CD review: The Symphonic Euphonium II

David Childs
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Ben Gernon
Leader: Yuri Torchinsky
Chandos Recordings: CHAN: 10997


With his first ‘Symphonic’ CD release in 2014, David Childs set a benchmark for the euphonium as a true symphonic concerto instrument.  Here he takes it to a level ‘in excelsis’.

It is a consummate display of artistry; superlative in every aspect of performance.

Works from Edward Gregson, Paul Mealor and Michael Ball receive premiere recordings - as does a new orchestration of the Vaughan Williams ‘Concerto for Bass Tuba’, adapted for ‘Tenor Tuba’ (with approval by the Oxford University Press and the Vaughan Williams Charitable Trust), with perceptive expertise by Rodney Newton.


From his first note the soloist holds his genius as an obedient slave to his masterful will; each concerto as complete in flawless execution as it is in musical inspiration; his measured rhetoric as eloquent as it is transparent. 

The playing is secured to the structure of the works with a discipline of poise and flexibility riveted by an iron-clad appreciation of the composer’s intentions. Ben Gernon’s instinctive leadership of the BBC Philharmonic provides the balanced counterpoint (as does the recording production) for his cynosure command.

The Vaughan Williams is reinvigorated; lighter textures and timbres revealed by the lead voice (transposed up a fourth) that play off the orchestra in thoughtful dialogue.  

From his first note, the soloist holds his genius as an obedient slave to his masterful will; each concerto as complete in flawless execution as it is in musical inspiration; his measured rhetoric as eloquent as it is transparent. 

In his excellent sleeve notes Paul Hindmarsh reveals that the composer was happy for the concerto to be made available to the euphonium. He would surely have been thrilled to have known that it has found its perfect muse.

The soloist’s propriety DNA is unquestionably infused throughout the Gregson 'Concerto'.  

Beautifully constructed, it provides the broadest canvas for self-expression; the opening ‘Dialogues’ almost a peroration in reverse - from exclamatory forcefulness to the deftest touch of adroit argument.  The central ‘Song without Words’ yearns with melancholic, tender longing, the finale a ‘Bacchanal’ of visceral energy.


The mystical inspiration behind Paul Mealor’s elegiac ‘Concerto’ has a dark intensity of spirit, although one which is contoured with a stimulating sense of animation.  

A tale of seafaring love lost but forever eternal, its singular scope embraces four distinct chapters – told in the first person by the soloist; from the depths of despair ‘forsaken by all’ through to uplifting optimism that ‘hope always remains’ that the wife will be reunited with her husband.

Michael Ball’s ‘recast’ orchestral version of his original 2002 'Concerto' frees the soloist from the homogenous tonal glue that so bedevils the instrument when cast with brass band accompaniment.  

Now he floats free in the opening ‘reawakening’, becoming ever more expansive and richly expressive in the central movement, before dancing with increasingly capricious extravagance to close. 

It is a flourish of masterful artistry that brings a landmark recording to an end.  

Iwan Fox

To purchase: Available from 1st November

Play list:

1-3. Concerto for Tenor Tuba and Orchestra (Ralph Vaughan Williams) 

4-6. Concerto for Euphonium and Orchestra (Edward Gragson)

7-11. Concerto for Euphonium and Orchestra (Paul Mealor)

12-14. Concerto for Euphonium and Orchestra (Michael Ball)

Support us for less than a cup of coffee...

4BR wants to ensure that the brass band movement remains vibrant and relevant. We also want to be able to question, challenge and critically examine those who run and play in it, producing high quality journalism that informs as well as entertains our readers.

So if like us you value a strong, independent perspective on the brass band world - then why not consider becoming a supporter and help make our future and that of a burgeoning brass band movement more secure.

So one less cappuccino then?

Support us    

Black Dyke Band - Bury Parish Church

Thursday 2 April • The Rock, Bury, Lancashire. BL9 0AH

Regent Hall Concerts - RAF Music Services Jazz Octet

Friday 3 April • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street. (Opposite RESERVED). London. W1C 2DJ W1C 2DJ

scaba Youth Band - Southern Counties Youth Band Easter Residential Co

Monday 6 April • St Catherine's School,. Station Road,. Bramley,. Surrey GU5 0DF

scaba Youth Band - Southern Counties Youth Band Easter Concert

Thursday 9 April • Anniversary Halls,. St Catherine's School,. Bramley, Surrey GU5 0DF

Regent Hall Concerts - Ibex Brass

Friday 10 April • Regent Hall (The Salvation Army). 275 Oxford Street . (Opposite RESERVED). London. W1C 2DJ W1C 2DJ

Chadderton Band

April 1 • Chadderton Band is a non-contesting band playing at various events throughout the year. We are a friendly band looking for players of all ages and abilities on all sections. Euph and percussion . Come along to one of our rehearsals.

Upper Rhondda Brass Band

April 1 • Upper Rhondda NEEDS YOU. Again losing players to further their education, our focus switches on ensuring the Bands stability and continuity. Vacancies now exist throughout the Band. In particular Soprano, Solo Cornets, Solo Euphonium and Tuned Percussion.

Amesbury Town Band

March 28 • Players and beginners of any standard are always warmly welcomed, especially some more solo cornets and Eb horns. Feel free to drop in, even if you just fancy a blow or just want to try another instrument.

Sarah Groarke-Booth

BA (Hons) MA
Conductor, Adjudicator, Compere, Actor


 © 2020 4barsrest.com Ltd