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Brighouse & Rastrick

Conductor: Russell Gray
Wobplay.com online broadcast Concert Series
William Hume Grammar School
Manchester
Saturday 18th September


The Wobplay.com ‘Concert Series’ has been a thoroughly engaging success.  

An ambitious project has been backed by notable performances as the featured bands of Cory, Tredegar and Black Dyke have taken the opportunity to unshackle themselves from their Covid-19 confines.

Recorded in July, Brighouse & Rastrick added to the quality output with this set recorded in the panelled main hall of the William Hume Grammar School. 

Varied inspirations

Led by guest conductor Russell Gray (who displayed his confidence by directing without music) they showcased a programme of varied inspirations – from Strauss and Tchaikovsky to Wings and the Harlem Globetrotters. 

It made for vibrant entertainment - every bit as colourful as the plastic chairs the players sat on; from the regal pomp of the opening  ‘Festmusik Der Stadt Wien’ all the way through to waspish flightiness of  ‘La Danza’ to close.

The soloists were on impressive form; Tom Smith’s ‘Miss Blue Bonnet’ was as flirtatious as Becky Sharpe in ‘Vanity Fair’, all Martin Irwin was missing was the Roger Moore raised eyebrow in a debonair ‘Live and Let Die’ and Tom Hall ‘Taps in Tempo’ recalled Fred Astaire at his best.  

The MD’s pacing of each piece was a delight – especially the 'Elverhoj Ouverture’ which combined its elvish mischief with scandi-noir darkness and even a hint of ‘Ilkley Moor’, whilst he gave a mini-masterclass of the art of connectivity in Gordon Langford’s  ‘Fantasy on British Sea Songs’ – which made what could easily become a trite piece of musical imperialism into a nautical delight.  

Impressive form

The soloists were on impressive form; Tom Smith’s  ‘Miss Blue Bonnet’ was as flirtatious as Becky Sharpe in ‘Vanity Fair’, all Martin Irwin was missing was the Roger Moore raised eyebrow in a debonair  ‘Live and Let Die’ and Tom Hall  ‘Taps in Tempo’ recalled Fred Astaire at his best.  

Pat Metheny’s uber-cool  ‘Letter from Home’, the circus-act  ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’, and the whisky-soaked fun (led splendidly by the bass trom) of the  ‘Vivace’ from Malcolm Arnold’s  ‘Four Scottish Dances’ led into a muscular  ‘Finale’ from Tchaikovsky’s  ‘Symphony No. 4’ which once again saw Russell Gray pace the music with control of the increasing drive and dramatic impulse.

Iwan Fox 

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