CD review: Roots — Bridges of Brass

Salaputia Brass
OEHMS Classic Recordings: CDOC473
Playing Time: 70.22

For their third CD release Salaputia Brass explore some of the eclectic branches that have sprung from the planting of a specific bulb of brass music making in the United Kingdom over 400 years ago.

It’s a musical root system unlike any other; hybrid lines and cross pollinated genres that now encompass everything from classical baroque and film to pop and brass bands.

However, any academic argument that tries to make more than a tenuous botanical musical link between The Beatles and James Bond films to that of Arthur Butterworth and Paul McGhee, let alone Anthony Holborne or Gustav Holst, withers on stony ground.  

Much to admire

Thankfully, this release from the acclaimed German ensemble is more like a stroll past the prize-winning garden plots at the Chelsea Flower Show; cleverly curated nods of appreciation by green fingered performers to a very particular form of British musical cultivation.  There is much to admire in the ambition and inquisitive artistry. 

The clever arrangements by Peter Dorpinghaus retain the essential DNA and wit of the music, even if they do lack the sardonic delivery of John Lennon or the sound of the Aston Martin DB5 pipes of Shirley Bassey belting out ‘Goldfinger’.     

‘All You Need is Brass’  is familiar middle-aged Beatles nostalgia – although still as brightly coloured as a Sgt Pepper LP cover with a whiff of scented psychodelia in the air.

Meanwhile, that other 1960’s icon is a window box of James Bond greatest hits in full bloom medley form; the best of the John Barry (not Berry as it says with a Freudian slip) and Monty Norman crop of hits from ‘On Her Majesty's Secret Service’  to ‘Skyfall’  with occasionally bluntly pruned stop-offs in-between. 

The clever arrangements by Peter Dorpinghaus retain the essential DNA and wit of the music, even if they do lack the sardonic delivery of John Lennon or the sound of the Aston Martin DB5 pipes of Shirley Bassey belting out ‘Goldfinger’.     

Rich inventiveness

Of more lasting interest are the other tracks – notably Paul McGhee’s darkly hued ‘From Koris By’; the industrial soundscape recalling a proud heritage of tension, conflict, beauty and loss developed in a score of rich inventiveness and telling insight.

It also provides a wonderful counterpoint to Peter Dorpinghaus’ superb transcription of Holst’s ‘A Moorside Suite’, which in this ensemble form has a tinted strand of rich melancholic loss (the ‘Nocturne’  in particular). Subtle beauty and stylistic understanding seeps through the music. 

Arthur Butterworth’s ‘Triton Suite’  is a compact quartet of bold fanfares and hearty chord structures that leads into a ghostly ‘Lament’  and sprightly ‘Scherzo’  played with clarity and sharp-edged articulation, whilst Holborne’s ‘The Fairie Round’  suite finds the ensemble at academic and stylistic home – lucid, tempered and conclusive. 

Iwan Fox

To purchase: https://www.salaputiabrass.de/shop

Anthony Holborne 
Suite - ‘The Fairie Round’ (arr. Roger Harvey & Salaputia Brass)
I. The Fairie Round
2. The Honie Suckle
3. The Choise
4. Muy Linda
5. Last Will and Testament
6. Galliard
7. The Night Watch

Gustav Holst 
A Moorside Suite (trans. Peter Dorpinghaus)
8. Scherzo
9. Nocturne
10. March

Arthur Butterworth 
A Triton Suite Op. 46
11. Maestoso
12. Vivace
13. Lament
14. Scherzo

John Barry/Monty Norman
15. Bond for Brass (arr. Peter Dorpinghaus)

Paul McGhee
16. From Koris By

John Lennon & Paul McCartney 
17. All You Need is Brass (arr. Peter Dorpinghaus)

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