Review: Prime Brass, Bury St Edmunds Festival, Unitarian Meeting House, Sunday May 22

Prime Brass, Bury St Edmunds Festival, Unitarian Meeting House, Sunday May 22

As a lover of the music of J S Bach I tend to view arrangements of his music with some suspicion when I see them on a concert programme. But hearing the Brandenburg Concerto no 3 played not on strings but by a group of ten brass players was a highlight in a first class concert given on Monday in the Unitarian Meeting House, Bury St Edmunds.

The performers were the Cambridge-based group Prime Brass , and hearing trumpets, trombones, and even a tuba weaving the complex counterpoint of Bach’s music was fascinating – and this clever arrangement worked well. Brass groups like this do rely on good arrangers providing a repertoire, for there is little original music written for them, and in Sunday’s concert all the pieces other than the opening Fanfare by Paul Patterson (written to celebrate the arrival at Waterloo of the first train through the Channel Tunnel) were, indeed, arrangements.

Handel’s Suite from ‘Rinaldo’ was superbly re-worked, and the Capriol Suite by Warlock lost none of its eccentric musical charm. Prime Brass is an accomplished group of players whose warm rich tone and well honed ensemble skills were in evidence from the opening notes.

After the rigours of the Bach at the start of the second half, the ensemble played an arrangement of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody no 3 followed by two Beatles arrangements, the first of which was ‘Yesterday’ played in a smoochy jazz arrangement and featuring Paul Garner, the group’s founder as soloist on the flugelhorn.

This was a high quality concert by a group who clearly enjoy playing together and certainly pleased the audience.

Wynn Rees

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