Pontins Championships 2002:
We give the 4BR Retrospective of the performances.
Like the third and championship sections, the first section winners
played the other bands off the park. Dobcross Silver Band and Denis
Hadfield put in a showy performance that was simply superior to
others in the class.
So many bands struggled to get to grips with the fundamentals of
playing the overture “The Sicilian Vespers” that it
made for a rather disappointing overall standard. The chosen test
piece was Bram Gay's new transcription of the Verdi work, and it
is a very stren test indeed for First Section bands. The key signature
doesn’t help, yet it is another arrangement by Bram that is
of high class and it would take a good championship section band
to perform well. Williams Fairey gave it a premier last year at
the British Open concert and it sounded hard then. On Saturday,
it sometimes sounded painful.
Many bands failed to capture the spirit of the music. With some
loud and harsh playing their performances seemed more like renditions
of Sicilian Vespas than Vespers. If Verdi was listening no doubt
he'd have been crying into his pint of Stella Artois.
So many bands failed to play the opening - two demis followed by
a crotchet. On various occasions we were short changed in note lengths.
Good opening sections in contest performances are imperative if
you want to make the prizes. So often bands wanted to play exactly
what it said on the tin and forgot that it's all about music. Remember:
in this type of music what sounds right is on most occasions what
We wonder how many MDs actually took the time to get hold of a
recording of the music. If you're one of those who think they know
exactly how it should go - think again. Just ask Nick Childs what
he did in the week leading up to the British Open in 2001. The test
piece that day was another Bram Gay transcription - Les Preludes.
Guess who won?
For soloists, it was a day when many soprano players wished they'd
hung up their boots after the last contest. Congratulations to all
of you though. Someone had to sit in the chair and we hope you were
for your efforts in the bar after you played. Well done to euph
players too. We were however disappointed with the number of solo
cornets players with straight sounds and who split their first entry.
Dobcross though put in a performance that was well controlled from
the off and with some great cornet sounds, the music made complete
sense throughout. There were moments of problematic intonation but
Denis Hadfield always gave the music space and this made for some
excellent playing from his talented outfit. We anticipate hearing
more of this combination in the coming months and can only hope
this band and conductor has firmer foundations than last time! First
place though and this was no more than they deserved.
In second place came Holme Silver who will be mightily impressed
with this result. Their performance had many moments of quality
although we thought at times it was a bit harsh and a little quick
and that robbed the music of some of the style it required. It was
a worty performance though.
City of Bristol and Bryn James filled the third spot with a performance
that, like many on the day, had to contend with the mobile phone
horror but this didn't affect their approach. Some stylish sop playing
was the highlight for us and the euph also impressed with a lovely
rounded full sound. This is a band going in the right direction
and has an MD who is an up and coming star – no histrionics,
but plenty in the way of clear concise beat patterns. Other bands
will be noticing him soon.
Fourth place went to Matthews Norfolk Brass and David Stowell.
There was much detail in their performance but for us it got a little
loud on occasion. A good effort though from band and conductor.
Meanwhile, Ibstock came next and with some euph playing that we
thought was sensitive on a day when others overcooked things. We
liked their approach to the music throughout and fifth place was
St Austell Town and Melvin White came sixth off a number one draw.
Exciting tempos and young soloists that impressed us with their
maturity of sound meant a mention from the stage that was well deserved.
They have made an impression this year on each occasion we have
heard them, so 2003 may hold even better things.
Tintwistle filled the number seven spot and can thank some impressive
euphonium work for their position while Welwyn Garden City's performance
was a little one-dimensional, earning them eighth position. Swindon
Pegasus in ninth place found many pitfalls but we liked the detail
that the cornets managed to portray. Bedworth Brass came tenth -
another performance that failed to paint the correct picture and
suffered from some loose playing.
Towcester Studio and Adele Sellers were drawn last and playing
to a fairly full hall gave some dynamically controlled playing but
it was so often a little aggressive and at times quite untidy. Eleventh
will disappoint them
immensely, whilst twelth was United Norwest Co-op Milnrow. Brave
attempts at playing the dynamics meant the notes didn't always speak.
This was a shame and we thought they'd come a little higher.
Flookburgh came thirteenth and after a fairly good start their
performance became scrappy and the intonation at times wasn't good
whilst fourteenth were Blackburn and Darwen. Some nice solo cornet
work was a plus
point but coupled with hard, loud sounds made for a frenetic performance.
Number fifteen was filled by Vernon Building Society Poynton. Their
up tempo approach had excitement but the band found difficulties
that made for a ragged performance. Poole Borough took sixteenth
spot. They started quite well but we were soon listening to the
same old mistakes that troubled so many others. Nice ensemble work
went to waste as the erros flowed too easily elsewhere.
Lydmet Lyndney's performance was a little soporific. We liked the
euph work but this was small comfort to a rendition that ended poorly
whilst Stalybridge Old's was a performance that left us scratching
our heads. Their interpretation was a strange one. It was nervy
stuff from the off with fast, fluctuating tempos and an interesting
choice of style. You don't win contests like this.
Nineteenth was Markham and District. Although we enjoyed their
interpretation, they failed to get off to a good start with some
dodgy entries and a horn and cornet line that never seemed together
whilst Jackfield (Elcock Reison) came twentieth and after a promising
opening, it pushed and rushed and became harsh and hurt. This was
vicious, vicious stuff.
Last place went to Pemberton Old Wigan. The Achilles heel in this
performance must surely have been the tempos in the closing section.
The good work from euph and cornet could do little to save them
- the exceptionally loud percussion certainly didn't help.
Our predictions didn’t do themselves justice and we think
we put the kiss of death on many. We tipped Pemberton Old, who will
most probably burn their computers after we put the mockers on them
and they could only manage last, whilst Towcester who we tipped
for second came 11th. Balckburn came home 14th instead of the 3rd
we tipped, but Matthews played to form and came 4th – just
as we said they would!!! Jackfield we though would come 5th and
came 20th, whilst Markham came 19th. Our dark horse though saved
our blushes as they came home 3rd. We had tipped three bands who
came in the bottom three. What on earth do we know about banding