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Ian Briggs » shostakovich

Gig Review: Onyx Brass, Bangor Town Hall, 26th April 2012

Posted by: Ian Briggs on 27th April 2012 at 12:14 pm

Categories: Music | Tags: , , , , , | No comments

On Thursday evening, Bangor’s Town Hall played host to Onyx Brass in a concert at the council chambers, which provided a superb location for this five piece brass ensemble.

The group consists of players who play in some of the finest orchestras in the UK, and this was an opportunity for the audience to see something a bit different.

The programme consisted of a wide variety of classical, jazz and contemporary music ranging from fugues by Bach and Shostakovich, to modern commissions from Irish composer Andrew Hamilton (Slow Phrases Piece), and a jazz piece (Hamlet Stories) from baritone sax player Mick Foster.

The finale to the first act was a personal favourite: selections from Aaron Copland’s Rodeo. I’m a big Copland fan, and the three movements (Corral Nocturne, Saturday Night Waltz and the crowd-pleasing Hoe-Down) were beautifully recreated for brass quintet complete with foot-stomping percussion.

Acting as an interlude in the second half, the group performed Tim Jackson’s piece Anything But.  This consisted of four poems performed musically, without instruments, and included Spike Milligan’s “Teeth” and Carol Ann Duffy’s “Mrs Darwin”.  This was another great way to bring variety into the performance and was an unexpected piece of theatre which produced the biggest laughs of the night.

The playing itself was incredible: beautifully precise phrasing, full use of dynamic range, and an incredible tonal range that I didn’t realise was possible (spoken as a true woodwind player!) which was helped no-end by the amazing acoustics of the venue.

As someone who plays in a small ensemble, it was both fascinating and informative to watch the players interact with each other while playing; subtle directional movements and the ability to communicate during pieces with eye contact were lessons that all small-group players should take away.

A wonderful evening’s entertainment that provided laughs, insight and most of all, the chance to hear great music.

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