ARCHIE AND THE ALL-STARS - Cornet prodigy, 7, records with celebrity ensemble

Issue 6048

GLIMMER OF HOPE - 'Possible' for small groups to rehearse, confirms BBE

THE WORK OF A HEAVYWEIGHT - Professor Stephen Allen lifts lid on Ralph Vaughan Williams

Swiss National Championships - Excellence Division OWN-CHOICE LIVE!

Sunday 26 November, 2017

Excellence Division

Own-choice Section

Adjudicators: Garry Cutt, Michael Fowles, Rieks van der Velde

Kenny Crookston reporting



1. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc) 1 + 2 = 3

2. Brass Band Treize Etoiles (Dr. James Gourlay) 2 + 3 = 5

3. Ensemble de Cuivres Valaisan (Francois Roh)  5 + 1 = 6

4. Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern (Michael Bach) 3 + 4 = 7

5. Oberaargauer Brass Band (Christoph Luchsinger) 4 + 6 = 10

6. Brass Band Fribourg A (Maurice Donnet-Monay) 8 + 5 = 13

7. Ensemble de Cuivres Melodia (Vincent Baroni) 6 + 8 = 14

8. Brass Band Berner Oberland (Corsin Tuor) 7 + 7 =14

9. Liberty Brass Band Ostschweiz (Andreas Koller) 9 + 10 = 19

10. Constellation Brass Band A (Yvan Lagger) 11 + 9 = 20

11. Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien (Blaise Heritier) 10 + 11 = 21

Best Trombone in test-piece: Valasia Brass Band

Best Soloist: Bass trombone, Brass Band Teize Etoiles


In the BB Frame

1. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc) - The Turing Test (Simon Dobson)

2. Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern (Michael Bach) - Destination Moon (Paul Raphael)

3. Brass Band Treize Etoiles (Dr. James Gourlay) - Old Licks Bluesed Up (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)

4. Ensemble de Cuivres Valaisan (Francois Roh) - Concerto (Roland Szentpáli)

5. Brass Band Fribourg A (Maurice Donnet-Monay) - Old Licks Bluesed Up (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)

6. Brass Band Berner Oberland (Corsin Tuor) - Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)

N.B. Not the official result!


At the end of two fascinating days we have Valaisia as the clear winner of both sections. Burgermusik Luzern may have done enough to secure second place overall, while we have Fribourg, Valaisan, Treize Etoiles and BBO making up the top six. A thrilling weekend here in Montreux!


11. Ensemble de Cuivres Jurassien (Blaise Heritier) - Inferno (Todd Smith) 

The boldest of starts and there’s a sense of violence being portrayed. Some perilously difficult solos follow, but there are no problems in delivery - bravo horn and euphonium! Chorale section produces some nice sounds, then there’s a return to violence, verging upon chaos at times. It’s all well played, though. Sonority emerges before the final section and the band is at its best here. Tuning an issue in the final section. An interesting piece that was clearly designed to make an impact - it did!


10. Brass Band Berner Oberland (Corsin Tuor) - Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)

Not 100% secure in the opening section. The Towering Colliery reveals a thrilling sound though. Some uncertainty through the cadenza section, while Extracting the Coal is quite understated in style. A more effective Firedamp explosion than we heard earlier and there is a strong feeling of animated action here - thrilling stuff indeed. The dead miners are brought out with suitable reverence. Just a pity about the brief lapse in precision as it builds to the climax. A very good show, but just off the pace for us today.


9. Liberty Brass Band Ostschweiz (Andreas Koller) - Journey of the Lone Wolf (Simon Dobson) 


Today’s second piece by Simon Dobson and Ostschweiz has no difficulty in the early part of the work. All detail is crystal clear and the Balkan mood is there for all to hear. Flugel takes the stage with some aplomb and it nearly all works for him in the slow movement. Very tasteful baritone intervention, suitably matched by his colleague on euphonium. Final section is a bit on the raucous side for us at times. An accomplished performance overall though.


8. Brass Band Burgermusik Luzern (Michael Bach) - Destination Moon (Paul Raphael)

A tall tale in the shape of Herge’s Adventures of Tin Tin by the Belgian, Welsh, English… Paul Raphael from BML, which must be firmly in the mix after last night’s excellent performance. Intricate opening is all in good shape. Some excellent trombone playing sends the band on it further adventures and it rocks along without incident. Solo lines are passed around the band with ease in the lyrical section, where some nice colours emerge and we love the soprano and the cornet and euphonium interplay is quite outstanding. Turbocharged final movement leaves little to the imagination. The playing, though, is magnificent. The ‘surprise’ ending is slightly less surprising that in the première performance, but no less effective.  


7. Brass Band Treize Etoiles (Dr. James Gourlay) - Old Licks Bluesed Up (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)

Thrilling sounds in the opening, with the treacherously difficult solo lines all there to be heard. There’s a wonderful compactness to the sound at times, but when it opens up it reveals a majesty the like of which few can match. Magnificent bass trombone solo in movement two, and he’s in good company with the rest of his section and the soloists who follow. Tuning in muted cornets not entirely successful. The contributions from individual sections are outstanding though, the sonorous tubas especially. Final movement is off like a train but they are playing every note and the contrast in styles is both instant and remarkable. A great performance from Treize Etoiles, but will it be enough after last night’s performance? 


6. Valaisia Brass Band (Arsene Duc) - The Turing Test (Simon Dobson)


So, what can Valaisia produce after last night’s stunning performance? Another pristine opening, followed by some extreme Morse code precision. Ensemble is transparent and perfectly balanced throughout the complex following section, while the individual contributions have real consistency in approach. Reflective central section reveals great blend in the cornet section sound before some of the nicest cornet and euphonium playing you are ever likely to hear. Not absolutely perfect as the slow section winds up, but this really has been something to behold. The tension returns to the music along with the Morse code, and it couldn’t be more enthralling. Ends in chaotic brilliance. What a performance!


5. Ensemble de Cuivres Melodia (Vincent Baroni) - Fraternity (Thierry Deleruyelle)

Opening lacks subtlety, while the band sound in The Towering Colliery perhaps has more edge than tone. Solos are handled well generally, although some lack the confidence of others. Good technique in Extracting the Coal and the dynamic contrasts are well delivered. An unorthodox approach to the Firedamp explosion and it lacks real effect and the percussion manages to drown the band in the following section. Lovely cornet sound in The Fraternity Prayer. The intonation at the top is noticeably poor, however, while other inacurracies are sure to impact on the result. One that promised a lot musically but didn’t quite match up in delivery. 


4. Ensemble de Cuivres Valaisan (Francois Roh) - Concerto (Roland Szentpáli)


A new one on us by the Hungarian tubist, opening in a complex fashion with harmonies reminiscent of the composer’s homeland - all handled brilliantly by the band. Very tight. Lovely soprano sound at the start of movement two. The following rhythmic section is handled well technically, but perhaps needs more contrast in style. We love the horn and flugel duet, and the band sounds at its best in the more lyrical section that follows. Final movement offers the band a platform to display its undoubted technical wizardry, and the compact tightness of the ensemble is impressive. End takes us slightly by surprise, but this has been very well played. 


3. Oberaargauer Brass Band (Christoph Luchsinger) - Hypercube (Oliver Waespi)

Bold opening is a bit raw at times - more volume than tone. The ensemble’s handling of the complex material is impressive at times. It is very richly textured music, though, and there are times that the inner detail struggles to project itself. More contrasting dynamics would also add to the listener’s experience… Again there are some rather raw sounds in the chorale section, while some solo lines aren’t delivered with 100% confidence. Tuning is poor as the middle section concludes. Some fine playing in the final movement, but this has been a disappointing performance overall.


2. Constellation Brass Band A (Yvan Lagger) - Electra (Martin Ellerby)

An interesting choice from Constellation, following on from a steady show last night. Opening has boundless energy, but it is rather monodynamic and doesn’t really impact on the hall. Middle section is more lyrical in nature, but again it lacks emotion in the playing. Off like a rocket (perhaps from Star Wars!) in the final movement and detail is again difficult to decipher. Perhaps just too fast for comfort. A good effort on an ambitious choice, but one that we don’t think will figure highly as the day progresses. 


1. Brass Band Fribourg A (Maurice Donnet-Monay) - Old Licks Bluesed Up (Torstein Aagaard-Nilsen)

Looking to build on last night’s excellent performance, Fribourg makes a tidy start, but there is some poor tuning at the top end as it develops. Thrilling ensemble to close the first movement. Bass trombone showcase works well in movement two. Some minor clips in the following solo sections but this is playing of a very high class (with a special word for the classy solo trombone). Basses do their best to start an earthquake… Final movement shoots of at quite a lick! It’s all there to be heard though. Some of the faster detail towards the end is more difficult to decipher but this was a very good show overall.