CD: UFOSteven Mead with Brighouse & Rastrick
Steven Mead – Euphonium
Brighouse and Rastrick Band
Conductor: Dr. David Thornton
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Steven Mead has a reputation for recording excellent repertoire for the euphonium and this latest offering is no exception, featuring eight engaging compositions, ably accompanied by Brighouse and Rastrick Band.
The fearsome jazz licks of Giles Rocha’s Blind Spot make for an explosive start to the disc, which contrast effectively with some attractively phrased moments of reflection. To follow is the centrepiece of the recording, the UFO Concerto by Johan de Meij. Regarded as one of the more challenging concerti in the repertoire, the work opens with mysterious stab chords before the soloist unveils the lyrical main theme. Over the course of five movements, the theme is transformed through bubbling technique and soaring melody, which makes for interesting listening, whilst the addition of the harp and piano to the brass band texture adds a new layer to the sound world.
A peaceful Lullaby from the pen of Mike Shephard follows, showcasing the tone of the instrument through some finely-scored writing. Liz Lane’s charming Robin Robin was originally composed for solo voice and translates superbly to the euphonium, tracing the journey of the Robin through the seasons of the year in a quirky, yet relaxing style.
We then turn to a classic Salvation Army solo in the form of Ransomed by George Marshall. Dispatched with typical enthusiasm, this work has special personal meaning for the soloist, being the first solo he ever performed with Boscombe Band of the SA in 1978. A peaceful atmosphere returns, once again, with Tom Davoren’s A Simple Gift, and an ethereal picture is painted by the band and soloist in this pleasantly soothing work, before the driving technical drama of Move Their Mind by Stan Nieuwenhuis captures the ear of the listener.
Opting for a calm finish pays off with Howard Evans’ Pastorale: My Joy and Crown. The soloist weaves smoothly through the rich textures of the band in this beautiful, touching arrangement of the hymn tune, Ascalon.
Overall, this disc showcases a fine selection of repertoire for the euphonium, which will be of interest to both aficionados of the instrument and the casual listener due to the accessible nature of the music.
This review appeared in the November 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!