Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Judith Bingham Fanfare 'Ziggurat'
Monteverdi Orfeo - Toccata
G.Gabrieli Sonata pian'e forte
Grillo Canzon terza Sacri concentus ac symphoniae
Traditional Uzbek Music

Vaughan Williams Overture Henry V
Hans Werner Henze Ragtimes and Habaneras
Heaton Toccata Oh The Blessed Lord
Philip Wilby Dove Descending
Elgar Severn Suite







Illusration of the morning event from
The Evening Standard




Brass Day at The Proms
28 July 2007

This Saturday celebration of the world of brass packed the Albert Hall morning, afternoon and evening.

Musical Pointers covered the middle two and a half hours, a marvellously conceived and stage managed demonstration of the blurring of categories between professional performers and "amateurs", all of whom brought us superb and virtuosic playing of instruments as various as the ancient Karnay of Usbek culture, sackbutts and cornetts for 17th C Italian music and prize-winning English brass bands for more recent European music.

The Arena had a secondary stage, like a boxing ring, for the smaller groups, surrounded by Prommers who must have been relieved that the train-rails for TV (q.v. The Seasons) had been removed, leaving the pride of place one the rail by the main platform available for early comers. But (I guess I may be decades out of date?) there was no central pond around which I used to sit - the fountain was shut down during the music... [q.v. 1964 foliage and fountain in the middle of the promenade (The Times)].

Listeners may not have realised how difficult to play are the cornetts featured in Grillo's Canzon; I attended one of the earliest LP recordings of that instrument by Don Smithers, one of its first-generation masters.

They were followed by four raucous Karnays, gigantic instruments played by Tashkent musicians in national dress, the programme illustration sadly in b & w (most of the English musicians were in drab formal black for this celebratory event - only the Black Dyke uniforms splashed some bright red to cheer us up). Five minutes of Karnays, swinging around in patterned movements made a brave sound and sight; a quarter of an hour may have been a bit much for some people and for radio listeners?

The whole concert (and the evening one too) was visually spectacular and demanded televising - hear on Listen Again the tantalising description of Hakan Herdenberger's armamentarium of trumpet mutes).

Representing the eruption of modern music into the world of brass in the '70s, Henze's now well established work was given with military precision under Allan Witherington's beat. But in the programme for large brass bands on the main platform, the Black Dyke Band was outstanding under the subtle and flexible conducting of Nicholas Child (pictured), with quiet playing especially notable and phrasing worthy of a string quartet. Wilfred Heaton and Philip Wilby were names new to me; their compositions both well worth getting to know.

And both bands combined (eight tubas at the back!) made a fine massive tribute to our flooded West Country in Elgar's Severn Suite.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See also Nick Kimberley in The Evening Standard