CD: Radiance

Bastien Baumet – Euphonium
Portugal Air Force Band

Bastien Baumet – Euphonium
Portugal Air Force Band
Genuin Classical Recording Group
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In his latest release, Bastien Baumet reminds the listener why he is considered one of the foremost exponents of the instrument, with four première recordings of major works for the euphonium.

The disc opens with Jean-Jacques Charles’ 2006 work, Quatre Danses. A driving and ever so slightly sinister Tango captures the ear of the listener immediately. The languid Habanera is delightfully tender on the ear, contrasted by the perpetual motion of the Waltz, in which the perfect balance between soloist and band becomes evident. A pulsating Samba finishes the work, with the soloist switching styles effortlessly as the music gradually fades into the distance.

Roland Szentpali’s epic four-movement Symphony Concertante follows, the ominous introduction a master class in creating drama, with Bastien Baumet both singing through and interweaving with the complex lines of the ensemble with ease. The symphonic wind band sound enables a multitude of colours to permeate in a refined Passepied. The highlight of the work, however, is From Nora, in which Baumet’s glorious sound soars so beautifully above the swirling textures in a remarkably passionate performance. Play, meanwhile, brings the work to a close in terrific, animated style.

Inspired by film music, Euphantasy by Giancarlo Castro D’Addona is based in a more traditional harmonic frame. Upbeat in tempo, flowing melodic lines allow Baumet to showcase an endearing expressivity, while the catchy compound rhythms are dispatched with ease, building to a joyous flourish to close.

Finally the title track of the album, Oliver Calmel’s Radiance, takes the form of a concerto in three movements. The astonishing technique of the first movement, Energy, captures its title style in abundance. Prysm, meanwhile, touches on the delicate side of the instrument’s nature with a simple, perpetually fluid melody line atop rich chordal writing in the band. Light concludes the work and the disc, with Bastien Baumet shining throughout the contrasting dancing passages and triumphant symphonic lines.

In all, this is musicality of the highest order from Bastien Baumet – these markedly challenging works are made to sound effortless. The symphonic wind colour palette of the Portugal Air Force Band adds a new dimension to the listening experience, and is excellently recorded and balanced with the soloist. With fresh, engaging repertoire, this will be a disc that holds appeal for brass players across the musical spectrum.

This review appeared in the October 2019 edition of BBW. For more reviews, articles and news subscribe to BBW Digital, available to read online (annual subscription: £30), or subscribe to BBW's printed magazine delivered by post: £40 (UK); £68 (Europe); £81 (Rest of the World). Alternatively, receive both the Digital and printed editions combined: £55 (UK); £83 (Europe); £96 (rest of the world) - saving 50% on the Digital edition! Click here to subscribe!

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