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CD Review: Orb and Sceptre

Rothwell Temperance Band
Conductor: David Roberts
Featuring: Vikki Holland, Catherine Roberts, Andy Padgett, Jon Hammond, Nick Walker, Dan Morgan
Westbank AMC Recordings: CD WAMC0020171

Orb and Sceptre

Rothwell Temperance has never quite been regarded as brass band royalty, despite a record of achievement in the past decade or more under the baton of David Roberts that would put the vast majority of titled rivals to shame.

Theirs is a heritage based on the hard graft of banding realism not the fanciful notions of entitlement and privilege.

The honours - Grand Shield, All England Masters, Yorkshire Area, Senior Cup, Swiss Open and Pontins since the turn of the millennium alone, reinforce the point. 

Striking example

This release a striking example then of what they do and do very well: No frills or fancies despite the bling on display on the cover; just high-quality playing underpinned by the virtues of good preparation and intelligent direction. You suspect the 13 tracks have also been chosen for a hard-headed purpose - an hour-long showcase to sell to supporters and concert audiences alike. 

There are no esoteric musical presumptions (the lack of sleeve notes though is an oversight) - just easy listening music played with a degree of polish every bit as sparkling as the royal jewels that inspired William Walton’s opening track. 

There is though more than a touch of musical pomp and circumstance about that title track 'Orb and Sceptre' to suggest that Rothwell wouldn’t feel too far out of place bedecked in the ermine, gold and diamonds others mistakenly take for granted. 

Suave sophistication

However, there is something a little different with the inclusion of Jan Van der Roost’s passionate ‘Hommage a Adolphe Sax’, taken from his test-piece, ‘From Ancient Times’. It sits in neat contrast to the suave sophistication displayed on Howard Snell’s superb arrangement of Gershwin’s ‘An American in Paris’.

Ermine, gold and diamonds

The six featured soloists are all on excellent form - each displaying warm lyricism and well-shaped phrasing, aided by tempered, sympathetic accompaniment, whilst Stephen Bulla’s ‘Into the Sky’ fizzes brightly, ‘Sunset Over the River Exe’ has a tempting shimmer and ‘Guardian of My Soul’ puts a tap in Sunday School feet.

There is though more than a touch of musical pomp and circumstance about that title track 'Orb and Sceptre' to suggest that Rothwell wouldn’t feel too far out of place bedecked in the ermine, gold and diamonds others mistakenly take for granted. 

Iwan Fox



Play List:

1. Orb and Sceptre (William Walton)
2. Magh Seola (Gerard Falry arr. Sandy Smith)
Flugel: Vikki Holland
3. The Banks of Green Willow (George Butterworth arr. Duncan Wilson)
4. Ae Fond Kiss Robert Burns arr. Peter Graham)
Horn: Catherine Roberts
5. Sunset Over the River Exe (Kenneth Downie)
6. Donegal Bay (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
Baritone: Andy Padgett
7. Into the Sky (Stephen Bulla)
8. On with the Motley (Leoncavallo arr. Ray Farr)
Soprano: Jon Hammond
9. Guardian of My Soul (Darren Shaw)
10. Dark Eyes (Bill Geldard
Trombone: Nick Walker
11. Hommage à Adolphe Sax (Jan Van der Roost)
12. An American in Paris (Gershwin arr. Howard Snell)
13. Peace (John Golland)
Euphonium: Dan Morgan

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Bmus (Hons)
Conductor | Composer