One of the undoubted strengths of Swiss brass banding is its sense of communal spirit - found in abundance both in its secular and devotional movements.
Players are encouraged to remain actively involved with their church or village bands, whilst still playing in regional ensembles or more prominent contesting outfits, with the CMVS Staff Band a fine example of it working wonderfully well in practice on this recording.
The players are drawn from member bands of the CMVS (Christlicher Musikverband Schweiz), the Christian Music Association of Switzerland.
Many play for their local church or village non competing ensembles as well as more well known contesting bands.
For this release, inspired by the words of ‘Psalm 150’ urging musical praise for the Lord, the band is directed by Jonathan W Corry, who does a fine job of bringing together the different strands of personnel and repertoire in a common celebratory cause.
The music is not overtly demanding, but has been well thought out and delivered in a balanced manner - much like the playing itself, which is neat and articulate, with a warm ensemble tonality built on a fine sounding bass end.
Purpose and clarity
‘Glorifico Aeternum’, ‘Fire in the Blood’ and the overture from ‘Nabucco’ provide the more substantial offerings, each played with purpose and clarity - although the Hebrew Slaves do take a little while to get their skates on to find the Promised Land.
Esther Schwalm, and the duo of Philipp Walther and Christian Gertschen are tasteful leads in their solo items, whilst there are notable contributions throughout the release from each of the leading principal players.
Upbeat vibrancy is provided by the likes of ‘Fanfare & Flourishes’, ‘Toccata in D Minor’, and the Rimmeresque march ‘Croydon Citadel’, which contrast nicely with the lyricism of ‘The Lord is Gracious’ and ‘Choral Angelus’.
There is also much to enjoy in the evocative ‘Stal Himmel’ and the engaging ‘Gospel Brass Machine’ - both showing the versatility and nuanced musicality that is the mark of high quality cohesive ensemble playing.
Euro back beat
However, ‘Our Great God and King’ and the other lightweight items, although very well played are stylistically repetitive, which tends to make them sound as if they are either a sound track to a 1970’S British sit-com or a Swiss version of ‘World of Sport’.
Not every ‘toe tapper’ needs a Euro-pop drum-kit back beat.
Still, it’s fun and frothy and does what it says it does (although only in German) on the musical tin, although for those more linguistically challenged the lack of more comprehensive sleeve notes tends to suggest this is a release for domestic consumption – which is a pity as this is band that deserves a wider audience.
1. Fanfare and Flourishes, James Curnow, 2.23
2. The Lord Is Gracious, D.Bartlett, 2.49
3. Nabucco: Overture, G.Verdi, 8.12
4. Share my Yoke, Joy Webb, Cornet soloist E.Schwalm, 4.15
5. Fire in the Blood, P.Lovett-Cooper, 9.37
6. Deep Inside the Sacred Temple, G.Bizet, Euphonium soloists Ph.Walter, Ch.Gertschen, 4.30
7. March — Croyden Citadel, Captain B.Boon, 3.10
8. Stål Himmel-Steel Skies, Alan Fernie, 3.56
9. Our Great God and King, S & D Maduxx, 2.36
10. To Be in Your Presence, Noel Richards, 2.28
11. Glorifico Aeternum, Dean Jones, 11.02
12. Gospel Brass Machine, Mark Taylor, 3.31
13. Soon (And Very Soon!), A.Crouch, 3.04
14. Power of Your Love, G.Bullock, 3.18
15. Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, J.S.Bach, 3.42
16. Choral Angelus, G.Joseph, 1.00