Last week saw ‘Inner City Brass’ deliver an excellent concert in the Chapel. Throughout they displayed technical virtuosity, impeccable ensemble playing, and a great variety of musical style and colour.
Their imaginative program opened with Bruce Broughton’s ‘When a Body meets a Body’. This Avant Garde work used a wide variety of mute effects and showed off superb dynamic control. They then moved into more standard brass ensemble territory with an arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Fugue in G Minor. This was beautifully played with the melodic line shifting seamlessly between the players. More original music followed with Victor Ewald’s ‘Brass Quintet No. 1’. This was described as the first symphony for brass, and with three substantial movements it certainly had the scale. The piece was originally scored for brass band instruments, and the group very impressively changed their tonal colour to bring this across. The first half was brought to a close with an excellent Henderson arrangement of ‘Amazing Grace’ featuring the superb trumpet of Niall Keatley.
The second half opened with an arrangement of Brahms’ ‘Choral Prelude No. 10’. The big dark sound Inner City Brass produced was a great contrast to what had gone before, with the lyrical trombone of Mat Lewis particularly prominent. The seven movements ‘Kinderzirkus Suite’ by Jan Koetsier that followed was the undoubted highlight of the evening. The depictions of clowns, jugglers, tightrope walkers, and dancing bears were vividly portrayed and delivered with dazzling technique. Next came a solo spot for tubist Sasha Koushk-Jalali. He played Fnugg, an extraordinary piece by the Norwegian tubist Oystein Baadsvik. It features rock and funk grooves, beatboxing and mutiphonics, all played with magnificent style. Two Jazz pieces finished the evening. ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ was played with warmth and beauty and provided a welcome contrast to the energy of the earlier pieces. The Canadian Brass classic ‘Just a Closer Walk’ was a great closing number featuring Mat Lewis again, this time in a Dixieland Jazz role. A short encore from Samuel Scheidt’s ‘Battle Suite’ rounded off a great evening.