Gilbert Vinter: Hunter’s Moon
Gilbert Vinter (1909-1969) was most known for his work as a conductor and as a composer of brass band music. Vinter was a chorister at Lincoln Cathedral when he was a young boy. He later took up the bassoon. He conducted the BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Military Band and led several RAF bands during his career as a conductor.
As a composer, Vinter’s works for brass band have often been used as test pieces for contests due to their challenging technical work and firm roots in good quality brass ensemble playing. 1960 saw Vinter’s first major work for brass band surface. The Daily Herald newspaper partnered with sponsors of brass band contests to commission Vinter to compose a new work. From this commission Salute to Youth (1961) was born. Other popular brass band works by Vinter include Variations on a Ninth (1964), James Cook – Circumnavigator (1968), Spectrum (1969) and Symphony of Marches (1963).
As well as writing for brass bands, Vinter was also versed in writing for orchestras. He composed Hunter’s Moon for his friend and french horn player, John Burden. The piece was first performed by the Torquay Municipal Orchestra, and later Vinter made a horn and piano version. Vinter initially named the piece Diana of the Chase, but soon changed to Hunter’s Moon. The title has been debated, with some saying that Vinter and Burden pictured the full moon after the harvest moon, however the most likely reason for the name change is that the duos favourite pub in Torquay was called ‘Hunter’s Moon’…
The first marking, ‘Allegro (with good humour)’ sets the playful tone of the whole piece. After the luscious string introduction, the horn enters with its hunting call. The two parties work together to create swells within the music. The horn uses a range of extended techniques to create different sounds and timbres, such as stopped notes. A bouncy snare drum accompanies the next section, which is very playful in style. Vinter utilises the woodwind in the orchestra here too, as the solo horn mixes with their flourishing decoration.
A lyrical central section takes hold with a dream-like theme. Rich string accompaniment complements the flourishing horn, as this section begins to pan out. Here, Vinter’s well-rounded orchestral sound can be admired, with the string writing in particular being a highlight.
The very catchy 6/8 theme returns after this section with vengeance as the playful theme takes hold of the soloist and the orchestra. The inspiration from the pub is heard here, with the soloist sounding like they have had one too many at the pub. The jaunty few bars of music end this short party/encore piece with style and playfulness.
Ⓒ Alex Burns