Overture! The Philharmonic Brass. © 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited


Warmth and Sonoric Exuberance

GERALD FENECH heartily recommends Tugan Sokhiev conducting brass arrangements of well-known overtures

'... exhilarating, spectacular, absorbing.'


Born on 21 October 1977, Tugan Sokhiev is, at present, one of the world's foremost conductors and the most loved musician to come out of Ossetia. Sokhiev began piano studies at the age of seven and he first conducted at age seventeen, inspired by Anatoly Briskin, the conductor of the North Ossetia State Philharmonic. He subsequently attended the St Petersburg Conservatory, where he was one of the last students of the unique Ilya Musin before the latter's death in 1999.

Sokhiev first conducted an opera in Iceland with the production of Puccini's La bohème and this opened the door to several other prestigious conducting posts which included the Welsh National Opera (2001-2004) among others. In 2005 Sokhiev became principal guest-conductor and musical adviser with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, later becoming the orchestra's director in September 2008. In September 2010, he was named principal conductor and artistic director of the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, effective in 2012 with an initial contract of four years. In January 2014, the Bolshoi Theatre named Sokhiev its new musical director, a post which led the maestro to resign from the DSO Berlin, citing too much pressure to be at the head of three great orchestras simultaneously.

On 6 March 2022, Sokhiev resigned both from music director of the Bolshoi Theatre and from music director of the Toulouse Orchestra. This time the reason was also pressure to make a public statement regarding the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Maybe one is asking, is this CV of Tugan Sokhiev necessary in a CD review? Well, I think it is, if only for the reason that the real star of this show is indeed Sokhiev himself.

Listen — Shostakovich: Festive Overture
(485 4171 track 1, 1:07-2:02) ℗ 2023 The Philharmonic Brass :

Here comes another question: What happens when the illustrious brass sections of the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic come together? The answer is 'The Philharmonic Brass'. Making its debut in Vienna's Musikverein last April, the group will come together for recording, tours and education work. Comprising some of the best-known faces in the brass world from Berlin, Vienna and their friends, the group includes Sarah Willis, horn and Paul Halwax, tuba.

This debut album, Overture!, irresistibly conducted by Maestro Sokhiev, includes virtuoso arrangements of some very famous overtures in the form of Verdi's La Forza del Destino, Gershwin's Cuban Overture, Borodin's Prince Igor, Dvořák's Carnival, Shostakovich's Festive Overture and Beethoven's Egmont.

Listen — Beethoven: Egmont Overture
(485 4171 track 4, 2:26-3:25) ℗ 2023 The Philharmonic Brass :

All these works are arranged for brass ensemble, and the results are nothing short of exhilarating, spectacular, absorbing. Meticulosity, clarity and vibrancy are the hallmarks of Sokhiev's conducting, but in this programme the maestro gives free reign to his players to express themselves with warmth and sonoric exuberance.

Listen — Dvořák: Carnival Overture
(485 4171 track 6, 8:36-9:20) ℗ 2023 The Philharmonic Brass :

Feeling a bit under the weather and you want an uplift? Just buy this disc and start it off. Within the hour things will have changed altogether. Super stuff, which I recommend most heartily.

Copyright © 16 December 2023 Gerald Fenech,
Gzira, Malta



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