Mnozil Brass

Symphony Hall
Friday 16th June.

Despite the hiccup of their airline losing some of their instruments in transit to the UK, the ever-inventive Mnozil septet simply shrugged off the inconvenience to thrill the audience at Symphony Hall with a concert worth its weight (and wait) in its ‘Gold’ inspiration.

Originally scheduled to appear here two years ago (cancelled due to Covid-19), they were not going to let lackadaisical baggage handling postpone them further.  They simply borrowed the instruments (tuba, trombone and as a one-off, a baritone played with a comic insouciance by Leonard Paul) with the help of the nearby Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and set to work.


‘Gold’  is their ‘hits’ package; old and new vaudeville antics meets brass playing brilliance from a back catalogue that must be packed like Fort Knox with 24 carat bars of the stuff (they are currently touring with their new show ‘Phoenix’) – all wrapped up into close on two hours of frenetic (with occasional moments of respite) musical audacity. 

From ‘The Bat’  and Borodin to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’,  Kurt Weill and Fucik with stop offs for the classic favourites of ‘Blue’,  ‘Lonely Boy’  and the excruciatingly accurate (and very funny) avant-garde ‘World Premiere’ (complete Robert Rother’s manic carrot eating) it had it all.  They sing rather well too.

The Ringmaster though is Thomas Gansch – an impish genius cajoling the audience whilst also almost invisibly keeping everything ticking along with the precision of a Swiss railway clock.

As always, Wilfried Branstoetter (tuba) and Robert Rother (trumpet) provided the essential oil to power the artistic engine, Roman Rindberger (trumpet) and Gerhard Fuessl (trombone) the seamless support, whilst Leonhard Paul (trombone) remains the Buster Keaton to Zoltan Kiss and his Charlie Chaplin acrobatics. 

Impish genius

The Ringmaster though is Thomas Gansch – an impish genius cajoling the audience whilst also almost invisibly keeping everything ticking along with the precision of a Swiss railway clock.

It didn’t matter if you had seen it all before – the zesty little twists dropped into the theatrical mix adding something fresh to the familiarity.  The technical wizardry was something else, but it was when they took time to play the more relaxed items that they revealed their true musical identities.

As always, the playing was exceptional – and it is sometimes easy to forget amid the slapstick, what you are hearing is world class brass performers with incredible scope and command of style, marathon-running stamina and sheer unadulterated star quality. 

That was worth its weight alone in anyone’s ‘Gold’. 

Iwan Fox 

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