Philip Jones Brass Ensemble

The Lighter Side

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With The Lighter Side, the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble presents an attractive and eclectic collection of music ranging from staples of the classical repertoire to popular pieces. Despite the huge stylistic range of the pieces performed, this album takes the listener on a pleasant journey through familiar and beguiling soundscapes. In this recording, PJBE cultivates a characteristic style: energetic, light, elegant, and playful with a light touch of irony. While this style may not be quite suitable for the Allegro from Handel's Water Music Suite, the ensemble beautifully captures the protean spirit of Chabrier's music. In Chabrier's utterly delightful Bourée fantasque, the group shines, masterfully conjuring up the enchanting atmosphere of the whimsical, somewhat grotesque, and multifaceted pieces. In Golliwog's Cakewalk, a transcription from Debussy's Children's Corner for piano, the listener is left somewhat indifferent, while Joplin's Gladiolus Rag -- performed with wit, discretion, and captivating nonchalance -- creates a lasting impression, a sonic island of lightness and charm. Indeed, this performance beautifully captures the essence of Joplin's melancholy genius. It could be said that only Monti's quintessential Csardas, a perennial but never tedious favorite, is played with meticulous panache, clean virtuosity, and acrobatic daring, which highlights the irrepressible energy of Hungarian music. PJBE's performance of the Carnival of the Animals, by Saint-Saëns, exudes nuanced timbral opulence, also exhibiting an uncanny ability to penetrate the music's darker shades and moods hidden underneath a veneer of sheer brilliance. The music performed on this disc also includes Bernstein's powerful suite from West Side Story, in which the ensemble successfully evokes the dramatic depth and lyrical richness of the work. Finally, the ensemble also presents a number of charming vignettes, including Premru's humorous and extremely pleasing Brass Cats, a work blending feline nonchalance and grace.

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