Since the euphonium (meaning sweet sound) was invented by Adolphe Sax, there has always been a distinguished tradition of euphonium soloists, Simone Mantia of the Sousa Band being the grandfather of them all. 25 years ago one could literally count the serious euphonium repertoire on one hand; euphoniumists were hard pressed to expand beyond the familiar crop of air with variations solos and slow melodies extending back to the 19th century. It is still rather hard to believe that the first euphonium concerto was composed as late as 1972, by Joseph Horovitz. Since then, both the euphonium and its repertoire have been in perpetual motion. David Childs unquestionably stands squarely in the line of this great tradition as this album amply demonstrates. Moto Perpetuo may as well be the description of David s career; he scarcely seems to have time to draw breath with his busy schedule of commissions and performances. His two recent performances of the new Karl Jenkins concerto in the celebrated Carnegie Hall, New York at each end of March (with orchestra and wind ensemble) epitomise and celebrate the very considerable impact that this star player has already made. As evidenced on this album, David continues to raise the bar in a musical journey of perpetual motion flowing from the title track through a series of solos celebrating the life and work of the hugely popular Welsh composer Karl Jenkins and culminating in his Euphonium Concerto of 2009. The journey also takes in the finales of two other 21st century concerti (by Cosma and Meechan) as well as the deeply reflective Oration by Howard Snell. The album closes with an American double-tribute to that 19th century tradition and a final track that takes us out of this world!
In his informative and comprehensive programme notes, USA-based academic and brass band conductor Stephen Allen describes David Childs as 'one hot euphoniumist spreading the word about this most remarkable instrument and its repertoire around the world'. I wouldn't argue with that. David's commanding technique and range of expression is right up there with the top international pianists and violinists. What the euphonium lacks, of course, is the depth of repertoire of those instruments, but David is using all his artistry and imagination to expand it. The major work in his latest solo album is the Euphonium Concerto by Karl Jenkins that has already notched up over 21 performances internationally. Composer and compatriot Karl Jenkins, like David, is a natural communicator. They both connect with audiences. This evangelical spirit is conveyed through playing of great refinement, peerless technical control and character. The tango third movement is my favourite, with its seductive jazzy surface and menacing undercurrent. Jenkins writes wonderful tunes - a mixture of nostalgic Welsh hymnology and romantic lyricism. Three examples are threaded through the album. Lament (from Stabat Mater), Hymn (from Adiemus: Songs of Sanctuary) and Benedictus (from The Armed Man), which tugs at the heartstrings in David's mellifluous performance. The title track is Paganini's devilishly hard Moto Perpetuo, originally arranged by Howard Snell for father and uncle, Robert and Nicholas, to play in duet, is brilliantly executed solo, through the 'smoke and mirrors' of digital editing and, one assumes, some skilful circular breathing, without an audible breath. David also includes the helter-skelter finale of Vladimir Cosma's Concerto and part of a tougher, but brilliantly conceived concerto from Peter Meechan, under the title Sparta. Howard Snell's Oration leaves a haunting impression. Simone Mantia's treatment of Auld Lang Syne is a reminder that Arthur Pryor and Herbert C. Clarke were not the only creative stars in Sousa's famous band. Elgar Howarth adds a touch of melancholy as well as nostalgia in his version of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair (without cornets). David ends with a real 'hoot' or should that be 'tweet' in the flight of fancy that is Paul Nero's The Hot Canary. --Paul Hindmarsh - British Bandsman, Saturday 28th August 2010