Portland Square Brass

Fun and enjoyment from the Portland Square Brass Quintet at The Minster Church of St Andrew, Plymouth

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Medics aren’t usually best-known for blowing their own trumpet – except, that is, when they play the top two parts in a brass ensemble. Some three years ago, medical doctors Ben Dawson and Bruce Fox teamed up with academic doctors Debby Cotton (horn) and Matthew Watkinson (tuba) – educational researcher and geologist respectively – and professional trombonist Jamie Dove, to form Portland Square Brass Quintet.

With an emphasis on fun and enjoyment, in this penultimate event of the St Andrew’s Summer Recital Series, the Portlanders presented a varied programme ranging from Renaissance Dances to Film Music and original works for the combination, all helped along by Matthew’s high-tempo yet erudite banter as he introduced each number – and which also provided the rest of his team with a welcome opportunity to get their second wind.

Rehearsal time for such busy professionals is always at a premium, and consequently there were occasional little glitches along the way. But it was still a full, rounded sound, where tuning was well maintained, entries precise overall, and the dynamic balance between parts carefully considered.

Familiar numbers and those with more straightforward musical shape generally fared best, with the two trumpet-playing medics’ treatment of Henry Mancini’s often-hackneyed Pink Panther Theme managing to inject some welcome new life into an old body – in fact just what the doctors ordered as the ideal finale to this eminently light-hearted entertainment.



Philip Buttall

Philip Buttall

Philip R Buttall was the Classical Music Writer at Plymouth Herald from 1997-2017. He is a sought-after piano teacher, composer and arranger, and online concert and CD reviewer. Further information and contact details are available at www.philiprbuttall.co.uk
Philip Buttall