BELLISSIMA BRASS!

bella_trombaOn a rather damp and grey Saturday, Milverton Concert Society brightened things up for a pleasingly large audience with the latest offering in their imaginative 2011/2012 series. The music was provided by ‘Bella Tromba’, four highly talented brass players, whose professional music credentials make for impressive reading. These four young ladies have been playing together for eight years since their student days at the Royal Academy. Their stated goal is to raise awareness of the trumpet’s potential, to seek out old forgotten music and to prompt the composition of new music for their instruments.

The variety of the programme they presented was in itself impressive – the music ranged from the middle of the 16th century to a work written this year and premiered at the concert in the presence of the composer! Interestingly one of the instruments used was a bass trumpet, dating from the early 19th century and its timbre underpinned the harmonies in a unique way.

The playing was at all times highly skilled and professional, but there were some works which came off better than others. The Jacobean pieces (Byrd, Gibbons and Bull) did sound a little bass heavy and slightly ponderous – originally of course they would have been played on ‘natural’ trumpets without valves, which make a lighter, more spirited sound. It was the later works which sat more comfortably with the modern instruments and technique – Kopen’s 1977 ‘Music for 4 Trumpets’ was a tour de force, the 2nd movement played with great agility. The 3rd movement with the muted trumpets exploring strange intervals and unusual harmonies was hauntingly beautiful and the gallop of the last movement showed the quartet’s ensemble playing at its best. There were slight hesitancies in the premiere of Helena Gascoyne’s Quartet No. 1, but this new work was well worth hearing.

The concert ended with blues and swing, from Miles Davis (where the quartet managed to sound very free while actually being very controlled) and a 2011 piece by Paul Robinson which called for and got some very enthusiastic audience participation. This was a most enjoyable concert, and the Society are to be congratulated for bringing such fine talent to our ears.

Review by Harold W. Mead