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Guards Brass

Galleries
Household Division Music Festival
Conductor: WO Class1 Andrew Porter
The Guards Chapel, London
Thursday 28th June

The music of Bliss, Tallis, Gabrieli, Dowland and Mussorgsky appropriately framed this excellent Guards Brass ‘gallery’ exhibition of repertoire skilfully curated by WO Class 1 Andrew Porter.

High quality ensemble playing, as warm as the early evening air, permeated the immersive acoustic of the evocative surroundings; the fanfare ‘A Salute to Painting’ providing a finely judged opening - its stature bold and imperial.

Absorbing experience

Following its recent world premiere by Tredegar at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff, the ensemble was joined by a quintet from the Welsh band for ‘Spem in Alium’ - the 40 ‘voices’ astutely amended from Chris Davies’ brass band arrangement to accommodate personal from all four Household Division Bands and guests. 

Positioned throughout the nave, the stereo effect, full of nuanced dissonance and emerging, intertwining lines that glowed with subtle intensity, made for an absorbing experience - the music building to a glorious, emotive climax. 

Gabrieli’s delicate ‘Sonata Piane’ Forte’ and Dowland’s cheery ‘Air and Dances’ were performed with accomplished polish - the personnel showcasing precise, lightened technique to give the music its required clarity, whilst the MD kept the pulse flowing without ever losing its sense of cultured poise.

Positioned throughout the nave, the stereo effect, full of nuanced dissonance and emerging, intertwining lines that glowed with subtle intensity, made for an absorbing experience - the music building to a glorious, emotive climax. 

Exuberant intent

To close, a rather rambunctious excerpt glimpse of Mussorgsky’s famous ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’; played with stylish, if occasionally exuberant intent. 

The quality of the individual contributions was marked - even if the odd blob of pigment occasionally dropped a Jackson Pollack moment onto the canvas; the mysterious ‘Catacombs’ and pecking viciousness of ‘Baba Yaga’ leading into a well judged ‘Great Gate’ that only occasionally displayed a squeaky hinge or two.  

The tasty 'Tahiti Trot’ encore whetted the lips for a cool post-concert snifter - the performers deserving of an extra round or two for a concert of classy musicality.

Iwan Fox

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