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Grenadier Guards Brass Ensemble

Music for the Festive Season
Guards Chapel
London
Tuesday 18th December

The brass quintet from the Grenadier Guards Band featuring LCpl Beavis & Msn Dan Griffiths (trumpets); Msn Jolly (horn); Msn Hibberd (trombone); Msn Wrycraft (tuba) opened with an arrangement of Leroy Anderson's classic 'Christmas Festival'. 

Reducing such a recognisable work to a quintet is quite a task and unfortunately it was obvious that some important parts were missing. The players tried admirably to make it work however, with Ben Beavis doubling up on sleigh bells.

Heartily

Three carols were included for audience participation; 'Once in Royal David's City', 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' and 'O Come, all Ye Faithful' sung heartily.

An arrangement of 'The Christmas Song' opened with French horn before the melody was taken up on piccolo trumpet, whilst a more successful foray into Leroy Anderson repertoire followed with an effective version of 'Sleigh Ride' - Ben Beavis featuring this time on whip, as well as providing a very authentic whinny at the end.

The 'Carol of the Bells' has gained increased popularity in recent years; Frackenpohl's version opening with a muted atmosphere and a gentle pulse, gradually building in volume and intensity before dying away.

The 'Carol of the Bells' has gained increased popularity in recent years; Frackenpohl's version opening with a muted atmosphere and a gentle pulse, gradually building in volume and intensity before dying away.

Enjoyable

The 'American Christmas Folk Suite' featured 'Rise up Shepherd and Follow', 'Mary had a Baby Boy' and 'Go tell it on the Mountain', enhanced by sliding, chromatic harmonies, with 'Little Drummer Boy' with 'Pat-a-Pan' highlighting the lower brass setting the with pulse of the trumpets and horn providing the counter-melody.

'Dixie Jingle Bells' set the melody in a Dixie-land style, with the tuba providing a running bass line, before 'Silent Night' provided a reflective interlude. They closed an enjoyable programme with 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas'. 

It was a fine effort, although a few moments of uncertainty made one suspect that rehearsal opportunities had been limited.

Peter Bale

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