CD of the Month: Dances and Arias - the music of Edward Gregson

Black Dyke Band conducted by Nicholas Childs
Doyen: DOY CD369

This new disc of Edward Gregson’s music is a milestone for several reasons. Firstly, it forms a fascinating retrospective of music spanning the composer’s creative life, from the early, concise and tautly constructed Patterns of 1974, to music that although not entirely new in conception, is certainly new to its brass band audience. Secondly, it includes a magnificent account of The Trumpets of the Angels and finally, it introduces us to two newly minted works - the Cornet Concerto of 2016 and the striking Four Etudes, the first three of which were written for piano in 1982, but are here reimagined in a fascinating version for brass band.

Opening, Dances and Arias is given a performance of potent drive and urgency, matched by playing of haunting and atmospheric lyricism in the arias. Richard Marshall is a sparkling soloist in the Cornet Concerto, incisive and rhythmically articulate in the outer movements and beautifully sentimental, but never cloying in the ‘more distant memories’ of the central Intermezzo.

Patterns receives a welcome airing, whilst what the composer describes as the Stravinsky-derived ‘quirkiness’ of the Four Etudes makes compelling listening, sounding quite unlike anything else in Gregson’s brass band canon, and laced with the composer’s fascination with texture and timbre. Pride of place, however, has to go to the monumental The Trumpets of the Angels, given an inspirational reading of breath-taking power. Drawing its inspiration from the Book of Revelation and Olivier Messiaen’s music, this version was prepared for Black Dyke’s 2016 ‘European’ contention. Hallé principal trumpet, Gareth Small, delivers the taxing solo trumpet part with majestic virtuosity, and the work makes a huge impact with its moving warmth, sheer excitement and the triumph of its overwhelming conclusion.

In his introduction to the recording, the composer intimates that this latest CD of his brass band music is not necessarily going to be the last. One would hope not, but if that were to be the case there could be no more engaging a retrospective of Gregson’s band music than this.        


This CD is available to purchase and download at 

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