2009 Norwegian National Championships - Third Division retrospective

11-Feb-2009

No lack of ambition in the Third Division - great from the winners Tromso, but not so realistic for some others...


You cannot fault ambition – even when it is fairly obvious that it far outstretches realism.

Tendencies

Once more the aspirational tendencies of the conductors and the bands here in the Third Division had to be applauded, but only to a point. Some needed their heads examined.

Speaking to adjudicator Jappie Dijkstra after the conclusion of the contest, you could understand why he tempered his delight at the vibrancy and enthusiasm of the competing bands with a realistic appraisal of what he actually heard.

No problems

No problems at all with the winners and the bands that filled the podium places – but after that?

Both he and fellow judge, Karl Ole Midtbo must have had a field day watching and listening to bands as they took to the stage with pieces that just a few years ago would have tested the very best here to the full.

Decent account

The winners, Tromso Brass delivered a decent account of Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen’s interesting ‘Myte’ that gave them plenty of scope to show off their fine bass led sound, secure ensemble and proficient soloists.

Conductor Tor Kristian Innbor also played a sensible hand too, allowing plenty of scope to show off strengths and minimise weaknesses. The piece suited the band admirably and the three point winning margin was well deserved.

Drafted in

In second place came Frei Hornmusikk conducted by Kim Lofthouse, who later told us that he had been drafted in just a couple of weeks ago to conduct the band. He wasn’t even going to come to the contest this year as he wasn’t taking part in any way, but he was so pleased he had now!

Their performance of ‘Song of the Eternal’ was well constructed, and although not perfect by any means had a true feel for the subject matter and was musically shaped by the MD and his players.

In third place came Folleso Musikklag conducted by the excellent Reid Gilje with an exciting performance of ‘Purcell Variations’, that may have been a touch too uneven in execution just to have come any higher. It was a good one though.

Better ambition

After these three and the ambition got the better of too many of the contenders.

Fraena, Fjell and Manger just about delivered as they would have hoped on the trio of ‘The Present Age’, ‘Blazon’ and ‘Triumphant Rhapsody’ – although the latter wasn’t quite in a manner Gilbert Vinter would have recognised, but all three were edge of your seat stuff.

Just beyond

As for the likes of Bergen, Borge and Lindas, with ‘The Forest of Dean’, ‘Variations on Maccabeus’ and ‘Tallis Variations’, there were more plus points than minus ones – but only just. These were pieces that stretched the bands just beyond their capabilities at present and it showed in scrappy, if enjoyable renditions.

Least said

Below this and perhaps the least said the better.

Hasle and Torskangerpoll lacked ‘Sparke’so to speak in playing ‘Kaleidoscope’ and ‘Music for a Festival’, whilst Hordvik and Kjolsdalen also struggled on their choices of ‘Toccata Festivo’ and ‘Rhapsody in Brass’.

Grenland and Gjovik could have no cause for complaint in coming 14th and 15th on the day after two performances of ‘Diversions’ and ‘The Essence of Time’ that were interesting to say the least – the latter especially. 

Amazing ambition

Once again the ambition shown here was amazing, the execution perhaps a little startling too – although not always for the right reasons.

There is so much to admire about the resoluteness and certainty of purpose of the Norwegians, but if the overall standard of banding is to continue to improve at this level, some realism must play a part too. 

It did with Tromso, Frei and Folleso and as a result they enjoyed taking home the major prizes.

Iwan Fox

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