2008 North West Regional Championship - Retrospective: Second Section

14-Mar-2008

An enjoyable contest and a fine winner here as the bands just about got to grips with Downie's very tricky test piece.


Wardle and District Anderson
A cut above: Wardle and District Anderson Brass

Wardle & District Anderson Brass took the Second Section title with a performance that was a real cut above the other eleven contenders on Sunday.

Haslingden & Helmshore claimed the other final place in a contest where the standard overall was good, but where adjudicator John Maines could have had no problem in sorting out the best from the rest.
 
Spirited performance

Old Hall Brass opened the contest with a spirited performance that earned it 6th place. The ‘Romance’ was played with feeling but there was a certain amount of uncertainty in some of the solo lines that spoiled the good work created by a solid ensemble and well shaped account by the MD. It was though a good marker from the No1 draw.
 
Stalybridge Old followed and after an excellent opening the playing became scrappy with intonation a real problem. The tempo’s were fine but more detail was required at times and it sounded as if a great deal of work had gone into the first movement resulting in less impact with the other two.11th place was the fair result.
 
The same could be said of Hoover (Bolton) who had a solid and precise opening but some of the playing especially in the ‘Caprice’ was rushed and the detail lost. More space and time was perhaps required and they had to be content with 12th place.

Middleton off the No 4 draw produced something of a mixed old bag with plenty of nice warm sounds, but still lacking a real feel for the music. 9th place was a little low for us, as we had them 7th, but that’s splitting hairs.
 
Delph came next and a tempo in the ‘Prelude’ that was perhaps a touch on the quick side. The band though played with commitment, but the balance at times let them down in addition to some uncertain entries. We had them 9th but the man who counts gave them 7th – again a question splitting musical hairs.
 
Halfway point


As we reached halfway we were still waiting for a performance that would raise the bar, and Haslingdon & Helmshore certainly did that with a performance that was consistently well delivered through the three movements.

The music always had space to breathe and apart from some poor intonation in the ‘Romance’  the playing was well controlled and they got the all important basics right. 2nd place and a trip to Harrogate for the finals was well deserved and they should be more than confident of being able to do very well there come September.
 
The next two bands, Eccleston Brass followed by Manx Concert Brass, both gave good musical performances that certainly brought the sense of lightness and subtle touches of nuance to the fore from two enjoyable and understated readings from the MDs.

Eccleston had plenty of contrasts in their playing and overall had a lovely warm sound, but the tempo rushed towards the end of the ‘Prelude’ for no apparent reason and took the gloss off what was becoming a cracker of a performance, as thereafter it never quite captured that essential poise.  4th place though was well deserved

Manx Concert also started off as if they were going to take the contest by the scruff of the neck and their reading was so well shaped and controlled to give them 3rd place. If it lacked for anything it was the sense of depth that the two leading bands had to their sound when it was required – Manx had to force their sound a bit more. Both these bands though can be pleased with their efforts and on another day they well might have booked their place at the finals. 
 
Winning performance

We then came to what turned out to be the winning performance – and Wardle was outstanding. Very well directed the music never lost its shape, the dynamics were observed to a fault and the band had the best sound of the day too. The soloists played with confidence and a real sense of artistry and nothing was rushed. They were worthy winners with a clear cut two point margin over Haslingden – it could and possibly should have been more.
 
Rainford followed on and they too can take satisfaction on their eventual 5th place from a performance that was well thought out. The only pity was that there were little clips and a tentative opening to the ‘Caprice’ which proved costly, but some nice percussion from the two elderly gentlemen and the young whipper snapper enhanced their performance. 
 
Played better

United Co-op 2000 Brass
and Trinity Girls both will have felt they could have played better.

United Co-op eventually came 8th and had some nice moments with some warmly rounded sounds from the bass section. The reading though was a little too safe and bland and a few more well thought out risks may have paid dividends.

As for Trinity Girls, they certainly looked good and at times showed real quality. However, the overall playing lacked excitement and a bit more adventure could have had them further the prize list than 10th place. A chance perhaps missed? 
 
Enjoyable

This had been a most enjoyable contest with most bands getting the technique right but many just falling down on the musicality of a piece that has taken it fair share of casualities around the country over the past two weeks.

No such problems for the winners though who gave a performance that was a cut above their rivals and perhaps above the Second Section. Both qualifiers will be strong contenders come the finals we are sure.
 
David Tinker

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