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A fun-filled and inspiring evening

Bradfield Festival of Music, Festival Report

The thing about a wind ensemble is that each instrument has a unique timbre; It’s not like a string quartet for example where the differences in register, resonance and so on are overlapping between instruments, for mixed winds, the variety makes for an intimate orchestra in miniature.

And so the Galliard Ensemble, with their (shhh!) number of years performing together, brought their brass and woodwind timbres to life in a fun and relaxed concert this evening.

An impression of the selection of works for this concert was that of the inspiration that aroused creativity in each of the composers represented. Starting with the familiar Rossini, “The Italian Girl in Algiers” overture, this both shows inspiration from Haydn some 50 years earlier, and by good fortune, continues the double Haydn experience of Saturday’s concert. Mozart regarded the K.594 Fantasie as one of his best tunes spoiled by the attempt to perform on state of the art mechanical instruments of his day. Inspired by and written as a tribute to Field Marshall von Lauden, the Galliard made it very apparent that this is indeed one of Mozart’s finest tunes.

Composers of the French baroque such as Couperin, Rameau, Lully, Charpentier and more have inspired many subsequent composers. In particular, François Couperin may be heard as echos in works from Bach to Respighi and beyond. One of the greatest such works is Ravel’s “Tombeau de Couperin,” and The Galliard performed both a short work by the inspiration of Couperin and three of the 6 pieces of the inspired Ravel side by side.

This was so beautifully performed that I was left wanting to hear the Galliard perform the whole of the Tombeau, which, as far as I know, they have not recorded.

It seems that inspiring music students to reveal evidence of their commitment to practice was in the mind of Eugene Bozza.

Here the Galliard demonstrated edge-of-the-seat enthusiasm with the interplay of four lines played in chromatic scales that they were well on top of the challenge set by the composer.

After the interval, the common inspiration came from folk sources, either as actual tunes or as stylistically folksy influences. Many composers collected folk melodies as sources of inspiration – Vaughan-Williams, Holst, Grainger, Kodaly, Bartok, and many more were all very well known for this, and we owe so much to modern music to the dedication of such collection. Holst’s gentle and in the hands of the Galliard, totally engaging Op. 14 Wind Quintet has melodies that could easily be heard hummed in the streets if it had been based on a real folk tune. Percy Graingers Walking Tune, inspired by the rhythm of footfall while hiking and by the landscapes traversed was performed alongside Lisbon, a collected tune which was saved from inevitable aural-tradition loss by Grainger’s commitment.

The final work of the programme was inspired by folk songs of the west country and was written by Paul Patterson for The Galliard. The ensemble must have performed this hundreds of times, but the fresh statement of each tune and its elaboration was so like being in a pub session that several members of the audiences were themselves inspired to sing along, perhaps not quite with the precision of timing, intonation or pitch that the Galliard have, though undoubtedly with some of the passion!

Here I must make a special mention for the one singer inspired to join in with the ensemble whose timing was impeccable: thank you to the sheep who keep the grass under control in the churchyard, without you, the challenge of maintaining a reliable embouchure and a straight face would never have been so entertaining!

A final piece of fun as an encore, the Charleston movement number IV from Norman Hallam’s Dance Suite completed the whole entertainment for the evening.

An orchestra in miniature, a fun-filled and inspiring evening from such excellent performers who know each other and the mood they want to bring so well.

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Incisive, confident and well-tuned

BBC Music Magazine, Anthony Burton

Crisp articulation

Stephen Francis Vasta, MusicWeb International

Excellent playing, well-balanced and full of character

Gramophone, Geoffrey Norris

Played with verve

The Northern Echo

The glittering talent that is the Galliard Ensemble

What’s on in London, Duncan Hadfield

Superbly played

Andrew Farach-Colton, Gramophone

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Sheer wit and panache

Rian Evans, The Guardian

They have technique, style and high spirits in spades

Time Out, Martin Hoyle

Immaculate performances … a pure delight … unreservedly recommended

MusicWeb International, Hubert Culot

Pure pleasure


Demands that were easily met

The Times

A young ensemble of considerable merit

Gramophone, Arnold Whittall

Superb sound

Richard Whitehouse

Excellently played

BBC Music Magazine, Nicholas Williams

One of the highlights

Paul Conway, The Independent

Stunning music and extraordinary playing


The Observer, Edward Bhesania

Well performed

The Sunday Times, Paul Driver

The performances are simply breath-taking

Gramophone, Andrew Achenbach

Endlessly fascinating

The Guardian, Andrew Clements

Excellent ensemble playing and vivid recording.

Classical Music on the Web UK, Peter Grahame Woolf

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Like angels sent from heaven

Paul Patterson

Beautiful, delicate and fluent playing

Aberdeen Press and Journal, Alan Cooper

A highly talented wind quintet

West Somerset Free Press, Trevor L Sharpe

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Immaculately prepared

Seen & Heard, Peter Graham Woolf

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