I have been listening for a while to Brandon Jones's CD, INFLUENCES, and thought I would share my thoughts with you.
The first thing that strikes me about Brandon's playing is his broad range of expression. Generally speaking, the rep he has chosen for this CD is varied, perhaps with an emphasis on the better recent music for the euphonium.
From the first track, John Reeman's one-movement SONATA, Brandon makes the euphonium sing or snarl as the music dictates. While there are many versions of DANNY BOY about, Brandon's is noteworthy for the beautiful upper-register singing quality.
I am specially glad to hear Brandon's performance of Yaz Ito's A LA SUITE CLASSIQUE--a set of miniatures that really puts the euphonium through its paces and places numerous musical and technical challenges upon the performer. Brandon more than meets these challenges, and the performance of the SUITE is very rewarding. I generally enjoy Ito's writing, and this performance of it certainly brings out the best in this music, especially the lighter, humorous bits scattered throughout the movements.
I have also enjoyed John Golland's writing for many years, and the performance of the largo movement from his CONCERTO #2 on this CD is a real gem: expressive without being cloying, always moving forward even in the slow tempo, and always in total control regardless of register or dynamic level.
Rolf Wilhelm's CONCERTINO is a popular piece these days, with its pleasant melodies and lighthearted moods. Again, Brandon makes great music throughout the three movements.
Two Puccini opera arias, VISSI D'ARTE and NESSUN DORMA, show Brandon's singing tone and dynamic range to great advantage.
The CD closes with a version of Herbert L. Clarke's warhorse, THE DEBUTANTE. Plenty of quick tonguing, a nice high E flat, and tasty throughout.
While I own a lot of euphonium CDs, I come back to this one often.--first for the choice of repertoire, which I find refreshing, but really for the quality of the playing and the range of expression. While Brandon has all the chops anyone needs, I always get the feeling that the technique is there because the music calls for it, not because he wants to show off how high, low, slow, and fast he can play.
The recording itself is well done--neither awash in reverb nor marred by overclose miking that allows breath and valve noise to intrude. Highs and lows are equally prominent and the balance is just right on my KRK ST6 studio monitors.
It's also great to have Brandon on this forum with us. An admirable first CD, and here's hoping for many more as the future unfolds!