It's now 10 years since Steven Mead recorded his award-winning album ‘Euphonium Virtuoso’ with Brass Band Buizingen and conductor Luc Vertommen. The band have gone from strength to strength and recently achieved a magnificent fourth-place at the recent European Brass Band Championships in Lille.
As with all of Steve’s albums, it is repertoire driven, and our soloist found himself with is simply superb programme of music to record and turned to the Belgium band once again. Conductor/arranger Luc Vertommen contributed magnificently by arranging several of the works on the CD.
The recording took place in Belgium last week (1-3 july) in the much loved recording venue of the Cultural Centre “Stromming’ in Berlare. The natural resonant acoustic of this hall, much loved by other bands and orchestras made for a superb recording and the highly respected sound producer/engineer Richard Scott travelled from the UK to mastermind the recording.
There are two main works on the new album, that is to be released in October this year.
The first is the Euphonium Concerto No.1 by John Golland, first performed in March 1982. This magnificent concerto deserves far more performances that it gets, with its huge range of emotions and supreme writing for the instrument a major feature. Steven is grateful to the Golland Trust for its assistance in making this performance possible.
The American composer Frank Proto composed his dazzling Capriccio di Niccolo for trumpeter Doc Severinson and the Boston Pops Orchestra. Luc Vertommen has made a quite incredible transcription, with the composer’s permission, of this 16 minute virtuoso fantasy on the ‘famous’ theme from Paganini. This is sure to become a highly sought-after work within the brass band movement. Audiences will absolutely love it. Staying with the music of Paganini, Steve also recorded the fearsome technical extravaganza La Campanella ( from Violin Concerto No.2), which the soloist suggests is the hardest technical work he has ever recorded in the studio!
There are also some stunning lyrical works included, Michelangelo (Dagsland), In Gardens of Peace ( Phillip Harper), The Auld Noost (Arr. Tony Swainson), and one of the most beautiful songs of Gustav Mahler ‘Ich bin der Welt’ from his Rückert-Lieder, that saw the addition of a harp, and a church bell to the brass band score.
One work from the pen of the American jazz virtuoso euphonium player David Bandman, the mexican-inspired La Corrida de Toros, is also included, demanding the absolute maximum range, especially high, from our soloist. Haydn’s Hungarian Rondo, Stan Nieuwenhuis’s Mayfly Blues and Leoncavallo’s Serenade Napolitaine complete the programme.
Following the recording Luc Vertommen said: “Great weekend recording with Steven Mead and Brassband Buizingen. The godfather of the euphonium was in amazing form during the weekend playing some great repertoire”.
Steven paid tribute also to the band: “ The band’s concentration and professionalism from start to finish with this project was absolutely first-class. It was a real pleasure to be involved in the making of this album, and I feel pretty sure that people will enjoy this a lot. The band kept its concentration even though the first night of the recording coincided with the European Championship match between Belgium and Wales, which of course Wales won!! Luc’s arrangements are just out of this world, and hopefully many players will get to tackle these in the years to come.”