CD review: Victoria Brass Live

Conductor: Dr Matthew van Emmerik
Soloist: David Elton (trumpet)
Featuring: Calvin Bowman (organ); Matthew Little (vocals and narration)
Move Recordings: MCD 641

This project, featuring two world and a trio of Australian premieres doesn’t lack for either scope or ambition.

Directed by Dr Matthew van Emmerik, the twelve live performances were recorded at four different locations over a period of six months, with an extensive list of personnel made up of players from various State of Victoria bands and ensembles. 

It also includes an outstanding world premiere ‘Concerto’  contribution from David Elton, the former principal trumpet of the London Symphony Orchestra and current incumbent with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. 


His authoritative delivery of Andrew Batterham’s concerto fusion of commercial, jazz and classical influences is fresh and enticing. Compactly balanced, it allows a free-flowing arc of expression to an impressive skill set - the virtuosity maturely tempered with the polished sheen of the soloist’s tonality. Hopefully it will gain further performance opportunities.

Compactly balanced, it allows a free-flowing arc of expression to an impressive skill set - the virtuosity maturely tempered with the polished sheen of the soloist’s tonality. 

The other ‘first’ comes with Jared McCunnie’s ‘Elegy’  – the final section of his major composition, written in response to the tragic circumstances of the Sydney Lindt Chocolate Café Siege in December 2014 in which two innocent people were killed.  Although standing alone it retains its emotional impact.   

The Australian premieres are more familiar: Philip Wilby’s wonderfully entwined realisation of Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’  (aided by the narration of Matthew Little) is colourfully brought to life – a real journey of spiritual discovery, whilst there is a misty flugel led tenderness to Philip Littlemore’s fine arrangement of ‘Only in Sleep’  by Eriks Esenvalds.  

In contrast it’s all icy Moscow splendour and pageant with the ‘Coronation Scene’  from ‘Boris Godunov’.

Extra resonance

Elsewhere, the addition of the organ also gives extra resonance (the church acoustic both helps and hinders) to the busy filigree overlay of Widor’s famous ‘Toccata’,  and the pomp of the finale from Saint-Saens’ ‘Organ Symphony’,  whilst it’s good to be ‘seated’ as per Adelaide Anne Proctor’s 1860 lyrics to hear ‘The Lost Chord’  (written 17 years later) performed with a direct instrumental link to the lyrics.  The final ‘great Amen’ loosens the filings in your teeth. 

The finale from ‘Checkmate’  draws inexorably to its bloody regicidal denouement.

There is also a trio of fine arrangements of the famous Thomas Tallis, ’Third Mode Melody’,  the ‘Benedictus’ from ‘The Armed Man’  and ‘Deep Harmony’,  all played with slabs of fatty tonality.

The finale from ‘Checkmate’  draws inexorably to its bloody regicidal denouement.

Iwan Fox

To Purchase:

Play list:

1. Toccata Finale from Organ Symphony No. 5 (Widor)

2. Trumpet Concerto (Andrew Batterham)
Soloist: David Elton 
i. Movement 1
ii. Movement 2
iii. Movement 3

3. Third Mode Melody (Thomas Tallis arr. Ken Smith)
4. Finale from Checkmate Ballet Suite (Bliss arr. Ball)
5. Benedictus from The Armed Man (Jenkins arr. Small)
6. Symphony No.3 ‘Organ’ finale (Saint-Saens arr. Wilby)
7. Only in Sleep (Esenvalds arr. Littlemore)

8. The Pilgrim’s Progress (Philip Wilby)
9. Elegy (Jared McCunnie)
10. The Lost Chord (Sullivan arr. Langford)

11. Boris Godunov Coronation Scene (Mussorgsky arr. Littlemore)
12. Deep Harmony (Handel Parker arr. Harrelson)

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