CD cover - The Regionals 2002The Regionals 2002

10-Oct-2001

Buy As You View Cory, Brighouse and Rastrick, Fodens Courtois and CWS (Glasgow)
Conductors: Robert Childs, David Hirst, Nicholas Childs and Gavin Lindsay.
Doyen Recordings – CD128
Total playing time 67.35

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Featuring:
Suite in Bb for Brass Band Gordon Jacob
St. Austell Suite Kenneth Downie
Symphony for Brass Band Victor Ewald
Royal Parks George Lloyd
Whitsun Wakes Michael Ball.

Just when you thought it was safe to go out and lead some sort of normal life away from banding, the list of pieces for the 2002 Regionals have been announced and released on CD. Banding is getting like Sky football never bloody ending.

The good news however is that following the success of the British Brass Band Federation's choices for the National Finals at both Preston and the Albert Hall (although the jury is still very much on that one until we actually get to hear it in the flesh) they have come up with another five selections that should prove both interesting and enjoyable to the bands and the paying public (if we ever get any of them in off the streets).

Doyen continues with their annual release well in advance of the contests and this makes not only sound financial sense for them, (as the shelf life for these types of releases must be short) but also gives any aspiring musical directors - especially in sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 - the chance to hear the pieces given top class performances from four high class bands.

First up are CWS (Glasgow) who perform "Suite in Bb Flat" by Gordon Jacob in a very professional manner. Not many 4th Section bands will be able to make the piece sound quite like they do, but Gavin Lindsay chooses sensible tempos and keeps the dynamics down so that all the detail is heard and the interpretation has direct relevance to the abilities of the bands it's intended for.

It's a straight forward bit of work, written in 1956 with three movements entitled, March, Solemn Music and Finale and was used at the National Finals in the Fourth Section in 1957. The first section is jaunty and lighthearted, the second is subdued and tranquil, whilst the third is a symphonic march which gives the bands plenty of chance to blow their socks off. All good stuff with the second movement sounding like the theme from the Superman movie at it's start bands should enjoy it, but conductors will have to refrain from wearing their underpants outside their trousers on stage.

Brighouse and Rastrick under David Hirst get to perform Kenneth Downie's very compact "St. Austell Suite" for the Third Section. Three movements entitled, "A Jaunt around the Town", "Holy Trinity Churchyard" and "St. Austell Band" are musically self explanatory and cleverly realised, and Brighouse bring a sense of style and detail to the music that will be of great help to MD's. Nothing is overstated and again the tempos have been chosen with care not to alienate the intended performers.

The first movement is light and breezy and features some moments that sound like the music that used to introduce Dicky Davies and "World of Sport" on ITV many years ago. The memories of wrestling from Bromsgrove with Kendo Nagasaki came flooding back! The second movement is a beautifully realised and will take some good playing to come off, whilst the last is a "Bandology" type march that will need a good sense of style to compliment the technique required.

"Symphony for Brass Band " by the Russian composer Victor Ewald is the oldest work on show and was written around 1890, although the adaptation by Michael Hopkinson was done nearly 100 years later. It's a much more serious work in musical content and throughout there are tell tale signs of musical influences from the pens of Borodin, Mussorgsky and Rimsky- Korsakov.

Buy As You View Cory under Robert Childs give the work a seriously respectful airing, and it won't come as a surprise that it will be a fairly stiff test for Second Section Bands. The breadth of the scoring will mean nearly every player will be tested to the full and the scope of the dynamics will scupper those bands trying to blow their way to victory Cory can play with a huge sound with ease but Second Section bands will find it much more difficult. Cornet players will have to be on good form and even the humble tambourine player (excellently played on this outing) will been coming out in cold sweats. A hard piece indeed.

"Royal Parks" by George Lloyd is a piece that has been somewhat sadly neglected since it was commissioned for the 1985 European Championships, and its return to the contesting scene is as welcome as it is overdue.

CWS (Glasgow) again give a very detailed performance that is both sensible and sensitive in its execution, and subsequently each of the movements musical details are revealed. "Dawn Flight" is skittish and light, whilst "In Memoriam" is one of the banding movements finest. The third, "Holidays" is full of wit and character.

Although technically, not the most demanding of pieces, it will nevertheless cause great problems for the inexperienced or headstrong amongst the conducting fraternity in the First Section. Lloyd's works are always interesting and at times dark and oblique in musical content, so that it will need a great deal of intelligence from players and conductors alike for it to be overcome with success.

And so to the Premiership. Whitsun Wakes will be a severe test of skill and nerve come the Areas next year, but all bands will enjoy Michael Ball's composition that first saw the contesting light of day at the Open in 1997 following its commission by the BBC earlier in the same year.

All we have to say here is that it's hard, and Fodens Courtois give a pretty good account of it (although the keen eared listener will surely notice the bit of "cut and paste" in the flugel cadenza). The top bands will again do the business on it we feel, and that really is the aim of a good test piece to separate the best from the rest. For the time being though, most of the top competitors have their minds and lips set very much on this years finals and so their thoughts are not too stretched forward to March 2002 and another weekend of sweaty palms and twitchy backsides. Nice to know what you've got to look forward too though.

Doyen continue to do a worthy service with the Regionals CD and it deserves to be sold in quantity. We do however have to point out that the performances of BAYV Cory, Brighouse and Fodens are taken from other CD's and so this release is really a bit of a compilation. However, the insert notes are excellent from Dr Roy Newsome and the band recordings themselves are top quality, although we felt the "run- in" time between each movement and each test piece was a little short. The typographical error on the back sleeve was however well below the standard we expect.

Highly recommended though.

What's on this CD?

1-3

Suite in B Flat for Brass Band, Gordon Jacob

11.57

4-6

St. Austell Suite, Kenneth Downie

12.03

7-9

Symphony for Brass Band, Victor E. Ewald

12.13

10-12

Royal Parks, George Lloyd

14.16

13

Whitsun Wakes, Michael Ball

16.34

Total playing time

67.35

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