HITTING NEW HEIGHTS - Glenn Van Looy talks exclusively to British Bandsman

Issue 5977

FRANKLY SPEAKING - The first of a new series by Frank Renton, this month focusing on musical education

THE GREAT TRIUMVIRATE - Tim Mutum looks at the life and times of John Gladney 

Welsh Regional Championships - Championship Section LIVE!

Sunday 18 March, 2018

Championship Section

Test-piece: Odyssey (Kevin Norbury)

Sunday 18 March

Draw: 11:00am (commences 12.30pm)

Adjudicators: Alan Morrison and Steve Sykes

Paul Hindmarsh reporting 

We expected a very keen competition and that is just what was delivered to us. Cory seems well ahead for us this afternnon - a performance of so many dimensions and as pristine in performance as one would expect. Tredegar Town was forceful and fantastic at times, but there were a number of audible lapses. Thereafter, I think the competition is very tight for the two further places for the Royal Albert Hall finals in October. For us the clarity of Llwydcoed and the imagination of Northop appealled, but I wonder how the judges heard it?

Full Result

1. Cory (Philip Harper) (pre-qualified)

2. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)(pre-qualified)

3. Tongwynlais Temperance (Andreas Kratz)*

4. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) M1 (Garry Cutt)*

5. Northop Silver (John Doyle)

6. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins)

7. Llwydcoed (Christopher Turner)

8. Parc and Dare (Leftfield Environmental Ltd.) (Jonathan Pippen)

* qualifies for the finals

Best Instrumentalist: Tom Hutchinson (solo cornet, Cory)

In the BB Frame

1. Cory (Philip Harper)

2. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

3. Northop Silver (John Doyle)

4. Llwydcoed (Christopher Turner)

5. Tongwynlais Temperance (Andreas Kratz)

6. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) M1 (Garry Cutt)


 

8. Tongwynlais Temperance (Andreas Kratz)

A confident opening. This young Swedish conductor is taking an orchestral approach, with Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra perhaps in the background. The delivery is far from flawless, but the leaping second subject melody is negotiated with fewer extra notes than some (!). The gigue is full of effort but pretty clean. Excellent EEb bass solos – light and bright – complemented by the horns octave leaps – well done. There’s not much chance for the light to be found in this first part – the journey is relentless, powered on by the firm tread of be Thou My Vision. A moment of gathering before the coda is welcome on the ear. Time to catch breath is short however, as we are urged onto the final bars. Mr. Katz lets the Tam-tam subside completely to make way for beautiful cornet solo – with a little help from his bumper up (very cleverly touched in). There occasional clipped entry is noticed, but the gentle give and take between he soloists at the end is some compensation. A sensible speed is adopted for the finale. This is crisp and neat, and it dances too. Nice to see the conductor taking it in a broader beat pattern, as this fits the reprise of the slow tune well and gives a bit of space before energy levels rise to the max for the denouement.

 

7. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

A direct opening, full-throated sounds with an incisive edge to the approach that works fabulously in the tutti moments but some of the close detail is a bit ‘smash and grab” and lacking the finesse of band number 5. Having said that this is a performance that commands your attention. The gigue is going like the clappers and yet we hear all the notes and Be Thou My Vision has so much drive. The pull back into the coda works a treat, and this is the best ending to the first section we’ve heard yet today. For all its energy and panache, we could have done with an occasional moment of relief for the ear.
The slow movement is gorgeous – the core of each chord has an intensity and focus only Cory have found. The muted cornets and trombones are delightful and the unanimity of vibrato across the band is heard and appreciated. The calm musical presence of Dewi Griffith’s started off the movement off well.
The finale is dynamic and details – this finds the band more at ease with the music offering slightly smoother sound to delight the ear before the powerful brilliance of the final pages – wow what a sound resonating in the Brangwyn Hall after that. A cohesive musical journey but the slips could be costly.

6. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) M1 (Garry Cutt)

A bold opening, not free from flaw but with decent level of detail on show. Similar issues of balance and security in the leaping lines heard elsewhere is apparent here as well. The fast speed of the Allegro creates excitement, but we are losing the definition in semi-quaver detail and in comparison to what we’ve just heard, much less variety of character and gesture. Be Thou my Vision episode works very well, with the band stretched to the max. The Principal cornet brings a hushed, reverential quality to the cornet solo – lovely – and typical of Mr. Cutt, the chord details and colours cohere into a sustained finish. The finale is light on its feet, with most of the detail going in. The tone never gets too loud for the detail to be obscured, and the ending has a majesty that caps off an enjoyably vigourous account.

5. Cory (Philip Harper)

Cory is wearing black arm bands in respect for former principal cornet Ian Williams, who’s funeral takes place in the coming week.

The timpani and deep tone bell points to a dramatic reading ahead, full of brilliant detail. The level of sound is up several levels already. Bert van Thienen, depping for Steve Stewart, who is waiting for cataract operations, sets the pace for a degree of tension and clinical detail at full dynamic range. The leaping cornet line is not just accurate, it’s expressive too, and there is a yearning, soulful quality to the lyrical gestures that I’ve not heard thus far. The Allegro comes evolves naturally, and we have a cinematic journey with virtuoso brilliance to savour – this is out of the top draw in level of detail, and we even have time to enjoy the humorous ‘oompah moments’. The dynamic variations in the gigue are well captured, giving way to the determined tread of Be Thou my Vision.
Taking the tempo right back before the coda works brilliantly and the devilish detail at the end in a different class here, so far. Like Godwick, a long tam-tam pause does the trick in calming the atmosphere.
Tom Hutchinson’s solo – different class, mature, expressive and totally in control. Loved the change of sonorities here between cornet/ troms and horns. Glyn Williams soars effortlessly into the heights. All round there is more time and capacity to make the tiny nuances that give this score meaning – the ending of the slow section is so quiet and controlled.
The final scherzo – cuts a brilliant dash into the Irish reel. As for the rest, it’s what Cory does best – close detail, drama at full tilt – brilliant!


4. Northop Silver (John Doyle)


The representative from North Wales has more nuanced approach at the start – and the attempt to create more range of articulation and colour is heard and appreciated, even though not every detail comes off. The awkward leaping melody is more successful at this more relaxed tempo and the accel into the Allegro is the most differentiated so far – very much like the Leyland band performance I heard in Blackpool in which John Doyle played a significant part. A fast gigue poses fewer problems than I was expecting – semis are a bit rushes here and there, but it’s got some energy. Principal cornet plays his little triple tonguing solo before Be Thou my Vision with delicacy – nice touch. Slowing ow for the climax was a wise choice!
There is a delicacy in the cornet solo which engages the ear – and expressivity in the chording which others have missed. The euphonium solo is a touch matter of fact perhaps, but the cross- questioning chords and solos blend beautifully – well done soprano and euphs on your piano leaping phrases! A whispered final chord too – gorgeous.
Is the finale going too fast?  It could be tighter but is certainly exciting and joyful. Joh Doyle took some risks with faster tempi, but going for maximum contrast brought some musical rewards. The young solo cornet deserved the pat on the back his colleagues have just given him!

3. Llwydcoed (Christopher Turner)

A determined, if not completely secure start. The textures and lines are admirably clear, so we hear the strong ones and the less secure one. Chris Turner’s tempo choices are sensible, allowing his band to place the rhythms securely. The dramatic allegro takes us into film noir territory. Another fine EEb bass contribution is followed by some nimble horns and cornets, but the tempo is pushing, so that the next filigree section is compromised. Be Thou My vision steps out with a firm tread and the tempo slackens as marked to prepare for the Malcolm Arnold like climax to the end of the first part. An assured cornet solo gives the other soloists confidence to present their expressive snippets with expression and emotion – strong euphonium! – the muted chord sequence is controlled and expressive and led by a controlled sop solo, the others step up to the plate to bring the slow section to a hushed, sensitive close. The “reel’ finale is crisp and clear for the moment part with a firmly established pulse to support the detail. This performance is ending in splendid fashion and with security, panache and a touch of brilliance – lovely crescendo on the penultimate chord.


2. Parc and Dare (Leftfield Environmental Ltd.) (Jonathan Pippen)

 A resolute opening, powerful in percussion, with largely accurate detail, if not always in perfect balance. We lose middle detail when the percussion is full on! The leaping melody line soon after the start of the Allegro cause slightly more problems here than in the previous band. The phrased minor ninth is so tricky to bring off. We could so with a little more dynamic range, especially at the quiet end. Again principal EEb goes a great job. Sometimes the accompaniment seems rather loud for the soloists’ comfort. The Be thou are vision moment is firm, but thereafter the cornet detail loses focus and accuracy. Tempo doesn’t slow as marked and thus the textures begin to sound rather confused.
The principal cornet’s tone is lovely, but there were a couple of telling mis-pitches. The solo sequence is securely negotiated, with comfortable dynamics – nice work.
The finale goes at a lick, with the Irish reel styling to the fore. At this speed some of the brilliance created by articulation is lost. However, Jonathan Pippin winds up the ending with maximum energy.

 

1. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins)

 A broad opening, and largely clean – a few smudge but nothing serious – the expansive tempo creates menacing atmosphere. The choices of tempo in this resonant acoustic and episodic piece and sensible. The first slow solo passage catches some out, but overall musical approach is apt and meaningful.
Tension ratchets up nicely into the dramatic Allegro, where everyone is working hard – efficient bass solo (well done). Not all details in the gigue are quite nailed on, but it’s full of intent and builds well to introduce the hymn reference section, where the tread is firmer but the momentum still maintained. We lose some close detail towards the climax, but the long tam-tam pause was well-judged. Luke Jenkins’ cornet solo was lovely – elegant phrasing, but a very slight sense of strain at the end. The chords which follow are musically delivered – there is a confidence and generosity in the phasing which appeals. Some minor insecurities detract – mis-pitching and one false entry from EE flat bass.
The finale is not too fast but bright and lively. Terrific ending – well measured. Matthew Jenkins makes the awkward structure of the piece work – fine job.
Goodwick’s attention to detail and the musical aspects of the score are evident. A strong sound, some range, but with an array of small slips that will have been picked up by the judges. 

 

Draw

1. Goodwick (Matthew Jenkins)

2. Parc and Dare (Leftfield Environmental Ltd.) (Jonathan Pippen)

3. Llwydcoed (Christopher Turner)

4. Northop Silver (John Doyle)

5. Cory (Philip Harper) 

6. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) M1 (Garry Cutt)

7. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

8. Tongwynlais Temperance (Andreas Kratz)