A friend of mine (not a euphonium player) described Gary's sound to me once as being "like pure silk is pouring from his euphonium", and after listening to this CD, I can agree with that! After the success of Gary and The Foden's Band at the 2021 National Brass Band Championships, I thought it would be a good time to do a review of this CD for my blog. Hope you enjoy reading it!
After feeling like I needed some motivation and inspiration in my own playing, I decided to buy this CD. I listened to it many times, mainly on journeys to my own brass band rehearsals and I am certain that it had a positive impact on my sound and my dedication to personal development as a musician.
There are a few things that stood out for me straight away on this recording. The first is the quality of the mix. There is not one moment where the soloist isn't heard. The clarity of every single note is perfect. The balance between soloist and band is perfect. Loud or soft, high or low, fast or slow, the consistency of the recording is impressive.
The next thing that stood out, is the quality of Gary's slow playing. I expected to be blown away by technical virtuosity but for me, the slow music is mesmerising to listen to and tracks like 'Romanza' (from the Cantiphonia Concerto), 'The Water is Wide', 'From Your Smile' and 'In Christ Alone', I found myself repeating the most.
Having been lucky enough myself to have a euphonium solo written for my daughter, and knowing how I feel when I perform it, is the reason why 'From Your Smile' by Paul Lovatt-Cooper is my absolute favourite track on the CD. The emotion and love that is felt is immense.
The colours and textures created by soloist and band are another thing which stands out. There are moments where Gary has a tuba like tone and a vibrato which feels like it has endless variety. 'Deep Surge' by Tom Harrold, (one of my other favourite tracks) has an orchestral feel to it with moments again where I feel like I am listening to a tuba or trombone accompanied by an orchestra but then moments of typical euphonium virtuosity, like the ending which stands out as a real 'wow' moment.
Some fantastic playing from the band as well throughout, especially in the percussion section, solo cornet and soprano who shine in every moment where they take the lead in the music.
Another stand out feature, is how Gary makes everything feel effortless. Mind boggling technical hurdles in pieces like 'Éire Time', 'Vallflickans Dans' and 'Carnival of Venus' sound so musical as if being played by a violinist or lead guitarist with extreme high register that just sounds even better the higher he goes. There is lyrical music, dance music, contemporary music but no matter what style, every piece sounds like it was specially designed for Gary to play. It makes me feel very proud to play the euphonium because I don't think many musical instruments can demonstrate an ability to keep breaking through boundaries and with artists like Gary (as it says in the programme notes), "broadening the spectrum of what the euphonium can truly achieve", it is an amazing time to play the euphonium.
I love the personal touch as well where Gary has added a vocal performance which comes as a nice surprise. I highly recommend the CD and thank Gary, Foden's, Michael Fowles and the production team for producing such a fantastic recording. It can be purchased from Gary's website below:
1. Éire Time - Andrea Price
2. The Water is Wide - Traditional arr. Stephen Roberts
3 - 5. Cantiphonia. Concerto for Euphonium and Brass Band - Bert Appermont arranged for brass band by Paul McGhee
i) Contrasti ii) Romanza iii) Fugato
6. Eternal Source of Light Divine - Jonathan Bates
7. From Your Smile (for Jamie Elis Curtin) - Paul Lovatt-Cooper
8. Dance of the Goblins - Antonio Bazzini arr. Simon Oliver
9. Deep Surge - Tom Harrold
10. In Christ Alone - Richard Phillips
11. Vallflickans Dans - Hugo Alfven arr. Frode Ryland
12. Get Here If You Can - Brenda Russell arr. John Barber
13. Carnival of Venus - Allen Vizzutti arr. Jonathan Bates
My next blog post is going to be a review of the pbuzz instrument which I have been teaching young students recently so please look out for that.
Thanks for reading.