Nigel Hess's latest works for symphonic wind orchestra are performed here by the Central Band of the RAF, one of the premier military bands in the UK today, and conducted by Nigel himself.
Vivid music for the modern age from composer Nigel Hess. Hess is a wonderfully versatile musician, writing for the wider audiences of television and films (Ladies in Lavender), and in specially-commissioned works for the Royal Family – a Piano Concerto in honour of the Queen Mother; for bands and orchestras of all kinds, and on this CD, the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. Looming into view (the first item on the collection) is the Millennium Bridge (movement no. 1 in the 2003 suite, New London Pictures). Eric Coates, of course, was the great “London” composer, his Knightsbridge and London Bridge marches taking us back to a capital city of inter-war elegance and romance. But Nigel Hess now steps forward in that Coates spirit and tradition, for an updated tapestry of London life. The second and third movements of the work are London Eye and Congestion Charge, respectively; and in the latter – a possible signature tune for a modern “Carry-On London!” – you wish that you had opted for public transport. But in The Lochnagar Suite, we are very much in the fresh air and freedom of the Highlands – Scottish dances, circling eagles, and great, craggy landscapes, in which the old man revisits his memories and youth.
Commissioned by the Coldstream Guards eleven years ago, Monck’s March (the eighth work on the record) brings out Nigel Hess at his picture-painting best – the 7,000 men under General Monck’s command, marching to London from the wintry North; Northumbrian bagpipes, folk-tune laments from the Borders, swashbuckling brass, and catchy, thwacking martial drums set the scene, with the long road south ending at the gates of the City, and a burst of oranges and lemons to show that we have truly arrived.
An out-of-the-blue discovery. An excellent cocktail of bandsmanship and bravura, in the spirit of good-quality lighter listening. (Stuart Millson, Quarterly Review)
The Central Band of the RAF is always in great demand, undertaking more than 370 engagements a year, representing the Royal Air Force at every major military event, and performing at all of the principal concert venues in Britain. The Band is also internationally renowned, having the distinction of being the first band outside the USA to receive the John Philip Sousa Citation for Musical Excellence. Past tour schedules have included concerts in The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Hong Kong, USA, Australia, and Russia.