Now in its 21st year, Inverurie Music can look back to many experiences as concert promoters. There is no law that says that concerts are only memorable for their musical content. We have had dusty keyboards, road closures and a harpist with a cut finger to cope with and managed to sort them out. On Saturday evening at St Mary’s Episcopal Church however, we had a member of the audience to thank for a successful and enjoyable performance by the quintet Pure Brass. Formed in 2006, Pure Brass’s line-up was Iain Archibald (1st trumpet), Hedley Benson (2nd trumpet), Chris Mansfield (trombone), Christine McGinley (French Horn) and Danielle Price (tuba).
In the first half, Iain struggled with a faulty valve on his trumpet while he continued his jokey rapport with the audience. Second trumpet Hedley Benson, a very musical Yorkshireman, helped out until an audience member, a local brass player from Inverurie Orchestra, nipped home at the interval to get a replacement trumpet and thus rescue the situation.
For variety, one could not fault the programme which ranged in period from the Renaissance to the 20th Century and from the challenging to the popular for the audience. In the Renaissance dances the sound was exciting and precise as the rhythms were vigorously punched out.
The work by James MacMillan, “Exultat” made use of the spatial possibilities in the reverberant church, with instruments in the rear corners as well as the front. The arresting clashes in the upper brass did not sound contrived and showed the instinctive grasp that MacMillan has of the natural process of music, e.g., with the harmonic sequence and the Doppler effect.
An expert performance of the Little G minor Fugue brought the first half to a majestic conclusion.
The mellifluous tones of the French horn and the trombone came to the fore in an emotional but carefully controlled setting of Barber’s ‘Adagio for Strings’. Played at the funeral of F. D. Roosevelt, this has become an unofficial anthem in the US for times of sadness.
At the end of the programme, the modern selection set toes a-tapping in a wild and rapturous “Putting on the Ritz”, “Mexican Folk Medley”, “Misty” and ”Bugler’s Holiday.” They made it sound easy, always the sign of a polished performance. Well done Pure Brass and that extra trumpet!
25 February 2020