This is a recording of impressive musical maturity.
Iain Culross has crammed quite a bit of travel into his short career – his passport bearing the stamps of more than a few high class bandroom destinations; although in the last couple of years he seems to have found a settled home at Leyland, where his undoubted talents have been allowed to develop with growing authority.
Flair and understanding
That is certainly the case with this release; with a dozen confidently performed works, each played with an engaging sense of controlled flair and understanding.
The selection box highlights an impressive musical awareness too, with extended originals from the emerging talents of Jonathan Bates, James McFadyen and Richard Rock interspersed with some well chosen mainstay repertoire, a brace of personal mementoes and a couple of tasty lollipops.
Each highlights a differing facet of the soloist’s imposing array of talents – a startling command of the upper register chief amongst them; although that is balanced by a thoughtful appreciation of lyrical phrasing too.
The title track is almost the perfect example – an audacious power punch opening which quickly leads into a thoughtful interlude before re-emerging with burnished brilliance, whilst the ‘Concertino’ by Jonathan Bates is a distinctive showcase (especially the finale with its Bourgeois ‘Serenade’ rhythmic patterns) that gives free rein to dazzle without recourse to brashness.
That noticeable breadth of versatility is a feature throughout the recording – with Culross showing subtle awareness of his boundary markers in terms of technique and style.
For instance, the Brandt ‘Concertpiece’ is an old recital favourite played with security and understanding (in a fine arrangement by Leigh Baker), whilst the Darrol Barry ‘Suite for Cornet’ is delivered with a classy sense of urbane sophistication – from nimble filigree adornment to colourful broad stroke textures.
Three interesting works from Richard Rock stand out however: A brace of melancholic miniatures in ‘Lucht Siuil’ (Walking People) and ‘Elegy’ that draws darkly hued musicality from the soloist, and the deliberately pompous ‘Fiero’ (which means proud in Italian) which has a bluff grandeur coupled to an edge of witty self importance.
An engaging thoughtfulness is displayed on the lovely little vignettes of ‘Mary of Argyll’ and ‘Arietta’ (both lovingly provided by the soloist’s father), whilst the lollipops of ‘Bring Him Home’ and ‘Charivari’ are dusted off with polished professionalism without sounding staid.
The only odd take comes with ‘Hejre Kati’, which perhaps could have done with a few more shot of Hungarian Palinka fruit brandy to really capture the free flowing gypsy passion.
Throughout, Leyland provides an equally professional accompaniment.
Thanks to the sympathetic direction from the MDs they never submerge the solo focal point on a release that certianly makes a mark with that impressive maturity from start to finish.
1. Vanguard, James McFadyen, 6.51
2. Mary of Argyll, Traditional, arr. Frank Culross, 3:41
3. Concertino for Cornet, Jonathan Bates, 9:31
4. Lucht Siuil (Walking People), Richard Rock, 2:21
5. Hejre Kati, Huby/Mendex, arr. Leigh Baker, 3:12
6. Bring Him Home, Boubill/Shonberg, arr. Keith Wilkinson , 3:59
7. Fiero, Richard Rock, 8:06
Suite for Cornet, Darrol Barry
8. Suite for Cornet Mvt. I, 3:09
9. Suite for Cornet Mvt. II, 4:02
10. Suite for Cornet Mvt. III, 3:20
11. Suite for Cornet Mvt. IV, 3:54
12. Arietta, Frank Culross, 3:26
13. Charivari, John Iveson, 6:46
14. Elegy, Richard Rock, 3:43
15. Concertpiece no. 1, Willy Brandt, arr. Leigh Baker, 8:54