2009 Norwegian National Championships - First Section retrospective

11-Feb-2009

Tertnes have had more promotions recently than a local branch of MFI, but they won't worry about that after they recorded a stylish win.


On the face of it the First Division in Bergen has much in common with the First Section in the UK – on the face of it that is.

However, whereas in Britain, promotion to the Championship Section can mean extended survival through mediocrity, here in Norway it means almost certain contesting death.

Considerable style

Tertnes won the First Division in some considerable style, but the step up in class to the Elite level is now so pronounced that you feel they could find themselves back here quite quickly.

That would be a pity, as under Gary Peterson, the former Eikanger player and current professional trumpet player with the Bergen Symphony Orchestra, they were fine value for their victory - and they are a young band with bags of potential.

Better band

They are also certainly a better band than the one that was relegated last year, although being promoted for the fourth time in a decade (and relegated three times in the same period) they must know that they will have to up their game considerably if they are not to make yet another sharp return. 

The problem will be one of stamina.

Here they delivered a fine performance of Edward Gregson’s ‘Dances & Arias’ that was full of vibrant colours, excellent technique and cultured musicality – yet by the end of it they look well and truly knackered.

All to the cause

The band had given it all for the cause and had been rewarded with a performance that in comparison would have held it’s own in the lower reaches of the Elite Section. However, you wondered if they could have done it again within 24 hours.

In the equivalent circumstances British bands would celebrate safe in the knowledge that they could get away without having to improve too much in the Championship Section – possibly for years.

Tertnes can’t – and we suspect, won’t. They sounded a band on a bit of a musical mission.

Appreciated

The quality of their playing was appreciated in the box (or open ended three sided tent to be more precise) where Cathrine Winnes Trevino and Karl Ole Midtbo certainly enjoyed what they heard.

Cathrine told 4BR (in an interview you can hear on the news section of the site) that it was the quality of the basics that so impressed as well as the quality of the man in the middle to bring it all together. She wasn’t wrong. Tertnes were very worthy and deserved winners.

Close behind

Close behind came the two bands that filled the podium positions – Sola Brass Band conducted by Selmer Simonsen and Askoy Brass Band directed by Egil Magnussen.

Sola pushed the eventual winners all the way to the finishing line with a performance of ‘Music of the Spheres’ that was exciting, colourful, dramatic – and very well camouflaged.

Scratch under the cleverly polished ensemble veneer and not everything was as it should, but the band did have a team of soloists who were on excellent form – especially the soprano and horn. 

Selmer Simonsen had certainly ensured that there was precision to the main ensemble work too, so that the polish caught the ear at just the right time - it was a super bit of resourceful conducting.  

Restaurant request

So too Askoy in third with a rendition of ‘English Heritage’ that contained many of the same traits as Sola.

4BR had met a lovely bunch of players from the band at a restaurant the previous night, and were told in a very friendly manner that we should be in the hall in listen to the band.

We kept our side of the promise and were rewarded with a competent performance of a difficult test piece, highlighted by excellent work from the principal cornet in particular on the demanding solo interventions.

Two other performances

Two other performances stood out in the 12 band field, and both were rewarded with top six finishes from the judges.

Jolster’s performance of ‘Ballet for Band’ was a light-hearted treat – full of delicacy and balletic moments from the clumping bass end to the filigree soprano. It just didn’t have the same quality in the extended lyrical section, but it was a pretty good effort of a brave choice.

So too Tomra under Frans Violet, who just about bit off as much that they could chew with Downie’s ‘Concertino’ - especially in the hideously difficult first section of the piece which just had too many errors. It was a good effort though – and one that didn’t lack for ambition. 

Drop in standard

Behind these bands the standard did drop away somewhat, although you couldn’t help but admire that sense of adventure in all of the performances, and some pretty crafty choices from the MD’s.

Sorum eventually came 6th with a uneven performance of ‘…Dove Descending’, that in retrospect was just a touch above their ensemble capabilities, whilst Kopervik came 7th, helped in no small part by Simon Dobson from Cornwall on tremendous baton form, who just about got to grips with ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’.

Best bits

He provided one of the best bits of conductorship of the entire weekend – a little vignette of composed direction (at one point he stopped conducting in the cadenza section to allow his players that extra touch of freedom to express themselves). Watch out for this lad back home (mind you, you can’t really miss him!)

Tom Brevik showed that class never diminishes with age in leading Laksevag into joint 7th place with a cultured, if error strewn ‘Tallis Variations’, whilst Martin Winter deserved a medal in racing from the birth of his son in Bergen General to conduct Tertnes Amatorkorps to 9th on ‘Pageantry’.

Alex Mortimer

Behind them came Orskog and John Hudson, who can count themselves a touch unlucky not to have come a little higher with an authentic rendition of ‘Spectrum’ (John joked later that he took inspiration from the great Alex Mortimer – although we added that he should have been conducting from a wheelchair of that was the case!)

That left Oster Brass under Torstein Aagaard- Nilsen with ‘The Essence of Time’, which perhaps lacked the ‘essence’ of a great performance, and Radoy Brass with Tormod Falten, who found ‘Dances and Alleluias’ a mixture not quite to their liking.

Look forward

Not so Tertnes though and they will now look forward to appearing in the Elite Division next year. They know they have to work to survive there, but on this evidence, if they can added a touch of stamina to their obvious qualities they are more than capable of doing just that.

Iwan Fox

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