BATTLE OF THE TITANS - Bands gear up for a titanic battle at the Royal Albert Hall

Issue 6016

COMPOSERS' CORNER - Dr Liz Lane looks at the subject of  networking 

HERE IS THE NEWS - Looking back at the Daily Herald's Nationals sponsorship

2020 Regionals: Welsh - First Section

Friday 28 February, 2020

First Section:

Adjudicators: Jonathan Pippen & Alan Morrison

Matt Rowe reporting


1. BTM (Jeff Hutcherson)*
2. Tylorstown (Gary Davies)*
3. Deiniolen (Lois Eifion)
4. Lewis Merthyr (Craig Roberts)
5. Parc & Dare (Lewis Wilkinson)
6. Pontardulais Town (Paul Jenkins)
7. Newport Borough (Robin Hackett)

*Qualify for National Final

Best Instrumentalist: Dylan Williams (cornet) — Deiniolen

 

 

Predictions:

Overall a strange contest, with plenty of good playing spoiled by overblowing and imbalance. This piece is certainly a tough test! We thought BTM delivered the most considered performance, followed closely by the early marker of Tylorstown and Deiniolen in 3rd, but accounts from Parc and Dare and Pontardulais may squeeze in. 

1 - BTM

2 - Tylorstown

3 - Deiniolen 

 

 

7 - Parc and Dare (Lewis Wilkinson)

The opening is well paced, but unfortunately has underlying intonation issues throughout and the error count is climbing. You can hear all the detail is there, but the blend of sounds is not as smooth as it should be. Wrong note or intonation to close first movement? Second movement had such a present opening statement, but again the intonation just proves to problematic. Bravo solo cornet, good stuff and sensitively accompanied. There are some beautiful colours coming through, so well shaped by MD. A real risk taken with the pp section, and mostly it works. Just some intonation still spoiling things a little, but that was the quietest of the day so plenty to admire. Well done sop! There are such clear intentions from the middle here and it really is beautifully shaped, but the intonation is quite out as it gets louder in the slower music. Clear detail to start, but this gets rather scruffy after as a result of a faster tempo once again. MD allows the right voices to speak at the right time, but the percussion dislodges with brass and gets a little uncomfortable. Some really good details are shown and presented so well however, this performance in many ways has been one of the most enjoyable musically, just marred by technical inconsistencies and poor intonation. Solid conclusion.

Overall:

Such good musical intentions from the middle here, just the execution let it down somewhat. A good return to the stage and great to see them back here with plenty of promising signs for moving forward. 

6 - Lewis Merthyr (Craig Roberts) 

Very heavy handed to open, but the detail is there to hear. It just doesn't quite blend between sections and there are some underlying intonation issues. It then gains tempo and gets all a bit scruffy and untidy, losing all of the poise from opening. Individual parts are starting to speak outside of the balance, such losing the atmosphere. Good sounds to close the 1st movement. Good flugel to start the second movement, but the sounds do become imbalanced again. Well done solo cornet. The error count is starting to climb here though, and the subtle colouring and shaping is not as well blended as we have previously heard. Bravo sop! There is plenty of good stuff around here, but just the occasional moment where we have a couple sticking out in the texture. Well done euph to close. Very well detailed to start the final section, clever tempo choice allows detail to speak well. Unfortunately the ensemble cohesion between brass and percussion just doesn't sit comfortably. There is so much good playing here, but the concentration doesn't last long enough as there are small lapses which detract from the overall picture. The gear change exposes some problems in cohesion and intonation. Big sounds to close.

Overall: 

Not bad from Lewis Merthyr. Lots of good playing, but again it just lost a bit of control as this progressed. Intonation issues were a bit of a problem throughout, and balance did seem to get a bit lost as a few too many points to push right towards the top. Plenty of good moments, with great soloists.  

5 - Deiniolen (Lois Eifion)

Lovely opening, so transparent in the detail and well blended. The error count is creeping up, however. This opening has proved problematic for all so far to differing degrees, but the colouring has been what has stood people up well here. This has so much natural energy to the playing and closes so well. The flugel puts in a great shift to open the next section, and the solo cornet takes over so well. The middle of the band is so sonourous, joined by stunning soprano, seriously quality stuff here. The pp is handled with real care with beautiful phrasing between flugel and euphonium, what a treat this is becoming. Just gets a little untuneful at the loudest dynamics, just overcooked by a couple of percent. Hello horns! It just loses the focus of ensemble for 8 bars of slow music, the sounds lose blend and it does get a bit much once again. There are still such classy solo contributions. Into the faster music, new detail is presented once again. You feel this is maybe up tempo again, as it does constantly feel on the edge of comfortable. It's accurate, but it just feels a touch frantic and has lost some of the focus that was presented earlier. The gear change is successful but starts to lose a little more focus from here. The ending is very in your face and a little overdone.

Overall:

Very good on the most part from Deiniolen. The first two sections were so well controlled and balanced, but the final section just lost its way and got all a little frantic. Once again, another one that could have been, but not far off at the top by any means! 

4 - BTM (Jeff Hutcherson) 

The most convincing start so far, beautifully subtle blends of sound (just slightly tarnished by a relatively high error count to start). The tempo is much more sensible, allowing the music to breathe so much more naturally. Maybe not as much detail coming through as we have heard before, but this is so much more pleasing on the ear. Confident to start the next slow section, with good stuff from principal cornet. There are some really lovely colours being shown in this section, beautifully shaped and blended. The pp is beautifully handled and retains the beautiful blend that we have heard from the start. Bravo sop, excellent stuff! The colouring between tuned perc and brass for me is perfect, just the odd moment of dodgy intonation but it is so minor. The final tempo is much more sensible too, it makes much more of a statement as a result of this. This is so well balanced whilst creating drama and lifting subtle details from the score. Even the top dynamics are so smooth and balanced, and the faster gear change makes so much more sense and is so effective. Plenty in the tank for a rousing finish.

Overall:

High quality from BTM today. Such an appreciation of sound quality and tempo, it made it so much more exciting as a result. Our leader so far. 

3 - Newport Borough (Robin Hackett)

Uncomfortable start within the cornet line, but the middle of the band lines are so well blended. There are slight intonation issues underlying in the band playing here, with not quite so much detail apparent from the opening. The MD is sensibly keeping a lid on things, but it just isn't quite rhythmically consise. A little nervy to start the slower section, but good effort from principal cornet despite a weighty accompaniment. Lovely playing from the Soprano, bravo! The sounds are just a touch forced and not as smooth as required, but when the sound opens up it does resolve a lot of these issues. Some lovely effects are brought through here by MD, lifting parts off the score that haven't previously been heard. The faster music returns and it just hasn't quite settled rhythmically here, again this feels too fast for complete clarity (a bit of a common thread today it seems) with a lot of detail not coming through here. As a result of being too quick, the tempo shift to 152bpm becomes totally frantic and doesn't take effect. 

Overall: 

A tough day for Newport today. The tempo was just too quick to make the subtle differences in tempo and colour. Plenty to commend on their first outing in the 1st section, but this was tough today.

2 - Pontardulais (Paul Jenkins)

A convincing start here with such beautiful broad sounds being produced here, and great dynamic contrasts. Lovely work from euphonium, horns and tuned percussion. There are so many great shapes being created by MD here, it really does pay off. On the odd occasion it does lose focus and get a little ragged, but they are rare and short lived. Lovely close to this section. Well played solo cornet, beautiful playing. You can tell the sound colours have been paid attention to here, the warmth of sound has been noticeable through this section. There are just a few uncomfortable moments with intonation and errors which do start to take the sheen off this, which leads into some slightly untuneful playing. Well done sop! The band sound isn't quite what we were presented with earlier, maybe a little bit of tiredness is showing but it does get a little edgy. It is dramatic, but just not quite as tidy as it could be and the balances become a little frantic. You just get the feeling the tempos are just a bit fast, maybe adrenaline and it all just feels a bit overdone. Such a shame after such a promising opening. 

Overall:

Curious one from Pontardulais. Such a lovely opening, but as it went on it just got more and more frantic and almost felt out of control by the end. Such a shame as the opening was crafted with beauty and had so much promise to retain the subtle nuances of texture. Plenty to commend however with great soloists. 

1 - Tylorstown (Gary Davies)

A little uncomfortable to open, at what is a fast pace it must be said. The band have such a huge sound which is generally so well balanced, but some of the sounds get a little strident and aggressive as a result. This piece requires so much attention to sound colour and this feels just a touch forced. Good contribution from principal cornet, this all just needs some more warmth and care. Intonation is proving to be a little problem too, if only fleeting. The playing at the quietest dynamics is so beautifully controlled, it really does lead to a magic moment. As the music gets louder, it does lose the warmth again as intonation becomes a slightly bigger problem. Once this settles, the sound is truly majestic with some quite brilliant details becoming apparent and lovely work from the percussion team. Great work from principal cornet and euphonium before leading back into the fast music. It's all there, well played and present, but you just feel it all needs a little more poise. Great dynamic contrasts here, with great direction and shaping from the middle. This is the band now in full flow, so many beautiful moments of playing here. The ending is rousing and caps off a fine opening perfornance. 

Overall: a performance of two distinct halves to kick us off. The opening just took a bit too long to settle (felt a little quick) and had moments of uncomfortable intonation and errors. Once these cleared, we heard the band at their very best. Bold, brilliant and committed, it was a real treat. A good marker but a good indication that this piece could be a bit of a test today. 

BTM (Jeff Hutcherson)
Deiniolen (Lois Eifion)
Lewis Merthyr (Craig Roberts)
Newport Borough (Robin Hackett)
Parc & Dare (Lewis Wilkinson)
Pontardulais Town (Paul Jenkins)
Tylorstown (Garry Davies)