Ian Bousfield

2019 RNCM Brass Band Festival
Featuring: Philip Sharp (piano); Katy Jones, Christian Jones, Ellena Newton
RNCM Manchester
Sunday 27th January

Following his stunning Heaton concerto performance with Foden’s on Friday evening, Ian Bousfield returned on Sunday afternoon for this equally remarkable recital. 

It was a display of a complete artist; a flawless technique backed by a stylistic appreciation of works by Glinka, Staar, Korngold, Webern and Pryor that was utterly unequivocal. 


His animated physicality was mesmeric; playing off the front foot like a batsman ready to drive through the covers, huge breaths gulping in copious lungfuls of air.  There was no arrogance to his self-confidence however, just a level of artistry that was truly inspiring.  

Generous and witty in spirit with his fellow performers, his ability to mould his sound - from orchestral heft to gossamer delicacy formed phrases coloured, textured and shaped in a bewildering 3D tessitura. The dynamic control was astonishing; pianissimo playing of such fragile beauty, yet seemingly hewn out of cast iron.  

Glinka’s ‘Sonatensatz in G Minor’ originally for viola and transcribed by the soloist reeked of graceful elegance and dignified authority. 

Rene Staar’s ‘Panic and Irony’ had a touch of personal bite - divorce it seemed strengthening the feelings of loss and alienation; the playing full of angst and anguish that seeped through its veins.

It segued into Korngold’s richly melancholic dance songs of visions of death in Bruges. ‘Pierrot’s Lied' and 'Marietta’s Lied' from 'Die Tote Stadt’ were troubling but stringent in their exactness. It left you in a cold sweat of apprehension.           

Rene Staar’s ‘Panic and Irony’ had a touch of personal bite – divorce it seemed strengthening the feelings of loss and alienation; the playing full of angst and anguish that seeped through its veins.


Webern’s ‘Langsamer Staz for Trombone Quartet’ was originally a slow movement for string quartet inspired by a 1905 hike the composer took into the Vienna mountains with his future wife. 

This was a type of romanticism that had echoes of Brahms through a prism of Schoenberg and Berg – a tonal idiom full of touching affection. It was a foursome of sublime excellence. 

A stunning hour was rounded off with a showboat rendition of Arthur Pryor’s iconic ‘Bluebells of Scotland’ - played with a stylistic wit that left you in no doubt of the seriousness of the brilliance on display.  

The touching homage of ‘Share My Yoke’ in memory of friends lost in James Watson, Maurice Murphy and Rod Franks was a moment to cherish.

Iwan Fox 

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