|Track||Title||Composer / Arranger|
|1||Legacy of Faith||Nicholas Samuel|
|2||Thy tenderest blessing||Stephen Wood|
|3||Rhapsody on St Francis||Andrew Wainwright|
|4||Soul-renewing grace!||Paul Sharman|
|6||The Lord's my shepherd||Stuart Townend arr. Paul Sharman|
|7||To heights above||Andrew Mackereth|
|8||Toccata Fire!||Steven Ponsford|
Bandmaster Eric Millest (Blackburn) reviews the CD Powerhouse by the International Staff Band
RECORDING sessions for this CD began just before the Covid-19 pandemic. Now they have come to fruition in a vibrant, well-balanced and energetic collection of new works by UK Salvationists.
In the first track, the warm lower tones of the ISB build an excitement that propels the listener into Nicholas Samuel’s ‘Legacy of Faith’ and the CD as a whole. Collage technique, shifts in rhythm and metre, effective percussion, high, melodic tuba parts and exciting Paul Lovatt-Cooper-style fast scales are particular highlights.
The following, gentler arrangement by Stephen Wood is a successful combination of ‘Eudoxia’ and ‘Thy Tenderest Blessing’ that contrasts well.
Andrew Wainwright’s ‘Rhapsody on St Francis’ is a series of three variations inspired by the words of the hymn tune. Its conclusion is certain to have listeners applauding long before the final chord is heard.
Another well-contrasted arrangement follows with the tune ‘Chalvey’, in which Paul Sharman gives an expressive, verse-by-verse portrayal of Albert Orsborn’s ‘I Have No Claim on Grace’.
Kenneth Downie’s ‘Powerhouse’ provides the CD’s title, expressed through ‘Send a New Touch of Power’ and other thematically related melodies. Styles and textures meaningfully merge with and succeed each other, as one would expect from this master musical craftsman.
Paul Sharman’s second piece combines Stuart Townend’s contemporary setting of Psalm 23 with ‘Crimond’, making yet another excellent contrast with Andrew Mackereth’s ‘To Heights Above’, which follows. This piece expresses the angst and frustration of life’s difficult times, but also conveys a weightless, outer-space atmosphere, with the ending emphatically proclaiming ‘He Lifted Me’.
‘Toccata Fire!’ is a suitably virtuosic setting of ‘O God of Burning, Cleansing Flame’ by Steven Ponsford, with some impressive xylophone playing and excellent unison phrasing.
The final piece ‘Koinonia’ depicts the development of Christian fellowship from the early Church to the gates of Heaven in seven continuous movements – a test of stamina for any band.
This piece provides an appropriate climax to the CD – another example of Bandmaster Stephen Cobb’s continued encouragement of the development of Salvation Army music, which provides much musical and spiritual inspiration.