CD of the month: Larsson in Brass

The International Staff Band
SP&S: 413 CD

Larsson in Brass

The International Staff Band
Plays the Music of John Larsson
Bandmaster: Dr. Stephen Cobb
SP&S: 413 CD

As his own detailed sleeve notes outline, John Larsson’s is not a name typically associated with the world of brass. As the 17th Century Salvation Army General, however, his name is very familiar to those within and close to the organisation.

Larsson is a prolific author and composer, and has co-authored ten full-length stage musicals, plus a wealth of primarily vocal music. This disc, however, is a celebration of his music in brass, for which the illustrious list of contributing composers and arrangers reads like a veritable ‘who’s who’s’ of The Salvation Army and includes Peter Graham, Bruce Broughton, Robert Redhead, Ray Steadman-Allen and more. Also featured are five settings penned by Larsson’s own son, Kevin, whose highly creative They shall Come from the East is a highlight and a most appropriately selected finale of this truly excellent disc. 
In all, the album features 18 transcriptions of 

Larsson’s works in a wide variety of eclectic styles. Each piece is expertly performed by the tremendous International Staff Band (ISB), which as always excels under the baton of Staff Bandmaster, Dr. Stephen Cobb. The standard of both the compositions and performance are of the highest level throughout, with particular highlights including: the excellent ‘opener’ - Abundance by Marcus Venables; Fill the World with Glory! by Kevin Larsson; a superb euphonium feature in That’s the Spirit - arranged and performed masterfully by Derick Kane; as well as The Kingdom is theirs by the Australian composer, Sam Creamer. 

This disc is ‘a must’ for fans and followers of SA music and all can find inspiration for new programming in the titles featured. With many of these at, or around the 3:00-minute mark, they make excellent new additions to any band’s repertoire. Robert Redhead’s Here they come is a truly delightful trio of works featuring fun, but challenging double-tonguing for the cornet section in the first and an equally enjoyable, but challenging closing movement for the trombones, both of which are handled here with considerable aplomb by the relative sections of The ISB.

The cornets are also featured in Kevin Larsson’s The Spirit in me!, whilst They shall Come from the East is worthy of second mention as part of the rationale for purchasing the CD. A highly recommended disc and a fitting tribute to the music of one of The Salvation Army’s truly great men.



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