Evelyn Glennie Meets the Black Dyke Band - Reflected in Brass

Dame Evelyn Glennie
BMG Classics - RCA Victor 090026 63234 2

Dr Rodney Newton reviews Dame Evelyn Glennie's iconic disc recorded with the Black Dyke Band conducted by James Watson

Back in 1993, I had the privilege and pleasure of writing my Variations for Percussion for multi-percussionist and brass band, for Evelyn Glennie and I am delighted that her encounter with brass bands continued with this album, released in 1998 on the RCA label.

The programme is predominantly made up of the type of xylophone solos popularised in the 1920s and '30s by the likes of George Hamilton Green, Harry Robbins and the larger than life Teddy Brown. These bright, lively solos were also the staple fare of many a military and brass band xylophone soloist of yesteryear and a wonderful job Dame Evelyn does in breathing new life into these old warhorses.

Her playing is dazzling throughout and the way she skitters across the wooden bars little short of amazing, as she effortlessly throws off items such as George Hamilton Green's Triplets, The Whirlwind by his brother Joseph, George Hackford's Hittin' 'em Up, Ian Finkel's The Gypsy Virtuoso and Laurence Innes's tribute to Harry Robbins, Robbin' Harry. There is a nod to the solo cornet repertoire in a xylophone arrangement of Carl Höhne's Slavische Fantasie, and the collection includes two medleys of short solos in the shape of Xylophone Classics and The Golden Age of the Xylophone. Relief from all this frenetic activity comes with James Barnes's Yorkshire Ballad and Dame Evelyn's own version of Londonderry Air, both of which she plays on the xylophone's mellow cousin, the marimba, as well as Erik Satie's tranquil Gymnopodie No. 1, which she plays on the vibraphone.

Brass band arrangements are by Peter Graham, whose Cartoon Music - a witty pastiche of Scott Bradley's scores for the Tom and Jerry cartoons - is included, and the accompaniment by Black Dyke Band under the late James Watson is a model of style and discretion. This iconic disc has stood the test of time and remains an outstanding recording, and a wonderful showcase for a great artist.

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