Brighton Philharmonic Brass, The Dome, Sunday, February 9, 2020.
Bold as brass summed up Brighton Philharmonic’s attitude in its latest concert.
In a season of changes that have challenged musicians and audience, the rest of the orchestra surrendered the stage on Sunday to just a brass section of trumpets, trombones, a French horn, and a tuba, writes Phil Dennett.
Names like Susato, Gabriel and Banchieri must have been unfamiliar to a lot of the regular patrons.
Those who let their musical curiosity lead the way to the wind-swept Dome despite the serious threat of Storm Ciara showed hundreds of patrons were willing to try something new.
The musicians played superbly, but some stage management and a few announcements would have added greatly to the occasion; the audience seemed confused about the programme at times.
Susato’s Renaissance Dances were studded with stately grace and nimble trumpet playing with the tuba contributing discreetly.
Gabrieli’s Canzon Septimi Toni showed poise and neat harmonies with some tricky interplay handled confidently while his busy Duodecimo displayed some beautifully overlaid trumpet on a platform of rhythm from trombones.
A touch of fanfare announced one of the punchiest and most forceful pieces, the Banchieri Echo Fantasia, with contrasting superbly handled gentle echoes.
In the Koetsier Symphony for Brass there was lovely French horn playing and soaring trumpets in the layered sounds.
Byrd’s uplifting Earl of Oxford March had plenty of melody mingled in with some lively horn playing and tuba gurgling busily.
The trumpets rang out true, loud, and confidently, in a performance of Purcell’s Trumpet Tune that certainly had a spring in its step.
In more modern mode Chris Hazell’s jazz-like Brass Cats Suite was the most fun, a tuneful and often swinging tribute to four stray cats he adopted. In the Mr Jums movement the musicians captured the most melodic moments of the concert.
The Premrus Divertimento for ten brass was fired off by a stimulating if brief opening movement. The mood changed with a sober Tuba introduction in the second movement taken up readily by the trombones.
This unusual concert certainly gave the musicians and the instruments a fine stage for showing their individual talents. It is fair to say that the first-half programme in particular received a mixed reception, but the orchestra deserves credit for trying something different.