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2013 Swiss National Championship — As it happened

All the action from the 2013 Swiss National Championship — as it happened.

Sunday 24, 21:39:45

That's it from the 2013 Swiss Nationals - and what a superbly run event it has been with highlights that will live in the memory bank for a very long time.

We had just about everything and more today - from the great Hans Gansch's last performance with Pro Brass to the flying saucers of Nigel Clarke's 'When World's Collide' and some great new works - especially from the pens of Thomas Doss and Oliver Waespi.

These are two composers the Brits must get hold of as soon as possible - they are just so inventive and original in the way they write for the medium - and not forgetting Nigel Clarke too - that bloke is touched by genius.

That is then for tonight - time to try and scrap together enough loose change for a pint or two and then its time for bed and an early morning call to get the flight home.

Hope you've enjoyed the coverage. its a hard job, but someone has to do it....


Sunday 24, 20:55:10

Results:
Championship Section:
Adjudicators:

Set Work: Ian Bousfield, Alan Fernie, Mark Wilkinson
Own Choice: Michael Fowles, Russell Gray, Roger Webster

Set Work/Own Choice = Total

1. Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern (Michael Bach): 1st + 2nd = 3
2. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc): 3rd + 1st = 4
3. Brass Band Treize Etoiles (James Gourlay): 2nd + 3rd = 5
4. Brass Band Fribourg (Frederic Theodoloz): 4th + 4th = 8
5. Ensemble de Cuivres Valaisan (Francois Roh): 6th + 6th = 12
6. Brass Band Berner Oberland (Corsin Tuor): 5th + 9th = 14
7. Ensemble de Cuivres Melodia (Stephane Duboux): 9th + 5th = 14
8. Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien (Blaise Heritier): 8th + 7th = 15
9. mgrr Brass Band (Rino Chiappori): 7th + 11th = 18
10. Constellation Brass Band (Ivan Lagger): 10th + 8th = 18
11. Oberaargauer Brass Band (Armin Bachmann): 11th + 10th = 21

Best Soloist: Vincent Bearpark (Principal Cornet) - Valaisia Brass Band
Best Euphonium: Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern


Third Section:
Set Work: Toccata Festiva (Jan Van der Roost)
Adjudicators: Ian Bousfield, Alan Fernie, Mark Wilkinson

1. Brass Band Abinchova (Gian Walker) - 90.67
2. Jugend Brass Band Michelsamt (Lukas Scherrer) - 89.00
3. Brass Band Frutigen (Adrian Germann) - 88.00
4. Musik Frohsinn Oberburg (Jan Muller) - 86.00
5. Brass Band Gurbetal (Urs Stahli) - 85.67
6. Brass Band Zurich (Werner Kubli) - 85.00
7. Brass Band Imperial Lenzburg (Lorenz Stockli) - 82.67
8. Oberwalliser Brass Band Junior (David Lochmatter) - 82.33

Best Section: Percussion (Brass Band Abinchova)


Sunday 24, 19:36:08

Overall:

Own Choice:
Great day today and results soon so we have gone for Luzern from Valaisia, Fribourg, Treize Etoiles, Valaisien, Jurassien

Overall prediction:
Overall that means we have out our necks on the line with:

1. Luzern
2. Treize Etoiles
3. Fribourg
4. Valaisien
5. Valaisia
6. Berner Oberland


Sunday 24, 19:02:26

11. Oberaargauer Brass Band (Armin Bachmann)
From Ancient Times (Jan Van der Roost)

A good start promises much (the perc seems spot on), but it just loses focus for a little while after this - and takes time to find that pulsating drive allied to sharp and clean articulated ensemble. Its round about - but not quite.

MD keeps the music flowing and troms do well, but it's hanging in their by the scruff of its neck in places. Bravo young sop - a real pinger! Perc once again shines (superb xylo) but overall this has been a touch frantic.

Again, the MD keeps things flowing and the soloists reposed in kind - with some great playing on show from the cornets and sop again in particular. This has been so well delivered - and credit to the man in the middle who knows just what was required here.

The final Adolf Sax tribute section sounds a little strained in places, but there is still enough juice left in the tank to pull out all the stops in a final gallop for home. Great troms and sop to finish things off too! Bravo.

Overall:
What a well managed performance this was of a very difficult work. MD should take a great deal of the credit but the real plaudits go the players who did exactly what he asked from start to finish.

The warm applause from the audience told its own story - a real musical joy that.


Sunday 24, 18:34:03

10. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
Old Licks Bluesed Up (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)

Huge sounds open the Swiss take on Nordic blues, and crucially it is powerful but balanced.

Lots of great ensemble work on show even if a few of the little solo motifs area little less successful. The stall has been set out well and truly here though and there is a great deal that leads you right into the heart of the musical picture.

What a great sounding bass trombone - Barry White eat your heart out. This lad seems to have been gargling on Woodbine and gravel Red Bull chasers by the sounds of it. Sweet little Baby Moses - and he plays with that languid louche style that would be at home in a Raymond Chandler novel.

The second movement is long and involved, but the MD has kept it flowing and the players have kept it interesting with their finely judged playing. High class stuff this rounded by a wonderful deep throated tuba team.

The shorter final section is also delivered with some aplomb too - starting with the marimba to open. There is so much to admire about the way this has been out together and the final shock notes are thumped out like hammer blows.

Overall:
Another top class performance of an exceptionally difficult work to make come off.

Soloists were top class - with a special mention for a wonderful bass trombone, but it was the way the MD controlled this and pieced it together into a cohesive whole that was so impressive. This could well top the lot today.


Sunday 24, 18:09:13

9. Brass Band Fribourg (Frederic Theodoloz)
A Tale As Yet Untold (Philip Sparke)

A seriously committed Fribourg lay out their credentials from the word go with a powerful opening statement of intent that was full to the brim with high class playing.

Not everything is razor sharp clean but it is still cutting a swath of quality through the music - led by a wonderful soprano and a bass end that is producing a huge, but warm foundation on which everything is built.

The middle section is also played with elegant classiness too - shaped with such care by the MD. This is some of the finest musical playing we have heard all day, despite the minor little blips. All cadenzas have a touch of élan and we hear contrasts in the middle dynamic range too - not just very loud and very soft.

That said they do the very quiet playing very well - and that has been a rarity today and should hopefully be rewarded. This has been very nicely delivered.

The finale is a tour de force of virtuosity - but played with a sense of style, detail and dynamic contrast. Only at the very end does the MD unleash the full power and it is just the right place.

Overall:
What a very fine performance of a really difficult work. Laid out their intentions from the word go and the MD kept his band under control all the way to the close with his players responding in kind.

Just a few minor blemishes, but overall this was an outstanding performance ruled by the head and not the heart.

Right in the mix today at the very top.


Sunday 24, 17:41:58

8. Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien (Blaise Heritier)
When World's Collide (Nigel Clarke)

An eye popping opening as the smokes rises from the bass end and we take off - literally into the unknown.

The exotic effects add such a level exciting texture and a sense of expectation which is certainly enhanced by the bravura playing of the ensemble and soloists.

We have the flying saucers!!!

Three spacecraft take off into the hall - and the auditorium comes alive with a real buzz. It is pure musical theatre this but the band is not being overshadowed by it all and the euph and flugel all add touches of high class playing to the proceedings.

You can almost be transported back to the sci-fi heyday of American B movies here - with a great sense of musical time and place being created. Not everything comes off in the band, but they are giving it one heck of a go to repel the 'Beast with a 1000 Eyes' from the back of the car in the midnight drive in picture show in 1950s Clarkesville Ohio.

The final section almost blows the roof off - but it is played with such verve and excitement as earth (and Switzerland) remains safe from the threat of alien invasion once more.

Overall:
Great stuff - and such a bold, inventive and brave choice. It gets a standing ovation and the band and composer deserve it too.

Very different, very exciting, very theatrical and down right enjoyable. It most probably won't win, but it's been a musical highlight of the entire weekend. Bravo one and all.


Sunday 24, 17:13:58

7. Ensemble de Cuivres Valaisan (Francois Roh)
Concerto Grosso (Derek Bourgeois)

Blimey Charlie - this is pure adrenaline fuelled playing - and it very nearly comes off the rails before the band has really got into its tracks. Euph and tuba just try to force the issue to much - its right on the edge of being ripped to shreds this.

It is supposed to be aggressive but this is spiteful and nasty - and in need of a cool head or two. Just 5% less in volume and this would have been stunning instead of very nearly stunning the first ten rows as if they had been shot by a taser gun.

All of a sudden it clicks into place and we get playing of high class intent and musicality. It meanders and becomes a little more variable after this though, despite the great Cape Fear chords that lead to a sinuous, but pacy flugel.

Why the wild pace for the dislocated bonkersness of the devilish 'Tico, Tico' to follow - it loses all its brilliant weirdness. Again, the desire to blow this great piece into submission is costing a fine band dear. Huge sounds to follow, but its harsh - even though they have plenty in reserve to give it the full chocker to close.

Overall:
There was a potentially stunning performance hidden amongst the overblowing and adrenaline fuelled exploits here, but there didn't seem to be a cool head either in the band or at the helm at times.

It was a pity as on the occasions when it did click it was cracking stuff. The problem was it didn't click too often enough.


Sunday 24, 16:43:10

6. Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern (Michael Bach)
REM-Scapes (Thomas Doss)

A truly spooky opening sees the listener drawn into a William Blake sound world of bad dreams as the Moonlight Sonata drifts by on tuned percussion with bending trom gliss accompaniment.

All the usual Doss motifs (those little Spiriti arpeggios) and explorations are on display here - all crucially explored with substance and depth. It's very dramatic pulsating music, but we also get to hear the inner detail and rhythmic balances. There is a modern sensuality about this keeps you glued in attention.

You can almost feel the synapses cracking in the brain stem as the eyes flicker back and forth in deep sleep. This is crepuscular in mood and delivery - brilliantly so.

Huge blues licks follow as the power is injected with such drive, before it's back to dreams inspired by Stephen King and a final burst of death defying anger and passion and a thumping final few chords that would stop a charging rhino at 200 yards.

Brilliant, simply brilliant stuff.

Overall:
My giddy aunt - what a piece and what a fine performance from the band and the MD who delved into the darkest recesses of the mind to bring this thrillingly to life.

Doss is a truly unique and brilliant composer for brass and he has come up with an immense work here once more - played in equally immense fashion by the band too.

The title seems to be heading Luzern's way after this. You simply can't see them being beaten.


Sunday 24, 16:15:18

5. Brass Band Treize Etoiles (James Gourlay)
Haendal in the Band (Kenneth Downie)

No mistaking the Sarabande inspiration behind this one as the composer takes us on an exploration of the famous Levi's jeans advert music. It sounds a bit like a rhapsodic set of little cameo variations in different styles - each a bite sized chunk that pays homage to its original source material.

There is a great deal of high class technical playing on show here from all sections of the band, and the MD keeps the pulse of the music driving along. Its a curious one you have to say though as you wait in anticipation of what may yet come - and there are a few scratchy moments on display too.

Can't quite understand why, but it sounds all a little ephemeral this - lots of lovely little features in a multitude of styles, but nothing of great overwhelming substance. The technical playing is of a very class, but why then hasn't this quite made the impression on the senses that you felt it could. Even the ending sounded a little weird.

Overall:
Didn't get this one at all. Great playing at times from the band, but with so many little bite sized chunks of music it was hard to grasp onto anything lasting or meaningful on first hearing.

It seemed the inspiration was the first couple of bars of the Sarabande and that was it. It was a piece trying to cover every available musical angle but in the event not touching any of them with any lasting impression at all.

As we said - a fine performance of a very curious piece.


Sunday 24, 15:45:30

4. mgrr Brass Band (Rino Chiappori)
Vita Aeterna Variations (Alexander Comitas)

What a lovely change to hear an opening that does not try to burst the blood vessels in the back of your eyes - and instead is a model of refinement and elegance. Great efforts from the players to capture the style and from the MD who gives the music just the right time and space to be flexible without becoming lachrymose.

The 'Upstairs Downstairs' theme may be lost on the locals here, but not the sense of Edwardian restraint - which despite the obvious little flaws and errors that are heard, do not tarnish the musical varnish too much.

The central lament about the untimely death of a young friend is touchingly played too - again, despite the obvious minor error count. This is music that demands soft, cultured hands - and the MD certainly has those.

There is a neat sense of purpose about the final ride for home led by the soprano and horns, which builds in intensity but does not become harsh and overblown. Just gets a little tired in the final sections, but this has been a brave and welcome choice.

Overall:
A very enjoyable performance and interpretation this - on a piece that grows on you on each hearing. The band captured the elegance of the writing thanks to an MD who led with such musical intelligence. the error count was noticeable and will hurst, but this was still a bit of a musical delight.


Sunday 24, 15:17:07

3. Brass Band Berner Oberland (Corsin Tuor)
From Ancient Times (Jan Van der Roost)

Atmospheric opening but that nagging question mark hangs over the bells/glockenspiel combination - it was in the right area but you wouldn't say it was as accurate as a local Rolex watch.

Lots of drive and bold endeavour, but the real forensic detail is lost amid the welter of overpowering ensemble dynamic.

Troms are wonderfully rasping, and at last we get the chance to hear warmth and elegance from the middle of the band and lead tuba before its back to the George Chisholm on crystal meth tribute. It's very exciting, but the lack of detail is obvious.

Lots to admire with the main solo lines in the central interlude, but just more time and space would have made them ravishing - good efforts from one and all though before we head off to the final Adolf Sax tribute. Its heart on sleeve time as the MD wrenches out the passion and it seeps out of every pore of every player.

Just sounding tired to close, but what an effort to drain every last ounce from the music. They will be spent husks after this for certain. They give it their all and more for the last lunge for glory.

Overall:
Another full blooded and committed performance that left every player drained by its close.

Such passion, endeavour and commitment must be applauded, but less adrenaline may have given this performance an extra sheen of overall quality.


Sunday 24, 14:51:14

2. Ensemble de Cuivres Melodia (Stephane Duboux)
Symphony in Two Movements (Edward Gregson)

This is bold playing to open with darkly hued tonality giving the mature music real presence.

It could do with a bit more dynamic contrast (not for the first and not the last time we may have to say this today we think) as without it the subtle shades of colour and texture are lost in the miasma of volume. It's exciting stuff no doubt about it, but just 5% off the biggest dynamics and this would be so much more commanding.

We still hear the individual lines, but it cries out for restraint - the sheer beauty of the music is coated in a somewhat brassy veneer. The struggles of some individual lines trying to be heard is a little too obvious.

The band and MD sound at home when the music has pulse and vibrancy, but even here the writing demands more contrast.

You can't help admire the sense of passion, purpose and sheer enthusiasm that is on display here, but even in the final drive for home it needs more subtlety. Great old close though.

Overall:
An exciting performance without a doubt and one full of endeavour, boldness and vibrancy - but there was much more that could have been revealed in such a mature composition if a little less adrenaline had been employed. Not bad at all, but there was an even better performance hiding in there today.


Sunday 24, 14:34:44

1. Constellation Brass Band (Yvan Lagger)
Arabesque (Ludovic Neurohr)

A really interesting work to open with a first movement that is virtuosic to say the least - in that type of upbeat, free wheeling way in which many modern European test pieces are now written. It certainly makes an immediate impression on the senses - although its a bit difficult to work out where everything is leading or how its connecting together.

The solo horn is certainly earning his money in the more languid middle section both to open in startling fashion and then with a remarkable piece of virtuosity in his cadenza.

The flugel and then tuba are also asked to showcase their talents, but you can't help thinking how these stunning displays of technique fit into the melancholic scheme of things. Then again it closes with the ensemble giving it the full Monty.

A finale that is hard to describe at times - from the sound of a what seems a smashed pane of glass to a soprano trying to burst the ear drums of the audience and send the local canine population bonkers. All fizz, whizz and dynamics that are in Motörhead territory leads to a crushing climax.

Overall:
Hard to evaluate - but not hard to miss. This was a blockbuster that had the volume knob turned up to Spinal Tap proportions at times.

Full of colour, excitement and virtuosity, it certainly made an impact, but could have made even more if there had really been more dynamic contrast on display.


Sunday 24, 14:32:56

Championship Section:
Own Choice Draw:

Adjudicators: Michael Fowles, Russell Gray, Roger Webster

1. Constellation Brass Band (Yvan Lagger)
2. Ensemble de Cuivres Melodia (Stephane Duboux)
3. Brass Band Berner Oberland (Corsin Tuor)
4. mgrr Brass Band (Rino Chiappori)
5. Brass Band Treize Etoiles (James Gourlay)
6. Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern (Michael Bach)
7. Ensemble de Cuivres Valaisan (Francois Roh)
8. Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien (Blaise Heritier)
9. Brass Band Fribourg (Frederic Theodoloz)
10. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
11. Oberaargauer Brass Band (Armin Bachmann)


Sunday 24, 12:41:25

Just a quick recap on what we are to hear this afternoon in the Championship Section own choice discipline.

As well as the usual blockbusters of 'From Ancient Times' (twice), 'Symphony in Two Movements', 'Concerto Grosso' and 'A Tale as yet Untold', we also have the 2012 European set work, 'Vita Aeterna Variations', the contemporary 'Old Licks Bluesed Up' and weirdly wonderful, 'When World's Collide', which we have been informed by sources will be the full all bells and whistles version with rumours of actual flying saucers!

The new works are 'Arabesque' by Ludovic Neurohr, which we don't a great deal about at the moment, 'Haendel in the Band' by Kenneth Downie which we believe takes its inspiration from the famous 'Sarabande' (the one cleverly used in the Levi jeans commercials) and 'REM-Scapes' by Thomas Doss, which takes its inspiration not for the annoyingly cloying self important pop group, but by a dream sequence after someone falls into a deep sleep listening to Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata'.

It can happen to us all.

Plenty to look forward to there then......


Sunday 24, 12:15:32

The prelude to the own choice selections this afternoon is being provided by the bands in the Third Section performing 'Toccata Festiva' by Jan Van der Roost - a great sounding work that has just the odd element of the famous Shostakovich Scherzo from his 10th Symphony in there.

Another good work to be looked at for the UK if it can be brought more to the attention of the Music Panel. With Oliver Waespi's 'Traversada' these could be two pieces for Lower section National Finals consideration.


Sunday 24, 11:44:33

What a start to the second day of music making here in Montreux - and the final concert performance of the truly great Hans Gansch with the amazing Pro Brass.

This was playing of quite stunning virtuosity and musicianship - all without a conductor and in all different styles and genres.

Just spoken with the great man himself back stage and he simply said that 'I've played enough'.

He was presented with a model boat building kit from the players - and was close to tears in accepting it from them. He now has a passion for sailing and wants to build his own full size boat to enjoy his new hobby. The ensemble also surprised him with a performance of 'Send in the Clowns' - the first piece he ever played with the group.

It was a fantastic way for one of the world's great brass players to bow out - with his friends producing a fabulous concert performance for him.


Sunday 24, 11:36:07

Day 1 Results:

First Section:
Set Work: Isaiah 40 (Robert Redhead)
Adjudicators: Richard Evans, Hans Gansch, Thomas Wyss

1. Ensemble de Cuivres AMBITUS (François Roh) - 95.33
2. AEW Brass Band Fricktal (Roland Fröscher) - 95
3. Liberty Brass Band Ostschweiz (Andreas Koller) - 94
4. Brass Band Kirchenmusik Flühli (Armin Renggli) - 93
5. Brass Band Rickenbach (Corsin Tuor) - 92
6. Ensemble de Cuivres Euphonia (Michael Bach) - 91.66
7. Brass Band Treize Etoiles - B (Géo-Pierre Moren) - 89
8= Brass Band Eglisau (Andreas Buri) - 88
8= Oberwalliser Brass Band A-Band (David Lochmatter) - 88
10. Brass Band Sursilvana (Roman Caprez) - 87
11= Regional Brass Band Bern (Dani Haus) - 86
11= Brass Band Imperial Lenzburg A (Rafael Camartin) - 86
13. Brass Band Emmental (Heinz Heiniger) - 84.33
14. Brass Band Seetal (Pirmin Hodel) - 83.66
15. Brass Band Feldmusik Knutwil (Gian Stecher) - 82.66
16= Brass Band Harmonie Neuenkirch (Christoph Bangerter) - 82.33
16= Brass Band MG Reiden (Reto Näf) - 82.33

Best Solo Horn: Brass Band Rickenbach


Second Section:
Set Work: Traversada (Oliver Waespi)
Adjudicators: Michael Fowles, Russell Gray, Roger Webster

1. Liberty Brass Band Junior (Christoph Luchsinger) - 96.33
2. Brass Band Feldmusik Escholzmatt (Jonathan Kowszun) - 95
3. Brass Band 43 (Jacques Rossier) - 94.67
4. RosAlp Brass Band (David Bonvin) - 94.33
5. BML Talents (Patrick Ottiger) - 93
6. Brass Band Berner Oberland Junior (Jan Müller) - 91.67
7. Brass Band Harmonie Rickenbach (Lukas Scherrer) - 90.67
8. Brass Band Junior Valaisan (Maurice Donnet-Monay) - 89.33
9. 14 MG Lauduna Lalden (Tobias Salzgeber) - 89
10. Ensemble de Cuivres Mélodia Junior (Vincent Maurer) - 86.67
11. Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien B (Florian Lab) - 86.33
12. Brass Band Rapperswil-Wierezwil (Sascha Hinni) - 84.67
13. Brass Band Cazis (Enrico Calzaferri) - 84
14. Musikverein Brass Band Henggart (Christian Bachmann) - 83.67
15. Oberaargauer Brass Band B (Hans Burkhalter) - 81.67
16. Brass Band Rhodan (Romain Vergères) - 81.33
17. Brass Band Solothurn (Martin Bütikofer) - 80

Best Flugel Horn: MG Lauduna Lalden


Fourth Section:
Set Work: Olympus (Philip Harper)
Adjudicators: Ian Bousfield, Alan Fernie, Mark Wilkinson

1. Entlebucher Jugend Brass Band (Mario Schubiger) - 88.66
2. Elite de Cressier FR (Martin Künzi) - 87.33
3. Jugend Brass Band Neuenkirch (Christoph Bangerter) - 86.33

Best Soloist: Euphonium - Entlebucher Jugend Brass Band


Saturday 23, 22:19:55

Half way point prediction:

What an intriguing afternoon of music making here in Montreux - although in the end there were really only two performances that fully mastered Wilby's colourful and complex portrait of an essentially flawed, dishonourable, but loveable old rogue.

Even when he wasn't in one of Shakespeare's play his presence was felt (especially when his death is finally announced in passing) but that wasn't always the case here today.

At times he wasn't just missing he was totally AWOL as MDs simply failed to get any sort of handle on his character by trying to impress through technique and speed. The bloke was fat, half drunk and misogynistic - not built with a six pack, drinking fruit juices and being in touch with his feminine side.

Still, those who did give time and some to explore the warts and all made the music come to life and the two that did that best was Michael Bach and James Gourlay with a brace of outstanding performances in anyone's book.

It's between those for us today with the rest some way behind led by Fribourg, Valaisian, Berner Oberland, Melodia and Valaisia.

4BR Prediction:

1. Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern
2. Brass Band Treize Etoiles
3. Brass Band Fribourg
4. Ensemble de Cuivres Valaisan
5. Brass Band Berner Oberland
6. Ensemble,de Cuivres Melodia

Outside bet: Valaisia Brass Band


Saturday 23, 21:54:22

11. Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien (Blaise Heritier)

A powerful opening statement gives us Falstaff red in tooth and claw - and just a bit scratchy around the edges. The character is there for all to see - and that sense of bumptious boastfulness is heard throughout the opening sections with a fine trio of troms adding colour and style.

What is appealing here is the MDs approach to making the music come to life - not all the technical bits are precise and secure but Falstaff didn't exactly have a six pack and bulging pecs either. The euph solo doesn't work though - the helping hand is a bit too obvious and sounds strained, but what a wonderful Nanette - superb playing from the standing soloist. Real classy stuff - a woman of substance in more ways than one.

A well worked moonlight stroll leads to an atmospheric build up to the finale, with increasing twirls ending with a bold as brass trom clarion call. Tuba leads off with a great sense of style, and others follow. This is exciting fun packed stuff that finally gives way to the power laden close with just enough left in the tank to deliver a scruffy but exciting final few bars.

Overall:
A bold one and a colourful portrait of a complex buffer with a heart of gold and wandering hands. The MD really captured the character in all his glory, even if it was at times a bit too scruffy and a little imprecise. Much to enjoy though .

Nigel Clarke's opinion:
Nice crisp start full of Shakespearian character with musical contrast that flowed neatly and a good trom feature adding to the constant drama. Nicely paced cadenza with much movement added to the story telling and a magical middle section punctuated with a superb cornet solo that was operatic and true.

The final section brought lots of pace and musical word painting. A dramatic and cohesive performance that was full of musical conviction.


Saturday 23, 21:31:21

10. mgrr Brass Band (Rino Chiappori)

A slightly troubled opening fails to settle itself in character or precision and as a result we find ourselves wondering what kind of Falstaff will emerge. Its a bit of a scruffy old rooster - plenty of puff out chest and swanky walk, but a few too many feathers missing in the plumage.

Troms just about get way with things as do the cornets and there is one heck of a fine effort from the euph - a classy bit of work that is up there with the best today. Just the tiny little bit of discomfort, but at least he went for the dynamics contrasts that not many have attempted.

MD certainly knows his musical onions on this one - with a tasteful operatic feel to the music. The band struggles to overcome all the technical issues but Nanette is a tasteful bit of fancy - with a voice of enchanting lyrical beauty. Once again a brave soloist putting their neck on the line.

More mixed messages as the moon rises - with a neat hint of the fun and games to follow. The twists and turns are particularly well done - catching the old bluffer out good and proper all the way to the blazing trom.

tuba leads away the emery dance with a lightweight giggly style that soon builds in intensity and purpose. This is a classy playing, even if there is quite a bit of bluff that Falstaff himself would be round of going in. Just enough in the tank to make it to the end too with a thump.

Overall:
A brave effort made the more impressive by an MD who knew the musical score so well and knew what his players could and couldn't do. Much to enjoy even if the fragilities were a bit too obvious.

Nigel Clarke's opinion:
I was impressed by the way in which the MD tried to bring the character out if the music after what was a difficult start.

There were occasions when not everything came off, but the conductor still tried to bring the music out of the score. It was obvious there were some difficulties and not all the detail was shown, but that approach made this an interesting and engaging performance from start to finish.


Saturday 23, 21:10:53

9. Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern (Michael Bach)

What a wonderful transparent opening statement - as if Falstaff has said 'come and 'ave it if you're hard enough'. So much space and detail, with superb troms a trio of mischief and mayhem. More superb stuff follows - this is the old codger giving it heavy.

Drama, pathos and boastfulness in equal measures - as well as a sense of grandeur too. Euph is an artist - you can almost sense Falstaff in his element here - showing that he still has what it takes to live up to his boasts. He does - by heck he does and the accompaniment does him proud too.

MD is revelling in this music making - so operatic yet elegant and not over the top.

Nanette is sensuous - sex on legs but almost unattainable as she leads the fruity old dinosaur into the moonlight with some perfect little pick up lines to each phrase. Real atmosphere created too with the hunting horns ready to pounce. They do, and get the anti hero in a real twist - round and round again. So well managed and created this all the way to the clarion call from the trombone.

Real quality about this now - witty and elegant to start then belly full of power and drive as we head to the close. What a superb section of top class ensemble playing - stamped out to close with such authority in the final bar.

Overall:
A magnificent performance of a magnificent reading by the MD - chock full of character and insight that never once started into artifice territory. Such lucid though processes on show from players and conductor alike, that delivered a performance of the very highest class as a result.

Nigel Clarke's opinion:
Great start full of wonderful light and contrasting playing. This is a believable Falstaff full of humour and mischief. Wonderfully clean and dynamic cornet playing in the fanfare though a little intonation does arise soon after.

'Midnight Strikes' with some world class playing and interpretation. 'Enter Nanette' to a sublime atmosphere full of emotion. 'All the Worlds a joke' was for me a little serious in approach though the performance was rounded off with a spectacular end.

This performance is right up there tonight - right up there.


Saturday 23, 20:50:39

8. Ensemble de Cuivres Melodia (Stephane Duboux)

Plenty of dark, rich colouring to the opening brings out the character in the music - especially as it's played at a tempo that doesn't over fizz with misplaced enthusiasm.

Troms in particular are a delight - rasping like the lungs on a Woodbine smoker and tubas once more shine. Cornets are a little scrappy, but the euph cadenza is a thing of cultured pomp (even with trom trying to put him off by dropping their mute!) with just the slightest hint of discomfort. Some effort though.

MD has got the measure of this - allowing an operatic feel to be revealed in the music with tasteful pulls and longeurs. Just the odd little clip and blip and the one question mark over the lack of pace in build up to cornet cadenza, but this has been an engaging bit of char rarer driven music making. The moon takes it time rise too, but the atmosphere is palpable.

The ride for home is darkly hued again - not quit everyone having a giggle at Falstaff's expense but present enough. Just needs to let itself go a bit to really work - a bit too Swiss accountant like, and the final section sounds tired, despite the longest of long last three notes.

Overall:
A bit of a mixed bag, but one that the plus points outweighed the minus one. Lots to enjoy with the tubas in particularly fine form throughout to give this portrait a dark and at times menacing feel. Just in need of a little lightened of touch in places.

Nigel Clarke's opinion:
I heard material that had not revealed itself in the other performances today with Falstaff's character coming though in the opening stages.

A little rushed at times and certainly a 'in your face' performance. Very much enjoyed the dramatic troms in their trio section. In particular I enjoyed the MDs approach to the euphonium cadenza with the constant tempo of the church bell striking midnight.

I did feel more music could have been made after this giving this more magic. Not convinced by the approach to the finale and don't think this is right up there today.


Saturday 23, 20:29:20

7. Oberaargauer Brass Band (Armin Bachmann)

Bachmann turner overdrive - but not foot to the metal as we get all the character from a well paced opening. It's not without its flaws - but then again, no one said the old rascal was a saint. There are a few chips around the edges that do detract though.

Fine trom trio and the euph is a giving it a bit of well delivered welly - great bravura playing. Bravo me old son - one to be proud of. A very musical interlude follows - with MD not afraid to linger long on the odd phrase ending like a fruit bat dangling off a vine. There are risks being taken here - not all coming off, but hats off for having the balls of an Innsbruck ski jumper.

Gets a bit messy, but the character is coming through - boldly too. Its list focus and drive now and is starting to just get a bit indulgent - the come up pence is starting to get overdue.

Tuba leads the way, but it needs more witty badinage and pulse - its a but predictable, but solid and delivered with a thump or two - although a few miss their target to close with a slightly bizarre last bar.

Overall:
A performance that took a few too many risks in places and as result lost focus and pulse. There were times when it all came together, but by its close it had just got too ragged and harsh to retain its initial sense of character.

Nigel Clarke's opinion:
Though full of energy, some of the detail got lost in the balance in the opening stages. I felt a little of the magic was lost in the middle section even though it was well played.

Cornet solo was evocative and thoughtful and plenty of pace in the final section with impressive percussion playing, though a loss of energy towards the close led to some of the opening balance problems being revealed again.


Saturday 23, 20:12:49

6. Brass Band Berner Oberland (Corsin Tuor)

A very deliberate opening seems to capture the character that so many have missed out on so far today. Its a touch pedantic in places but admirably clean and defined. Not everything comes off - and ringing gong is a pain in the backside, but there is plenty of good quality playing in evidence - from three perky troms to tasteful tubas.

This is intelligent direction and is replicated by the exceptional euph - who really does play with style and dynamic contrast. A bit of an operatic diva this, but all the better for it, as it's all in its place. More solid playing follows with a languid Nanette leading the hero into the moonlit night (though sadly accompanied by a madman on the gong!).

The build to the finale is so well handled - played at increasing twirling fancy and with just the right touch of the absurd from the tubas. A ripper Warney! Tuba gets the dancing shoes on too - even if it just takes its time to get up to belly laugh speed.

MD finally let's go of the leash and the final section played so convincingly - just a tad early with the last pull back, but what a fine finish.

Overall:
A solid no nonsense one this - that set out its stall and stayed the course. Some great individual efforts too and the MD just let loose the leash to give it a final flourish to end. Lots to commend here. A lots indeed.

Nigel Clarke's opinion:
The character of the operatic Falstaff is instantly revealed in he his performance. enjoyed the trom trio followed by some nice cornet section work. classy euph cadenza, striking the right atmosphere for this section - rightly musical and operatic in approach throughout.

An engaging and intelligent rendition of he his works revealing so much.


Saturday 23, 19:50:03

5. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)

What is it with the Swiss and a need to go so fast to open? Just a gnat's hair off the speed and all the character of the old bluffer would be revealed. Instead its frantic - although well played it must be said.

More top class playing from the trio of hapless trom friends and the sizzling cornet section fanfare that leads into an euphonium cadenza that is bravura playing of ballsy endeavour. Why the MD has to conduct the last part of this though is a bleeding mystery. The following section loses its flow and focus too - as if Nanette has gone for wayward stroll in the park.

The moon rises with hunting horns on form, but bass drum obliterates the atmosphere. Where's the sense of mystery in that?

It builds towards the thrill a minute end with a bit of forced wit, but this has been blunt, harsh and lacking in character. Its Falstaff as a Grand Theft Auto figure. The close lacks drama and accuracy too.

Overall:
Disappointing this - never sounding at ease with itself or the subject matter. At no real point did we get to feel that there was any character about this performance.

Nigel Clarke's opinion:
A slightly slower approach to the opening but reveals much.....

The Falstaff character mostly came though in the opening section. Stylish euphonium cadenza but seemed to be conducted throughout - somewhat surprised me this!

Nice feminine approach to the Nanette cadenza. Towards the end the band felt lacking in energy. Perhaps the previous band made this a difficult task.


Saturday 23, 19:29:27

4. Brass Band Treize Etoiles (James Gourlay)

Now then - this is more like it: A big fat old bruiser showboating his way through life - Falstaff isn't bad either, but it's the MD who has captured the anti-hero character to a tee here!!!

This has real style as well as purpose - and we get to hear the detail and sense of bombast balanced perfectly. Some lovely touches herald the standing Falstaff euph who delivers an old belter of a cadenza - as if the he is telling tales of daring do to gullible fellow drinkers. Bravo matey - bravo indeed.

A shapely Nanette is tempting bait for the the lecherous fool and he is drawn into the rising moonlight games like a trout being tickled by a canny angler. Gong is of the Rank film type and a bit out of place, but the sense of twist and twirl is superb - building intensity and speed to rabble rousing trom.

Dainty tuba starts the fun and games and now we motor all the way to a rollicking close. My word this is classy, cultured and witty - Falstaff by PG Woodhouse. Great sounds and what a stonker of a finish. Crowd go billy bonkers.

Overall:
A reading and a performance that was super full fat Falstaff from start to finish. wonderful character to the music and such style and panache when required. top class playing and a top class reading.

Nigel Clarke's opinion:
A stunning opening - full of music and experience. Perhaps more balance needed in trombone at times, but mesmerising colours followed a wonderful euphonium cadenza. Cornet playing was also exquisite. The unleashing of the finale was impressive.

A performance full of flair and magic and an interpretation dripping with class and depth. If that had been my piece as would have been thrilled by that performance.


Saturday 23, 19:10:25

3. Ensemble de Cuivres Valaisan (Francois Roh)

Another fleet footed Falstaff to open - but one that lacks defined character. The technique is scratchy too, so what we get is a warts and all pen portrait of a man who was all front and bluster. Where is that sense of louche rascal bon homie?

The troms are a touch too hapless and this is taking time to really gel. Euph stands to the side of the band to deliver a fine effort on the cadenza - just the one lip gliss spoils things a touch, but now the MD has taken the foot off the accelerator it sounds so musical and with a lovely lilt to things.

A fine Nanette is accompanied by a bold sop before the moon rises with mystery (some odd chord sounds though). The twists and turns are played out with a sense of fun all the way to the bold as brass trom in Frank Berry mode!

Its lightweight and witty as the ensembles chuckles rather than belly laughs but there is real gusto to the final section - delivered with some aplomb to a thumping close.

Overall:
Again - a portrait that took its time to find the right bombastic character, but when it did it came alive. A bit if a puzzle this one - at times great and at times very non description. The original Swiss curate's egg?

Nigel Clarke's opinion:
A slightly understated reading of the opening, giving us a different approach to the piece this evening. Nice solo horn before '...enter Falstaff', musical euph in cadenza. Clever approach to the middle section that mostly came off. Perhaps a little less convincing in the closing stages.


Saturday 23, 18:49:55

2. Brass Band Fribourg (Frederic Theodoloz)

Another band that opted for a speedy Falstaff opening - making him sound frantic in character not pompous. Technically impressive but musically there is a question mark although the three troms produce a wonderful bit of trio work as Falstaff's hapless colleagues.

More top quality technique is displayed but this yearns for more time and space. A bravura euph is a case in point - it's played very well, but not performed with the sense of boastful élan. It all lacks a sense character, even with warm toned Nanette making a lyrical appearance.

The moon rises atmospherically if a little unbalanced but the music gains a great momentum as the hero is turned and twisted around by the teasing ladies.

Now we get some superb playing - full of forensic detail and power all the way to the rasping trom and rotund tuba leading the laughs. It's taken its time but we now see Falstaff in his glory. The final ride for home is delivered at scorching pace and quite a lot of flannel it must be said. It's very exciting though and the crowd go bananas.

Overall:
An interesting one this - a character portrait that took its time to really draw out the essence of the old fool. When it though there was some stunning playing on show and an ending that was played on the edge - right on it in fact.

Nigel Clarke's opinion:
Great start - lots of contrasts with excellent sense of ensemble. The small feeling of rushing now and again. The 'he hides' section is musical and full of image, contrast and colour. A little confused musically before 'turn him, turn him' and exciting ending. a stylish performance throughout but will this be enough.


Saturday 23, 18:19:44

1. Constellation Brass Band (Yvan Lagger)

Its a bold and quick witted start but the finest of detail that is the hallmark of the work is lost somewhat.

The trom trio get in a bit of a tangle but are bailed out by a wonderfully fruity bass trom to close. Falstaff seems to be in a bit of a hurry at times and the music just lacks that sense of verbose pomposity. The euph does well in the fearsome cadenza to start, but it is dynamically very safe and the secondary help in the terrifying leaps to close is very noticeable and does not get quieter either.

The moon rising is so well handled though and the solo cornet is a delicate Nanette. There is some fine playing on show from the sop and it flows well up to the solo trom declaratory statement which is blasted out.

The final ride for home takes us on a rousing free for all journey and there is just enough left in the tank for a final flurry to close with a bang.

Overall:
Not a bad marker - but one that didn't quite capture the charter of the old rascal at times - it was all a little too forced. Not bad though and it got a fine reception from the locals.

Nigel Clarke's opinion:
A little more thought about balance but the spirit of the piece remains good.
Evocative atmosphere in the middle section with nicely played cornet solo. Some very magical colours.
Perhaps should be coming towards the end, '...all the world's a joke'.
Overall a committed performance perhaps needing a little more energy.


Saturday 23, 18:19:24

The hall has started fill up and there is a real hum of different languages to be heard!

There is support in French, German, Italian and Romanche as well as English, a touch of Scottish in the box and even a little bit of Welsh.

4BR is joined by composer Nigel Clarke to give our live comments on the performances as they unfold.

It should be interesting!


Saturday 23, 18:14:15

Championship Section:
Draw:

Adjudicators: Ian Bousfield, Mark Wilkinson, Alan Fernie

1. Constellation Brass Band (Yvan Lagger)
2. Brass Band Fribourg (Frederic Theodoloz)
3. Ensemble de Cuivres Valaisan (Francois Roh)
4. Brass Band Treize Etoiles (James Gourlay)
5. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc)
6. Brass Band Berner Oberland (Corsin Tuor)
7. Oberaargauer Brass Band (Armin Bachmann)
8. Ensemble de Cuivres Melodia (Stephane Duboux)
9. Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern (Michael Bach)
10. mgrr Brass Band (Rino Chiappori)
11. Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien (Blaise Heritier)


Saturday 23, 16:37:22

The last band in the First Section takes to the stage - in a contest that has yet to really produce a performance that could be described as memorable.

Plenty of decent efforts but 'Isaiah 40' has been just outside the comfort zone for all the contenders today - with noticeable fragility in the secondary parts (the cornet fanfares have been more hit and miss than the English cricket team in Brisbane), whilst the solo lines have been peculiarly soulless.

The performances in the Fourth and Second have been pretty good but it looks like it's not just the UK that has problems wondering just where the First Section fits into the great scheme of things.


Saturday 23, 16:01:23

first though they have to get over the immense challenge of 'Masquerade' - Wilby's tribute to Verdi's last opera, 'Falstaff'.

At one time it was though almost unplayable, and although it has lost a few of its sharpest incisors over the years it can still bite chunks out of any band's underprepared backside like a great white shark on a feeding frenzy. It is still one heck of a test for euphonium players.....

'All the World's a joke.... Every mortal laughs at the others, But he laughs best who has the final laugh!

One band will be certainly doing that, although the others may suffer from what Bertold Brecht once said - 'He who laughs last hasn't heard the bad news yet.....'

We will wait and see.....


Saturday 23, 15:37:25

Some interesting choices in the top section for tomorrow's own choice discipline.

As well as the usual blockbusters of 'From Ancient Times', 'Symphony in Two Movements', 'Concerto Grosso' and 'A Tale as yet Untold', we also have the 2012 European set work, 'Vita Aeterna Variations', the contemporary 'Old Licks Bluesed Up' and weirdly wonderful, 'When World's Collide' to add to the news works, 'Arabesque' by Ludovic Neurohr, 'Haendel in the Band' by Kenneth Downie and 'REM-Scapes' by Thomas Doss.

Plenty to look forward to there then......


Saturday 23, 15:23:55

One of the joys of coming here is hearing the new music that is commissioned in the lower sections - and this year there is a wonderful work by Oliver Waespi - the man who brought us 'Audivi Media Nocte' at the Europeans a few years back.

'Traversada' is being used in the Second Section and is about 11 minutes long. Based on a traditional Romanche folk song it is explored in his unique way - with hints albeit at a slower speed of the immense technical runs in 'Audivi'. It uses four standing soloists at times throughout and has the great surges of bass led power. It would be a cracker for the Second Section in the UK.


Saturday 23, 13:33:20

Reaching the halfway point here in the First Section and the bands have given the Robert Redhead set work a fair crack without ever quite suggesting any of them have quite managed to overcome its musical or technical hurdles.

The infamous back row led cornet fanfares have been a minefield - with more splashes than a Jackson Pollock painting. Its a big old hall to fill here, but the quiet dynamic playing has been noticeably fragile. The big finish has been well handled and so have most of the solo lines, even if they are played with a surprising lack of intuitive lyricism.

By all accounts Isaiah urged his followers to repent all their sins to follow a life of penitence - and it sounds that the illicit pleasures are not about to be quite chucked in the bin just yet...


Saturday 23, 12:44:05

In the hall listening to the bands in the First Section tackling the deceptively difficult 'Isaiah 40'.

What you do get to hear is plenty of warm sounding ensembles and technically secure soloists, but there is a distinct lack of robustness about the sound - especially with the soloists themselves. The phrasing seems a little artificial - not really heartfelt.

That said, they are making a damn good stab at the piece.


Saturday 23, 11:31:03

The contest day is underway here in Montreux.

The fog has started to lift off Lake Geneva and the water is glistening with little silver flecks. Its a wonderful place to hold a brass band contest.

Some things don't change though, with early draws and bandsmen and women in their uniforms heading for the bar.....

The standard in the Fourth Section was pretty good on Philip Harper's 'Olympus' but it is going to very interesting to hear how the First Section bands cope with 'Isaiah 40' . Some may need a bit of help from above you suspect....


Friday 22, 16:06:04

The 4BR Editor has finally made it to Montreux for the Swiss National Brass Band Championships.

On what is a busy weekend of major contesting throughout Europe you can't really imagine a better venue to spend your time listening to some great brass band music.

We will be covering the main Championship Section live over the next two days, with coverage of the other events too.

Its a hard life, but someone has to do it.....


Friday 22, 12:56:46

We're flying Easyjet to Geneva. Wish us luck.




Foden's Band - Matt Ford - Lichfield Cathedral

Friday 24 November • 19A The Close, Lichfield WS13 7LD


Lofthouse Brass Band - Pudsey Churches Together Christmas Concert

Saturday 25 November • Pudsey Parish Church, Church Lane, Pudsey, LS28 7BD LS28 7BD


Lofthouse Brass Band - Lofthouse Christmas Fair

Saturday 25 November • Lofthouse Methodist Church, Leeds Road, Lofthouse, Wakefield WF3 3NE


Enfield Citadel Band -

Saturday 25 November • The Salvation Army. 42 Clarence Road. Southend. SS1 1AN SS1 1AN


Newstead Brass -

Saturday 25 November • John Godber Centre. Ogle Street. Hucknall. Nottingham NG15 7FQ


Olney Brass

November 23 • 2nd Trombones, look no further. We are looking for a 2nd trombone to join our band. We are an ambitious 3rd section band with a new MD, winning the ODBBA winter contest 2017. Any other instruments, we would be interested to talk, please get in touch.


The Corsham Band

November 23 • With promotion to the 2nd Section from January 2018 the band are now looking to fill a couple of vacancies. One back row cornet (2nd or 3rd) plus an EEb Bass.


Thoresby Colliery Band

November 22 • Sadly due to work commitments we are looking for an experienced Percussionist to join our friendly and progressive Band. The Band has experienced a recent run of good form and is currently enjoying a sensible mix of contests, concerts and recordings.


Paul Andrews


Conductor, Band trainer, Adjudicator, Instrument Repairer - Brasstoff