Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: "Brassed Off!"—Concord Band Style

The Concord Band, with special guests, the Triton Brass Quintet, provided a most enjoyable Saturday evening concert. Music Director James O’Dell’s choice of repertoire was very entertaining and well received by the almost capacity audience. Hazo’s “Go” - a lively and upbeat piece that began the concert -tested the rhythmic capabilities of the ensemble. After a bit of an unsettled start, the band did rise to the occasion and ended on a solid and somewhat more confident note.

The nicely played Horn opening of McBeth’s “Ishmael” from Of Sailors and Whales, truly evoked images of the open sea. The intonation within the flutes and later, the saxophones did not significantly detract from the overall performance of an otherwise lovely presentation.

Cheetham, Cheetham, Cheetham! Anything Cheetham is always a favorite! The Triton Brass Quintet delivered a top-notch performance of the “Concertino for Brass Quintet and Symphonic Band”. The ‘Allegro resoluto’ was fantastic! The Triton Brass tossed melodic lines around effortlessly as the Concord Band accompanied with confidence and familiarity. Well done!

The velvet sound of Andrew Sorg on Flugelhorn in the “Adagio” from Rodrigo’s Conceirto de Aranjuez followed and was simply mesmerizing. Again, the band provided solid, confident accompaniment that complemented both Sorg and Dr. William McManus’s arrangement of this taste of Spain.

The first half of the concert concluded with a rousing rendition of Julius Fucik’s Florentiner March. This obvious audience favorite was just great fun. The band appeared to really enjoy playing this piece and a nice blended sound was achieved in the more legato passages. The audience participation on their “air instruments and batons” was a clear indicator that this march is a definite “must” for future performances.

The second half of the concert opened with Gregson’s Festivo. The Horn lines were again well played and were later followed by an excellent Clarinet solo line that was beautifully executed. The Concord Band continued to tighten rhythms and adjust intonation with good results.

The band next dedicated a poignant and heart felt rendition of Elgar’s Nimrod Enigma Variations as a tribute to Music Director Laureate William Toland. The obvious reverence for Maestro Toland and the profound sadness over his passing was clearly communicated by the ensemble. The request to hold all applause as a sign of respect at the conclusion of the piece was deeply moving.

The Triton Brass returned to provide an exceptional interpretation of the Cheetham Scherzo. Curnow’s Five Concord Diversions, accompanied by the Concord Band, followed. Movement One “Introduction” was first rate! The haunting Horn and Trombone solo lines in Movement Two “Romance” were once again passed around the Triton ensemble with relative ease. Kudos to Angel Subero on his execution of the difficult Bass Trombone lines! Movement Three “March” was crisp and very well done. A bit of intonation difficulty in Movement Four “Ballad” re-appeared in the Saxophones, Trumpets, Horns and Low Brass, but was quickly remedied. Movement Five “Finale” was absolutely outstanding! Congratulations to James O’Dell, The Concord Band and the Triton Brass Quintet for a performance well played.

Patricia Lake is the owner of “The Joyful Noise Project” specializing in early childhood music and movement, children’s theatre and private lessons. Additionally, she is the Director for Children’s Ministries at Faith Baptist Church in Auburn, MA Patricia lives in Shrewsbury with her husband Brian (also a brass player) and maintains an active private French horn studio. She is a member of the Concord Orchestra and works as a freelance Horn player in the greater Central MA area.