; leading off with Judith Bingham, before the baton is passed to Luke Carver Goss and Derek Bourgeois before a finishing straight blast of a finale from Modest Mussorgsky.
We open with a reminder of the historic breaking of the four minute mile barrier by Roger Bannister at Iffley Road in 1954, in a gloriously uplifting work by one of Britain’s foremost composers.
Right from the bang of the starter’s gun Bingham’s 'Four Minute Mile' field sprints away with the lead changing hands between the cornets, lower brass and horns; settling down into a more relaxed pace in the middle laps before the final breathless lunge for the finishing tape and sporting immortality.
It a wonderfully vigorous work – although puzzlingly, the time of 3 minutes 27 seconds is more in Usian Bolt territory than that even Sebastian Coe at his peak could manage.
The 2012 Cultural Olympiad, which featured at its core, ‘New Music 20x12’, provided the UKs artistic stars with their own opportunity to showcase their world class talent.
‘Pure Gold’ by Luke Carver Goss evokes a 4 X4 relay, with the band joined by the Manchester Chorale and the ‘Bard of Barnsley’ Ian McMillan, whose rose tinted sports day recollections underpin the flow of the work.
However, the modern structure and architecture of the writing lends a much more immediate feel to the music, whilst McMillan cleverly restrains himself from embellishing things too much with his guttersnipe Alf Tupper, ‘Tough of the Track’ memories.
The interplay and interchanges are deftly managed, with power allied to grace and humour linked with a touch of pathos.
Much the same can be said of the performance of ‘The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’ – a work rich in all things slightly subversive.
Nicholas Childs draws a reading full of detail, precision and dry wit from his band; the remorseless drive of the fugue balanced by the plaintive beauty of the restful, if slightly bizarre ‘Danaesque’ images of the waves lapping Lulworth Cove.
Finally, a rousing guided tour around St Petersburg’s Academy of Fine Arts with Modest Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ – brought to life in a richly hued mix from the band’s extensive palette of dynamics and textures.
With strong characterisation, bold solo and ensemble lines and the ability to manage stamina sapping resources with a frugal brilliance, it provides the band with a glorious opportunity to prove their Olympian reputation is fully justified on every atmospheric canvas of a gold medal release.
1. Four Minute Mile, Judith Bingham, 3.27
2. Pure Gold — A 4 x 4 Relay, Luke Carver Goss, Ian McMillan (Narrator) with The Manchester Chorale, 13.27
3. The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Derek Bourgeois, 16.59
Pictures at an Exhibition, Modest Mussorgsky, arr. Elgar Howarth
4. Promenade 1, 1.38
5. The Gnome, 2.43
6. Promenade 2, 0.55
7. The Old Castle, 5.11
8. Promenade 3, 0.32
9. The Tuilerie Gardens, 0.57
10. Bydlo, 3.20
11. Promenade 4, 0.50
12. Ballet of Chicks in their Shells, 1.13
13. Two Jews,2.22
14. Promenade 5, 1.33
15. The Weekly Market at Limoges, 1.22
16. The Catacombs, 2.07
17. With the Dead in a Language Dead, 1.53
18. Baba Yaga, 3.39
19. The Great Gate of Kiev, 5.35