north east scotland's festival of new music

press reviews

Pure Brass are pure delight
at Inverurie Music event

Published in the Inverurie Herald

Reproduced with permission of Johnston Press

article | Inverurie Herald

INVERURIE Music began this season's music making with a concert by Pure Brass, a Brass Quintet, in the newly refurbished St Mary's Episcopal Church in Inverurie on Friday evening (October 8).

In an eclectic and thoughtful mix of styles, they took turns to introduce the pieces to a small but appreciative audience.

It is normal in Inverurie Music concerts for performers to share their thoughts about the composers and the music they are about to perform and mix with the audience at interval.

The concert began with some early music by an anonymous composer, "Sonata from Die Bankersangerlieder" in which the original for sackbuts and cornets was effectively realised for modern instruments.

This was a piece of contrast: the two trumpets punctuated the gently weaving texture of the other instruments. An aria from Mozart's "Magic Flute" followed, in which Tom Poulson was able to show off the more delicate attributes of the high-pitched Baroque trumpet. This was followed by music from the Russian composer, Victor Ewald, by profession an engineer, but also a gifted amateur and collector of folk music.

The folksy influence could be heard in this, the Quintet no. 1, especially in the last movement.

To the astonishment of the audience, the brass instruments were put away and claves, hardwood rods used in Latin-American dance music, were brought out to give a virtuoso display of rhythm in Steve Reich's "Music for Pieces of Wood".

This exciting music was wonderful to hear live in the vibrant acoustic of the church. The next piece, "Jimbo's Aliens" by Tom David Wilson was a vivid evocation of a series of child's drawings shown on the projector screen.

The second half of the concert also showed the group's faith in contemporary music, and not just the "serious" branch. It opened with "Call" by Luciano Berio, where the instruments and virtuosity of the performers were taken to unfamiliar limits.

The abstract backdrop was fused with birdsong and unusual effects caused by singing into the instruments producing "Satchmo-like" sounds. Michael Kamen of "Band of Brothers" fame brought us back to the melodic American tradition. His influence on film music is likely to be long-lasting with the "Quintet" being the last piece he wrote before he died.

There is a fondness in his music for the expansive sonorities of the French horn, matching the broad landscapes found on the American continent.

American music of a different sort followed with the cross-dressing of classical Mozart with the cross-rhythms of jazz by Dave Brubeck, producing "Blueish Rondo". With its breakneck tempo, this tour de force was a great show-piece.

Brubeck was a teacher of counterpoint at San Diego State College and was innovative in producing "cross-over" music with jazz. We take such cross-overs as granted today but these innovators ran the risk of offending the musical establishment in their day.

Fraser Russell on tuba treated us to the Norwegian folk sound of "Fnugg" by Ǿystein Baadsvik. Again, the extraordinary effect of singing into a brass instrument added a rarely heard dimension to the music.

And for further hilarity the quintet donned wild west outfits for "The Reform of Rank Bajin" by John Maxwell Geddes in a cleverly choreographed pastiche.

Finally, the concert was rounded off with music from ‘Braveheart', "For the love of a Princess" by James Horner and some 1920's Jazz, "12th Street Rag" by Euday Bowman with the full spectrum of effects, including walking bass, trombone glissandos and muted trumpets.

Pure Brass are Tom Poulson and Mandy Murphy (trumpets), Sam McShane (horn), Gordon Seith (trombone) and Fraser Russell (Tuba) and were founded in 2006 at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

They are part of the Live Music Now! scheme and the Enterprise Music Scotland Residency Project, leading towards a commission and concert tour across Scotland. Education is also central to the group's work in workshops and interactive concerts under the auspices of Live Music Now!

Inverurie Music's next concert will be the celebrated violinist, Madeleine Mitchell, and Nigel Clayton, piano, on Friday, October 29, at 8pm in the Kemnay Church Centre with a programme of Beethoven, James McMillan, Bridge and Elgar. This is part of the Sound Festival, North-East Scotland's festival of new music.

Reproduced with permission of Johnston Press.

related event
  Date Day Time Location Event Details
29Fri 8.00 pmKemnayMadeleine Mitchell, violin and Nigel Clayton, piano