To assess the contesting success that Cory has achieved under the leadership of Robert Childs is a straightforward feat: Five British Open victories, three European titles, one National triumph and no less than nine Regional wins, is after all, a competitive record that speaks for itself.
What is perhaps less lauded however is the hugely significant legacy of recordings that will remain a permanent testament to the MD’s achievements with the band.
The ground breaking recording of John Pickard’s magnificent ‘Gaia Symphony’, four volumes of ‘Brass Band Classics’, ‘Triumphant Brass, ‘Actaeon’, ‘The Promised Land’, ‘Wildfire’; the list goes on and on.
This final release is a summation of that legacy; featuring a new euphonium concerto performed with breathtaking artistry by David Childs, coupled with Thomas Doss’s ‘Spiriti’, the last piece performed on the contest stage together, and works by Gareth Wood and Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s, two composers who have benefitted significantly from the MD’s musical advocacy.
‘Spiriti’ suits Cory to a tee: Highly technical and calling for stunning acts of virtuosity and stamina, the sheer brilliance of Cory’s recording takes the breath away.
The incredible accuracy of the playing is a given, but the way in which Robert Childs separates the layers of material to reveal the detail of the inner parts is very special indeed; as is the innate sense of musical balance.
This is as stunning a performance as any that Cory has made during the last twelve years.
Premiered by David Childs at the 2012 Festival of Brass, Johan de Meij’s ‘UFO Concerto’, with its easy going, melodically appealing style, is sure to find many friends amongst brass band audiences in much the same manner that the Karl Jenkins’s ‘Concerto’ did just a couple of years ago.
In five thematically linked movements totalling around 25 minutes, the piece is perhaps a touch too long to sustain its core material, although the audible unity lent by its binding employment of the five note chord used so effectively by the composer in ‘Extreme Makeover’, works well.
The subtle textural colouring from the use of harp and piano is a masterstroke, notably in the floating passages of the fast paced fourth movement.
The finely shaped phrasing and expressive range of performer is a joy to behold, notably in the central Andante Cantabile in which his lyrical gifts are displayed in abundant fashion.
Gareth Wood’s steady stream of pieces for Cory has been something of a constant thread since 2005 when he became their Composer in Residence, with his latest work, ‘Helvetia’, a celebration of his love of Switzerland.
Wood’s music is colourfully scored and thematically attractive, although after a radiant opening representation of an Alpine sunrise, the sudden, unsettling change to the zany clamour of hundreds of chiming cuckoo clocks is a touch disconcerting.
The same can also be said for the transition between the evocative walk to Wagner’s house and the final headlong dash down the Cresta Run that forms the breathless finale - although there is certainly nothing disconcerting about this vivid performance.
Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s ‘Breath of Souls’ is work that is immensely difficult to encapsulate in a convincing manner, but Cory’s ability to master its technical extremities shrugs them off with almost disarming ease.
As in ‘Spiriti’, the clarity of the individual lines is at time astonishing, with every forensic piece of detail audible through the often thickly scored textures.
The lyrical elegance of Tom Hutchinson’s cornet lead in the slow movement displays just how much he has matured during his tenure, whilst the infamous cadenzas are dispatched with consummate musicianship by all concerned.
‘Breath of Souls’ still divides opinion as a major Championship work, but this is as musically a persuasive account of it as you are ever likely to hear.
In fact it is difficult to imagine a more brilliantly executed or fitting farewell to Cory from Dr Robert Childs as this.
The title, ‘Out of This World’ might just prove to be the banding understatement of the year.
1. Spiriti, Thomas Doss, 17.03
UFO Concerto, Johan de Meij, David Childs (Euphonium) with Cory Band
2. I. Andante con moto, 5.19
3. II. Giocoso vivo, 5.36
4. III. Andante cantabile 3.46
5. IV. Vivace, 6.57
6. V. Alla marcia vivace, 3.12
7. Helvetia, Gareth Wood, 10.54
8. Breath of Souls, Paul Lovatt-Cooper, 16.07