NEW HORIZONS - Horn star Siobhan Bates turns to Geneva

Issue 6051

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE - Fairey rebuild continues with new principal cornet

BYGONE AGE - Tim Mutum on summer-long band tours

2020 Regionals: Welsh - Championship Section

Friday 28 February, 2020

Championship Section:

Adjudicators: David Hirst & Alan Morrison

Matt Rowe reporting

1. Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)***
2. Cory (Philip Harper)*
3. Llwydcoed (Christopher Turner)**
4. City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) M1 (Christopher Bond)
5. Tongwynlais Temperance (Carl Saunders)
6. Northop Silver (John Doyle)
7. Ebbw Valley (Nigel Seaman)

***Qualify for National Final and to represent Wales at the 2021 European Championships
**Qualify for National Final
*Pre-qualified for National Final

Best Instrumentalist: Ross Dunne (horn) — Tredegar
Best Basses: Tredegar
Best Principal Cornet: Tom Hutchinson (Cory)

Overall: A great contest today with a few different battles. Tredegar or Cory? Llwydcoed, Northop or anyone else? Today we feel that tredegar just had that slight edge, with a brilliant Cory in 2nd with Northop just getting the nod for London.
1 – Tredegar
2 – Cory 
3 – Northop

7 – Ebbw Valley
Bold to start, possibly the boldest of the day so far, but intonation does find it’s way into this opening and the melody lines don’t stay balanced. It does stay well together though and as this moves forward it really does find its feet. Some inaccuracies within the horn lines and subsequent cornet lines are apparent but it has so much drive and determination. The error count does start to build due to the sheer volume, and the delicate playing because so difficult as a result. Huge sounds to close.
Lovely sounds to open the second movement, so sensitive and well shaped. Just a few unforced errors creeping in. Delicate euphonium approach is so good, lovely shape and style, but you just feel that the band are just a touch healthy in the accompaniment. Euphonium continues well and delivers a cadenza of real artistry. Bravo! Lovely baritone, well played. Bold solo horn, followed by confident solo cornet. Quartet is dynamically healthy, but shaped with such sensitivity. The quietest playing is safer, but blends well and works as a result of this. The following sounds are big, and bravo solo trombone, great stuff.
Opening to 3rd movement starts well but gets scruffy as it moves forward. The sounds are massive at the highest end, and this has been chosen at a sensible tempo. The accuracy is starting to falter a little, but the intent is so clear. The quieter dynamics don’t quite come off as well as the louder music, and it leads to it all just feeling a touch loud throughout. Unfortunately this does come to light even more, and it does start to get quite overblown. Good technical accuracy within the trombones, this is really opening up now! Great percussion and brilliant to close.
Overall:
Great show from Ebbw Valley, with their most confident performance at this level to date. It got a bit brash at points, but it was so exciting with a great array of soloists. Maybe not quite enough for London, but it won’t be far off you feel.


6 – Llwydcoed
Slightly untidy to open, with the sounds through the middle not quite blended unfortunately. The sounds are so bold and exciting when it opens up but it is all a little scruffy. We have some intonation issues becoming apparent and it feels like it is rushing away a bit already. It’s bold and exciting, but never quite under control despite great contributions from sop and euph.
Beautiful, warm sounds to start the second movement here. So much time, but it flows too. Bravo solo euphonium, so delicate and sweet through all ranges. Lovely from the trombones to follow in the chorale. Well done baritone. Bold solo horn, great stuff! Fantastic solo cornet, excellent bit of playing. The quartet just doesn’t quite come off, not together and a few too many errors in execution. The quietest playing is good and controlled, just missing a bit of that sparkle and there are small intonation issues. Bravo solo trombone, what a fine bit of playing that was. All good to close.
3rd movement doesn’t sound entirely comfortable to open. It settles quickly and is played at a sensible tempo to allow all to speak so well. This is some of the best band playing so far from Llwydcoed, a lot more clarity and focus. Great from euphonium and soprano once again. It’s all in its place but needs to be razor sharp to make an impression, which it isn’t quite. The tempo has been nicely maintained though, giving this a natural flow which is refreshing. Big sounds to close here, as have all bands today. Great to close.
Overall:
Enjoyable that. Took a while to found its feet but the second movement was a delight, and a sensible and bold 3rd movement. In the mix for london I should think, maybe just coming a little short but it’s all so close.


5 – Northop
A very bold opening, with huge sounds from the middle of the band and great clarity within the cornets. Impressive stuff here, so bold but all well executed. The faster playing bristles with energy and the clarity is all there, good stuff! Bravo sop and euph, beautiful playing. The build to the conclusion is so well handled, with bold but impressive trombones. Huge sounds to close the movement.
A little uncomfortable to open the second movement, a shame as this is such a rich, warm sound on display. Solo euphonium sings with such a vocal sound, and so rich in the upper register. Bravo! This second movement is just uncovering a few intonation problems, minor but they are there. Lovely trombone chorale takes us to a great, singing baritone. Great approach from solo horn, well executed too. A touch unlucky solo cornet, what a beautiful singing sound and approach to this though. Quartet just lacks that deep, sentimental reflectiveness that it needs. The quietest playing is really warm and secure, good stuff. Big, bold sounds when it opens up too. Just gets a touch imbalanced but there is so much raw passion here. Great trombone and chords to close.
3rd movement progresses well, great start and a sensible tempo choice. This is so energetic and enjoyable now, if not to the same levels of clarity that we heard earlier in the section. Well done sop and euph again. A few little unforced errors are creeping in as this moves forward and it doesn’t gel 100%. You just have the feeling that adrenaline has really kicked in and it’s just rushing away a touch, real shame after such a sensible tempo choice to start. The one in a bar section has huge power and drive, you can tell the band are enjoying this! Great clarity in the band playing to close and great percussion.
Overall:
Really enjoyable from Northop today, so much committed playing and so well executed. The last movement seemed to rush away with adrenaline, but there was so much to admire in the first movement that showed a little more class than their closest rivals. Just jumps into the London spot for me so far.


4 – City of Cardiff
Good sounds within the cornets and middle of the band to open, but the inaccuracies are clear to hear as this progresses with some intonation kicking in between the octave lines. Progresses well into the faster music, but it does lose its way on a few too many occasions in the level of execution. It’s all in its place and the ensemble is clear, but the error count climbing quite high now. Trombones feel very panicked to close the opening of this movement, but the final sounds are so convincing.
A bit of a bump to start the second movement, but the following sounds are well blended. Just loses the blend slightly as we progress through the dynamic changes. Some beautiful shaping from MD, which is then followed by a sensitive solo euphonium, well played! Lovely trombone chorale, before a brilliant baritone cadenza. Bravo Solo horn, a real bold bit of playing that, coming off to great effect. Great cadenza from solo cornet too, the takeover from cornet to flugel is a tad uncomfortable and the quartet isn’t quite together or well in tune. Once the quietest music settles, it is so warm and full, but it does take a while to settle. The ending feels a little uncomfortable.
Great start to the third movement, just the occasional blip. Sensible tempo choice to allow the detail to speak. This is now full of so much drama and energy, much more like it. Excellent from sop and euphonium. This has been a great final movement so far, great technique from the basses it must be said too! So much good playing here in the 1 in a bar section, brilliant sounds and such a relentless drive. Unfortunately it does lose its cohesion to close.
Overall:
Another mixed bag here. This time the 3rd movement was the best bit of playing, with a bit of a misfiring 1st movement and a 2nd movement that just all needed a touch more security. The 3rd movement had bags of energy and style, but this just took too long to get going to make a huge impression.


3 – Cory
Such clarity and energy to start, the balances are so well handled in the middle and the effects are produced with so much artistry. My word what a start this has been. The sounds are so bold, it pins you back in your seat! Beautiful from solo trombone to close the opening section. There are the odd little scuffs, but tiny moments. How can a band make this music sound so easy? This has a more sensitive approach that we heard earlier from Tredegar, but it does work. There are just the smaller smudges in the exposed moments, but just minor. The build to the final concluding section is so well handled before and ending of huge power.
The beginning of the second movement is pulling at the heart strings, so many beautiful moments here. As amazing as the playing is, it does feel as though there is a lack of flow to this opening which feels so important to this movement. Beautiful playing from Solo Euphonium, so sensitive but so easy in the upper register. Trombone chorale doesn’t quite sound settled, despite the warmth of sound. Beautiful from solo Baritone, second trombone chorale is so much better. Well played solo horn, excellent controlled playing. Solo cornet is magic. Quartet is played with such delicacy, provides a real moment of magic. The pp playing is so silky and smooth, underpinned by such a great bass foundation. The sound is huge when it opens up, filling every inch of the hall. What a great trombone to close and great final chords.
A good, if slightly blippy opening line to the third movement. There is a crazy level of detail and energy here. This is so clean and clinical now it’s almost scary. Great sop and euph duet, so well sung. So much dynamic contrast, building excitement and drama with every possible moment. The change to one in a bar shows off huge sounds and such drive, it’s absolutely gripping! What an absolutely thumping close!
Overall:
Incredible from the world number 1 band, putting one right in there. Not everything came off 100% and the second movement felt like it just needed a touch more flow. But what a treat to hear two performances of such stature.

2 - Tongwynlais Temperance (Carl Saunders)

The opening just doesn't quite knit together between fluttering cornets and melody line, losing quite a bit of tempo in the process. The sounds from the euphs/baris/basses and so rich and warm, but the inaccuracies in the upper lines are taking their toll on this opening, whilst continuing to lose tempo. As this moves into the faster music this is some of the best playing so far, but as it progresses there is a lot of shrapnel in the execution of the technique and it feels like hard work. Well done euph and sop, lovely stuff and lovely moments from Flugel too. Good duet between cornet and euph too. This improving as it moves forward with a rich band sound underpinned by great basses. Great work again from the sop! Good sounds to close the movement, just lacking that razor sharp precision.

The opening is secure, but is lacking in that reflective sensitivity that this so requires. It has lovely flow, but it isn't quite blended to full effect. Well done euphonium, bold in approach but what a rich sound and well sung through the upper ranges. Bravo! Trombones not quite together in the chorale that follows. Beautiful from solo Baritone, such a silky sound. Well done solo horn too, well handled solos here. Bravo solo cornet too, well played indeed! And followed up with a beautifully sensitive quartet, led once again by super flugel. The quietest music is just lacking that beautiful sensitively, it all feels a touch rushed and forced through which is a bit of a shame. Not quite comfortable to close the movement. 

Technique sounds like hard work to open the 3rd movement, it is flying at quite a lick! A lot of detail is lost through the speed of this. The effects are good, but it just doesn't have the required clarity in this acoustic. The dynamics are present but somewhat underdone. This has also lost a lot of tempo already, much like the first movement. Everything is well in its place, and has great drive towards the one in a bar section. Rhythmically strong, some great sounds coming through here now. Lacking in sharp technique towards the end, but bold and confidence in abundance.

Overall:

A performance to enjoy from Tongwynlais of three distinct sections of quality. The opening movement never felt totally settled and included a high error count, whilst the second movement was played with so much confidence and took some real risks (the soloists were excellent too). The third movement lost its way at points but was so enjoyable in its approach. Maybe too many errors to push towards the top today, but a marked improvement in a band getting up to absolute full strength. Well done all! 

1 - Tredegar (Ian Porthouse)

Opening bristles with energy, such a great singing style within the horn line. Such accuracy within the tricky cornet lines. Euphs/baris sing with such sonority. There are tiny hints of intonation and tiny bumps, but they are so minor. When this opens up, my goodness it is huge.  Such technical accuracy as this progresses, excellent horns. Still the tiny little bumps are present, but not disrupting the picture created. Beautiful from sop and solo euphonium in the duet, such rich, singing sounds. The sound world is so well balanced between busy lines and melody, it makes it so expansive and broad. Beautiful playing! Well done once again sop. So much technical clarity and precision to end the first movement. What a start! 

What beautiful sounds to open the second movement, so well blended with such a lovely flow to the music. Top notch. Such delicate beauty from the solo euphonium, you could hear a pin drop in the hall. Such artistry about the playing, sings through the upper register with total ease. Bravo sir! Trombones open the cadenza section with such warmth. Bravo baritone, great cadenza! What an excellent horn too, these have been cadenzas and solos of the absolute highest order. Bravo cornet. The quartet has such a reflective beauty to it led by excellent flugel. The quietest playing is so well handled, hints that the singing sound is lost momentarily through the stretch of dynamics but it is oh so gripping. Great trombone to close. 

So much clarity and precision to start the third movement and the power is crushing! This is taken at quite a lick, but it is so exciting. So many subtle colours created and so much detail within the bass line. Bravo sop and euph once again, what a contribution these two have made today. Just a couple of little moments of intonation creep in again in the upper lines, but it's a matter of notes. The change to 1 in a bar is so majestic, what a sound from the lower band! It has so much drive and energy, my goodness! Fantastic percussion, what clarity in the brass here, leading to thumping close.

Overall:

A performance of huge stature from Tredegar, what a title defence that was. All soloists were incredible, faultless and just radiated confidence in a reading that brought so much from the score. What a great marker we have here...

 

Draw:

1 - Tredegar 

2 - Tongwynlais 

3 - Cory

4 - City of Cardiff

5 - Northop

6 - Llwydcoed

7 - Ebbw Valley

 

City of Cardiff M1 (Chris Bond)
Cory (Philip Harper)
Ebbw Valley (Nigel Seaman)
Llwydcoed (Chris Turner)
Northop Silver (John Doyle)
Tongwynlais Temperance (Carl Saunders)
Tredegar Town (Ian Porthouse)