Glyn Williams (Euphonium)
Conductor: Michael Fowles
Doyen DOY CD287
Total Playing Time: 73.42
On his previous CD release, Glyn Williams displayed his versatile performance gifts on a bewildering variety of instruments. Here, with the obvious exception of his velvety tenor voice, he showcases his mastery of one – the euphonium.
And it is a truly masterful showcase of performances too.
With a wide variety of repertoire, including the premiere recording of the title concerto written by Andy Scott, here is performer totally in control of his technical and lyrical talents – from smooth musicality to finger burning wizardry.
The support from Foden’s is first-rate; helped by excellent direction from Michael Fowles, and understated, sympathetic playing from the ensemble and accompanying solo lines.
Composer in Residence
The relationship between Foden’s and Scott has already produced a number of fine works, and the new concerto, written in three movements, is of considerable interest.
’The Lure of the Red Jacket’ refers to Glyn’s ambition to play with Foden’s (and his tenure has now lasted almost 20 years) and tells of the burning desire to ultimately leave a lasting mark in the annals of their history.
The lively opening movement illustrates that growing sense of impending achievement, whilst the atmospheric ‘Far Beyond the Stars’, echoes with delicate ciphers of the performer’s proud Celtic DNA – including that hauntingly sang, deeply melancholic piece of poetry.
As expected, ‘The Dragon’s Den’ is full of fire and energy, with the solo voice set against the vibraphone and xylophone.
Other leading lines then join it, with the band largely providing connecting interludes between the solo passages.
It is a mesmerising performance.
Two other Andy Scott pieces are also featured: ‘My Mountain Top’ and ‘Salt of the Earth Gospel’ - the latter an adaptation for euphonium of the second movement of his tuba concerto written for Les Neish.
Once more the soloist performs with a stunning musical élan.
Contrasts from John Golland
Golland’s ‘Concerto No 1’ may have been premiered by Robert Childs nearly 30 years ago, but still remains an enjoyable, potent showcase.
Glyn has performed the work before – notably with the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, but it is good to hear a fresh recording that captures the attention from first note to last, in a performance notable for the interaction between soloist and band, which although frequently quite sparsely scored, remains the key to its understanding.
In contrast, Golland’s particularly singular ‘Peace’, sees a wonderful example of the lyrical art of tender expression.
Bram Tovey’s ‘Veritas’ has its musical origins in part of a work for cello and orchestra, although it has been utilised by the virtuosi American trombonist Joseph Alessi.
The artistic inspiration however comes from W H Auden’s poem ‘Tell Me the Truth about Love’, although the treatment could not be further away from Benjamin Britten’s own tongue in cheek cabaret song version.
Here it provides for intimate reflection, fading into the distance with a seemingly endless repose.
Salvation Army favourite
Robert Redhead’s ‘Euphony’ may be full of rhythmic complexity, but is easy on the ear, and in the hands of such an accomplished performance the listener may be unaware of the technical difficulties faced.
It is a rendition that perfectly matches the translation of the title of, ‘a pleasant, sweet sound’, with the intrinsic control displayed in the upper register allied to the delicacy of touch in the ‘Deep and Wide’ insert, giving the performance a satisfying sheen of tasteful emotion.
Name that tune
The final track is a Glyn Williams ‘bon-bon’- written by Alan Fernie and featuring a collection of neatly stitched together ‘classics’ of the banding repertoire – from ‘Paganini Variations’, ‘Harmony Music’ and ‘Year of the Dragon’ to ‘Journey into Freedom’, ‘On Alderley Edge’ and ‘Rococo Variations’.
As showcases go it’s clever little crackerjack that also casts the mind back to some of Glyn’s memorable individual contest contributions on these pieces with Foden’s over the past two decades.
Well put together and with real attention to detail, this is a CD that fully deserves its recent plaudits and awards.
1-3. Concerto for Euphonium and Brass Band, Andy Scott
I. The Lure of the Red Jacket, 4.41
II. Far Beyond the Stars, 6.12
III. The Dragon's Den, 3.55
4. Veritas, Bramwell Tovey, 7.40
5. Euphony, Robert Redhead, 7.43
6. My Mountain Top, Andy Scott, 8.15
7. Euphonium Concerto No. 1, John Golland, 19.32
8. Peace, John Golland, 5.01
9. Salt of the Earth Gospel, Andy Scott, 4.44
10. My Favourite Things, Alan Fernie, 5.18