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CD Review: Over the Horizon

Soloist: Steve Stewart
Cory Band
Conductor: Philip Harper
Doyen Recordings: DOY CD376


Contrary to those who believe in mythical Faustian pacts, the very best soprano players in the world are products of nurture not nature. 

Their musical expressionism is built on a foundation of rock solid technique, moulded by hours of high quality practice - not a freakish serendipity of being born with a blue moon in their eye. 

Romantics may well believe in a musical Mephistopheles, but the modern day soprano virtuosos are all the offspring of hard graft. 

Overriding impression

That’s the overriding impression that you gain from listening to Steve Stewart on this substantive solo CD. All you have to do is to look at his CV. 

Forget the tics and the showmanship, the piercing grey blue eyes and the slightly manic stare of the CD cover, and simply listen to the musician at work. Then just think how much intensive labour he has put in over the years to be that good. 

Romantics may well believe in a musical Mephistopheles, but the modern day soprano virtuosos are all the offspring of hard graft. 

Measured against performers in any brass playing genre, he is a very fine player indeed; something that is fully endorsed by the quality shown on eight contrasting items - some old, some new, all played with nuance and style and a striking technical assuredness that leaves ample scope to layer richly coloured tonality.

Fizz and crackle

The choices, as well as the commissions, are very well made - delivered either with a confident swagger of ingenuity or a reserved introspection of lyrical beauty. The fizz and crackle of the pyrotechnics are balanced by the elements of textured, languid sonority – the hallmarks of great soprano playing few can match. His clever use of a 4 valve soprano and piccolo trumpet add a further dimension to the finesse. 

The familiar classics are played with fresh zest whilst the extended works from the pens of Dan Price, Ken Ferguson and Darrol Barry allow for a measured sense of freedom that never loses focus or interest (the poetic soliloquy is a lovely touch too).

It closes with the Arnold ‘Fantasy’ that perfectly lives up to its name, segueing into a title track that glistens with shards of diamond brilliance to end on a ferocious blast of piercing excitement – the epitome of nurtured soprano artistry.

Iwan Fox

To Purchase: 


Play List:

1. Rhapsody for Eb Soprano Cornet (Robert Eaves)
2-4. Concertino for Eb Soprano Cornet (Darrol Barry)
5. Soliloquy (Darrol Barry)
6-8. Concerto for Soprano Cornet (Dan Price)
9. Capriccio (Philip Sparke)
10. Brandane Rhapsody (Ken Ferguson)
11. Fantasy for Trumpet (Malcolm Arnold)
12. Over the Horizon (Christopher Bond)

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