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Onyx Brass and Guards Brass

Guards Chapel
London
Friday 10th January

Onyx Brass and brass players from the Household Division gave this recital in the Guards Chapel following workshops undertaken during the week.

It opened with Onyx Brass performing a trio of keyboard works by Couperin. The two trumpets, seated on either end of the row deftly negotiated the tricky ornamentation in the first piece, whilst the second set the trumpets against the horn and trombone, leading to effective echo effects. The third depicted the buzzing fluttering of a gnat, albeit a fairly sedate one.

Outbursts

They continued with beautifully sustained playing in a Bach chorale prelude, followed by Joe Duddell's 'Still Life', a contemporary work which contrasted momentary longeurs with sudden outbursts of activity.

Guards Brass formed a ten-piece ensemble for Handel's 'Arrival of the Queen of Sheba', the flugel and piccolo trumpet adding colour to the sound, before C/Sgt Ray Plant was featured in 'The Battle of Jericho'; the sultry passages framing an up-beat central section.

For a movement from Bach's 'Brandenburg Concerto No 3', the group split into three; 3 trumpets, two trombones and tuba, and 2 trombones and flugel, to produce very effective playing.

Sgt Andrew Mercer gave a smooth account of 'Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair'  before the first half drew to a close with Ray Premru's 'Blues March'.

'Fantasia on a Theme of Tallis' was written by Timothy Jackson when he was only 14 years old, but is a remarkably mature work. Setting a stately tempo, the music evolved slowly from the initial statement, with clashing harmonies as the lines interacted one with another.

Mature

For the second half, the groups joined together for a Brahms motet; the scoring setting two trumpets and two trombones against a quartet of flugel, horn trombone and tuba. Sat antiphonally, it made for interesting variations in tone colour.

'Fantasia on a Theme of Tallis' was written by Timothy Jackson when he was only 14 years old, but is a remarkably mature work. Setting a stately tempo, the music evolved slowly from the initial statement, with clashing harmonies as the lines interacted one with another.

Ryan Lynham’s beautiful setting of 'Waley Waley', opening with a flugel melody before introducing jazzy inflections and adventurous harmonies was a welcome contrast, before the concert closed with an impressive reading of Malcolm Arnold's 'Little Suite for Brass', with an especially tender cornet solo in the 'Siciliano'.

Peter Bale

Image (Thomas Bowles)

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