CD review: Black Dyke Gold — Volume VII

Prof Nicholas Childs & Darius Battiwalla
Featuring: Sheffield Philharmonic Chorus
Soloists: Richard Marshall; Zoe Hancock; Daniel Thomas
Doyen CD385


Black Dyke’s ‘Gold’ series is the regularly serviced oil change that lubricates the engine of the Queensbury band’s commercial output; tried and tested to meet the expectations of a fan base that remains stoically resolute in its demand for music that readily engages rather than overtly educates their listening enjoyment.

However, the seemingly familiar allows Prof Childs to incrementally expand the repertoire palette - on this occasion with the inclusion of Kevin Norbury’s ‘Odyssey’ test-piece, a first recording of ‘Intrepid Overture’ by William Himes and Paul Mealor’s ethereal choral work, ‘Paradise’. 

Engaging balance

It makes for an engaging balance; the sugar coated nostalgia of The Beatles ‘Thingumybob’ and ringing humour of ‘Liberty Bell’ sitting on an easy-listening axel alongside the embracing Celtic warmth of ‘All Through the Night’ and the somewhat curiously cloned ‘Ol’ Man River’. The trio of featured soloists of Richard Marshall, Zoe Hancock and Daniel Thomas perform with high class poise and polish.

‘Odyssey’ is given a resolute performance (recorded soon after their imposing 2018 Yorkshire Area success) of drive and joyous triumphalism, whilst ‘Intrepid Overture’, premiered at Lincoln Cathedral in April 2018 is a wonderfully crafted work, full of passionate drama and purpose that never loses its exciting focus and sense of direction. 

What stands out however is Paul Mealor’s ‘Paradise’; a thought-provoking piece of writing that follows a pilgrim’s journey of spiritual endeavour through the crepuscular underworld of Dante’s inferno. 

Pilgrim's journey

What stands out however is Paul Mealor’s ‘Paradise’; a thought-provoking piece of writing that follows a pilgrim’s journey of spiritual endeavour through the crepuscular underworld of Dante’s inferno. 

The tribulations of stepping off the pathway in search of ‘the supreme light’ are all too clear to hear in the inky darkness; a cloying, enveloping blackness giving way to a vicious scherzo trial of faith before requiem salvation is reached. 

It gives the music a depth of crafted heft and musical integrity that leaves a lasting impression.  

Iwan Fox


To purchase: http://www.worldofbrass.com/100352-group.html

1. The Liberty Bell (Sousa arr. J. Ord Hume)
2. Odyssey (Kevin Norbury)
3. Ave Maria (J.S. Bach/Gounod arr. J.A. Greenwood)
4. Intrepid Overture (William Himes)
5. The Seal Lullaby (Eric Whitacre arr. Paul Sharman)
6. Thingumybob (Lennon & McCartney arr. Sandy Smith)
7. Ol' Man River (Jerome Kern arr. John Howarth)
8. Endearing Young Charms (Mantia arr. David Childs)
9. All Through the Night (Gordon Langford)
10. Paradise (Paul Mealor)
i. Darkness Visible
ii. The Scherzo of Darkness
iii. Chorale 'In Paradisum'

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