More about “The Classics”

What a brilliant programme of varied music. Brilliant playing. Full and rich cornet tone. Dynamic contrasts excellent. The ease of the top register makes it all sound so easy. Bottom register wohhh how low?? Sign of a great player – everything sounds easy. Excellent playing from both Iain and the pianist Howard Evans. THE RECITAL SERIES Vol 1. This means a series 2 at least to come. Looking forward to this next.

Thank you so much for the beautiful playing Iain.

Moira Ross, retired brass teacher & conductor

The Music

  • Perhaps the most famous cornet solo of all time – and indeed, one of the earliest Jean Baptiste Arban’s “Variations sur Le Carneval de Venise” is one of many sets of variations written on the famous Italian folk song. It is one of the works at the back of his “Complete Method for Cornet” that brass players aspire to play as they work their way through the Arban book considered to be “the brass players’ bible”. With each variation more fiendishly difficult than the last, it is a real virtuosic tour-de-force.
  • I Hear You Calling Me” was a popular British song of the early 20th century. It tells the tragic story of young love ending with the untimely death of one of the lovers, and the surviving beau recalling his sweetheart’s voice still years later. With music composed by Charles Marshall and lyrics written by Harold Lake (a journalist writing as Harold Hardford), the song became a hit for the well known tenor of the era, John McCormack, and indeed was the song that started him out on his road to success.
  • Both German by birth, Oskar Böhme and Willy Brandt, helped to establish the Russian school of trumpet playing at the turn of the 20th century. Böhme’s “Concerto in F minor” (originally in E minor for trumpet in A) was the only concerto written specifically for trumpet in the romantic era. Written in 3 movements: Allegro Moderato; Andante Religioso; Allegro Scherzando, it is arguably the most important major work of its era written for trumpet or cornet.
  • Brandt’s “Concertpiece no. 2” is the second of his two major concert works for trumpet/cornet, and much like his first Concertpiece and also the works of his contemporary Oskar Böhme, takes a great deal of stylistic influence from the great violin concerti of the romantic period.
  • The well known Irish song “Macushla” was composed by Dermot MacMurrough, with lyrics penned by Josephine V. Rowe. Similarly to “I Hear You Calling Me” the song is about two separated lovers, with the singer or instrumentalist call-ing out for their lost sweetheart – which is what the term “Macushla” has come to be used as: “sweetheart”.
  • English-born Jules Levy was considered by many to be the finest cornet soloist of his era, indeed he was often billed as “The World’s greatest cornetist”. He made his name as a soloist with Patrick Gilmore’s band in the late 19th century, and composed and performed many virtuosic solos during his time in the band, however none more famous than his “Grand Russian Fantasia” – featuring a conventional introduction and theme followed by two progressively more challenging variations, and a finale that is a real triple tonguing tour-de-force, based on the melody of “God Save the Czar” – the Russian national anthem of the time.
  • The Lost Chord” was composed by Arthur Sullivan at the bedside of his sick brother, Fred, and the manuscript was dated five days before Fred’s eventual passing. With lyrics from a poem by Adelaide Anne Proctor, it was never intended originally to be published or sold, however it became the most commercially successful of any British or American song in the 1870s and 1880s, with Sullivan later commenting “I have written much music since then, but have never written a second Lost Chord”.
  • Herbert L. Clarke is widely considered to have been the finest cornet soloist of the turn of the twentieth century. Famous both for being the cornet soloist with John Philip Sousa’s band and leading his own band later in his career, the solo repertoire he composed for himself has become a huge part of the standard cornet and trumpet repertoire, and through his method books introduced a seminal school of playing which emphasised increased lyricism and warmth of tone in addition to technical aptitude. “The Debutante” is his most widely performed and recorded solo. It’s title references the societal norms of the era whereby a young aristocratic lady would be introduced to society as an adult through a formal debut, hence “The Debutante”.
  • The Holy City” is a religious Victorian ballad written by Michael Maybrick under the alias, Stephen Adams, with lyrics by Frederick Weatherly. The sales of its sheet music made it one of the most commercially successful songs in the UK and the United States around the turn of the 20th century. The song’s three verses describe in turn: a crowd cheering Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday, and the eventual “New Jerusalem” of universal peace and brotherhood foretold in Isaiah 2:4 and Isaiah 11:6-9.
  • Carl Höhne was a German composer and cornet soloist. In addition to his solo works for brass, Höhne wrote a treatise on cornet performance. His “Slavische Fantasie” was written for Austrian cornet virtuoso Fritz Werner (who would later go on to teach Vincent Bach, founder of the famous musical instrument manufacturer) and it has become one of the most popular pieces of solo repertoire for cornet and trumpet, with it’s contrasting sections, alternating between beautifully haunting vocal lyricism and pyrotechnic technical passages.

Howard Evans – Accompanist

Howard Evans at the Piano

As a pianist and conductor, Howard has performed at many major concert venues throughout the United Kingdom. He has also made regular visits overseas to Canada, the USA, and Europe.Howard EvansIn his early career he was awarded a place on the Yehudi Menuhin ‘Live Music Now’ scheme for performers, and also won first prize at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod Piano Competition.

He has conducted the Boscombe Band of the Salvation Army for over 20 years, has been National Bandmaster for the SA in the UK, was conductor of Amsterdam Staff Band, as well as guest directing a number of leading brass bands. Howard also held the post of Director – Classical Performance at the University of Salford for a number of years, where he had previously completed an MA in Music Performance and a Doctorate in Musical Arts.

Other Credits

  • Engineering and production: James Parkinson
  • Audio editing, programme notes, and album cover design: Iain Culross
  • Producer: Simon Pickup
  • Booklet design: Sam Johnston
  • Photographer: Joe Stevenson
  • Recorded at Peel Hall, University of Salford, 13th and 14th of August 2022.

This recording © and ℗ Iain Culross 2022