Eric Crees
Reviews

Testimonials

Eric Crees and I have collaborated since 1997, first with the LSO and since 2000 at the Royal Opera House. A consummate professional, he has been front and centre in making the brass section at the Opera House so wonderful. I've had tremendous fun conducting his arrangement of the West Side Story Dances for brass ensemble and percussion - it was fantastic, and I know he's done many more. A salute to his continued success!

Sir Antonio Pappano, Director of Music, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Eric Crees is one the country's most senior, experienced brass players. He has been a leading player in some of our most distinguished orchestras, but his sphere of influence is by no means confined to his playing. As a teacher,arranger and composer, he is equally well-known both in this country and further afield.

Sir Mark Elder, Music Director of the Halle

Eric Crees is a hugely influential force within the brass and trombone world. As a player he has performed at the highest level internationally and has been at the top of the orchestral scene in London for the past 30 years. His teaching at the Guildhall School has influenced a generation of young players and his ex-students fill most of the Principal Trombone jobs both in the UK and further afield. As an arranger and conductor he has opened a whole new world of repertoire to performers and audiences alike. His enthusiasm and constant enquiry have yielded a legacy to be proud of.

Jonathan Vaughan, Director of Music, Guildhall School of Music & Drama

Eric Crees is simply one of the most complete musicians on the planet! His skills and experience as a trombonist, composer/arranger, as well as teacher are world class. It is my honor and pleasure to know Eric as both a wonderful colleague and great friend.

Professor Jiggs Whigham, Director BBC Big Band

Without doubt Eric Crees is one of the leading brass experts and musicians in the United Kingdom and internationally. His work as a Director and Conductor of brass ensembles is well known world wide with London Symphony Orchestra Brass, Royal Opera House Brass and the Symphonic Brass of London. The Symphonic Brass of London is an ensemble which contains musicians of the highest talent and pedigree from London and the UK brought together by Eric Crees. Add to this Eric's sublime talent for transcribing music for brass ensemble of all sizes and the result is a very rare talent.

Philip Biggs, The Brass Herald

To Eric, with thanks and great appreciation on all of our collaborations.

John Williams, Film Composer

"The concert with The Symphonic Brass of London was an amazing experience. They presented an exciting programme with finesse and virtuosity. World-Class players and a World-Class ensemble. The Northern Lights Festival strive to present music of the highest quality and The Symphonic Brass of London truly met our expectations."

Øyvind Bakkeby Moe, Artistic and Managing Director, Northern Lights Festival, Norway

Eric Crees is one of the greatest arrangers for brass music in the world. I do many concerts around the world and I always insist on doing Eric's arrangements wherever I go. There simply is no better transcriber for brass than Eric Crees.

Jay Friedman, Principal Trombone, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Conductor

Eric really impressed on me the need for consistency in all areas. Production, articulation, slide movement, and air flow all have to be under the trombonist’s control at all times. It is only when you are in control that you can follow the composer’s instructions properly. Eric gave me a passion for seeking out the right way to approach different musical styles and how to use the right skills to make better music. Good technique is the servant to music making at all times and not an end in itself.

I wouldn’t be the trombonist I am without Eric Crees.

Mark Templeton, Principal Trombone, London Philharmonic Orchestra

I enjoyed my time studying with Eric at the GSMD. He was extremely thorough and disciplined in his approach, which is exactly what I needed at that stage in my development. He also taught his students to be open-minded and to practice playing a phrase or piece in a variety of different ways. This was invaluable advice, as this is what keeps us fresh in our musical approach. As soon as a player becomes ‘closed’ then they stop being part of the music and equally they stop enjoying what they are doing.

Eric has a great sense of humour too! In one of my fellow student’s lessons, he and Eric were exploring rubato in a Bordogni Vocalise (I think). After a few attempts Eric stopped the student and said, “Look, there is rubato, and then there is daylight robbery!"

Congratulations Eric on this very well-deserved award!

Helen Vollam, Principal Trombone, BBC Symphony Orchestra

I was one of Eric’s students at the Guildhall School of Music and was encouraged to study with him by Denis Wick. Eric was a particularly great teacher for me as I just required and wanted my teacher to import to me as much knowledge, advice and experience as possible. I think that pretty much sums up Eric’s teaching style. There was a constant stream of good stuff in virtually every minute of the hour.

Eric is an extremely knowledgeable musician and trombonist and so the lessons were an excellent balance of technique, style and musicianship. Although musicians are constantly listening to other players and enjoying other influences, I never felt that I would need to look elsewhere to complete my training. It’s no coincidence that Eric has had such an impact on the current generation of UK trombonists. His influence is, of course, now spreading to the next generation as his past students begin to teach.

Byron Fulcher, Principal Trombone, Philharmonia Orchestra and London Sinfonietta

It was a stimulating and practical pleasure to work on such a diverse collection of works from the Gabrieli : Eric Crees Performing Edition. Tempo indications, dynamics and above all imaginative phrasing brought these wonderful pieces to life with ease and enabled my students to perform with style and refinement.

Chris Houlding, Prof. Trombone & Brass Ensemble, Folkwang University of Arts, Essen, Germany

Recordings

The musical arrangements and the opening fanfare are by Eric Crees who is a trombonist and member of the London Symphony Orchestra. They are extemely well done and imaginative with Crees turning out spectacular work on Eric Clapton's Layla and Meredith Wilson's 76 Trombones. The Pink Panther Theme (with special percussion effects) and Gershwin's Someone to Watch over Me provide excellent material for Richard Edwards' jazz improvisations and truly beautiful ballad work. The playing and ensemble work on the Monteverdi, Brahms, Gabrieli, and Barber are absolutely first rate. I would like to have heard a little more than the "Galop" from Eight Aphorisms, by Wilfred Josephs, however. One short movement hardly gives one a chance to judge a work. Still, it is agreeable enough and leaves the listener wanting to hear the rest rather than the other way around!

This album is a delight from the opening fanfare to the last reverberation of the 76 trombones (on 76 Trombones). Hats off to Geoffrey Simon and Cala Records for producing such a fine tribute to a great city's trombonists.

Online Trombone Journal

In our present age, where everything from a pizza to a sunset to God is deemed “awesome,” a reviewer needs to be careful that his words have meaning and he does not descend into adjective-laden hyperbole. But there is no exaggeration at play in saying that Eric Crees and students at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama have given us a wholly satisfying recording that exhibits all of the hallmarks of a superb, memorable and historically important offering: compelling repertoire, engaging performance, inspired leadership, informed scholarship and excellent recorded sound.

Readers of this Journal will recall Luc Vertommen’s book with three companion compact discs, Some Missing Episodes in Brass (Band) History, that was reviewed by this writer in HBSJ Volume 24, 2012, pp. 196-199. Vertommen's book – really an adaptation of his 2011 Doctoral dissertation from the University of Salford – highlighted three aspects of 19th and early 20th century brass history that had fallen into obscurity: the trombone with six independent valves and the solo music written for it by Jules Demesserman, Adolphe Sax's development of the saxhorn family and music written and arranged for saxhorns by Belgian composers from 1850 to 1913, and the original compositions for “Fanfare Wagnérienne” by Paul Gilson composed between 1894 and 1909. Aspects of this were explored by Ray D. Burkhart in his paper, “The Paris Factor: French influence on brass chamber music 1840-1930,” presented at the Historic Brass Society Conference in Paris, 2007, but Vertommen's book, despite its disjointed structure and alarmingly poor editing and proofreading, proved useful in shedding more light on instruments and music that are worthy of further study. Of the three subjects, it is the music composed by Paul Gilson, found in the Library of the Royal Conservatory, Brussels, that was Vertommen's great discovery.

Original works for mixed brass ensemble began to appear with greater frequency in the late nineteenth century; among the more compelling examples are Edvard Grieg's 1878 arrangement for brass of his Sørgenmarsch over Rikard Nordråk of 1866, the brass quintets of Viktor Ewald composed beginning around 1890 and the brass septets of Jean Sibelius from 1889–1899. However, Percy Fletcher has often been credited with having composed the first significant, original composition, Labour and Love, for a large brass ensemble; for British-style brass band to be precise. Composed as the test piece for the 1913 Crystal Palace National Contest (won by Irwell Springs conducted by William Halliwell), Labour and Love represented a radical departure from the standard fare for brass bands that had been played in concert and contest up to that point, that being arrangements of classical and popular orchestral works, marches and solos. That Luc Vertommen uncovered a substantial body of high quality original works written for brasses by Belgian composer Paul Gilson during the two decades before Fletcher's seminal work is not merely notable but it causes us to rewrite the received history of brass ensemble music.

Paul Gilson (1865-1942) composed six pieces (or seven, depending on how one counts them) for the “Fanfare Wagnérienne”, a brass and percussion ensemble organized in 1894 at the Brussels Conservatory by Henri Séha. The ensemble’s instrumentation was patterned after the brass scoring of Richard Wagner in his Das Ring der Nibelungen and called for trumpets (including bass trumpet), horns, Wagner tubas, trombones (including contrabass trombone) tubas (including contrabass tuba) and percussion. These are important, substantial pieces, the longest of which, Variations Symphoniques (1903) clocks in at about 20 minutes. Vertommen, with his deep roots in brass banding, arranged Gilson’s compositions for British-style brass band and released a recording, “Anthology of Flemish Band Music Volume 7 - Paul Gilson (1865-1942): Complete works for the Fanfare Wagnérienne” with Brass Band Buizingen and Delta Brass Zeeland under his direction. This recording brought Gilson’s music much needed attention but at the time of its release in 2012 it begged the question, “What does Gilson's music sound like in the composer’s intended instrumentation?”

Having been introduced to Gilson’s music by Luc Vertommen, into the breech stepped Eric Crees. His background as trombonist with the London Symphony and Royal Opera Covent Garden and as an arranger, composer, and teacher – he is Professor of Trombone and conductor of Wind, Brass and Percussion at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, and was recipient of the International Trombone Association's 2014 Neill Humfield Award – uniquely positioned him to bring Gilson’s music alive once again as intended. The result is the 2013 release, “La Fanfare Wagnérienne (The Extraordinary Lost Collection of Paul Gilson)” and publication of Crees’ performing editions of Gilson’s music. The result is superb.

Eric Crees’ decision to explore this repertoire in its original instrumentation with students at London’s Guildhall School is testament to the skill and commitment of his young charges who, from all appearances, embraced rehearsing, performing and recording Gilson’s works during the 2010-2011 school year with startling commitment. One is hard pressed to find cause to think that the Guildhall Brass is “just another student group.” Rather, the nearly 50 students who participated in the three recording sessions for the project – a complete list of personnel is given in the CD booklet – show themselves to be professional in every way, with clarity and purity of sound, a wide dynamic range, blistering technique and, with a tip of the hat to those playing the Alexander Wagner tubas, spot-on intonation. Within the first 30 seconds of the opening track, Gilson’s Scherzo Fantastique, one hears the brass section enter in turn – trumpets, horns, trombones and then tubas – in a fanfare that is electrifying in its power and ability to engage the listener. This is both playing and music of extraordinarily high quality that makes for immensely enjoyable listening.

A word must be said about the comparison of Crees’ recording of Gilson’s music in the original instrumentation and Luc Vertommen’s recording of the same repertoire in his arrangement for British-style brass band. The sonic contrast could not be more striking, with the cylindrical bore trumpets and trombones of Guildhall Brass providing much more visceral impact and aural diversity than the saxhorns of the Vertommon’s brass bands. Each editor has made particular choices in how to negotiate Gilson’s considerable demands. Nowhere is this more evident than in Gilson’s Fantasie. In the Guildhall Brass recording, trombones expertly execute a rapidly articulated passage at 2:48 that comes immediately after a lyrical, soft chorale featuring Wagner and bass tubas. The contrast in color and articulation is very satisfying for the listener, to say nothing of the fine technical work of the young trombonists. But in the same passage, Vertommen moves the trombones to the chorale and leaves it to baritones and euphoniums to play the technical passage, and slurred rather than articulated. The result falls rather flat by comparison.

Not only does the Guildhall Brass recording contain well-written and informative program notes by Eric Crees, but Crees also has provided an extensive document – available on the Musical Concepts website – that outlines the editorial procedure for creating the performing edition of Gilson’s works. Crees has not created an urtext or critical edition. Rather, as the experienced performer and conductor that he is, he has edited Gilson with a modern eye and ear, modifying various instrument transpositions and indicating optional doublings, providing sensible metronome markings and bringing Gilson’s notation up to modern standards. Reading Crees’ document is an enlightening exercise that gives the listener even greater appreciation of the care given to showing Gilson’s music in the best possible light.

Recordings are too easy to produce and advertising is too successful in persuading the marketplace that mediocre is excellent. This is certainly the case with many recordings of music for large brass ensemble, where volume and power often are used to disguise either poor playing or musical kitsch. Happily, Eric Crees and students at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama have given us reason for hope. Not only is “La Fanfare Wagnérienne (The Extraordinary Lost Collection of Paul Gilson)” a recording of consequential repertoire, but the work of the Guildhall Brass students shows us that brass playing is in good hands with these players of the younger generation. Eric Crees is to be commended for his efforts in editing Gilson’s music and bringing it back to life in its original instrumentation over 100 years after it was first performed. Highly recommended.

Douglas Yeo (Arizona State University), Historic Brass Society Journal, Volume 27, 2015
La Fanfare Wagnérienne (The Extraordinary Lost Collection of Paul Gilson)

“The London Symphony Orchestra has recorded the third instalment in a series of the complete instrumental ensemble canzonas and sonatas of Giovanni Gabrieli, In this volume, Gabrieli explores changes in orchestration, harmonic language and scope.

Some works represent the high point of Renaissance splendour(Sonata XX uses twenty-two players in five choirs). Others are reminiscent or the more subdued early Baroque trio sonatas that were becoming popular at the same time(Sonata XX! was written for three soloists and organ continuo).

The LSO Brass recording brilliantly displays the ensemble, performing these works with both power and finesse.

Similar to the second volume of the series, the CD is replete with vivid ensemble colours, textures, and dynamic contrast. The strength of Gabrieli’s compositional skill is enhanced by the performers’ ability to engage the listener in the contrapuntal interplay of the voices while building drama for the powerful homophonic textures that are inevitable in this music. Melodic complexities are always present, even when they are written for inner voices. Syncopations are consistently emphasised, and articulations are varied appropriately throughout the recording, Intonation is impeccable, and sonorities jump to life with the superbly even tone qualities of the LSO Brass.

The CD was made in All Hallows Church in London: the recording quality is excellent. The natural cathedral-like resonance is maintained without sounding manufactured.

Brass players can learn much from the musical interpretations of conductor Eric Crees and the superb performance of the ensemble.

This recording is highly recommended.”

International Trumpet Guild Journal, January 2002
Giovanni Gabrieli: Music for Brass – Volume 3

“All 13 selections receive splendid performances by the LSO Brass, a truly world-class ensemble that plays with ringing, and ensemble clarity. tone, beautifully blended sonority, and immaculate clarity. Eric Crees, who prepared new editions of Gabrieli’s works for this series, conducts with scholarly authority, sparked by evangelistic fervour.”

Classics Today
Giovanni Gabrieli: Music for Brass - Volume 2

“This is the best modern-instrument recording I have heard of the great polychoral works of Giovanni Gabrieli…The big moments are rich and very impressive, intonation is impeccable, and the players sound like they truly understand what they are playing. Brief moments of leading melody or interesting countermelody are brought out nicely, due at least in part to Eric Crees’s conducting and to his new editions of the pieces…”

American Record Guide
Giovanni Gabrieli: Music for Brass - Volume 2

“This CD may be short in its list of works, but it is long in fantastic performing! First of all, it is worth noting that this CD was recorded live during one of the Royal Opera House Brass Soloists’ concerts. Upon listening to this CD for the first time, I was impressed by the overall sound and accuracy of this fine organisation, then I was taken aback at the sound of applause at the end of the first track, proving that it was recorded live. Upon further investigation, I find in the jacket of this CD that it was indeed recorded live in one concert in June the 5th 2005 not in a succession of takes or in a series of concerts.

The name of this organisation implies that you will hear impressive soloistic brass playing by the members of this group, this is absolutely true, but the ensemble sound, pitch and group dynamics equally match the virtuosic individual playing.

The Bach and Liszt both transcribed fro original works for organ and both about twelve minutes in length display wonderful technical passages as well as sensitive lyric playing. It is worth mentioning that the added percussion in each of these works sounds tasteful, while contributing great impact to the work and create a natural extension of the music. The second work on the disc is Eric Crees’s original composition ’The Birth of Conchobar’, a twenty-five minute long programmatic work based on the early epic tales of Ulster. This work pushes each section of the ensemble to the limits and literally features nearly every member of the ensemble at some point of the piece. The solo passages that occur in every section of the ensemble throughout the work are inspiring and sound as if the musicians are having as much fun performing the work as the audience is listening.

The Bernstein closes the concert in a truly exciting way and displays the ensemble’s ability to successfully cross into other musical styles. Any fan of the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble or London Brass will vastly enjoy this recording and be pleased to have it as part of their listening library.”

Online Trombone Journal
Royal Opera House Brass Soloists, ‘On The Town’

“The three Renaissance pieces by Giovanni Gabrieli [Eric Crees edition] are especially successful…The various voices of Bach’s “Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor”[arr. Crees] shine out with absolute clarity in this arrangement that projects the work’s contrapuntal complexities with gleaming clarity.”

All Music Guide
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Live

“The editions are by Gabrieli scholar Eric Crees. Crees also provides the organ-like performing version of the Bach work, an arrangement most notable for its transparency and delicacy, yet with a finale of blazing power.”

ArkivMusic.com
Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Live

“Superb playing from living legends of the London orchestral brass scene. In these fantastic arrangements it's sometimes hard to believe these pieces weren't originally scored for brass. The musicianship throughout is second to none & the sound is an absolute treat.”

CD Review for ‘A Bridge Over The Pyrenees’ by The Symphonic Brass of London
Joby Talbot, Composer (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Winter’s Tale, Theatre of Blood)

"The very best in brass playing, brass-arranging and brass-recording [American Brass]. A basic ensemble of some 21 brass and percussion players displays every possible skill in the handling of the superlative arrangements by Eric Crees… The arrangements are predominantly of music which lends itself ideally to the project; indeed the Bernstein West Side Story and Copland's El Salon Mexico come up in places shining in a burnished brass colouring more effective than the original."

Gramophone Magazine

"Watch out for your speakers! [American Brass] The dynamic range and vividness are stunning, but Eric Crees' arrangements aren't half bad either."

Musicweek

"Two excellent CDs of London Symphony Brass [American Brass and Sacred Brass]…. The exhilarating collection of American music … contains mainly works arranged by Eric Crees – and what superb arrangements these are. West Side Story and El Salon Mexico (arr. Crees) will become classics although my favourite is the delightfully eccentric Variations on America (incorporating 'God save the Queen') by Charles Ives."

The Horn Magazine

[The London Trombone Sound] …. "London Symphony Orchestra trombonist, Eric Crees was assigned to do the arrangements – another inspired choice…. It's wonderful, it's marvellous and it's the best recording in the series so far – not only because of the sound, which is alternately brassy and mellow and sensuous, but because the arrangements are so well-crafted and the programme so perfectly fits the ensemble. It's not easy to successfully mix Eric Clapton's Layla with Gabrieli, Monteverdi and Mancini ("The Pink Panther Theme"), but Crees, Simon and these fine players convince you that the whole thing is going to work even before the first selection – a dazzling fanfare by Crees – has ended…. And speaking of endings: When was the last time you heard Meredith Willson's "Seventy-Six Trombones" actually played by 76 trombones? ….. The ingenious arrangement begins with a sort of fanciful warm-up. Players are wandering around, snippets of famous classical trombone themes fade in and out. And then, everything comes together for the rousing finish. What else can one say? It's a smash."

CD Review, USA

[Gabrieli Canzonas & Sonatas Volume I] …. "Sidestepping 'authentic' considerations of timbre and ornamentation Eric Crees has concentrated on getting his LSO colleagues to do what they do best. Using his scrupulously prepared new edition these players, with their long tradition of immaciulate ensemble, give polished and disciplined performances. The degree of textural clarity achieved reveals the wealth and variety of musical invention in these 16 pieces."

BBC Music Magazine

[Gabrieli Canzonas & Sonatas Volume 1] "classy and unusually revealing...immaculate ensemble, give polished and disciplined performances"

BBC Music Magazine

"Naxos could not have chosen better for their first volume [Gabrieli Canzonas & Sonatas Volume 1] of what promises to be an exciting series."

Penguin Guide

"The London Symphony Orchestra is famed above all for its brilliant brass section. At home in the Barbican, their sound slices through the still air in the wood-panelled concert hall with razor-edged bite, or spreads itself out behind the cheese-wire strings and cool woodwind like a warm, comfortable cushion.

"The section often plays alone - just as it does here on this new Naxos disc, the second of three devoted to the dazzling brass music of the 16th-century Venetian composer Giovanni Gabrieli (1553-1612). The disc gives proof that the Early Music movement is really only about getting brass players to shut up. There is not a narrow-bore horn in sight and yet few would dare to accuse the band of lacking authenticity.

The sound is warm, spacious, squashy and beautifully clean. Period instrumentalists are luck to play a piece without splitting any of the notes and generally one excepts them to do so. But the LSO brass produce tone so shiny and modern that it would seem distinctly odd if any blips or misfires were permitted to pass. The ensemble on the disc is like a shiny, well-lubricated piece of precision engineering, such as one might find under the bonnet of the most expensive cars.The music includes imitative canzoni and more freely composed sonatas with the most delicious counterpoint. Groups of players are set against each other. This was one of the famous features of the music at Venice's St Mark's Church, where Gabrieli was employed. His antiphonal effects are the origins of all techniques of opposition and confrontation, soloist against ensemble and concerto form, in Western music. The disc is a valuable historical document, as well as an inspiring artistic indulgence."

Evening Standard (Rick Jones)

"Starting with the Canzon XVII of 1615 in 12 parts, involving three choirs of instruments, Eric Crees and his brilliant players from the brass section of the LSO demonstrate at once what variety of tone they can produce, with the finest shading of timbre and texture. Eric Crees in his notes, both scholarly and informative about the younger Gabrieli and his Venetian background, helpfully highlights such original items as the Double Echo Canzon in 12 parts. Beautiful sound, both clear and atmospheric, not aggressive. Naxos could not have chosen better for the first volume of what promises to be an exciting series."

The Guardian

"This third and final CD completes a series containing all Giovanni Gabrieli's instrumental ensemble music. We wait to the end of the third disc to hear the smallest scale Sonata a3, followed by the largest and immeasurably grand Sonata a22 (the reverse of the order Gabrieli, or his 1615 publisher, favoured.) the playing, on modern brass, is always dazzling, with some lyrical passages and much luxuriance of technique. The resultant easy and massive sound owes its movement more to the inescapable momentum of a well-working engine, rather than to human volition. The semi-quaver passage-work, rather than being woven into the texture with trochaic swing, stands proud of the substrate like a row of gleaming rivets. And how can every final chord be the last word in triumph? Notwithstanding, there is a palpable feeling for the architecture of the pieces, and exciting performances well worth the listening."

Early Music Review (Stephen Cassidy)

"The Winner! A fun and unpretentious version" [Gabrieli Canzonas and Sonatas Volume 3]

Classic CD

"The Toccata and fugue in D minor, BWV 565, of Bach is somewhat unlikely, although the arrangement by London Symphony Brass leader Eric Crees succeeds in making the brasses sound very organ-like, and organ music and music for wind instruments were thought during the Baroque to have an affinity. The program moves on to a group of canzonas and sonatas by Giovanni Gabrieli, part of the bread and butter of the brass ensemble repertoire. Historically oriented groups tend to perform these with a more variegated ensemble, but the London Symphony Brass offers near-ideal brass versions, with clean arrangements that delineate Gabrieli's polyphonic touches and shifting antiphonal groupings, bringing out the contrasts among the pieces.

"The sequence of Gabrieli works is broken up by a couple of brilliant marches by Jeremiah Clarke of Masterpiece Theatre fame, and then comes the neatest trick of all: Crees arranges two Brahms Intermezzi and one Rhapsody for brasses. He's helped in his task by the chordal nature of the particular pieces he chooses, but the effect is nevertheless to transform the music into something sufficently distant from the originals that even the perfect Brahmsian may wonder what he or she is hearing. Crees returns to Bach for the Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582, furnishing a massive finale. Recorded on two separate occasions, the program might have come off as a hodgepodge, but it works, partly thanks to the consistent musicianship of the players involved. The disc would make a good offbeat gift for someone who likes brass quintet music."

James Manheim, allmusic by Rovi

Concerts

"There is a feeling of eminence about this illustrious body of windy men and one woman as they take the stage. ..LSO Brass is the successor to the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble as the pre-eminent brass chamber group in this country. What is most impressive about their playing is their almost intuitive togetherness and the extraordinarily diverse range of tone colour they achieve. You will even swear you hear clarinets, strings, even the human voice"

Evening Standard

"Judging by the turn-out at the Barbican, the London Symphony Brass Ensemble have built up their own large following… Charles Ives's Variations on "America" (actually our own national anthem), originally written for organ, adapted wonderfully well to brass: this version by the conductor, Eric Crees, made the most of Ives's irreverence… The execution of the ensemble was impeccable, their stamina amazing, their high spirits irresistible..."

The Guardian

"The LSO Brass featured exclusively in the first half. Their programme included Spitfire Prelude and Fugue (Walton), Suite from the Fairy Queen (Purcell) and Prelude and Fugue on BACH (Liszt) – all superbly arranged by conductor Eric Crees….. The Quality was as one would expect from this illustrious group. Their use of short multi-movement works and variations in seating provided ample contrast in tone, colour and acoustic perspectives. This ranged from brilliant antiphonal displays to imaginative scoring including the use of two flugel horns."

The British Bandsman

"Their conductor [Guildhall Brass] Eric Crees's 10-part arrangements, piccolo trumpet and all, have got Warlock buttoned up. Warlock, who had only half a dozen euphoniums and things to jot for; would have been aghast with admiration. These brilliant and sympathetic arrangements are classics in their own right..."

Independent

The Paviors Livery company dines each year in the Egyptian Room at the Mansion House with the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs as our guests. This Banqueting Hall contains a balcony running three sides of the Hall.

As Master of the Company in 2000, I asked Eric Crees whether he could arrange to play some music during and after the dinner. He suggested music by the Venetian renaissance composer Giovanni Gabrieli and appointed twelve of the best brass musicians in London, The Symphonic Brass of London. He arranged them in three groups on the three sides of the Hall to mimic the arrangement Gabrieli would have employed in Saint Mark's Church in Venice.

The result was a superb and special sound which reverberated around the Hall to the great appreciation of the liverymen and their guests. He also composed some music based upon the initials of the then Lord Mayor, the score of which was presented to Sir Clive Martin at the end of the evening.

John Cruse, The Paviors Livery Company

"This arrangement [Bach Toccata and Fugue in D minor] for brass ensemble by Eric Crees showed off the musicianship and flexibility of the performers and captured the different timbres that can be created by skilful grouping of instruments and careful mute and percussion effects. "

The Brass Herald

[The Birth of Conchobar with the Royal Opera House Soloists] from start to finish it was extremely exciting, especially the use of percussion. The building of textures grew ever so slowly, resulting in hearing the brass at full pelt, which in the Floral Hall was spine tingling and most certainly had me on the edge of my seat. This was a fantastic ending to the first half.

The Brass Herald

"Eric Crees, had made special arrangements for the ensemble [LSO Brass] of the Variations on "America" by Charles Ives, treated with some tongue in cheek innovations of instrumental effect and of Peter Warlock's Capriol Suite. The latter's medieval dance tunes in a modern guise actually sound more lively and boisterous than in Warlock's own string orchestra version, and they were played here with infectious rhythmic spirit."

The Times

"…the only arrangement of the evening, 'Spitfire Prelude and Fugue' by William Walton. For me this was a highlight of the programme, showing off the players' skill and great musicianship; the truly world class score worked to perfection for large brass group by the masterful pen of Eric Crees."

Will Watson, The Brass Herald, on the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Brass Ensemble Concert Cadogan Hall, October 2013

Shining Brass

When the Northern Lights Festival finally decided to introduce a brass ensemble into its concert series, they chose the very best: The Symphonic Brass of London

Ishavskatedralen (The Arctic Cathedral of the Ice Sea)

Within musical circles it is well known that England is the country which provides the best of the world's brass playing. When the Symphonic Brass of London is composed of brass soloists hand-picked from the British capital's orchestral scene, it is surely raising the stakes and promising us an ensemble that will be the best of the best.

And when the Symphonic Brass of London visited Norway for the first time, the musicians of the ensemble really kept their promise.

French and Spanish

The Symphonic Brass of London is a versatile ensemble which performs in many different shapes and sizes – from brass quintet to full symphonic brass.

For the concert in Tromsø, they came as a dectet: four trumpets, four trombones, french horn and tuba – supplemented by two percussionists. The concert was led by director Eric Crees, who also made many of the arrangements in the programme they performed.

It consisted of music by French and Spanish composers: Debussy, De Falla and Bizet, to name just a few. The span of colours was vast – from the force and power of Couperin's military triumphal music, to Bizet's firey 'Carmen Suite', and the purity of Debussy's soft and beautiful harmonies in 'The Girl with the Flaxen Hair'.

Virtuosity and beauty

The audience enjoyed a varied concert, with much of the music having elements of Spanish folklore, even from the French composer Ravel.

We were given a wide breadth of musical expression and a great insight into all the possiblities that a brass ensemble can offer. The concert in Ishavskatedralen had everything. The arrangements of the music had a sense of elegance, but also challenges for the group.

The ensemble was precise, with a large dynamic range and displayed an excellent communication of the very beautiful, lyrical, powerful, fiery and lively arrangements. On top of this, the musicians showed excellent instrumental virtuosity.

And, these very talented musicians are not travelling directly home to London. Over the next few days they will share their knowledge by working with students from the Tromsø Conservatory of Music. The result of this cooperation will be presented in yet another concert in the festival ,'Brasserie', in the Spare Bank's banqueting hall on Tuesday, with both the students and the musicians playing alongside each other.

itromso.no, 26 January 2014

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