The recording for the new CD in Manchester went very well. Despite the snowy weather Tomoko Sawano made it from Germany and we had some excellent days at the RNCM. Our recording engineer Richard Scott, ably assisted by his son Shaun and experienced producer Keith Farrington again made life very easy for us as we recorded all 11 titles with a few hours to spare on the Sunday afternoon.
in rehearsal the day before the recording began. Studio 7, RNCM Manchester
The track listing will be as follows (although the order is not fixed yet):
Fandango - Solero
Concertino for Euphonium - Marco Pütz
Yorkshire Ballad - James Barnes
Gypsy Airs - P.Sarasate Arr. Snell
Three Expeditions - E.Wickman
Party Piece - Philip Sparke
Dance of the Goblins - Antonio Bazzini Arr. B. Pierce
The Girl With The Flaxen Hair - Debussy Arr. Snell
Toccata - Yoshio Nakahashi
Variations on Auld Lang Syne - Mantia Arr Mead
Oblivion - A. Piazzolla
The new major works, by Wickman and Putz (a new piano edition from the band original composed for me some years ago) will hopefully be of interest to all serious players, although both are at the high end of difficulty. Ethan Wickman's work, as the title suggests, is in three movement, Strange Departures, Moriah, and Olympus. I cannot speak highly enough of this new modern work and the second movement will I think come to be regarded as one of the euphonium's best slow movements ever composed. It is stunningly emotional and beautiful music. The Concertino by Pütz is a highly demanding work, with around 11 minutes of kaleidoscopic musical episodes. I hope this version will help to popularise this outstanding piece, but I cannot lie, this work is very hard to play. If you purchase the sheet music (available soon) you may need to give up your day job to practice it!!
Revisiting Sarasate's Gypsy Airs some 20 years after the version I recorded with brass band, on the Rondo CD, was a treat, and this is a work I still use regularly in concerts. Two Japanese inspired works will give a lot of interest I'm sure. The title track, Fandango, a work attributed to the 18th century Catalan composer Antonio Soler, and arranged by Takehiko Yamada was one I first heard played by Japanese colleague Shoichiro Hokazono and couldn't resist the challenge to record it. I will try to get copies of this for the euphoniumstore as I'm sure lots of players will want to try it. The Toccata is a very fast and breezy showpiece which incorporates four Japanese songs, albeit at a fairly breakneck speed. And while we're talking of technical difficulty, I would have to say the Dance of the Goblins is probably the hardest technical work I have EVER recorded. If you want to hear it before the CD comes out, have a look on YouTube for this work you'll find a few videos by famous violinists such as Perlman and Garratt. We tried to do it at the same speed as these guys!
Contrasting the highly technical works are some gorgeous slow pieces...to lower the blood pressure and relieve the tension. These are Piazzolla's simply gorgeous Oblivion, Debussy's The Girl With The Flaxen Hair and James Barnes' Yorkshire Ballad. The latter piece has proved to be a hit in concerts in the last few months and I had no hesitation in including this on the list. Two favourite works of mine make up the list. Philip Sparke's Party Piece has perhaps lived in the shadows on the more widely played Pantomime. But this a sublimely crafted work that has some of the most idiomatic soaring melodies that the euphonium has to play as well as some very difficult and challenging sections too The ending is definitely not for the fainthearted!
Simon Mantia's legacy as an early 20th century virtuoso made a big impression on me (you may remember the ‘Tribute' album I recorded with the Michigan State University Wind Orchestra nearly 20 years ago !) and his Variations on Auld Lang Syne is still one of the ultimate challenges in this genre.
Tomoko was, as ever, her brilliant self and after the success of Audacious, World of the Euphonium Vol.5 and Virtuoso Music for Brass, our previous collaborations, I knew what a joy it would be to record with her. She combines a stunning piano technique with an acute awareness of the soloist, and always has a feeling for style and the musical line. Everything came together in two days of recording.
Whilst the CD won't be available until March, here is a little video we made at the end of the official recording session on Sunday 19th December. We'd finished the final piece and thought it might be nice, just for memories sake , to record the Debussy again, on video. Richard Scott became the camera man for the final 3 minutes before we packed up and went home. Hope you enjoy it. Here it is : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZsA9vizy7o
The catalogue number of the new CD, on the Bocchino label, will be BOCC117