JOHN PICKARD (b.1963): Gaia Symphony for Brass Band and Percussion, Eden for Brass Band.
Catalogue Number: 08Q082
Format: SACD hybrid
Description: The Gaia Symphony was, surprisingly, composed piecemeal, over a period of more than a decade, as a series of works for the venerable institution of the British brass band - a highly virtuosic ensemble, different in constitution from the American wind symphony. Make no mistake, though; the end result is a fully-fledged symphony, and a most impressive one at that. The work is in the customary four movements, with linking percussion episodes, each dealing with one of the ancient 'elements' - earth, fire, air, water - linked by the concept of the Earth as a vast composite organism, concluding with the four-part symphonic suite Men of Stone forming a monumental finale. This is not some vague new-age meditation on 'feelings'; just as Gaia is a rigorous scientific hypothesis, Pickard's symphony is an expansive but thoroughly structured work in his usual tonal language - reminiscences of Nielsen and Richard Strauss, and a taste for almost jazzy syncopated rhythms, but very much his own - and his masterful use of large ensemble forces. Eden was a test piece for the highly competitive brass band world, and thus incorporates technically demanding solo parts, as expected, within a large tripartite tone poem which addresses similar natural and environmental concerns as the symphony through dramatic interpretations of the Eden story. Eikanger-Bjørsvik Musikklag; Andreas Hanson.