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Jewels CD - Eminence Brass

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Jewels represents the second album from Eminence Brass, a quartet formed in 2008 by four leading brass musicians; Richard Marshall (Principal Cornet Black Dyke Band), Philip Cobb (Principal Trumpet London Symphony Orchestra), Owen Farr (Principal Horn Cory band) and David Childs.

Their first album, Tribute, featured substantial original contributions to the brass quartet repertoire while, in contrast, Jewels presents an eclectic collection of classical transcriptions, virtuosi solos and original works featuring a variety of styles.

Track List:

1. The Marriage of Figaro, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 4.02
2. Lascia ch'io Pianga, George Frederic Handel, 1.51
3. Concert Etude, Alexander Goedicke, Cornet soloist Philip Cobb, 3.07
4. Hymn from Songs of Sanctuary, Karl Jenkins, 2.35
5. Palladio, Karl Jenkins, 2.45
6. Introduction & Fugue, Antonio Vivaldi, 3.28
7. The Lamb, John Tavener, 3.24
8. Finale from Concerto No.1, Franz Joseph Haydn, Tenor Horn soloist Owen Farr, 3.57
9. A Simple Reel, Dan Price, 5.04
10. Eminence, Christopher Bond, 3.42
11. The Four Musketeers, David Harrington, 6.40
12-14. The King of Brodgar, Derek Kane, 6.01
(i). Spirit of Stones, 2.10
(ii). Monument, 2.40
(iii). Dancing Stones, 1.10
15. Stars and Stripes Forever, John Philip Sousa, 2.16
16. Napoli, Herman Bellstedt, Cornet soloist Richard Marshall, 5.10
17. Jewels, Eric Ball, 4.11
18. Carnival of Venice, Jean-Baptiste Arban, Euphonium soloist David Childs, 4.53
19. Pokarekare Ana, Paraire Tomoana, 2.06
20. Finale from William Tell, Gioachino Rossini, 2.59
21. Tiger Street Rag, Euday Bowman, 4.23 

Watch trailer here.


What an appropriate title Eric Ball’s lovely, flowing gem, Jewels, is for this second album from this stellar foursome. The 21 tracks - at 74 minutes playing time we also get terrific value for our money here - bristle with quality from these outstanding brass musicians and communicators. While their first release, Tributes, was devoted to a collection of the key quartets from the now sadly under-used legacy of competition pieces, Jewels takes the brass quartet out of its old contesting ‘home’ and into the concert hall, where it has never really found a strong market, with a well-chosen, eclectic mix of arrangements from baroque and classical times, some favourite virtuoso solos and, at its heart, an interesting collection of new originals. This wonderful album, which has been played over and over again as an accompaniment to this reviewer’s daily round of writing and editing, offers maximum contrast of styles and approaches from the effervescence of Tiger Street Rag to the calm restraint of John Tavener’s The Lamb - what an inspired choice.

The brass world is blessed with a few first-rate ‘brass band’ quartets at the moment. Eminence Brass from the UK and the young guns of Exit Brass! from Belgium are at the forefront of a long overdue revival campaign. Readers might be surprised (and encouraged) to know that both ensembles, plus Europe’s only major brass quartet competition, in Switzerland, are continuing to develop the repertoire. The new wave of band composers like Peter Meechan, Simon Dobson, Lucy Pankhurst and Stan Nieuwenhuis are all writing for brass quartet. It is also encouraging to hear on this disc the emerging talents of David Harrington (a dashing suite entitled The Four Musketeers) and Christopher Bond (a lighter tour-de-force showcasing the dazzling virtuosity of Eminence), plus a bright suite, The Ring of Brodgar, by Derick Kane, who is best known for his skills on the euphonium with the International Staff Band. Dan Price has contributed a simple but effective treatment of the Shaker song, Simple Gifts, which begins his bluegrass-style Simple Reel and brings to mind the sound of the Civil War brass ensembles that were the bands of choice in the USA before the Sousa revolution. Eric Ball’s Jewels was part of this reviewer’s musical childhood. In the hands of these fine artists, it is elevated from the junior bandroom to sound like the genuine item of brass chamber music that it is.

Of the classical arrangements, Handel’s famous aria Lascia ch’io Pianga, from his opera, Rinaldo, works beautifully. Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro overture, although brilliantly played, doesn’t sound as comfortable when squeezed onto four brass instruments. The finale from Rossini’s overture, William Tell, fits better - the flying fingers and crisp articulation of Richard Marshall and Philip Cobb are thrilling - and Karl Jenkins’ Palladio and Hymn (Song of Sanctuary) work a treat. All the solos are supremely executed and well arranged. The cultured playing and pristine virtuosity of Eminence Brass shines through each of them. Philip Cobb’s choice is Goedicke’s Concert Etude. Owen Farr tackles the flashy finale of Haydn’s C Major Cello Concerto. Richard Marshall brings a smile to the face with his stylish version of Napoli and David Childs takes a new, modern twist on the Carnival of Venice. The recording, engineered by Richard Scott, is first rate. David Child’s programme notes are excellent. This is a diamond album.

Paul Hindmarsh
British Bandsman, Saturday 6th October 2012