2004 West of England Regional Championships -
Sunday 28th March
Test Piece: Vizcaya – Gilbert
Adjudicator: David Read
It may sound as if we are founding fathers of the “David
Read Appreciation Society”, but once more here at the Third
Section, our premier adjudicator got things spot on – and
we weren’t the only ones to agree with him.
With his remarks at the end of the contest, he made the very telling
point that Gilbert Vinter’s “Vizcaya”
was indeed a very difficult test piece for bands in the Third Section.
“Not all,” he said, “…were able to cope
with the balance, tuning and pitching,” whilst the “middle
section quartet needed space and time with rubato to work properly”.
The bands needn’t have worried that the judge wasn’t
on a casual acquaintance with the score either. David Read explained
that he had performed the work with GUS over 40 times in the past,
with Gilbert Vinter himself at the rostrum, whilst the quartet section
possibly came to light as a result of his involvement with the famous
GUS quartet that featured himself on cornet. Vinter was unaware
that brass bands broke themselves down into such small compact numbers,
and as a result he inserted the quartet section into the work. All
in all it made for a difficult test 35 years ago, and all in all,
it made for a very difficult test here.
So difficult in fact that the adjudicator made it clear that only
one band managed to play the work from top to bottom, whilst the
band that came second very nearly did, but performed the finale
“Fete Basque” with the correct style he was
looking for. The first two bands he stated, would do very well come
the finals – although he was unaware that the third placed
band would also be making the trip. All three for us at 4BR will
be strong contenders.
The problem with “Vizcaya” as a test piece
(but not as a piece of enjoyable music) is that there are technical
as well as musical hurdles to be overcome right from the start.
The trombone entry in particular sorted out the contenders from
the rest within 10 seconds of the start – and only the better
bands managed to get this in tune and with balance. After that comes
the rhythmic problems of the Scherzando, the third melodic
line marked Dolce (that really needed a sweetness of tone)
to work and the variation on the third melody which highlighted
the need for the bands to have a strong and tuneful soprano and
competent solo cornet (the leaps from top F to top Bb caught so
The “Fete Basque” should have captured the
real spirit of the region – light and vibrant, before the
final section that had echoes of the final movement of the composer’s
“Symphony of Marches”. It is a difficult work.
The winners though were good value indeed.
St. Dennis under the direction of Brian Minear
was very good – plenty of fine detail, balance and tunefulness,
whilst the “Fete Basque” section was bang on the button.
They had their cameraman with them once more, but who can blame
the media for following this excellent young band? There is real
talent on show – the solo lines were excellently played and
Brian Minear should get the Cornish equivalent of a Knighthood.
This is a super band, well drilled in the basics and with players
who all produce true sounds from their instruments – warm
and clear. No problems at all with their victory and they more than
repaid our pre match faith in them.
Second place was picked up by Hayle Town under
the direction of Derek Johnston, who also gave a wonderfully committed
performance that really picked up on the vibrancy of the work. Not
quite in the same class as St. Dennis, but nonetheless pretty damn
good. They fully deserved their trip to Harrogate.
Third place went to Shrewton Town who benefited
from a fine reading of the score from MD, Michael Dunford that allowed
his team of impressive soloists the time to shine. They also capped
the volume and as a result there was a sense of control about all
they did. They too deserved their trip to the Finals.
St. Stythians picked up fourth place (we had
them down for second place in our pre match preview) and fifth place
went to Bristol East, who on this occasion were
conducted by Bryan Hurdley. It may seem a little unfair on his band
here, but Bryan Hurdley is a conducting talent that should been
seen at a higher level than this for sure – there are plenty
of top section bands who could have benefited from his workmanship
this year. The final top six place went to Portishead Town under
the expressive conductorship of Rhodri Griffiths.
The rest of the bands here all struggled a little with the test
piece, although we would make a mention of South Molton
who came 8th and Camborne B who had perhaps
the youngest band on view and did themselves proud in coming 14th.
Next year they will be a force to be reckoned with.
All in all then a pretty good contest – a difficult set work
sorted out the wheat from the chaff for David Read and sorted it
out for the rest of us as well. Three decent bands will make the
trip North, with the winners here in particular a good each way
bet for a top six place at least at the Finals.