Issue 5970

Egon Virtuosi Brass - An inside story

The Owen Farr Seminar - the first in a monthly series of brass masterclasses by the tenor horn virtuoso

Besses Boys' Band - Celebrating 75 years

Grimethorpe Youth Band feature

LIVE - Welsh Regional Championships - Championship Section

Sunday 19 March, 2017

Adjudicators: Derek Broadbent and Mike Kilroy

Test-piece: Pageantry (Herbert Howells)


1. Cory (Philip Harper)*

2. Tredegar Town (Ian Porthouse)*

3. Tongwynlais Temperance (Michael Fowles)*

4. City of Cardiff Melingriffith (Nigel Seaman)

5. Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)

6. Burry Port Town (Tom Davoren)

 In his remarks from the stage, Derek Broadbent commented the technical prowess of the winning band, but that no band really captured the essence of the character of each movement - heraldic, stately and regal (not funerial) and then playful.  Congratulations to the three bands qualifying for the finals in London. It's been another great weekend of contesting in Wales. That's all for now. Hope you have enjoyed the coverage.

In the BB Frame*

1. Tredegar Town (Ian Porthouse)

2. Cory (Philip Harper)

3. Northop Silver (Paul Hughes)

4. Tongwynlais Temperance (Michael Fowles)

5. City of Cardiff Melingriffith (Nigel Seaman)

6. Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)

*NOT the official result!  



1.Northop Silver (Paul Hughes)

2. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins)

3. Tredegar Town (Ian Porthouse)

4. Cory (Philip Harper)

5. Tongwynlais Temperance (Michael Fowles)

6. Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)

7. City of Cardiff Melingriffith (Nigel Seaman)

8. Burry Port Town (Tom Davoren)

 A quick, spirited start. For me it’s all a bit aggressive, with forward press and over emphatic attack creating a congested texture and rather hectic impression. The music needs more time and much more musical subtlety. We lose detail in the wind up towards the end. A bit to ‘smash and grab’ for me.
Using second trombone and baritone at the start of Cortege doesn’t come off, but the solo cornet plays well.
The finale is fast and furious. There are many lapses in articulation and ensemble that a slower tempo and less frenetic approach would have prevented.

7. City of Cardiff Melingriffith (Nigel Seaman)

Nigel Seaman places the opening semis quavers carefully – I like that – and then lets the music unfold naturally. The conductor knows how to make the best of his resources and produce a convincing musical shape. The details are commendably clean and clear and while the tonal resources are not as substantial as some other bands, the players are remaining in control and playing appropriately – no overblowing or thunderous percussion.

Cortege sounds fast, but it is at minim 80 – others have been slow. It is also quiet. A slip from solo horn but I’m enjoying the subtle phrase shapes and solemnity with emotion that they are conveying. This is the only band to maintain a flowing tempo and organize tasteful rubato with it. For me the reading of the day on this movement. It is after all meant to convey a solemn processional and should have a defined pulse. The ending is quiet and sustained - poignant.

The finale is quick! Solo cornet does ok – not the best we’ve heard. This is bright, lively, fast but under control. It may be a small scale performance, but when so many bands this spring have over-blown their way through this finale, it’s refreshing to hear it played in this contained, but still lively manner with bags of detail going in. A noble return of the main theme – nicely done soprano – rounds of an engaging reading. Bit of a tired ending though.

6. Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)

Tempo is spot on from Chris Turner and the opening makes you listen – great semiquavers. The band of the band is nicely integrated and focused. The mutes cornet fanfares are a bit loud and, sadly, a major wrong entry from solo euphonium does detract from the overall picture – what a pity when so much of this is stylish and well played – nothing overblown or too direct.
A very comfortable piano (almost mf) from flugel soloist at the start, but it was safe. There is a rather touching intimacy about the approach here, which contrasts with the more muscular tutti. Once again Chris Turner sets a ‘just’ tempo – flowing but allowing for expressive moments, like the solo cornet ‘moment’ which was ably taken by repiano. The tempo is sensibly kept moving through the tricky exposed final bars. An intelligent approach, maximizing the band’s resources.
Jousts dances along – excellent soprano cornet moment – convincing once again in style and approach. This movement find the band at its best, full of detail and vigour. The reading is what Elgar would have described as ‘no trick’ – ie. playing the score and remaining faithful to the composer without the conductor getting in the way, and I have to say that the way this finale was delivered with the fast tempo reserved for the final bars worked well for this listener.


5. Tongwynlais Temperance (Michael Fowles)

A lighter tone from Tongwynlais. Not all details were pristine, but the shaping is commendably faithful to the score. The cornet line is outgunned by dominant percussion.

Appropriate solemnity to the tempo and approach here. The second euphonium stands in for solo baritone at the start – pity, as it spoils the unified tone, but needs must sometimes. Matthew Rowe is playing beautifully on solo euphonium, as is the solo horn. However, there is some unease and disunity in the top line cornet blend. The short cornet solo comes across well, but overall, following on from Cory and Tredegar, one is conscious of less depth and range of tone. Final chord is not in tune.

Solo cornet does well in the fanfare, and thereafter a lot of effort from the band. Once again solo euphonium and the horn trio sound well in their short passage at the start of the central section. Lots of solid, determined effort going in to bring the finals section to a brilliant conclusion. Not everything comes off and percussion is too loud, but some moments of quality from the soloists from RWCMD engaged the ear.

4. Cory (Philip Harper)

Slightly less volume from Cory at the start, but every nuance is there, fantastic cornet chording, but the occasional exaggeration of ebb and flow, too. For me the overall textures don’t always gel, but the clarity of the central quiet fanfares is excellent. Not all the finer details are crystal clear, but the long lines at the second Fieramente grab the attention. What a mighty sound at the end, but it’s not as organically shaped as Tredegar.

Beautiful solo horn at the start of Cortege – wow what a sound. The tenderness of this is so appealing. Tom Hutchinson adds to the atmosphere. This isn’t quite as clean from baritones as Tredegar, whose reading is more natural in its flow. The big climax is so powerful and the weaving lines in the final moments, beautifully engineered and delivered. Steve Stewart’s sustained soprano cornet lines – exceptional control – glorious final chord.

Tom Hutchinson is heraldic too at the start of Jousts – brilliant – Steve Stewart’s playful moment no one else has matched yet. The tempo here is, like Tredegar’s, just right. There is quality right round the band, with just an occasional lack of precise detail. Philip Harper really winds up the drama and excitement of the final moments, but for this listener, I like the music to flow more organically and naturally, without quite so much audible manufacturing, especially towards the end, in an effort to engineer a big finish.Lots of risks here in a very personal reading.  Having said that this was a mighty performance, which could win.

3. Tredegar Town (Ian Porthouse)

Great start. The semi-quavers sparkle – so precise, but not too loud of over-played. The first Fieramente is restrained but full of purpose as is the quiet middle section – this we know is going somewhere. Once or two soprano details are smudgy, but the solo euphonium lines at beautifully done by Mr. Patterson – just a hint of vibrato to engage the ear, lovely. The exuberance here is obvious but nothing is left to chance. Every details has meaning.

The baritones at the start of Cortege are beautifully balanced, providing a secure context for a forthright solo horn. The weaving of lines and textures is exemplary. Solo cornets blend delights the ear, especially in the low register – intense. Dewi Griffiths is appropriately restrained, and the full toned climax so intense. A slight blemish on the new soprano cornet’s final entry doesn’t detract from a thoughtful, intensely moving movement. 

Dewi Griffiths is playful and bright in a brisk finale, which trips along – nice soprano and euph. The burnished sound of James Patterson and the horns burns bright in the central section, and there is no letup in energy, momentum and quality execution – the high tuba sonority is wonderful. Finally, at the last Fieramente Ian Porthouse lets his players off the leash – what a blazing tone and then super athletic in the final dash for the line.
A masterly account of a brass band masterwork.

2. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins)
An incisive start and a brighter tone sets King’s Herald off to an engaging start. The details are not always perfectly in time and we lose some semiquaver clarity in a fastish tempo that is gathering. There is lot of admirable playing here, but it’s very much on the edge in terms of rhythmic stability. Full of vigour but a little raw in tone and lacking dynamic nuances.

1st baritone misses his first note, but flugel is excellent. The tempo is close to minim 60 than minim 80, so it doesn’t always keep flowing and solo cornets find trouble blending their line. The main climax is impressive and the ending nicely controlled. The band was more at home here.

Jousts was set underway in true trumpet style by bumper up, who is an RWCMD trumpet student. Once again details are not always precise. Raw energy and dash is not really the full picture here. The playing is at times strident in the effort to get round the notes and push for brilliance. No doubting the commitment and drive in this performance by a fine young band, but I missed the subtler moments and nuanced details.

1.Northop Silver (Paul Hughes)
Paul Hughes is on the podium for the second time this weekend. Having worked on this score with Garry Cutt recently as principal cornet of Fairey band, it’s interesting to hear a similar tempo and neat detailed style at the start. The playing is accurate and ensemble is crisp. I’m missing the really soft detailed playing in the middle of King’s Herald and a bit of edge in the top line cornets, which are being overpowered by bottom end and percussion. However, an efficient start.

Cortege begins beautifully – blended sounds and not a false not to be heard from flugel or baritones. (Does this bode well for an accident free session?) The acoustic suits this works of course, is ample resonance provides a comfortable ambience. Paul Hughes is also encouraging a comfortable dynamic range, but the tone opens out splendidly into the tutti statement of Howells’ evocative melody. The majesty of the big climax is impressive. Safety first, but it works – lovely ending from solo horn.

Well done solo cornet at the start of Jousts! Light, rhythmical and characterful. Paul Hughes is taking this at a tempo that sits well in this hall. The band is not over blowing – this spoilt so many performances in the Midlands last weekend – and there is a playful air. Paul is keeping the lid on the sound until the final moments when the band really goes for it! The cornets are lost in the sound a tad, and there are one or two smudges but overall a decent start.