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CD review: Violet — Volume 1

Brass Band Willebroek
Conductor: Frans Violet
Soloists: Kevin Van Giel, Robby Boone, Simon Binon, Lode Violet
Doyen Recordings: CD427

Willebroek

CD releases from the current World and Belgian National Champions are rarities. Their last studio recording was in 2007. 

Many contesting successes have been celebrated in the intervening years, whilst their fine musical reputation has been further enhanced by a plethora of accolades under founding conductor Frans Violet – including the prestigious Ultima Award given by the Flemish Government.

This has been a long time coming then.

Shoulder to shoulder

‘Volume 1’ is a showcase of the current band’s talents – one that stands shoulder to shoulder with any since its formation in 1979.

It's a wide-ranging selection; the major test-piece feature ‘Explorers on the Moon’  (on which they won the Dutch Open in 2023), the type of narrative led work that has an engaging appeal to concert as well as contest audiences (especially given the home-grown literary inspiration).

The interpretation by Frans Violet is a yardstick of meticulous, richly infused tonal balance and detail.

The interpretation by Frans Violet is a yardstick of meticulous, richly infused tonal balance and detail.

Tintin triumphs, thanks to a serious piece of primary coloured cartoon characterisation from MD and band – the indelible hallmarks of an approach that his brought sustained success over the decades.   

Command

Elsewhere the command of eclectic style is equally impressive - from the ornate adrenaline-coated opener ‘Sang till Norden’  all the way to the high-roller excess of ‘Opening Night in Las Vegas’  to close.  

The MD’s renowned ability to mould the ensemble sound in differing textured shades is obvious, with individual lines embedded into the overall canvas rather than sticking out with hard edged grittiness. 

The MD’s renowned ability to mould the ensemble sound in differing textured shades is obvious, with individual lines embedded into the overall canvas rather than sticking out with hard edged grittiness.  And there is plenty that smoothly catches the ear.

T.J Powell’s pompous old march ‘The Bombardier’  seems a curious inclusion given the modern flights of fancy that surround it, although it is played with a ‘shoulders back, chest out’ old solider authenticity. It also acts as a wonderful counterbalance to the viscous oily swagger of Queen’s ‘Innuendo’.

High class leads

Lode Violet and Kevin Van Giel are high class leads on their solo contributions of ‘Mirror of the Heart’  and ‘Pulcinella’,  whilst the absorbing textures and clever development of ‘Hope’  by Stijn Aertgeerts and the fusion Klezmer virtuosity of ‘Jewish Wake’  by Simon Van Hoecke also leave a lasting impression on the mind.

Let’s hope we haven’t forgotten just how good a band the current Willebroek are by the time Volume 2 arrives.  
 
Iwan Fox


To purchase:

CD: 
https://www.worldofbrass.com/102084-CD

Download:
https://www.worldofbrass.com/102084

Wobplay:
http://www.wobplay.com

Play list: 

1. Sang till Norden (Lode Violet)
2. Hope (Stijn Aertgeerts)
3. Jewish Wake (Simon Van Hoecke)

4. Pulcinella (Philip Sparke)
Soloist: Kevin Van Giel (euphonium)

5. Innuendo (Queen arr. Peter Meechan)
Trumpet feature: Robb Boone & Simon Binon

6. Explorers on the Moon (Paul Raphael)

7. Mirror of the Heart (Jonathan Bates)
Soloist: Lode Violet (cornet)

8. The Bombardier (T. J Powell)

9. Opening Night in Las Vegas (Reid Gilje) 

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Andrew White

MA(Ed Man), B Ed (Hons), BBCM, ADNCB, PGCE, Cert Ed
Conductor, Arranger, Adjudicator & Educationist


               

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