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Foden's Band

British Open champion delivers on a wide ranging sense of stylish musicality to open inaugural Elgar Festival.

Conductor: Michael Fowles
Soloist: Jonathan Bates 
Elgar International Festival of Brass
Bromsgrove School
Sunday 16th June

The reigning British Open champion opened this inaugural festival by showcasing an extensive arc of sophisticated musical quality.

Geoffrey Brand’s fizzing arrangement of ‘Carnival Overture’  had a joyful, frothy substance in capturing Dvorak’s original life affirming inspiration - facile, fun but never frenetic. 

Impish humour

It was followed in equal measure by Derek Bourgeois’ attractive ‘Concerto for Eb Horn’.

Elements of the composer’s well known impish humour (the carousel flow of the central movement and the almost flippant hi-jinks of the finale) contrasted with sensitive lower brass and trombone accompaniment to give Jonathan Bates the foundation on which to build a warmly toned, melodic performance of considerable note. 

Intricate, fun, metronomic, fast and furious, it was led by a razor-sharp cornet section which was complemented by intelligent percussion colouring and leanly muscular tubas.

Wit of a different, elegant kind in Debussy’s ‘Masques’  in the form of a musical pastiche of the Commedia Dell’Arte; both humorous (although Debussy confided that it was more “an expression of the tragedy of existence”  following separation from his wife) and demanding in its virtuosity. 

Intricate, fun, metronomic, fast and furious, it was led by a razor-sharp cornet section which was complemented by intelligent percussion colouring and leanly muscular tubas.

Taut excitement

Contrast followed with ‘Ubi Caritas’  – a hymnal antiphon long associated Maundy Thursday but finding wider fame in Paul Mealor’s version used at the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.  Its dissonances and sustained chords, many of which never resolved, added a complex tonality to its essential Gregorian meditative simplicity. 

Michael Fowles spacious interpretation notched up the drama incrementally – the brilliant solo contributions little novella pen portraits in a commanding filmatic take on a score that wears its stereotype influences with undisguised pride. 

Thierry Deleruyelle’s evocative ‘Sand and Stars’  (which brought the Sandbach its British Open success) was once again delivered with a distinctive feel of taut excitement, peril, despair and ultimate salvation.

Michael Fowles spacious interpretation notched up the drama incrementally – the brilliant solo contributions little novella pen portraits in a commanding filmatic take on a score that wears its stereotype influences with undisguised pride. 

Fiona Bennett and John Heritage

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