The Symphonic Euphonium II
M Ball: Euphonium Concerto; Gregson: Euphonium Concerto; Paul Mealor: Euphonium Concerto; Vaughan Williams: Tuba Concerto (arr. for euphonium)
David Childs (euphonium); BBC Philharmonic/Ben Gernon
Chandos CHAN 10997 70:06 mins
The euphonium, the tenor member of the tuba family, is familiar in brass bands, but a rarity in orchestral music. David Childs, brought up in the Welsh band tradition, has been active in broadening the appeal of his instrument through performances and commissions. This disc pairs him with the BBC Philharmonic and its principal guest conductor Ben Gernon in three concertos written specially for the euphonium and one adapted for it.
The adaptation is of Vaughan Williams’s genial Concerto for bass tuba, written in 1954 in the composer’s lively old age. In his helpful notes, Paul Hindmarsh reveals that a reworking of the piece a fourth higher for euphonium was approved by Vaughan Williams, but not carried out in the absence of a publishing agreement. The transposition, now effected by Childs and Rodney Newton, has the effect of lightening the orchestral sound, enabling the solo instrument to stand out more clearly against it. The more recent concertos by Edward Gregson (2018), Paul Mealor (2017) and Michael Ball (2002 with brass band, 2004 with orchestra) all effectively balance lyricism with virtuosity; the Mealor makes striking use of extended techniques, including glissandos and chords.
Childs plays with richly expressive tone (using the customary brass band vibrato) and is fully on top of all the works’ technical demands. He is responsively supported by the orchestra, although it is relegated slightly to the background of the recording.