it is with very great pleasure that I announce the release of my latest solo CD, Diamonds. I am very excited about this album, as it's the culmination of a couple of years planning and I was very fortunate and honoured to be able to perform and record this album with the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, conducted by Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs. Some of you may have heard some news about the forthcoming release and now I can make all this information official.
There are a couple of brand-new original works on this disc and it has been a thrill to be able to perform such outstanding new music with such a great ensemble.
The repertoire is as follows:
1. Diamond Concerto ( Euphonium Concerto No. 3) ... Philip Sparke
2. Bliss ( Concertino for Euphonium) ... Hermann Pallhuber
3. Euphonium Concerto ... Stephen Roberts
4. Concerto for Euphonium, Winds and Percussion ( Summer of 2008) ... David Gillingham
5. Panache ... Robin Dewhurst
Some background to the CD:
This is a recording project I have been dreaming about for a few years. I have for many years had profound admiration for the professionalism and musicianship of The Central Band of the Royal Air Force, and for the last 5 years or so I have also been visiting their base, at Uxbridge and now more recently are their brand-new headquarters in Northolt, working with their euphonium players.
About a year ago we began to plan this recording and as we did it became clear that I was going to be able to program four wonderful new concerti, two of which were composed for me. I had got to know Hermann Pallhuber through his superb large scale works for brass band and after a meeting in Tyrol where I gave a class on the euphonium to a conductors association that he organises. The idea of a concertino for euphonium and wind orchestra was born. About 8 or 9 months later Bliss was completed and the first performance was given in Innsbruck, with the composer present. It is a joyous celebration and would have been the title of this disc, until Philip Sparke composed this sensational Diamond Concerto. I had some discussions with a wind orchestra in Ida Oberstein, near Frankfurt about a celebration concert in 2012 and they were suggesting the idea of commissioning a composer to produce a new work. I proposed that we ask Philip, whose writing for the euphonium has been quite simply out of this world, since his early Fantasy for Euphonium up to the more recent Harlequin and other popular works, as well as his immense writing for the euphonium in his brass band works. Philip immediately agreed to the commission. For me it is such a privilege to be able to play this work and now record it with such a fine band. Undoubtedly it is one of the highlights of my musical career. The premiere was a big success and Philip was in Mörschied to hear his Euphonium Concerto No.3 and receive the thanks and adulation from the German musicians and audience.
I knew Stephen Roberts was writing and arranging and I have played some of his lighter arrangements over the years but was taken aback by his superb new Euphonium Concerto he sent me about six months ago. Not only the scale of the work, but its complexity and invention was a revelation. It is very hard to play but has such rich musical ideas and is scored so well for band I decided it must be on this CD. I hope you enjoy it. Stephen Roberts came to Northolt for the rehearsals and the recording session itself and was able to pass on some really helpful suggestions to us all.
The Concerto by David Gillingham is also new, first performed by Jason Ham and the West Point Band in the USA, and now being widely played by talented young euphonium players as it was selected (by me !) as the final work for the Euphonium Artist solo competition
at the forthcoming ITEC2012 in Linz. The scoring for band is immense, so varied and such wonderful use of colour, and the euphonium part is again so idiomatic and demands so much from the soloist, especially in the soaring second movement. The whole work is an aural treat and Gillingham should be congratulated for producing such a great new work for the euphonium's increasingly impressive solo repertoire. Recording these four major solo works in two days was indeed a challenge but thanks to the professionalism and concentration of the band
and their conductor Duncan Stubbs, recording engineer Richard Scott, and my strong lips (!) we completed it on schedule, with time also to record Robin Dewhurst's attractive Panache which rounds off this disc.
It is for me a celebration of the euphonium, an instrument that I feel privileged to be able to travel the world with and play every week for people, who fall in love with the sound.
The Diamonds CD will be officially released at ITEC2012
Extracts to come very soon !! Busy times !!