As its title suggests, the work is in the strong lyrical style, although its basic theme is a "straight" folksy type of chorus having its roots in the early days of the development of the Salvation Army whose congregations would sing (most robustly) "So We'll Roll The Old Chariot Along." To devise any extended rhapsodic dimension from so small a germ theme is an achievement, and Edward Gregson has produced an impressive development from unpretentious means.
Recently published by the Salvation Army, the work has already had several performances by euphonium soloists, and its reception by listeners is a further indication of its present and potential popularity.
Unlike many rhapsodic works which tend to "stretch their limbs" before the action, the music plunges into bravura business right from the outset with references to its theme within the first few bars. A statement of this theme is heard during these early bars of bustle in which the composer stamps his style, displaying his skill of and liking for melodic and chordal ostinato. The intricacies of rhythmic pattern, also a hallmark of a Gregson score, come off well in this weaving of soloist and band, creating a background tapestry for the fluent soloist.
A middle section of slower expression provides an impressive foil to its preceding material. The euphonium is a spokesman of rare versatility, and although it is at home in passages of bassoon-like perkiness, it is in such lyrical moments as the Andante that the true sense of the Greek word from which "euphonium" was derived realizes its fullest meaning. The poeticism is not relegated to soloist alone, of course. A good band will catch the many touches of beauty, independent of, but complementary to his role. A cadenza punctuates the flow, tempting the traditional mind to expect a termination of the poetry and a return to the bustle, but not so! It is merely an oasis at which the mood lingers awhile before resuming its leisurely journey.
A recapitulation to former material gives the work a formal dress amid its rhapsodic atmosphere, and a statement of the theme veers into a variation of the same, culminating into an exciting conclusion for this rhapsodic work.
(Review by major Leslie Condon, F.T.C.I., of the Salvation Army International Music Editorial Department, London. England.)
Edward Gregson, an ex euphoniumist, was
born in Sunderland in 1945. He studied piano and composition with
Alan Bush and won several prizes. He has written many works for the
brass medium, notably a quintet (1967, for the Philip Jones Brass
Ensemble), a horn concerto (1971, for Ifor James), a tuba
concerto (1976, for John Fletcher) besides other works for brass
band. He has also written orchestral music, piano music, and music
for the theatre (1976 York Cycle of Mystery Plays).
Edward Gregson is in demand as a conductor, adjudicator and lecturer and is at present a senior lecturer in music at the University of London Goldsmiths College.
NOTE: this article is reprinted from Euphonia magazine, Jan-Feb 1978, with permission of the publisher, Glenn Call.
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