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Brighouse & Rastrick Band

Conductor: Prof David King
RNCM Brass Band Festival
RNCM, Manchester
Sunday 30th January


Prof David King’s eagerly anticipated return to the RNCM Festival was marked by a thrilling display of artistic musicality. The same could be said without fear of contradiction for his band too.

The Australian commanded the concert hall; coiled with resolute energy even when stood listening to Simone Rebello’s introductions. Once in front of his ensemble he was in his element, a perpetual motion of signs and gestures, indicators, cues and measures.  Nothing was missed.

It was electrifying; an omnipotent presence revealing the mysterious ways his wonders to perform. The playing it elicited was memorable.

Expansive canvas

The programme provided an expansive canvas; Alexander Owen’s ornate ‘Pelorous Jack’  march a showcase of virtuosity that wowed here just as much as the sight of the famous Risso dolphin itself when leading boats safely through the Cook Straits a hundred years ago.   

It was electrifying; an omnipotent presence revealing the mysterious ways his wonders to perform. The playing it elicited was memorable.

The MD was a sympathetic interpreter of Imogen Holst’s ‘The Unfortunate Traveller’  – a curiously intimate work that through the passing of time feels rather like an autobiographical plea for paternal acceptance.

Whether blessed or cursed by her background - the work itself rejected as part of her 1930 portfolio to the Royal Academy of Music, her later life financially and artistically modest - the more obvious, idealised homages to her father’s ‘Moorside Suite’ (performed at Crystal Palace just two years before), are pronounced, despite the individuality of her writing.  

Perceptive empathy

There was also a perceptive empathy displayed in the cultured reading of Ray Steadman-Allen’s ‘Prelude on Randolph’, with its linear phrases of embracing warmth leading to a touching close, and especially Wilfred Heaton’s absorbing ‘Meditation on Aberystwyth’.

Like a dark artery of the richest seam of Welsh coal, it drove through its musical landscape with dramatic tone poem pathos; gripping in its intense chameleon inventiveness to emerge with a remarkable major keyed climax. It was a performance of imposing stature.

Like a dark artery of the richest seam of Welsh coal, it drove through its musical landscape with dramatic tone poem pathos; gripping in its intense chameleon inventiveness to emerge with a remarkable major keyed climax. It was a performance of imposing stature.

So too Philip Wilby’s ‘Paganini Variations’  to close – the virtuosity balanced by subtle tempo nuance and finely drawn stylistic colourings; from brazen brilliance to the most fragile beauty. 

It was a roller coaster ride that popped eyeballs and plucked heart strings – as well as simply reminding you just how brilliant a work it remains in the hands of a conductor and band with the innate skill to fully master its challenges.

And on this particular night, that was never in doubt. 

Iwan Fox 

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Stuart Black

BA (Hons) Music
Conductor, Teacher, Flugel soloist


               

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