Virtuosi GUS Band
Musical Director: John Berryman
Guest Vocal Soloist: Faryl Smith
Andrew Wainwright is a baritone player with Virtuosi GUS Band and in 2010 he was appointed as the band's Composer in Residence.
The disc opens with sparkling Christmas Processional which depicts children going to Midnigfht Masson Christmas Eve and their joy of being the first to welcome the Christchild. A very effective opening composition.
Two choral gems by John Rutter are included: Candlelight Carol, arranged for the cornet virtuoso David Daws, but here played beautifully performed by James Fountain, and Dormi, Jesu, a lullaby written for the 1998 Christmas Eve Carols from Kings College, Cambridge.
The guest soloist, Faryl Smith, is featured in J.S.Bach's version of Ave Maria and in a sensitive arrangement of arguably the worlds most popular carol, Silent Night. Both items are enhanced by good diction.
A Christmas Fantasia is the most substantial work on the disc. GUS produce a fine performance of the piece which portrays a number of musical pictures of the festive period. It builds to a triumphant ending that leaves the listener in no doubt of the message of Christ's birth.
The Three Kings by the German composer Peter Cornelius was originally written for a tenor vocalist, but here it is played by the band's principal euphonium, Mark Giles.
Two of the most charming items on the recording are The Hurron Carol, a traditional Canadian melody, that portrays wintertime in Canada and Carol of the Bells, an origial choral miniature. Both are beautifully played.
Further items are the well known Jingle Bells, which is given a jazzy big bandstyle that works well, Spanish Dance, written specially for GUS Band in 2008, based on the Spanish folk song Riu Riu Chiu, gradually increases in tempo to end in a flouris. Whilst the towe taping Night of Joy features another traditional Spanish carol namely Let us Sing to Mary and the virtuosic Dance of the Elves, originally composed for solo cello, shows off the dexterity of the band.
The song You're Always There allows principal tenor horn Nathan Waterman to produce a lyrical performance of this pleasing tune, and A French Dance, originally arranged for soprano voice, are not Christmas pieces but non-the-less worthy of inclusion.
The CD closes in celebratory style with a stirring performance of Carillion-Sortie. Composedfor the organ by Henri Mulet the arrangement suits the brass band medium admirably with its resounding ending.
The CD contains many fine arrangements along with a variety of style and moods, the Vurtuosi GUS Band's responsive performance and, too, the recorded sound, is acknowledged. No doubt a number of the items will be played by bands on their Christmas programmes in the future. In addition to his music Andrew Wainwright is responsiblefor the comprehensive sleeve notes and the album's design.
1. Christmas Processional - Andrew Wainwright [3.53]
2. Ave Maria Vocal Soloist Faryl Smith - J.S.Bach Arr: Gounod Trs: A.Wainwright [2.46]
3. Jingle Bells - J.L.Pierpoint Arr: Parry Trs: A. Wainwright [2.52]
4. Candlelight Carol Cornet Soloist James Fountain - John Rutter Arr:A.Wainwright [4.42]
5. Spanish Dance - Andrew Wainwright [3.09]
6. The Huron Carol - Canadian Traditional Arr: A. Wainwright [4.52]
7. Night of Joy - Spanish Traditional Arr: A. Wainwright [3.03]
8. The Three Kings Euphonium Soloist Mark Giles - Peter Cornelius Trs: Andrew Wainwright [1.59]
9. Carol of the Bells - Mykola Leontovych Arr: Andrew Wainwright [1.57]
10.Dormi, Jesu - John Rutter Arr: A. Wainwright [5.08]
11.Dance of the Elves - David Popper Arr: Andrew Wainwright [3.20]
12.You're Always There Tenor Horn Soloist Nathan Waterman - Lee Fisher Arr: Andrew Wainwright [3.55]
13.A French Dance - John Canteloube Arr: Andrew Wainwright [2.00]
14.Silent Night Vocal Soloist Faryl Smith - Franz Xavier Gruber / Joseph Mohr arr: Andrew Wainwright [5.19]
15.A Christmas Fantasia - Andrew Wainwright [8.14]
16.Carillon-Sortie - Henri Mulet Arr: Andrew Wainwright [3.59]