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David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2020

Starting his career as a trumpeter, the English-born Nigel Clarke celebrates his sixtieth birthday year as a highly regarded brass band composer and conductor.

It is a musical genre that is much regarded as a British preserve, and in the world of ‘middle-of-the road’ music, Clarke belonging to that group of composers who use both tonal and atonal music to create a very personal voice using a vast range of colours, the present disc covering works from the last decade. I do not know whether or not this is a complement, but he is so skillful in his use of brass instruments that you do not miss the presence of strings in most of the disc that has its roots in the symphonic output. The spooky atmosphere of Hitchcock films is captured in an imaginary film score, the band revelling in the virtuosity of a score written for them. Dating back to the employees of a coal mine in Yorkshire, the largest county in the UK, it is by far the nation’s best known band, and, arguably the best known in much of the brass band world. Their brilliance is quite staggering, that requirement equally called upon in Swift Severn’s Flood based on a blood-thirsty episode on Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1. Mysteries of the Horizon, a four movement concerto for cornet, and composed for the soloist on this release, the Belgium, Harmen Vanhoorne, who has been described as ‘one of the most exciting young brass players of his generation’. The score offers four pictures that fit the title, apart from a technical showpiece, it also displays Vanhoorne’s gorgeously smooth qualities. Finally Earthrise is a depiction of man’s first journey to the moon, and is Naxos’s second recording. Often hard-hitting, this spacious and vivid recording, is a disc for everyone and an essential purchase for those of the brass band fraternity. © 2020 David’s Review Corner



Records International, April 2020

Clarke has always been fascinated by virtuosity and timbre—it is the brass band genre that has lent itself most to his passion for musical athleticism. Dial ‘H’ for Hitchcock is an imaginary film score in the film noir vein, complete with classic and chilling sound effects, while the heroic, brooding and violent Swift Severn’s Flood was inspired by a line from Shakespeare. Cornet concerto Mysteries of the Horizon examines the atmosphere of paintings by Magritte, and Earthrise celebrates one of the most iconic photographs in history and the drama of the Apollo 8 mission. © 2020 Records International





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