Onyx Brass Ensemble

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Nial Keatley – trumpet

Brian Thomson – trumpet

Amos Miller – trombone

David Gordon-Shute – tuba

Andrew Sutton – French horn

MonteverdiRitornello from Vespers 1610 arr Horn
HolbornRenaissance Dance Suite arr OB
Timothy JacksonFantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis
Timothy JacksonAnything But
BachFugue in C major BWV 846 arr DGS
BachFugue in G major [Great] BWV 541 arr Maynard
BachChorale Prelude [Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland] arr Powell
ShostakovichFugue in C major Op 87 No 1 arr AM
ShostakovichFugue in G major Op 87 No 3 arr Thomson
EwaldQuintet No 3
A GabrieliRicercar del duodecimi tuoni
X MontsalvatgeQuestions and Answers on a Ricercar by A Gabrieli
AlanCivil Dance Suite

Onyx Brass has dominated the international brass chamber music world since 1993. Dubbed the ‘classiest brass ensemble in Britain’ by BBC Music Magazine, it has performed all over Europe and the USA as well as BBC Radio.


Onyx Brass, a quintet "dominating international brass chamber music since 1993", were guests at Skipton Music's February concert. Their eclectic choice of music from over four centuries brought something quite different - and welcome warmth - to a bitterly cold night.

Trumpeters Niall Keatley and Torbjon Hultmark (deputising for an indisposed colleague), Amos Miller (trombone), David Gordon-Shute (tuba) and Andrew Sutton (French horn) are principals with leading orchestras – a pedigree evident from the first pure sounds of Monteverdi's Ritornello from Vespers, 1610.

Confessing themselves "shameless plunderers" of music convertible to brass quintet, they played their attractive arrangement of Holborne's 16th century Renaissance Dance Suite. Following Timothy Jackson's Fantasia on a theme of Thomas Tallis, they fascinatingly juxtaposed their trombonist's arrangement of Bach's C major Fugue (BWV 846) with Shostakovich's inspirational take on it – his C major Fugue, Op.87 No.1.

At the Tsar's request, Russian composer Victor Ewald wrote some of the first music specifically for brass ensembles. An accomplished interpretation of his Quintet No.3 suggested that nothing beats the genuine article!

The second half mélange was impressive! Gabrieli's classic Ricercar del duodecimi tuoni. Catalan composer Montsalvatge's Questions and Answers on a Gabrieli Ricercar – quirky tuba and horn tunes on and off stage, a walk-about with farewell hints from the instrumentalists! Two G major fugues - Shostakovich first this time, Bach second, before his 'Nun komm der Heiden Heiland'. Forsaking instruments and relying on vocal cords alone, the quintet rendered Timothy Jackson's 'Anything But...' The virtuoso recital of the word 'Me' and a paean to English tea had to be heard to be believed!

Alan Civil's Dance Suite delightfully ended an entertaining evening, memorable not only for musical expertise, but for helpful introductions and amusing anecdotes!

Douglas Riddiough