Soli Brass is a 31-piece band from the Netherlands. This album celebrates their winning the Dutch National Brass Band Championships. At the time of recording, the band numbered a Soprano Cornet, Principal Cornet, 3 Solo Cornets, a Repiano Cornet, 3 Second Cornets, 3 Third Cornets, Flugel Horn, Solo, First and Second Horns, First and Second Baritones, 2 Euphoniums, Solo, Second and Bass Trombones, 2 E flat basses, 2 B flat basses and four percussionists.
Brass Band music itself is a gathering place for different music styles; 'classical' (i.e. symphonic) meets jazz, hymns, Spirituals, Broadway and Popular, with no barriers between 'serious' and 'light' music. This disc nicely showcases the band's versatility in presenting traditional, concert, competition and virtuous works, several of which were written specially for Soli Brass.
At the heart of this program is the winning competition piece from the 2005 Championship, written for the band by Jan de Haan. This track is the winning live performance itself. Entitled 'Earthquake!' it is a tour de force of technical brilliance, severely challenging even the percussionists in portraying the terror and confusion of an earthquake and its aftershocks - finally resolving into tentative hope for the future. Like Icelandic composer Jón Leifs, de Haan uses a battery of novel percussion effects and instrumental textures, which are skilfully coordinated by the band's young conductor Franz-Aert Burgengraef into a tautly thrilling experience. As a live recording, it has some discreet audience noise in the quieter parts, and the listeners respond most enthusiastically at the end, the applause being faded quite rapidly.
Jos Boerland's pure DSD recording is naturally balanced, without close-up exaggeration, and presents a pin-sharp focused image of the band, capturing their huge dynamic range authoritatively. The surrounds produce plenty of acoustic atmosphere in 5.1 mode, and this disc can be played very loudly, to thrilling effect, with plenty of Low Frequency energy from the deep brass and bass drum.
This disc portrays Soli Brass at the peak of its form, superbly directed by its conductor, and with whiplash-tight ensemble playing which is a great pleasure to hear.
A musical treat for the ears, and a sonic spectacular for a good sytem, then. Don't miss this one, especially if you haven't heard the thrilling sound of a big Brass Band before.
Performance, Multichannel Sonics & Stereo Sonics: 5 Stars out of 5 Stars.