Reviewed by John Manning
Published in Hertfordshire Advertiser Thursday 8th August 2013:
'Answer blows in the wind'
SOMETIMES attending a concert becomes a privilege as much as an entertainment.
That was the case on Thursday last week when Hertfordshire Wind Sinfonia, one of the county music service's eight county music groups, performed an outstanding programme at Harpenden Public Halls.
The privilege was not only the opportunity to listen to some of Hertfordshire's finest young musicians but also to hear them perform the world premiere of an outstanding new work by young Hithcin-born composer Daniel Basford.
Daniel's Symphony No. 1 for Concert Band which was commissioned for the Sinfonia by the Brenda Kitchingman Foundation is, from the audience's point of view, an easily approachable, musical and exciting piece of music.
But I suspect that those performing it faced a challenge from some of its complexities.
The piece made full use of every aspect of the wind sinfonia to produce rich musical and harmonious patters (sic). This is not a work of discord and dissonce but a first-class piece of very enjoyable music from its slightly dark and sombre opening notes through its four movements of rhythmic, sometimes spiky action to a delightful final movement with its tremendous ending.
One of its finest moments was the wonderful ethereal opening of the third movement with superb performances on soprano saxophone, alto flute and clarinet.
This really is a piece of music that deserves a bright future and I suspect we will hear much more of Daniel Basford's music in the coming years. For a composer aged barely 30 Symphony No. 1 was a truly outstanding and mature work.
But the first half of the concert was just as exciting as the first with music by Aaron Copland, Adam Gorb, John Ireland, Malcolm Arnold and John Mackey, all under the watchful and expert eye of conductor Mark Eager.
In particular Malcolm Arnold's Scottish Dances with their quirky and complicated rhythms and wonderful bassoon solo were something of a triumph. But John Mackey's work, Foundry, was one of the most amusing - particularly one suspects for the younger members of the sinfonia. For virtually the entire flute section left their desks to join the extremely large percussion section to create a great deal of impact and emphasis.
Once more the Friends of the Hertfordshire Music Groups, the charity which staged the concert, should be congratulated for allowing the public at large the opportunity to hear just how good the county's young musicians really are.