CD cover - In Perfect PeaceIn Perfect Peace

7-Dec-2007

Gothenburg Brass Band
Conductor: Dr Nicholas Childs
Soloists: Tone Fossum Olsson, Patrick Randefalk, Claire Farr, Mattias Ekberg
Doyen Recordings: CD233
Total Playing Time: 63.19

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The untimely death of Bengt Eklund in 2007 has left the European brass band movement, and in particular, in Sweden, with a huge void to fill. 

An inspirational conductor, teacher and musician he founded the Gothenburg Brass Band in 1982, and over the next 25 years they became leading musical ambassadors for their country both on the contest and concert platform at home and abroad.

This very personal musical tribute to a very personable, warm hearted man of music is a fitting memorial. The band he created is no more – the members taking the decision close their chapter of music making after their final contesting performance at the 2007 European Brass Band Championships.

Without their inspiration Gothenburg did not want to become just another band – their identity was forged in their relationship with their conductor and mentor, without him they would have lacked the unique quality that made them such a special ensemble. Those who played under Bengt Eklund not only became better musicians and players, but surely, better human beings too. Although a sad end, it was also a practical one too and that practicality has resulted in this fine release from all concerned in its production.

With Bengt Eklund too ill to conduct the band during its final chapter, Nicholas Childs took over the helm for their final performance at the Europeans and for this recording too, although there is the opportunity to hear the band ‘live’ under Bengt Eklund’s baton with the recording of their winning performance at the New Zealand Brass Band Championships in 2005.

The band is on tiptop form in a recording that was made just a few days before that final contest appearance at Symphony Hall.  The opening march ‘Ravenswood’ is bright and breezy with the bands hallmark characteristics of precision and vibrant tonal quality heard to the full.

All the soloists are excellent: Matthias Ekberg is a confident and polished lead in ‘Concertino in Eb’, aided by some supple ensemble work from the 10 piece accompaniment, whilst Patrick Randefalk delivers an authoritative performance of ‘The Striped Falcon’ with an impressive technical assuredness.   Claire Farr is a wonderfully rounded voice in ‘Sang Till Lotta’ and there is a finely shaped piece lyrical cornet playing from Tone Fossum Olsen in ‘Share My Yoke’.

One of the great strengths, as well as unique characteristics of Gothenburg over the years has been their lighter ensemble tonal quality. They do of course have the ability to turn the volume control up when required, but for the most part they have been a wonderfully reserved band in terms of dynamic contrast and control.

That is heard to fine effect with a razor sharp rendition of ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ that shows that Mozart and brass bands can, when played with intellect, be very enjoyable musical companions.  

The two main works featured are both live performances. ‘Music of the Spheres’ is given a slightly uneven performance it must be said at the Europeans – at times thrilling, at times a little slip shod, but it is still a quality performance nonetheless.

The performance of ‘St. Magnus’ under the direction of Bengt Eklund in New Zealand in 2005 is also a fine account, and as this reviewer remembers too well, shocked the audience in Christchurch with its precision and clarity, as well as that distinctive lighter tonal sound. They were deserved winners of the New Zealand title that year.

Finally however, it is the heartfelt and deeply emotional performance of ’In Perfect Peace’ that leaves the lasting impression. Played with a wonderful sense of simplicity it is a fitting reminder of the man who brought so much joy and compassion to his music making.

Iwan Fox.

What's on this CD?

1. Ravenswood, William Rimmer, 4.25
2. Share My Yoke, Joy Webb arr. Ivor Bosanko, Soloist:Tone Fossum Olsson. 3.58
3. The Striped Falcon, Magnus Hylander, Soloist: Patrik Randefalk. 4.02
4. SŒng Till Lotta. Jan Sandstršm arr. Henrik Torolphi. Soloist: Clare Farr, 4.32
5. The Marriage of Figaro, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 4.14
6. In Perfect Peace, Kenneth Downie, 3.42
7. Concertino in Eb, Ernst Sachse arr. Stephen Glover & H M Lewis, Soloist: Mattias Ekberg, 6.16
8. Music of the Spheres (live recording), Philip Sparke, 17.12
10. St. Magnus (Live recording remastered), Kenneth Downie, 14.17

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