Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
The Boscombe Band, here conducted by Bandmaster Howard J Evans, is one of the elite units of the Salvation Army and on this album they retell the Easter story through a well-chosen selection of classic and contemporary works for brass band. The prelude, "Reflections On Nature" is based on a poem by Salvation Army poetess Catherine Baird that imagines Jesus foreseeing the events of Holy Week as foreshadowed by the natural beauty of Galilee. The text is not provided but is easy to find on the Internet - and well worth reading as you listen to the moving music. The story proper opens on Palm Sunday with a spirited arrangement of "Ride On In Majesty" by Bandmaster Evans. Again, the words to the hymn are not provided but if you do not know them they are easy to find and if you cannot you can still enjoy the music. The musicianship is excellent and any listeners who enjoy a good tune will get something from the recording, even more so if you know the story. The selection of tunes ranges across the denominational boundaries. Some are standard Salvationist works, such as Eric Ball's "Meditation On A Theme by Spohr" that has long been associated with the poem "My life must be Christ's broken bread, my love his outpoured wine", also called the Salvation Army's Communion hymn which is here chosen to illustrate Maundy Thursday. Giving a more contemporary flavour are two of the Good Friday pieces, "From That Sacred Hill" by Dick Krommenhoek with some splendid work from the trombones, and "Written in Red" by Dean Jones. Both are well worth hearing. The one downside for this listener is the inclusion of selected Bible verses on the disc. Not, of course, that I have any objection to hearing the Bible and it surely cannot and must not be omitted from any reimagining of the Easter story. My reservation comes from the rather lacklustre reading given by "Special Guest Rev Richard Coles" that, for me, fails to lift the words from the page. However, my CD player has a fast forward button and I know how to use it so, in future, I will listen to the music and read the Bible verses for myself.
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