A glittering career beckons

Issue 5953

Isobel Daws captures prestigious BBC title

Grimethorpe Colliery Band at 100

Full preview of the 2017 European Championships

LIVE - London and Southern Counties Regional Championships - 1st Section

Sunday 19 March, 2017

Adjudicators: Roger Webster and Chris Wormald

Test-piece: Land of the Long White Cloud (Philip Sparke)

Kenny Crookston reporting

Result

1. Kidlington Concert Brass (Duncan Wilson)

2. Regent Brass (Nick Thompson)

3. Hitchin (Graham Chambers)

4. Alder Valley Brass (Lee Woodward)

5. Fulham (John Ward)

6. Chiltern Hills Brass (Gordon Davies)

7. Egham (G. Green)

8. City of Cambridge (Peter Bassano)

9. Jersey Premier Brass (Tim Pritchard) 

10. Bedford Town (Steve Phillips)

11. Sandhurst Silver (Andrew Porter)

12. Horsham Borough (Mark McLauchlin)

13. Becontree Brass (Nigel Taken)

14. Ware Brass (Phillip Littlemore)

15. Epsom and Ewell Silver (Paul Graham)

16. Cawston (Leigh Sharpe)

17. Colchester (David Maddocks)

 

Land of the Long White Cloud proves a very hard test for the majority of the bands in the 1st Section today, but we think that three or four could be in with a chance of taking the top prize. We liked Jersey's earlier performance but for us Fulham and John Ward may just have provided enough overall quality to take the title.

 

In the BB Frame*

1. Fulham (John Ward)

2. Jersey Premier Brass (Tim Pritchard)

3. Kidlington Concert Brass (Duncan Wilson)

4. Regent Brass (Nick Thompson)

5. City of Cambridge (Peter Bassano)

6. Hitchin (Graham Chambers)

*NOT the official result!  

  

Draw

1. Chiltern Hills Brass (Gordon Davies)

2. Regent Brass (Nick Thompson)

3. Hitchin (Graham Chambers)

4. Alder Valley Brass (Lee Woodward)

5. Becontree Brass (Nigel Taken)

6. Colchester (David Maddocks)

7. Jersey Premier Brass (Tim Pritchard)

8. Horsham Borough (Mark McLauchlin)

9. Egham (G. Green)

10. Cawston (Leigh Sharpe)

11. Ware Brass (Phillip Littlemore)

12. Fulham (John Ward)

13. Kidlington Concert Brass (Duncan Wilson)

14. Epsom and Ewell Silver (Paul Graham)

15. Sandhurst Silver (Andrew Porter)

16. Bedford Town (Steve Phillips)

17. City of Cambridge (Peter Bassano)

 

17. City of Cambridge (Peter Bassano)

Bold opening and the sound is balanced and well projected. We like the laid back style as the opening progresses and it turns out to be one of the day’s cleanest starts. Vivace has boundless energy and nearly all the right notes in all the right places. Asymmetric bars are managed with ease and the transition to Larghetto is nearly all there. Soloists do well but mispitching is noticeable and could be quite costly at the end of the day. Loads of spirit in the final section and this is a performance that may just resonate in the box. Very well led but just losing clarity in places..

 

16. Bedford Town (Steve Phillips)

Light but sonorous to open and we love the euphonium sound in the lilting passage. The conductor shapes the music well but there are some issues with intonation at the top end. Molto vivace sits well tempo-wise but much of the playing is untidy unfortunately. Some nice ideas in the slow section, but again the delivery just fell short, and the same is true when it returns to the animated music. A performance with excellent musical intentions, but the band was at its limits for fairly large sections of the piece.

 

15. Sandhurst Silver (Andrew Porter)

Excellent start compares with anything we’ve heard so far, with some mature sounds around the stand. There are flaws in the solo lines though, and further insecurity between flugel and trombones as it approaches molto vivace. Some fairly grating tuning up top too… Vivace is bounding with energy but there are some noticeable lapses, especially as it leads into Larghetto. Some good solo work but not everything comes off successfully. Vivace is better this time and the band stays strong to the finish with minimal drops in quality. A good band with a good performance in it, but it just never seemed to find its step today.

 

14. Epsom and Ewell Silver (Paul Graham)

Some strained sounds and poor intonation detract from an otherwise well-shaped opening. Vivace is well led but the error count is high, although the transition  into Larghetto is one of the best of the day. Solos are all well delivered and the following passage sees the band at its best so far, with some rich middle band sounds. More insecurity follows as it returns to the faster tempo and the energy levels have dropped quite noticeably. A good effort overall but much of the detail in the test-piece is just too much for E&E.

 

13. Kidlington Concert Brass (Duncan Wilson) 

Rich and expansive sounds in the opening, with only slight solo insecurity. Euphonium oozes quality and the music is shaped beautifully. A fine opening section despite the handful of clips. Great to hear such fine ensemble playing in the molto vivace - very tight and dynamic. Soloists all play with style, but the tuning isn’t 100% accurate. Again we hear fine full band sounds, but the return to vivace isn’t as tight as the standard set earlier in the performance. It soon settles, though, and remains robust to the end. Arguably the most mature sounding band of the day so far and one that could be right at the top with the men in the box.

 

12. Fulham (John Ward)

Textbook opening and we love the surging dynamics which, combined with secure ensemble, underpin possibly the best opening we’ve heard today. Stylish euphonium gets the lilting style just right and only the slightest of clips detract from an excellent opening section. Vivace is crystal clear and the band feels at ease with the tempo. There are tiny clips but this is secure as we have heard today and the link to Larghetto is also good. A couple of soloistic lapses occur but the overall shape is very good and we continue to hear good ensemble all the way through the slow section. Transition back to vivace is the first flawless one we’ve heard and the quality is maintained through to a powerful finish to a fine performance. Could be right at the top!

 

11. Ware Brass (Phillip Littlemore)

Understated opening and a few intonation issues, but the music is well shaped and we liked the euphonium’s style. Vivace is well handled and maintains its energy levels very well, but the top end does become ragged at times. Some inconsistent sounds before Larghetto, where the soprano has a lovely sound. Cornet and flugel also do well but the return to vivace has some untidy moments in the ensemble and lacks dynamic contrast. A well-directed show overall but one that needed a higher level of precision to make it to the top.

 

10. Cawston (Leigh Sharpe) 

Opening is generally tidy if slightly untuneful at times. General security is good throughout the opening and this is maintained in molto vivace. Quite a steady approach allows the detail to be heard and the transition to Larghetto is nearly secure. Quite a tentative approach to the solos and unfortunately some of the later work becomes unstuck as it approaches the molto vivace. Again there are momentary lapses that could cost but it has been a good effort overall from a band that has clearly been challenged to the limit by this piece.

 

9. Egham (G. Green)

Excellent opening is all in place, then it really starts to move at poco piu mosso, which is more molto than poco!Never heard it before in that animated style but there is something very appealing about it! Molto vivace, however, doesn’t have the same security and it does get

very untidy at times. Larghetto also has its insecure moments and the transition to vivace is untidy again. One that promised a lot from a musical point of view but which just fell short in delivery.

 

8. Horsham Borough (Mark McLauchlin)

Opens will with expansive sounds. Lilting euphonium-led melody is quite detached in style, but everything remains secure through to molto vivace. Not all the detail emerges in the fast section but the general picture is a good one. Percussion does become detached from the band at times and the asymmetric bars aren’t totally clear, but the bars before Larghetto are easily the most secure of the day so far. Bravo soprano and cornet, and we like the approach to quiet dynamics, although there could be more contrast at times. Some intonation worries do emerge but overall this has been a very accomplished effort that just dropped in quality once or twice.

 

7. Jersey Premier Brass (Tim Pritchard)

Well-balanced opening has only slight precision issues. We like the band sound and the style of the lilting euphonium melody is just right. Some lovely work as flugel and trombones lead the melody just unravels slightly. Molto vivace is quite steady but the result is clarity and precise ensemble. More contrasting dynamics would have made this section outstanding. Lovely solos at Larghetto although a more confident approach might have benefited the performance. We like the attention to quiet dynamics though. More quality ensemble on show at molto vivace and it remains strong to the end of an excellent performance overall. A possible leader for us.

 

6. Colchester (David Maddocks)

Nice sounds in the opening but not everything is tidy. Some tuning and ensemble issue follow and the molto vivace takes a few bars to settle together and the transition to Larghetto is quite messy. Soprano has real style and we like the languid cornet. Not everything goes to plan, though, and the band has some recovering to do. The climax builds well, however. Further slips introduce the vivace and it all starts to sound a bit ragged. A good effort from a band pushed right to its limits on this challenging test.

 

5. Becontree Brass (Nigel Taken) 

Carefully measured opening only suffers from some middle band intonation problems. All well played but the detached style does feel a bit strange at times. Vivace is well played if somewhat mono-dynamic and the transition to the soprano is uncomfortable. Soloists all deliver with commitment and he band is accomplished in delivery through the slow movement. Vivace returns well and the fugue builds in tempo to allow more proficient playing around the band. A lot to praise in this one but more dynamic contrast could have made a big difference to its chances of doing well today.

 

4. Alder Valley Brass (Lee Woodward)

Steady but expansive opening section is all place but some of the high sounds are rather strained at times and there are lapses in the melodic line. Vivace has the band right on the edge of its capabilities and much of the background detail is hard to pick out. Transition to Larghetto is very untidy but the soprano is almost right on top of it. Cornet and flugel also contribute well and the band is at its best as the climax builds. More good work follows in the vivace but this is an overall performance that has just had too much untidiness to make it to the top today.

 

3. Hitchin (Graham Chambers) 

Excellent, bright-sounding opening with just a few individual slips following before the vivace. Bright tempo suits the band and we hear everything (we love the soprano sound!), all delivered with commitment and accuracy and almost as good as this listener has heard during the past few weeks. Chord before Larghetto is untidy, but again the soprano is in complete control (it does feel very slow but is remarkably close to the composer’s instruction). Cornet and flugel also deliver well (just watch the intonation) and it’s good all the way to molto vivace. There is a drop in the sound and balance quality around the fugue but the notes are all in place. The ensemble perhaps just loses focus in the final fast section but it’s another good show overall, with some great moments along the way.

2. Regent Brass (N. Thompson)

Secure opening which unravels slightly as the first solo lines emerge. Lovely lilting euphonium melody  and it all goes by the book to molto vivace. It’s less tidy here, though, although it does find a good rhythm as it progresses and the asymmetric bars are well handled. We lose some of the chord in the transition to Larghetto, but the three soloists all deliver well (especially the effortlessly soaring flugel) and we hear the band at its best here. Recap of molto vivace is tidy and the fugue builds in energy appropriately (even with the wrong note…) to a strong finale, although the percussion does seem a bit on its own at times. A well-led performance that had only a few lapses in quality.

 

1. Chiltern Hills Brass (Gordon Davies)

Steady opening is well-balanced and secure, with only the percussion becoming slightly detached from the band. Lilting section just needs a bit of energy - more like Stevenage Sunday morning than south sea islands - but the band remains secure into the molto vivace. One or two questions over notation (trombones) and the transition into Larghetto isn’t completely free of flaws, but the soprano cornet is super, ably assisted by a classy cornet and confident flugel. Well-measured climax but again the transition is insecure and there are further lapses in the molto vivace. A well-shaped reading overall to get us going, with just a handful of moments where the quality dropped a bit. Will be interesting to see how it lasts the pace as the day progresses.