'Of Gods and Kings' CD review Nigel Clarke

Posted by Mark Wilkinson on 28 February 2017

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For me, a good disc has to fulfil certain criteria. The music has to interest me; the programme notes have to offer insight into the compositions, so that I learn something new, and there has to be a strong vision behind the purpose of the disc. Too often discs are made for the wrong reasons - for money or for vanity. A really great disc will contain performances that ‘reach for the stars’. Safe, conservative performances are, in my view, of little worth. I want to hear interpretations that are so brilliant that, after I have heard them, it would be impossible for me to imagine the music played in any other way.

This CD presentation by conductor, Michael Fowles and Foden’s Band meets my personal criteria; it is a great concept disc, which contrasts one younger generation brass band composer with musical names from the past. It was a joy to hear Bantock’s Prometheus Unbound as well as Britten’s King Arthur, which I have not heard before. Arthur Butterworth’s Odin is exhilarating, and full of dynamic contrast and musicality - how many composers can be said to have that much talent and compositional technique today? Paul Hindmarsh’s arrangement of the King Arthur radio drama music by Britten confirms the disc’s serious intent. A King’s Lie by Belgian composer and musician, Stan Nieuwenhuis, is skilfully written and not out of place on this disc, revealing potential for future great compositions.

I found the blend of works appropriate, and all the compositions and arrangements of quality. Some good recordings are blemished by the inclusion of low quality film music that is out of place beside the rest of the works, but this has been avoided here. The production quality of the recording is clear, and the interpretation and performances realised by Michael Fowles are both musically and technically outstanding throughout. In my view, this disc is a serious musical offering that has lasting quality and should be included in the libraries of all followers of brass band music.

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Foden's band maintains a world class reputation for providing entertainment in the field of brass music with a tradition and unique style Mark Wilkinson