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Reviews & Articles
Tuesday, 2 July 2013

This was a magical performance. The evening was a ‘perfect storm’ of creative programming combining with virtuosic playing and the fruits of masterful teaching. The result was nothing less than a spectacular debut performance for the Cardiff Symphonic Winds. 

Much has been said and written about Philip Cobb. It’s all true. He gave a command performance that displayed stunning technical facility. His performance of the famous Arutiunian Concerto established his place amongst the firmament. His ownership of Andrew Pearce’s Interlude, performed here with wind orchestra for the first time, displayed a maturity far beyond his years. And his execution of Paul Sharman’s Flourish left the audience breathless. All of this was masterfully accompanied by the Cardiff Symphonic Winds, who provided a tasteful and invigorating supporting role.

Ultimately the night belonged to the CSW. With one fell swoop they established themselves amongst the ranks of world-class ensembles. They played with such clarity and balance that the demanding opener,  Shostakovich’s Festive Overture, took on new life, full of pulse and drive and exploding with colour. Their performance of Extreme Make-Over by Johan De Meij was a showcase of electricity, when an inspired composer is allowed to explore the richness of colour and texture that only a great wind orchestra can provide. The work perfectly displayed the many strengths and precision of the CSW. Indeed, the first half of this concert was the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed.

And the second half never let up. Eric Whitacre’s Equus provided a riveting opener. The most complex musical concepts where conveyed here with such clarity and control. The communication between conductor and musicians was sensitive and compelling. The CSW’s rendition of A Movement for Rosa by Mark Camphouse was a fine tribute to this most emotive of composers, and I’m sure he would have been in awe at the way his ideas came to life. 

Great wind orchestras educate their audiences as well as entertain them, and the combination of the De Meij, Whitacre, and Camphouse pieces on this night provided a wonderfully educational experience.

Leonard Bernstein once said ninety percent of a conductor’s job is programming. David Child’s choices on this night were inspired genius, and his selection of Holst’s First Suite in Eb was the icing on the cake, to have gone through this vast array of modern sounds and textures and bring us back to the point where it all started, our Holy Grail of wind band music! And yet, I heard new things I had never heard even after a thousand performances of this masterwork. I was in tears. The CSW made it all sound so new and alive, as if I had never really heard the piece before. 

This was a night I will remember as long as I live and breathe. Surrounded by many friends, in the beautiful Dora Stoutzker Hall, with these amazing musicians. In one word, it was perfect. 

Bruce Perkins 2013 - Former Editor of Winds Magazine 

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